You’ve probably heard the statistics that show agriculture is a dangerous business. Although I haven’t seen the comparison yet, you might be more likely to survive incident- free as a NASCAR driver than get through your farm through #Harvest16 unscathed.

In fact I even considered titling this blog article, “Do You Know Your Farm is a Disaster Waiting to Happen?”

It’s no surprise that an insurance agent would write about farm safety during National Farm Safety and Health Week #FSHW2016. However it might surprise you this is not a lecture on how you need to be doing more to keep your farm safe and healthy.

Yes farm safety is primarily a do-it-yourself type of assignment. It is up to you, your family, and your entire operation to have an emergency action plan, procedures for a variety of disaster scenarios both natural and man-made, and properly train everyone involved in those procedures. There are so many bases to cover. It can be a daunting and detailed task.

You are probably already doing all you can to make it safe and healthy.

But you don’t have to go it alone.

There are at least four things your insurance agent can do to help you with your farm’s safety.

1) An extra set of eyes.  When your insurance agent first comes out to view your property prior to writing your account they can provide an extra set of eyes to uncover trouble areas. You already knew that insurance agents seem to ask an unending barrage of questions. These typically are not only to classify your farm for rating purposes, but more importantly used in determining if your operation could have some elevated risk factors. A walk on your farm with you (even at renewal if you’ve already been with your agent for awhile) can allow your insurance agent to see hazards from a fresh perspective.

2) Maps and lists and inventories, oh my. When an agent first writes the policy on your farm they have to draw maps of your property (e.g. showing where buildings are in relation to water sources/other buildings/ roadways) and create inventories of your equipment to submit to the insurance company. These maps and inventories can help if you are creating or updating your emergency action plan. Even if you have your own maps and inventories, make sure and share those with your insurance agent because then you know you have an extra copy in safe keeping off premises. Check with your insurance agent to find out if they can store your information electronically on a secure, cloud based document storage and give you an added layer of protection.

3) Professional help and I don’t mean psychiatric. Either through the insurance agency or your insurance carrier there are typically additional resources for risk assessment/safety measures. Some resources may be as simple as templates to help you create procedure manuals or printable safety signage to post throughout the premises. Or it could be more hands on like an agency or company risk manager who can make an annual visit for larger agribusinesses. Although after the visit there may be a list of improvements required based on their findings, it is better to address those hazards before a loss occurs.

4) Oh yeah you might want someone else to foot the bill. The most obvious way an insurance agent makes farm safety less painful is by recommending what coverages can protect you financially. Although insurance doesn’t stop the disaster from occurring it can certainly soften the blow by lessening the monetary repercussions. This could include more than just your typical farm insurance. Pollution liability, product liability, equipment breakdown, loss of income, flood insurance, even cyber liability may be advisable.

Your farm operations may include agritourism activities not normally covered by farm insurance and require specialty coverage. Agritourism can present additional risk since it inherently exposes more of your farm to the public. Again there are resources available that can help you determine what safety measures need to be added to meet the level of risk involved.

The work involved in planning for farm safety and then executing those plans is extensive. Your insurance agent may be able to help with some of all of the four ways I’ve listed.

If they offer none of those things – you are missing out on a value added partner in keeping your farm safe.

I’d be happy to discuss with North Carolina farm owners what options I have available. Morrow Insurance Agency, Inc. has an on-staff risk manager that assists in larger operations, multiple farm carriers with resources available, and additional solutions for specialty coverage. I can be reached at my work number 828-652-6212 or via work email: tcotton@morrowinsurance.com.