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Farm & Ranch Annual Insurance Review Tips

Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team

As new buildings are built and old equipment is sold, your needs will change for your farm and ranch insurance. Learn how to get the most out of your policy by keeping your coverage up to date with an annual farm and ranch insurance review.

Life on the farm is subject to change. Employees come and go, farm equipment gets updated, new outbuildings are constructed and old barns are brought down. And synching your insurance with everything that’s changed is a vital step in keeping costs down. After all, you only want to spend money on coverages you need, not on farm equipment that you sold two months ago, right? That’s why it’s so crucial to schedule an annual insurance review.

Look at Changes to Update Your Farm & Ranch Insurance

Consider everything that’s changed since your last insurance review and you’ll likely find an update is in order. Being insured carefully can make a big difference, and it’s our goal to make sure you’re well protected.

Here are some things to consider as you prepare for your annual farm or ranch policy review.

Take inventory. Even small changes on site can have big effects on liability, so it’s important to carefully identify all the ways things have changed. Taking a look at the big ticket items either purchased or sold last year is a good first step. Have a list of these assets on hand for the review. This way your agent will be able to identify how your policy needs to be adjusted to get the most out of your coverage.

Shifts in employees. During the time between your last review and now, how has your employee profile changed? Were new employees added or have others moved on? How does this current figure compare to the number of employees you have now? Are seasonal or temporary laborers in more demand than they were previously? The answers to these questions will drive your coverage needs. And you’ll likely need to update your workers compensation insurance to reflect your current employee count. While you’re looking at your employee’s roles and responsibilities, now’s a perfect time to review your business insurance needs.

Farm and Ranch proprietor changes. Has your business changed ownership or have key players been added? Do you plan to pass your legacy on to the next generation in the coming years? Succession plans are complex and should be managed carefully. Before you start developing yours, consider these steps to creating a farm succession plan. Let your agent know these details early and get a head start on the hand-off.

Review Farm & Ranch Buildings and Vehicles Inventory

Another key update to make should focus on shifts that have taken place to your property. Living space changes and the sale or purchase of cars, tractors, ATVs and trucks should be reviewed.

Home and residence coverage. Did you recently finish your basement or build an addition to your home? Now is a great time to review your dwelling insurance coverage, since the value of your home most likely went up from the renovations. You’ll want to ensure your coverage limits fit your needs. Protection for your home and possessions can be essential to maintaining operations if the unexpected should happen.

Barns, sheds and outbuildings. Additions and renovations to these buildings are also important to keep in mind. Take a closer look at farm structure and outbuilding insurance.

Vehicles owned by the farm or ranch. Take a look at your coverage for all vehicles on site. From tractors to combines and sprayers, your tractor and farm equipment insurance needs can be fine-tuned to better cover these vehicles from the unexpected.

Changes to feed storage. In addition to tractor and equipment, has the way you’re storing feed or commodities changed? Farm personal property protection adjustments may be necessary.

Fire protection. Is your farm or ranch well insured against fires? Have new sprinkler or fire suppression systems been installed since you last reviewed your insurance? Maybe you recently installed a new, fire retardant roof. Update your policy if so.

Update Your Farm & Ranch Coverage

It’s important to look carefully at your livestock as well. Did you invest in high value livestock recently? A specific policy to cover these types of animals should be considered. Also, if you’re farm or ranch has grown considerably since you last checked in with your agent, it may be time to upgrade and strengthen your policy.

Livestock and cattle insurance. Your animals are considered your personal property regardless of where a covered loss occurs. If your cattle count has shifted since last year, make sure that figure reflects your current number. Get in the know about your options for livestock and farm animal insurance coverage.

Review your commercial agribusiness policy. If you don’t have one already, consider adopting an agribusiness policy to further protect your livestock, tractors, farm equipment and outbuildings from the unexpected. Your diverse insurance needs can be customized to go beyond the protection offered by a general farm insurance policy. As your business grows, you’ll find that this added layer of security can offer real peace of mind.

Revisit your umbrella and farm liability policy. Your liability insurance covers bodily injury and medical expenses for people accidentally injured on your property. And the liability insurance can cover damage you cause to someone else’s property. Additional farm & ranch umbrella liability policies are available to add an extra level of liability coverage over your primary insurance limits. In the event you’re liable for a serious accident or if you face substantial legal fees that surpass your farm’s standard liability limit, you’ll have extra coverage in place to help protect your finances.

While there are a lot of good reasons to carefully review your farm & ranch policy annually, it simply makes great financial and business sense to do so. No two farms or ranches are alike, so when the time comes for your annual review, your agent (Opens in a new tab) will help you create a plan that only covers what you need — you’ll feel great knowing that your investments are protected.

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    Catalog Your Farm Implements and Farm Tools First

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    • Tractors
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    Once you have the records out for the above items, dig in and locate the following:

    • Original purchase orders
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    More importantly, farm management software can make your farm easier to run and more profitable too. Many systems are able to manage your farm’s entire business, from employee payroll to tracking crop and livestock details, to accounts payable and receivable. They’re worth considering.

    The Financial Benefits of a Farm Equipment Checklist

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    Take Inventory of Your Farm Insurance

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    Enhance Your Farm's Digital Presence

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    What content are you putting on each platform?

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    For instance, someone visiting your farm’s website is going to be looking for much different information than if they were on your Twitter feed. Or if a customer follows your Instagram account, they aren’t expecting the same stories as they read in your farm’s e-newsletter.

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    Who is your audience?

    Understanding your customer is essential to the success of your digital presence. Before delivering a message effectively, you need to know who the message is going to and why. For starters, consider the kind of farm you run. Are you a commercial farm that sells your product to big businesses for distribution, or is your customer local businesses and families? The content and its tone depends on who you’re trying to reach. Who are they, what are they looking for and what’s the most authentic way you can relate to them to get them what they want? Understand their motivation by putting yourself in their shoes.

    Building a Website for Your Farm

    Now that you have a better idea of some digital basics, let’s put that knowledge into practice — starting with your website. The internet is a powerful tool to market the product(s) your farm produces, and creating a website is a key way to harness its potential. Follow these guidelines for website best practices:

    Set goals. Spontaneity has its time and place, but building a website to market your brand isn’t the situation to jump in without a plan. It’s important to set realistic, achievable goals for round one of your website. Keep in mind, your site is a work in progress and can be improved upon in many iterations. Consider what you want your website to achieve. Are you selling products? Do you offer a CSA? Do you want to educate people on agriculture? Maybe you’ll create a gallery to show images of the fun you have on your farm. Take the time to sit down and list out a few goals for round one. With your plan in place, it’ll make the next steps that much easier.

    Creating the website. You’ll need to decide if you want to hire someone to create your website or if you plan on crafting one yourself. Many sites exist that make it super easy to create and maintain your own website — and most of them are even free to use! If you choose to have someone develop a website for you, make sure it implements a content management system so you can update the site yourself. This way, you can easily keep things relevant without always having to go back to the designer (and pay them) to make changes.

    Provide a clear description of who you are. If someone stumbled upon your website, would they be able to identify who you are and the purpose of your farming business within a matter of seconds? That’s your goal — create a homepage that’ll attract and retain your customer’s attention so they’ll stay on your page. Make sure the name of your business stands out and a summary of your products and services is included.

    Clear navigation. In order to guide your customers to discover all the great things about your business, you’ll want a navigation menu with clear links that lead to your pages. A dropdown menu offers an easy way for your visitor to see all that you have to offer, no matter which page they’re on. You’ll ultimately decide which pages you want on your page, but home, about us, newsletter, calendar, contact us, links to your social media pages and other important services you offer are common pages to include on your website. Remember, your pages will align with the goals you set at the beginning.

    How to Create a Farm E-Newsletter

    No matter what type of farming you do, an e-newsletter is a simple and effective way to promote your farm. An e-newsletter is a periodic “report” with information and news about your farm and, in this case, is distributed to your subscribers via email. This form of marketing can be very effective because it’s targeted to people who have already taken interest in what you’re doing.

    So what should you know about creating an e-newsletter? Start with these three tips:

    Newsletter content. A good rule of thumb to follow is to include content that’s 90% educational and 10% promotional. Chances are the person who subscribed to your e-newsletter wants to get to know your business better and continue to stay informed — not be pushed to buy something. Providing educational, relevant information builds trust between your reader and your business. Here are some ideas for content you might include:

    • Whether you sell meat or vegetables, recipes are a fun way to mix your product with something useful to the consumer. It may even encourage a customer to buy your product.
    • Life on the farm isn’t something everyone gets to experience. Include a fun story about how your farm runs or an anecdote about your animals. This way your reader can vicariously experience farm life.
    • Is your farm open to the public? Include visiting hours, what they can expect to experience and any upcoming special events.
    • If you offer volunteer opportunities, include how to volunteer and/or a testimony from a previous volunteer.
    • Will you be at a farmer’s market or farming expo? Be sure to list anywhere you plan on appearing as vendors.
    • Reward your subscribers with a discount or coupon every now and then to show you appreciate their business.
    • Is there something unique about your farm? Let it be known!

    There’s no end to the content you can include in your newsletter, but most importantly, make sure it’s relevant and have an understanding what your reader is looking for.

    Newsletter design. A newsletter can be sent by mail, email or included on your website. Our suggestion is to send your subscribers an email as well as include a web page for your newsletters on your website. That way non-subscribers can view the newsletter and hopefully become subscribers! Here are a few things to keep in mind for the layout of your newsletter:

    • Create a header at the top of the page that includes the title of your newsletter, your company name and logo.
    • Use subheadings to organize and break up the pieces of content. A subhead should be smaller than your main heading and bigger than the text you use for your content blocks.
    • Choose a color scheme. If you have a brand logo, defer to those colors.
    • The legibility of your newsletter is very important, so stick to one or two fonts, since too many fonts can give a disorganized look.
    • Have a balance of images and text. An image grabs a reader’s attention and offers a visually appealing element to your newsletter. It can be used to break up the page so as to not overwhelm the reader with too much content.
    • Don’t create a five-page newsletter. Keep it to a page or two. The newsletter is designed to provide quick, digestible information that grabs your reader’s attention.

    Newsletter frequency. How often should you send your newsletter? Most people choose to send a weekly, monthly or quarterly newsletter. It all comes down to your own personal goals and what your business offers. If you have a lot of events happening on your farm or are very customer-focused, sending a weekly newsletter is a good idea. If you don’t think you’ll have much time to put into a weekly newsletter, go for the quarterly and make sure to spend time filling it with all the great things that have gone over the last three months. A monthly newsletter is a good, doable balance for busy farmers who need to keep their customers updated but don’t have a lot of time.

    Just remember — your newsletter is meant to attract your target audience and give them a reason to stick with you. Do what’s realistic for your business and have fun with it!

    Social Media and Your Farm

    Facebook, Twitter, YouTube — just a few social media platforms you can use to easily promote your farm. And they are pretty simple to set up and maintain! Our advice is to focus on building out your presence on one platform and slowly work your way into creating more accounts once you get the hang of marketing through social media. Here’s a closer look at some great ways you can use social media on your farm

    A thought-out, well-run digital presence can benefit your farm in many ways. With the right goals and strategy in place, you can give your farm a digital edge. Your next steps? Go dig around the Internet and do some research. What kinds of farming websites exist? What kind of information do other farms include in their e-newsletters? Start following some successful farm’s on social media. Take a look at what already exists on the web to gain ideas on what might work or not work for your own strategy.

    Remember — it’s all about knowing your audience and what they’re looking for. At the end of the day, it’s about making your customer happy.