The importance of liability insurance for farmers and agricultural contractors
Thomas is a Senior Broker with Sheridan Insurances and today he discusses what liability insurance is and why it is important for farmers to have adequate liability cover to protect their farm and livelihood.
What Is Liability Insurance?
Liability or Public liability insurance covers your legal responsibility to the general public, visitors and suppliers should they, unfortunately, suffer an accident or injury while they’re on your farm. Public liability insurance covers the monies you are legally responsible to pay in the unfortunate event of a claim against you following an injury, disease, or property damage that an individual incurred whilst on your farm or arising from your farming activities.
What Is A Typical Claim With Public Liability?
- Cattle breaking out onto a road and causing damage;
- Muck transferred from your farm on the road causing a motor accident;
- Falling trees or branches
Why Is It Important To Have Liability Cover?
If you do not have adequate public liability protection in place or fail to disclose the full extent of your farming activities to an insurer, you could have future consequences on the family farm holding. Claims arising from such unfortunate events mean you could be responsible for paying the monies claimed. This could mean you could be in a lot of debt or worst-case scenario you could lose the farm. If someone, unfortunately, has an accident on your property, the resulting claim may be greater than the value of your combined assets. It’s vital to remember that if you own property or livestock, you have a liability and duty of care to the public.
What Should Customers Consider When Choosing Farm Insurance?
- Consider all aspects of your farming business and I declare all your activities, such as agricultural contracting, tillage farming or spreading of sludge. Once you have informed your insurer they will advise and offer suitable protection.
- It is important that you understand the insurance cover available to you and the policy schedule. You should take the time to understand, listen and query the level of protection being offered by your policy.
- It’s important that you understand the risks you choose not to insure and the potential consequences of that decision. Getting advice from an Insurer or Broker who knows and understands the unique risks which you are exposed to as a farmer is vitally important.
- Another important thing to take into consideration is the Insurer or Broker. Ask do they have a proven track record of dealing with and paying claims associated with farming businesses and agricultural enterprises.
- We would advise that you don’t always focus on the price of a policy. It’s more important to consider the amount of cover provided. One thing you must always ensure is that you have the correct amount of cover in place.
- It’s important to know that all policies are not the same. Every policy has individual policy wording and will contain specific terms, conditions, or exclusions. Make sure you triple-check any wordings and exclusions with your Insurer or Broker. It’s best practice to know or familiarise yourself with the policy.
- You should check that all agricultural and other contractors engaged by you to work on your farm have appropriate Employers Liability and Public Liability before they commence any work. The consequences of failing to check this mean that you could be exposed to greater liability in the unfortunate event of a claim.
Do Farmers Need To Have Employers Liability Cover?
Employers’ Liability will provide protection against legal liability for injury or disease caused to your employees during the course of their farming duties. If you have employed people in part-time and full-time roles it is advisable that you take out the appropriate level of employers liability cover. Unfortunately, there is an increasing number of injuries and fatalities which happen on Irish farms each year. The safety of a farm is a very real issue. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has guidelines and excellent information regarding farm safety and policies.
We get asked if this applies to a small farmer with one employee and the odd family member giving a hand when needed. The answer is yes. In addition to this, the Health and Safety Authority states that every farmer is required by law to prepare a safety statement and share it with his/her employees. *The 2005 Act allows employers (including farmers) with three or fewer employees to comply with the terms of a Code of Practice as an alternative to preparing a Safety Statement. * https://www.hsa.ie/eng/Your_Industry/Agriculture_Forestry/Agricultural_FAQ’s
Is there anything else you feel is important for farmers to consider?
Review your policy schedule every 12 months. If you have any queries check in with your Insurer or Broker. If you are thinking about reducing the amount of cover due to cost, talk to your broker first and make sure you are adequately covered. You might be exposing yourself, your farm, and your livelihood to additional risks that you are unaware of. Inadequate liability is like a shed with no roof; when you need it most it may not be there.
We take great pride in our Farm Insurance Team at Sheridan Insurances. Our Clients know that we are here when they need us and they can drop into our offices or we will call out to them if necessary. At Sheridan Insurances we have been supporting Farmers for more than 40 years. Helping Farmers and agricultural Contractors secure the right insurance for their needs.