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Insurance Health Checklist for 2021

Posted on: 3rd February 2021

H&H Insurance Brokers recommends eight ways to make sure your insurance policy is in good order for the new year.

At the beginning of a year, it is always overwhelming to think about the number of items to tick off from to-do lists. One thing that often ends up on the bottom of the pile, is reviewing and updating your farm insurance policy. At H&H Insurance Brokers we know how critical it is to spend this extra time spent checking your policy is in order, as it can make the difference between a successful claim and a failed claim, when you need it most. 

As the year gets going, farmers across the country will be turning their minds to the spring sowing, the lambing and calving season. To stay ahead, Chris Clement who is Commercial Director at H&H Insurance Brokers, recommends eight things you can do to protect yourself to ensure your insurance policy on the farm is fit for purpose.

1.    Livestock headcount
It may seem obvious to some, but it is often the case that insurance policies covering livestock are not in line with actual numbers on the farm at any one time. This can be especially true during and post the lambing and calving season, which can mean a significant increase in animal numbers on the farm. So check up on headcount and corresponding value that you are insured for, to prevent your livestock being underinsured.

On this issue, Chris Clement said: “It is vital for farmers take into account the maximum number of livestock that will ever be on their farm – including lambs and calves. Ensuring that headcount on a policy represents the flock and herd numbers at their maximum peak will ensure that you are not under insured.”

2.    Casual worker policy
With the imminent onset of the lambing season, many famers will also be looking for that extra pair of hands. This often means employing a casual labour such as lambing assistants. H&H Insurance Brokers urges farmers to bear in mind that these extra hands need protecting whilst working on the land, even if their presence is only seasonal or temporary, paid or unpaid. 

Chris highlights the following things to be aware of if you are considering taking someone on: “Remember to brief all staff when they start in relation to employment legislation, as well as health and safety rules and procedures in order to ensure that you are potentially mitigate against any incident and potential claims. 

3.    Machinery audit
In winter it is not uncommon for some farm machinery to go unused for long periods of time. To make sure everything is in order and that a submitted claim will be successful, carrying out a machinery audit is strongly advised. Machinery is expensive so it should be stored properly throughout the winter months, and it should also have cover for both fire and theft, to protect you in the long run. 

Rural crime is on the rise and the current most sought-after items are the higher-value items and also items like Land Rover Defenders, quad bikes, tractor technologies and GPS trackers in particular. For claims to be valid, farmers need to follow proper procedure for locking up machinery and storing keys away from the vehicle, as this can be central to an insurance policy. Reviewing terms and conditions will give you peace of mind that if the worst happens, you will be covered and able to recoup your losses. 

4.    Building insurance
Poorly maintained buildings could be an issue for a claim, so it is worth checking their condition. Buildings must be insured to their full value, so getting a land agent or surveyor to check their value is advisable. 

Carrying out an electricity check and obtaining an EICR certified report will get you preferential rates with insurers – so now could be the time to remind yourself to do this at least every five years. 

5.    Housing occupancy
With the Corona virus pandemic, 2021 looks likely to mean that many holiday cottages and accommodations could potentially be lying empty. This will affect farmers who have diversified their income stream through offering holiday lets because, with travel on hold, many will remain unused until at least early spring. 

Chris said: “Without realising it, many insurance policies will have specific terms and conditions with regards to unoccupied properties. This is definitely worth checking out to make sure any requirements are met – usually these terms relate to the weekly inspection of the properties, and terms around the heating being kept on to a minimum required temperature, and water systems turn off and sometimes insurers request these to be drained down to protect the property from escape of water claims.  An unoccupied residence doesn’t mean upkeep can be abandoned, so watch out for what your policy states, and be sure to keep insurers in the loop on what is happening in your holiday lets. This will help reduce the likelihood of unsuccessful claims in the future.” 

6.    Working from height
There are many on farm situations that require working from height, which brings with it a number of risks. Therefore to prevent avoidable tragedies it is important to have the appropriate health and safety checks, and risk-management strategies in place. Review systems for bale storage, handling, and training. A culture of robust health and safety practices will not only keep the number of incidents and severity of claims down, but it can in turn help lessen any insurance premium increases for your business.

7.    Diversification cover
Farmers are innovative when it comes to diversification schemes and bolstering the revenue of their business. However, often there is an assumption that an existing farm insurance policy will suffice as cover for new plans. Yet, that is not always the case, so it is very important to double check. Reviewing insurance documents to ensure that they account for any new diversification enterprises will avoid the risk of being under-insured, and ensure that your insurance broker is notified before you embark on a new diversification to ensure cover remains in force. 

8.    Liability claims
Increasing numbers of walkers are taking their exercise in the countryside, which is a positive trend witnessed since lockdown measures were first introduced in March last year. However, for farmers this can pose a problem because as soon as the public come on to private land, there is a higher exposure to liability claims. This is very relevant for farms who are seeing more and more people access footpaths. 

Checking what the duties and obligations for farmers are, and keeping up with footpath and fence maintenance could make a real difference. Chris Clement concluded his advice by saying: “At H&H Insurance, when we see liability claims of many types come in, these are rarely settled at small amounts. So, it really is best practice to use the start of a new year to take the time to look at your insurance documentation, or seek expert advice, so you can prevent big claims which could threaten the feasibility of your business. You will also potentially save yourself a lot of worry longer-term.” 

Before moving into the very busy spring period, H&H Insurance Brokers encourage all farmers to carry out a new year health check of their insurance policies. As specialists in rural insurance, the team can help guide businesses on the insurance they need. While working from home, staff remain available to address insurance enquiries as well as claims.
- ENDS – 

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