Landowners and farmers who allow hunts and point-to-points across their land will be provided with indemnity as a new insurance scheme is supported among 90% of hunts who struggled to secure insurance this season.

The scheme is called The National Hunt Steeplechase, Point-to-Point and Field Sports Insurance Programme (NHSPFS) and will secure an insurance solution for hunting and point-to-points across the country.

Spokesperson for both hunt groups James Norton, has over 30 years of experience in the insurance business and said that this is a very positive development for both hunts and landowners.

Norton said that the policy will provide indemnity to any landowner, occupier or farmer on whose land is passed or accessed for activities organised by hunts.

“Operating as a group, the registered hunts are providing insurance protections not only for the hunt club but for its participants and for its landowners when engaged in activities on land that wouldn’t be owned by the hunt club.

“All the member hunts in this scheme will be provided with a cover note to prove their participation and this can be shown to farmers on request.

“There are 73 hunts involved in this scheme and as of yesterday my understanding is that 70 of those have signed up.”

Risk management

Norton added that the remaining hunts may already have cover for the rest of the year or they intend to amalgamate with another hunt.

There will be an added emphasis on risk management in general for hunting.

“I think hunts in general will become more aware of risk management and health and safety for instance having a car marshal to help with parking before the hunt, having a road marshal, field masters being more aware of their responsibilities in the field when there is an incident and a greater reliance on gate shutters and fencers coming behind the hunt.

I am very proud of the work done by the insurance sub-committees over the last few months

“There will be seminars over the coming months to guide hunts on what is best practice in relation to risk management,” Norton said.

Welcoming the support for this initiative, chair of the Irish Masters of Harriers Association (IMHA) Austin Fitzpatrick said: “I am very proud of the work done by the insurance sub-committees over the last few months and of the support for this scheme.

“Little did we know when we set out on this journey the amount of work, time and effort involved in achieving this outcome”.

Chair of the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Association (IMFHA) Lord Waterford said that this is a good day for both hunting and point-to-pointing.

“This scheme will not only provide insurance cover for our sports but it will also provide reassurance, if required, to our landowners and farmers where these activities are carried out on their lands,” he added.