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What is Farm Liability Insurance?

Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team

Farm liability coverage is designed to protect the people who come to visit your farm and their property. Let’s look at the different types of liability insurance you can have for your farm or ranch.

As a farmer and business owner, you know the importance of having that layer of insurance protection. Have you checked out all the different types of liability insurance for your farm or ranch? Farm liability coverage is designed to protect the people who come to visit your farm or the property of others if it is damaged due to your farm operations. Let’s review the different types and look at how they can help safeguard your lifestyle.

Personal Liability Coverage On and Off the Farm

When you’re legally responsible for accidental injuries, medical expenses or property damage, you’ll want to have this type of coverage on your side. One key thing to remember is that these are incidents where you’re legally responsible, even though it may be a complete accident with no intent whatsoever. This is exactly the coverage you need for those situations where accidents happen. Let’s explore some examples of when personal liability coverage would come into play?

Liability Coverages

Bodily injury liability for farm accidents. If one of your visitors gets kicked by a spooked animal, this coverage will help pay their medical bills if they’re hurt or injured.

Medical payments to others. In this situation, the payments come regardless of liability. This portion of your insurance policy may kick in any time that there’s an injury on your farm or ranch that requires medical treatment.

Negligent acts of your children. Imagine your child was supposed to latch the gate for your goats, but forgot when they saw their friends’ car pull in the driveway. As your child raced to the car, a goat followed. Inspired by his new-found freedom, the goat jumped on the hood of the car and scratched it. It will be much easier to laugh over this situation, knowing your insurance will help pay for the damages.

Acts of your pets. This time your beloved dog, gets a little too excited to see his favorite visitor. The problem is, your pup jumps up and your guest topples over, breaking his finger. The good news is your insurance will help pay his medical expenses and possibly cover the damages for anything he dropped in the fall.

Acts of your livestock. Your old milk cow is typically very gentle, but she gets spooked and steps on a guest’s foot. This is an injury that was caused by your livestock, and clearly not anyone’s fault, but you’re still legally responsible so your insurance will help cover the expenses.

Farmers markets and roadside stands. You make the most delicious jam from berries you grow, but somehow you get a batch of berries with bacteria that causes Jill to get sick. Your insurance would step in here and help cover Jill’s medical bills.

Agritainment and agritourism. If you’re interested in banking in on seasonal trends with a corn maze, pumpkin patch, hay rides, sleigh rides and more, this is the coverage you’ll want.

Fire legal liability. This coverage helps if your equipment causes a fire that damages another’s property. An example would be if your tractor is being stored in someone else’s garage and catches fire damaging the garage.

Products/completed operations hazard coverage. This coverage is designed to protect the insured from claims for injury or damage caused by faulty products. One situation where this type of insurance would help is if a farmer sells a cherry pie to a customer who later breaks their tooth on a cherry pit. The insurance would help reimburse the customer for their dental bills.

Optional Liability Coverages for Your Farm

Your farm is unique — you offer products, services or experiences that other farms and ranches don’t. This means that you have some special concerns and additional liability coverage gives you customized protection designed specifically for your operation.

Custom farm work. This applies to people who are in the business of planting or harvesting for someone else. For example, if your neighbor hires you to harvest their crops.

Employers liability. Your employees are important to you. They keep your business running like a well-oiled machine and you couldn’t do it without them. Adding this coverage gives them protection for their safety.

Pollution — sudden and accidental limited coverage. If you’re driving a tractor that is pulling a tank with insecticide and the tank comes off and spills into a stream, this coverage will help pay for clean-up of the stream.

Unmanned aircraft system limited coverage. Are you using or thinking about using a drone to help manage your crops and livestock? If so, this is the coverage you’ll want to add for liability and physical damage to the drone.

Care, custody, and control liability. If part of your farming or ranching business is raising livestock for someone else, you’ll want this protection just in case you’re liable for any accidents that could occur.

Incidental business pursuits. If you decided to start a small, separate business on your property, then you would want this coverage. Many independent businesses are included in this coverage, such as: beauty or barber shops, a bait shop, direct sales, dog breeding, firewood sales, horse training, pet grooming, and more.

Farm chemicals limited liability. Imagine you’re spraying your crops and the pesticide dust or droplets move through the air at the time of application, or soon after, to your neighbor’s prize winning rose garden. Luckily, you have this coverage to help her recover.

Fruit or vegetable picking by the public. Pick-your-own is a huge trend with today’s consumers as they embrace farm-to-table dining at home. This liability coverage lets you give them what they want while protecting you in the process.

Horse boarding. People who care for other people’s horses may want to check with their American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to see if this coverage is a smart choice for their professional situation.

Your farm is more than a business, it’s also your home, your security and your way of life. No one else can truly understand what it means to you and how much you put into it. Which is why protecting it is a priority. Connect with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) for a check-up of your farm liability insurance and other farm and ranch insurance options.

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    Catalog Your Farm Implements and Farm Tools First

    It’s time to get down to business and start pulling files. Begin by building a list of implements and equipment that are essential to your farm’s day to day operations. Here are some of the documents you’ll need.

    Start with the high-value items and assets on your farm like the ones listed below:

    • Tractors
    • Combines
    • Farm irrigation systems
    • Hay balers, backhoes, and wagons
    • Planters
    • Cultivators and disks
    • Herbicide and crop sprayers, as well as fertilizer and manure spreaders
    • Milking machines
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    • Internal combustion and electric motors
    • Water pumps and air compressors
    • Motorized post-hole diggers
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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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    • Liens or collateral documents that used the above items in order to get financing
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    • Insurance documents
    • Financing documents
    • Maintenance records

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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

    With your inventory complete, you’ll be able to rapidly gain insights into which equipment is approaching the end of its usable life, and which items are in need of replacement. With non-cash expenses like inventory depreciation tracked closely, you can make informed decisions on when to sell or purchase large implements and equipment.

    Take Inventory of Your Farm Insurance

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    Enhance Your Farm's Digital Presence

    As a farmer, you know the goals of your farming business better than anyone. After all, it’s what you do day in and day out. What’s equally important as a business owner is understanding the audience you’re marketing to and how to reach them. That’s why creating an online presence for your farm is so important — it’ll help you connect with your customers and build an authentic brand that people are attracted to.

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    The Importance of Understanding the Platform and Your Audience

    Before introducing your farm to the World Wide Web, you’ll want to keep these two things front of mind:

    What content are you putting on each platform?

    From your website to your e-newsletter, your customers consume and engage with every platform in different ways. So, when you start building your online presence, you’ll want to have an understanding of each platform’s purpose. That way, when your customer interacts with your business, they’re getting the information they expect.

    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.

    You can build a better experience for your customers by asking yourself what mindset your reader is in when they head to each platform you create.

    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.