[Market-farming] another insurance question

KAKerby at aol.com KAKerby at aol.com
Fri Mar 8 13:11:26 EST 2013

I'm in several regional growers and farmers' groups, and I've never seen  
any of this stuff discussed except for the occasional "I need insurance, who 
do  I talk to" email sent out to the various groups.  That's been the extent 
of  it so far.  I suspect a lot of folks have followed the 
don't-ask-don't-tell  approach so it's almost a taboo topic.  I also suspect a lot of folks 
are  simply running without insurance at all, or just crossing their fingers 
and  hoping that their residential insurance policy covers it. That's what 
we were  doing until we learned that our residential insurance policy not 
only wouldn't  cover a lot of this stuff, but would be canceled outright if it 
came to  light we were engaged in these farming activities.  That's when we 
knew we  had to find something else.
As for whether every insurer in the state of WA has similar policies, I  
can't say with 100% certainty.  But I can say that when we first started  
shopping for coverage three years ago, we talked to three different insurers who 
 claimed to do farm insurance of some kind.  But when we said we did meat  
and eggs, that ended the conversation right there.  I had landed with  
Nationwide because they didn't stop the conversation at that point; they still  
offered coverage for all the farm activities we were doing at the time.  I  
suspect in the intervening months, they have reached a corporate decision 
that  they don't want to stay in the farm insurance biz, because right now the  
underwriter is throwing every possible obstacle in our path that he can 
think  of.  The two other insurance agents I've talked to, have had to  shop 
around for policy coverage from national and/or out of state  sources.  But if 
those policies are national in coverage, then growers in  other states 
would have similar issues.  
Kathryn Kerby
Snohomish, WA
In a message dated 3/8/2013 9:53:23 A.M. Pacific Standard Time,  
rstewart at zoomtown.com writes:

Is it the same with every insurer in the State of Washington?  The  dried 
grains is absurd as most farms dry on site.  Are you a member of a  farming 

We board horses, but Carriage House Farm does not board them.  Riverwind 
Stable another LLC does that.  That company leases space  from Carriage House 
Farm.  The State of Ohio also has a lot of common  sense liability codes 
that no one can sue an equine facility unless it is  irresponsibly negligent.  
This helps tremendously with insurance.

I'd ditch the equipment repair business and follow a don't ask don't tell  

Sent from my iPhone

On Mar 8, 2013, at 11:22 AM, _KAKerby at aol.com_ (mailto:KAKerby at aol.com)  

I sent through a reply this morning but it doesn't seem to have gone  
through.  I'll try again, but here's an advance apology if things go  through 
You are correct that we did  have a lot up in the air earlier this year; 
I'm happy to report most of  those questions have now been answered.   
However, I don't think  that's the issue.  And this goes way beyond meat 
production, and  way beyond local regulations.  Some other activities which are  
specifically listed as reasons to deny a policy:
on-farm grain  drying
any kind of fruit juice,  unless it's pasteurized
repair of machinery for a fee  (for instance, if folks repair farm 
implements for other folks during the  winter)horseback riding lessons, horse 
training for others, and/or horse  boarding

In addition to the above, sometimes a product or activity is  allowed, but 
only if I followed the insurance company's procedure.  So I can do turkeys 
and chicken, but only if the birds leave the  property for slaughtering and 
don't come back.  That's in direct  conflict with state law, for any state 
with on-farm small-scale slaughter  exemptions.  Similarly, I can do grains, 
but only if the grains  leave the property right after harvest to be dried 
off-site.  That  rules out any sort of on-farm value-added processing; it may 
also rule out  drying and storage for our own use.  I can do hay, as long as 
 the bales are stored in the field.  If I wanted to store hay in  a barn 
close to the house, I'd have to exclude the barn from  coverage.  If I wanted 
to protect the barn, I'd have to find  another place to cover/protect my 
hay.  I found myself wondering  how many folks are going to be progressively 
excluded from more and more  typical farm operations as they acquire or renew 
policies, because of  these kinds of ever-tightening criteria.  

Since the FSMA is very heavy on procedural changes and verification,  I 
found myself wondering if the next wave of insurance leverage would be  (or 
might already be) to deny coverage if farms didn't follow certain  
insurance-company-mandated procedures with their veggie  handling.  If the kinds of 
discrepancies I've seen in meat  production are any indicator, insurance company 
procedures for fresh  veggie production won't match state/federal regs.  
Under  that scenario, folks will have to decide if they're going to comply 
with  FSMA, or be insured.  My concern is that they won't be able to do  both.

If this isn't an issue yet with fresh produce, that's good news at  least 
in the short term.  But the list of excluded activities is  getting longer by 
the day.  I can't imagine fresh produce is going to  escape the attention 
of the insurance industry for very long.  I  suggest folks keep an eye out 
for these developments.  I'd also  suggest folks who already have insurance, 
check to see what might have  recently been excluded from coverage under a 
general umbrella policy.  For each of these specifically excluded items, we 
can get additional  policies just for those items.  But of course at 
additional, and  sometimes much higher cost.  That's where I think this is going.  
Individual itemized coverage for each type of farm activity, and the  small 
guy will be priced out of the market.  I hope I'm proven  wrong.
Kathryn Kerby
_frogchorusfarm.com_ (http://frogchorusfarm.com/) 
Snohomish, WA

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