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Check Your Livestock Insurance Small Print
2012-06-26

The widely reported deaths of four prize-winning Holstein cattle in Fife earlier last week, highlights key insurance cover issues for farmers, says Philip Pagin, Managing Director of H&H Insurance Brokers. He believes, “Some may wish to reach for their insurance policies to check out the small print.”

Philip Pagin of H&H Insurance Brokers

Philip Pagin

Animals do stray, accidents will happen, and in the insurance world these are regular occurrences. Although most farmers would immediately be aware of the consequences if there were Public Liability issues, this is not the case if it is a general insurance issue. In light of this recent event, farmers need to think about the protection their insurance gives them.

“Many may think major losses like this are covered, but they would not be, under a general policy – and with livestock prices at an all time high– this is a risk that it may be better not to overlook,” says Philip, who works out of the company’s Borderway office in Carlisle.

The deaths of the four cattle followed slurry and gypsum bedding material mixing. It is believed they were overcome by the resulting toxic gas emissions. Accidents of this kind are not considered in the insurance industry to be “standard perils” covered by farm insurance. Only if the animals concerned had strayed off the farm and been killed would losses of this kind be covered.

The issue highlights significant problems for farmers with commercial livestock, sheep and cattle. Additional cover is available to cover risks from events such as worrying by dogs, foxes and vermin, theft, fatal injury on your own land or in a building following a storm. Philip comments: “Considering how commonplace these events are, farmers may wish to feel better protected.”

Previously, the deaths of livestock were considered to be additional costs that farm businesses absorbed, so insurance policies reflected that. The normal range of risk covers only fire, lightning, electrocution, transit, fatal Injury whilst straying, aircraft, earthquake, malicious damage, and impact.

The additional cover involves an increased premium, but for today’s high value animals farmers need to consider what the consequences of an uninsured loss are – if it is a farm’s main bull, for example, the loss of a key breeding animal is likely to be very costly to replace.

“Many of our 1500 clients are apparently happy, or unaware, of the risks they face.”
Philip adds: “In most instances pedigree prizewinning champions are specifically insured and would normally have all-risks mortality cover, but not your everyday stock. My advice is to remember how much they cost to replace, and, to check your policies very carefully to ensure that the insurance cover that you have meets your exact needs.

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