The right insurance coverage for livestock farms

4 minute read

When it comes to insuring your livestock farm, you can opt for a comprehensive policy to cover your business, but you might need extra individual coverage for specific operations, too. After all, there can be a variety of needs, risks and consequences to consider when groups of animals are involved. Different farms can call for different coverages, so the first step is to isolate your unique livestock insurance needs.

Blanket coverage or individual coverage?

Blanket coverage is intended to cover a farm’s property, from livestock to equipment and structures. However, it doesn’t mean you can trust everything to be covered and accounted for – it’s up to you to ensure that you have the appropriate amount of coverage for each of the assets on your farm. If you don’t calculate correctly, you could run into trouble when you suffer a loss.

The Farm Choice policy – a part of the Northbridge Insurance Agriculture Solution – combines a range of insurance requirements in one policy, covering assets like farm buildings and contents to general and personal liability. However, every farm is different, so there are plenty of ways to customize the plan, including extra bundles for the type of livestock you raise.

If you don’t calculate your farm assets correctly, you could run into trouble when you suffer a loss. tweet

The basics: coverage to keep your farm protected

Whether you raise pigs, cows, chickens or goats, some farm staples are exposed to common risks. Hay or feed, swathed grain, newly constructed buildings, farming equipment, machinery and personal effects are all vulnerable to damage, and should be covered in case of a loss. And then there’s the aftermath to consider: fire department service charges, pollutant clean-up and debris removal are all unpleasant (and potentially expensive) tasks you could face in the wake of a major incident.

Canadian weather is unpredictable at the best of times, so protection against the elements – notably wind and hail – can save you a good deal of stress and expense. However, our hot summer climate means that overheating is also a perennial problem, and that can bring unique risks for livestock farmers.

Covering your cattle

The specialized equipment and amount of product involved in dairy farming can call for extra measures when it comes to livestock insurance. All it takes is a power outage to put your cooling tanks or your ventilation fans out of commission, and that could leave you with a large amount of spoiled milk or a herd with heatstroke.

In other cases, you could lose your product to contamination resulting from animal medication, cleaning solutions or dirt. Not only can this result in a significant amount of lost revenue, but your customers – and your reputation – could suffer the consequences.

Fortunately, you’re not on your own when it comes to the specific risks involved with raising cattle: the Dairy Choice extension to the Farm Choice policy covers you for some key losses particular to dairy farming. For instance, milk spoilage is covered if an electrical service interruption causes a temperature change in your building, or if your fridge machinery breaks down. And if your milk becomes contaminated due to any of the perils listed in your policy, you’re covered for that loss, too.

Protecting your poultry

Poultry farmers may not have the extensive machinery or storage equipment typically used by dairy farmers, but there are some important elements that, in the event of malfunction or failure, could lead to disaster.

Temperature extremes are simply a part of life in Canada, and a working ventilation system is particularly important to keep animals cool in the summer. However, one faulty electrical panel is enough to stop the fans in a chicken barn, raise the heat and kill off an entire flock in a matter of hours. However, Northbridge’s Poultry Choice extension includes Heat Prostration coverage that would not only pay for the dead poultry in this worst case scenario, but would cover the cost of the animal removal, too.

One faulty electrical panel is enough to stop the fans in a chicken barn, raise the heat and kill off an entire flock in a matter of hours. tweet

Managing your risks, minimizing your loss

Coverage for specific equipment, animal assets and liability claims is important if an incident occurs, but loss prevention should be a top priority. Take advantage of the resources around you to familiarize yourself with best practices in every area of your operations, from maintenance and storage to common hazards. You could save yourself a lot of money and stress if you can prevent problems from interrupting your business.

Property assessments can seem like an inconvenience when you’re busy running a farm, but consider how valuable a visit from a knowledgeable consultant can be: an in-person assessment can cover electrical equipment, proper ventilation, fire prevention and even thermal imaging of buildings and components to determine hidden hazards. As a value-added offering, dedicated agricultural operations consultants at Northbridge can help keep you one step ahead of common threats to your farm.

If you suspect that your livestock farm may need better coverage, speak with your broker or insurance professional to help customize a plan to suit your operations.

Coverage not available in Quebec.