5 tips for choosing the right smallholder insurance

A smallholding is usually defined as a piece of agricultural land, smaller than a traditional farm, that supports a single family. However, this definition can vary, as what constitutes a smallholding depends on many factors, …

A smallholding is usually defined as a piece of agricultural land, smaller than a traditional farm, that supports a single family. However, this definition can vary, as what constitutes a smallholding depends on many factors, such as the size of the farm, the family’s input, the number of employees, food production techniques, the role of technology and a farm’s economic impact.

But, however you describe it, if you raise livestock on your land or grow small scale crops to feed your family or sell to the public, you’ll have assets that are worth protecting.

In most cases, your home insurance policy won’t cover the additional risks that are involved in running a smallholding. This means you may be considering buying a smallholder insurance policy. If so, there are a few things to think about.

In this article, we’ll explain why you might need cover for your smallholding, what this cover typically includes and give you five tips to help you when searching for a quote.

Five tips for choosing the right smallholder insurance

Like with any insurance policy, when choosing smallholder insurance, start by assessing your risksand considering what you can afford to lose, before deciding what you want to include on the policy.

Smallholder insurance can be complicated, so it’s helpful to spend some time getting together all the information you need to give to your insurance provider, including the size and value of your land and outbuildings, as well as the type of livestock you have and their value. As with anything, it pays to shop around and it’s also worth looking into whether you can consolidate your policy with an existing one, to avoid any duplication of cover.

We’ll go into all of these points in more detail later, but first we’ll explain why it might be a good idea to get your smallholding insured and what a typical policy covers.

Why do I need smallholder insurance?

Unfortunately, there are a number of things that can go wrong on a smallholding, so you’ll want to make sure you’re protected if the worst happens. Some of the most common scenarios include:

Fires

With such an abundance of flammable materials on a smallholding – like hay, fuel and powerful cleaning products – it’s no wonder there are more than one thousand fires in agricultural buildings every year.

Breakdowns

Whether it’s machinery, tools or vehicles, it can be expensive and time-consuming when something breaks down. With the right insurance, you’ll have peace of mind that you can get back to work as quickly as possible, without having to fork out for repairs or replacements.

Damage

Accidents are a sad fact of life, especially when it comes to driving agricultural vehicles, and crashes on smallholdings aren’t uncommon. In addition, livestock can do damage to vehicles, machinery and farm buildings. There’s also the risk that your animals will escape and cause accidents on roads.

Injury

Sadly, farm workers continue to be at risk from serious injury – or even fatality – while operating machinery. So, if you employ people to work on your smallholding, it’s even more important to take out the right insurance.

Theft

With so much expensive equipment around, smallholdings can be a target for thieves, but you can save yourself a great deal of money and stress by making sure you’re covered.

What does smallholder insurance cover?

This all depends on the level of cover you choose and which extras you add on to your policy. However to give you an idea, a smallholder policy might include:

  • Buildings and contents cover for the house, outbuildings and sheds, and the contents, personal possessions and valuables inside them
  • Protection for your equipment, machinery and agricultural vehicles
  • Produce cover so you’re protected if the produce you sell causes injury or damage to the buyer
  • Business interruption or loss of revenue cover protects you if crops are damaged, milk is contaminated or stock is stolen
  • Livestock cover in case any of your animals are lost, stolen, injured or killed on the smallholding, in transit or at a showground
  • Cover for livestock at shows, farmers’ markets and auctions (you may need to demonstrate cover as a condition of entry)
  • Employers’ liability cover, including friends, family members, volunteers and work experience students who help out on your smallholding
  • Public and products liability cover to prevent you from being landed with hefty legal bills if someone makes a claim against you for injury, damage to their property or falling ill as a result of your produce
  • Working dog cover

No two smallholdings are the same, so policies can vary greatly depending on what the owner’s particular requirements are. When buying an insurance policy, it’s a good idea to check what’s included as standard then decide on the optional extras you want to add on. See Tip 2 for more information on this.

Tip 1: Assess your risks

As previously mentioned, there are a number of risks associated with running a smallholding.

If you’re still in two minds about buying a policy, before making your decision, we suggest considering what you have to lose, how a loss might occur and whether you can afford that loss.

Some of the things to think about include:

  • The age and condition of agricultural vehicles or machinery and their potential to cause damage
  • The chances of someone being injured on your land
  • The likelihood of your livestock escaping and causing injury or damage to other people and their property
  • What the crime rate is in your area
  • Whether you sell your produce to the general public

Having the right smallholder insurance can provide peace of mind, knowing that you’ll be covered if the worst happens.

Tip 2: What to include in your policy

Smallholder insurance normally provides cover for yourself, anyone you have working for you, the general public, livestock, produce, working dogs, buildings, agricultural vehicles and machinery.

However, it’s worth thinking about the finer details and tailoring your policy to suit your individual requirements. That way, you can be one hundred per cent sure you’re covered for every eventuality.

Some of the things to think about including on your policy are:

  • Breakdown cover – In case any of your agricultural vehicles (such as compact tractors, ride-on mowers, trailers or ATVs) break down and need picking up
  • Personal accident cover – So you’re compensated if you’re injured while working
  • Environmental liability – To cover you for pollution or damage to the environment caused by your premises or business
  • Livestock feed and medication cover – Animal feed and medication can be expensive, making it a target for thieves
  • Fuel cover – It’s likely you have a sizeable quantity of fuel, which is also at risk of being stolen
  • Protection against livestock worrying – Some insurers will give you the option to insure against attacks on livestock by dogs, foxes or vermin
  • Business interruption cover – To protect you if you rely on your smallholding for income and it’s unable to operate for a period of time

Tip Three: Get organised

Shopping around for smallholder cover can be a complicated process because there are so many variables. So it makes sense to get all the information together before you start searching for quotes.

If you’re prepared, any conversations you have with insurance brokers will be easier and quicker, and you’ll be in a better position to get an accurate quote.

Here is some of the information you may need to provide:

  • Which items and animals you need insurance for
  • Your acreage, separated into agricultural land and gardens
  • The location of your land
  • Whether you have a public right of way going through your land (you’re responsible for injury to members of the public, even if they are trespassing)
  • The value and condition of any outbuildings and whether you would want them rebuilt using cheaper materials or restored to how they were before
  • The value of contents such as equipment and tools
  • How much your feed, fuel, fertiliser and produce are worth
  • Whether you sell produce to the public
  • What type of livestock you have and how much it’s worth (this is especially important for pedigree stock)
  • The number of people you employ
  • How much income your smallholding generates
  • Your claims history

Your insurance company will be able to let you know of the right policy for you, based on the answers you give them. If your smallholding has grown since your last premium, they may even advise you to take out a farm insurance policy instead.

Tip Four: Shop around for a quote

Better still, use a broker like, A-Plan, to do the legwork for you. They’ll contact a range of underwriters and negotiate cover and premium with them on your behalf. They’ll also advise on what cover is available and what cover is sensible or appropriate.

It is worth noting here, that going for the cheapest policy could actually cost you more money in the long run. It’s important to make sure you’re insured for everything you need to be, otherwise you could end up shelling out for things that aren’t covered on your policy.

When deciding on which policy to buy, a specialist small farm insurer could be the way to go, as they have expert knowledge in all the complexities of covering a smallholding. They’re more likely to be flexible when it comes to your needs, as they understand that every smallholdings is unique and they can advise if they think you may have overlooked something.

Tip Five: See if you can consolidate your policies

If you have a separate home insurance policy (which it’s likely you do), it may be possible to consolidate your insurance with one company.

Having your household and smallholding covered under a single policy can ensure you’re not paying to insure things twice, as well as make claims more simple, as you’ll only have to deal with one insurer.

Summary

Because no two smallholdings are the same, buying smallholder insurance can be difficult. However, it’s wise to make sure your small farm and its buildings, livestock, machinery and produce is protected in case of theft, fire, injury and damage.

There are many things to think about before you start shopping around for a quote, so it’s a good idea to spend some time working out exactly what it is you need to insure and deciding on how much cover you require.

Conversations with insurance companies and brokers will be much easier if you’re prepared, and specialist insurers will also be able to advise you on consolidating your policies and whether you’ve forgotten anything.