As 2018 quickly approaches and we ease into winter I thought it’s a likely time for North Carolina farmers to be thinking about their insurance as they plan for the New Year. With that in mind I wanted to propose my list and summaries of the best five North Carolina farm insurance companies for 2018.
My list includes three companies that my agency represents and two that I don’t represent.
Since you are going to run across all of them if you are researching farm insurance I might as well be the one to mention them first. They are not numbered since I respect that they each have a significant role in protecting North Carolina farms.
WHO ARE THE BEST FARM INSURANCE COMPANIES IN NORTH CAROLINA?
WESTFIELD INSURANCE – This is one of the companies I work with in North Carolina and they are among the top writers of farm business in the United States. The Ohio based company started as a farmers mutual in 1851 and they remain committed to farm and agribusiness.
Westfield has the capability to handle large agribusiness operations including manufacturing, slaughtering, mills and more.
However they also write their share of smaller family farms.
I like the long list of optional coverages I can use to truly customize a NC farm insurance policy to meet specific needs.
Westfield is able to write higher value homes in their farm program than many other companies. They also have a high value home endorsement to address specific needs.
They write agribusiness in a large number of states which could be an advantage for a farming operation with multi-state locations.
EVERETT CASH MUTUAL – This is a regional company that I work with that ranks high in North Carolina farm policies written.
For over a hundred years ECM has focused on the agricultural community and they now include breweries and wineries to their scope of specialty coverage options. The brewery or winery doesn’t have to be in conjunction with a residential farm or other farm operations.
Another plus is ECM is open to manufactured homes on farms within their guidelines.
Our agency has a strong relationship with ECM which allows me to find solutions for even more unique farming operations.
MARKEL INSURANCE – This is my go-to company for equine related risks in North Carolina since they have been a leader for over fifty years in horse insurance industry.
They are able to handle farms with one horse or a hundred. They write in all fifty states.
They can handle the entire farm or other horse related businesses which is also a strong suit for this company.
They are open to other agribusiness type risks although they don’t venture much into the post harvest production type operations.
NORTH CAROLINA FARM BUREAU INSURANCE GROUP – This is a company I don’t represent but are definitely the major player in writing North Carolina farm insurance.
They provide convenience since they are found in every county in NC. NCFB is part of the Farm Bureau family of companies which also includes advocacy and education.
The major difference from our three main farm companies is that NCFB also actively writes non-farm home and auto policies.
NCFB often brokers the agribusiness side of a farm operation to a separate company – such as cheese making or other food production and agritourism activities.
NATIONWIDE INSURANCE – This is also a company I’m not currently representing but worth mentioning for their strong share of farm insurance policies in North Carolina.
Nationwide will consider a variety of farm risks and offers a range of endorsements to customize the coverage needs.
In the past they brokered the production and some other agribusiness risks to other companies but now it is all included under the Nationwide brand.
From my experience not all NC Nationwide agents are targeting farm prospects because of the long-standing emphasis on non-farm homes and automobile policies.
BUT IT SOUNDS LIKE THEY ARE A LOT ALIKE?
These five companies indeed share many characteristics.
Each company has good or better financial strength ratings from A. M. Best.
Each company is willing to write farm insurance however there are some variations between them as to what they will or will not accept for their underwriting guidelines. In other words, there is no “one size fits all” company in NC for farm insurance. One company may accept an older barn and another may exclude due to the condition of the building.
The premiums between the companies are completely driven by the unique characteristics of the farm so there is no way to consider any of these top 5 as being the price leader or loser. If you are considering how to cut back on insurance costs you can find some tips in this article: THE SECRETS TO HOW TO SAVE ON FARM INSURANCE
Since I represent three of the five I have listed I am happy to check all my options for best value for protection.
Having more than one option has been beneficial at times because a change in farm operation can mean the current company no longer meets the needs of my client.
IS AGRITOURISM A CHALLENGE FOR ALL THE BEST FARM INSURANCE COMPANIES IN NC?
The common issue amongst all of these farm insurance companies in North Carolina is that they can be very cautious regarding farms or agribusiness with agritourism aspects. Having the public come out on farm properties for activities, not just stopping at a roadside stand or coming to pick up a purchase, is a growing trend.
But even the best farm companies will have varying tolerance for that exposure. The amount of people who will be visiting and kind of activities occurring are the basic considerations.
I suggest you are up front and transparent on what your agritourism will include. Even if the company will write the coverage there will be some precautions and preparations needed.
I have a video series that provides some solid information and tips on agritourism safety and insurance:
I have had success with both Westfield and Everett Cash Mutual in writing farms that had some agritourism exposures but their appetites differed.
The additional option that I can access is brokering the agritourism activity with a separate company. This is similar to what I have seen with other businesses that I provide a special event policy when their regular company won’t write that activity.
The disadvantages to that approach are that it adds another billing to your insurance accounts, service can be slower, and pricing can be less competitive than if included in your main farm insurance.
SO NOW WHAT?
These five companies are not the only options for farm insurance in North Carolina but their market share and options they provide make them the top contenders in my opinion. Farmers in NC have more than one choice in insurance and that is important since operations can change from year to year.
Now it’s time to take a closer look at what your farm policy might need and answer whatever specific questions you still have. Schedule a time that works best for you and we’ll get it all figured out.
I look forward to hearing from you!