Making sure farm operations have the right coverage

Whether it’s a hobby or full-time job, farmers may want to explore adding farm liability coverage to their insurance policy. Farm liability insurance protects farmers and their assets from lawsuits associated with an accident that results in bodily injury and/or property damage to someone else. “If you are deemed by Missouri statutes to be liable through negligence or careless acts your liability (farm liability insurance) is going to cover those types of incidents,” Les Mallard, owner of Les Mallard Insurance LLC in Fair Grove, Mo., explained. 

Liability Coverage: The circumstances in which producers would need farm liability insurance include a wide range of incidents. For example, if some of a producer’s cattle get out into the road and cause a car accident. Or if someone gets injured while on a producer’s farm. Another example includes if a producer is driving farm machinery on the road and causes in an accident. These are just a few situations in which farmers will need liability coverage if they are found negligent.

If the incidents that occur are connected to the farming operation or farming activity, then only farm liability insurance will cover the costs. Liability coverage connected to a regular homeowners policy will not protect farmers in farm related incidents.

Insurance agents recommend farmers, no matter how big or small their operation, get farm liability coverage. “My opinion is farmers should definitely purchase farm liability coverage,” Mallard said. “It is just as important as having liability coverage on an automobile or anything else. If you do not have it and something occurs, it is 100 percent on you to pay and if it is a very big suit or claim they can put liens on your assets that you have because you are obligated to pay it if the judgment goes against you.”

Farm liability coverage will pay for any costs associated with the incident in which the farmer is deemed liable. This includes settlement amounts, court costs and attorney’s fees. Typically, there are no deductibles associated with farm liability claims. 

Think Ahead: One thing to keep in mind is even the smallest of farming operations may want to consider adding farm liability coverage. Take for instance a family living on a small acreage decides to purchase a calf for their child for a 4-H or FFA project. Even that one head needs the special coverage, because it would not be covered under a typical homeowners policy. “Some people will not think about that, but they are leaving themselves exposed to some gaps in coverage by not having the farm liability situation covered,” Mallard added.

In addition, Mallard suggests when updating or getting their insurance coverage people should think about their future plans. Even if they currently don’t have any livestock, they should consider adding farm liability to their policy if they are planning to have livestock in the near future. “If they have any intent down the road, it’s an inexpensive precaution to put it on now in case they add livestock later,” Mallard said.

The specific liability policy needed depends on the type of operation. Hobby farmers can obtain different coverage than producers with commercial operations. Full-time farmers typically have a commercial farm policy that includes liability coverage. However, hobby farmers can add the farm liability coverage to their homeowners’ policy, which then converts the policy into a farm owners policy. 

Keep in mind, not all insurance companies will offer coverage for farming operations. Producers may want to call their insurance agent to make sure they have the proper coverage for their particular operation. 


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