As farmers wait for winter to recede and a new cropping season to begin, one thing they could do is to check on the appropriateness of the various types of insurance that they have on their farm property and thereby avoid any unpleasant surprises in case a claim is filed.
That was the message from Chris Kovach, a Plymouth-based agent for the independent Maritime Insurance Group for attendees at a crop insurance update meeting, sponsored by Premier Insurance Solutions, LLC. Kovach has been in the farm and commercial insurance policy field for nearly 20 years.
Kovach outlined six coverage centers that should form the basics of a farm policy. They are coverage on the owner's dwelling, other structures, personal property, the farm-related personal property (cattle, machinery, tools, feed, seed), farm outbuildings, and loss of use of those assets.
In the realm of liability, the items to check are personal liability, medical payments, and employee liability and medical payments, Kovach pointed out. Farmers who hire custom operators should be sure that those parties have their own insurance to cover any damage or injury, he advised.
In addition to the basic policies on those categories of coverage, farmers need to be aware of the value of endorsements that apply to unusual situations but could be quite beneficial, Kovach indicated.
For a homeowner policy, endorsements address such items the difference between the replacement cost on a dwelling and the actual cash value, the replacement cost of personal property minus a deductible, water or sewer damage to basement appliances such as a freezer or heater, identity theft, and an option to schedule out on personal property such as jewelry, computers, paintings, guns, or similar items, he explained.
For the farm outbuildings, Kovach listed 10 separate points for attention but recommended obtaining a package of them in order to save on the premium. To those who have coverage on those facilities, he suggested verifying if a collapse caused by snow or ice is included, what is covered if a silo, equipment, or some other item should fall, if there is a distinction between metal and frame buildings, and if there is a rebuilding clause.
Other items on that list of 10 are all-risk coverage for new facilities such as a milking parlor, equipment breakdown of fixed place units (not combines, choppers, or skidloaders), foreign object damage (rocks into a chopper), peak season coverage (storage of seeds, fuel, fertilizer), protection of farm business income and coverage of extra expenses linked to a loss of facilities, equipment, or livestock, and off-premise power failure that requires use of a generator or movement of cattle, Kovach stated. He said the latter endorsement is available for only about $10 per year.
To get the most from the farm outbuilding segment of coverage, package all 10 of the endorsements, Kovach advised. He also cited the importance of knowing the limits and exclusions and reacting properly to them.
As an example, Kovach described a case in which a farmer had a fire in bunker silo that contained about $125,000 worth of silage. Because he wasn't aware that his insurance had a limit of $10,000 per unit or pile of silage, he was able to recover only a small portion of the loss.
To those who need an update or basic advice on how to structure a policy and what coverage to have, find an advisor who is familiar with farming, Kovach suggested. He can be reached by phone at 920-893-5995, cell at 920-901-5959, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.