As agriculture professionals return to fields to prepare for planting season, they should set aside time to ensure their operations are sufficiently protected from the myriad hazards faced throughout the year. As the country’s leading insurer of farms and ranches1, Nationwide shared its list of the top preventable insurance claims on farms and ranches in 2019 along with advice on how to defend against them.
The following claim types accounted for more than 20,000 claims in 2019:
- Weather, such as wind, hail and lightning
- Roadway vehicle accidents
- Mobile equipment on farm/on the road
- Animal-caused damage
- Building collapse
- Workplace injuries
- On-premises injuries
- Food safety
Nationwide’s risk management team serves members by helping them recognize areas of their operation where they may need to take extra measures to keep their employees, products and equipment safe.
“Today’s farmers are facing unprecedented challenges – from dealing with impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to navigating trade challenges, all while they prepare their fields for the season,” said Nationwide Agribusiness president Brad Liggett. “Nationwide has built its reputation as the largest farm and ranch insurer through decades of relationships and hard work to protect agricultural professionals. We hope that sharing this information along with some best practices for risk management will help them address the risks they do have control over and further boost the safety and efficiency of their operation.”
To help farmers prevent or mitigate the risk of these costly disruptions, Nationwide offers the following tips to protect your farm or ranch:
To help prevent or reduce the impacts of fires, ensure working fire extinguishers are present in shop areas and on mobile equipment. You should also confirm that the appropriate electrical service is in place for the environment (grain bins, confinement, etc.) and have a licensed electrician inspect the system as updates are made. Make certain that flammables are stored properly, confirming fuel tanks are located away from structures, and implement regular maintenance and good housekeeping measures for properties and heating units.
Weather (wind, hail and lightening)
When possible, verify that quality building materials are utilized during construction and that proper building maintenance is followed to keep properties in safe condition. To help prevent wind damage to structures, check that screws are used as opposed to nails for the roof and siding fasteners. Protect critical electrical components with lightning surge protection and make sure backup generators are on hand for power outages. Remember to also store equipment and vehicles under cover for protection from hail.
Roadway vehicle and mobile equipment accidents
Accidents involving vehicles or mobile equipment tend to be severe losses. Prioritize the safety of drivers by implementing driver training and sharing rural road safety information. For mobile equipment, be sure maintenance is up-to-date, all operators are trained to use equipment properly, and that safety features, such as lighting and SMV signs, are operational. Avoid moving machinery after dark when possible. It’s also helpful to plan routes in advance to anticipate any potential hazards you might encounter like bridge weight limits or slick roads.
Livestock operations often experience costly damages resulting from animals escaping and damaging property or being struck by vehicles. Verify that adequate fencing is in place and that it’s routinely inspected for damage, especially after storms or high wind events. Daily monitoring of livestock can also help identify potential problems.
Building collapse-related claims commonly result from snow and ice buildup on structures, though they also occur with grain bins and other farm structures. To prevent unnecessary weight on structures, implement snow removal plans and be sure to target areas where snow and ice tends to build. You should also maintain the integrity of farm structures by conducting regular truss inspections, including inspections of nail plates and truss bracing, in addition to following proper building maintenance practices. For grain storage structures, make certain that proper grain storage and loading/unloading practices are followed.
Workplace and on-premises injuries
Workplace training is critical to ensure the safety of workers and products while protecting your operation from costly interruptions. Confirm training is comprehensive and that adequate safe guards, like machine guarding, spotters and up-to-date equipment maintenance, are in place. You should also communicate clearly with workers and have an emergency action plan that’s ready to be put to use in the event it’s needed. On-premises injuries are of particular concern in agritourism or other situations where people are invited onto the farm. Housekeeping is very important; make sure walk ways are even, clear and free from slip/trip hazards. You can also consider limiting public access to hazardous areas.
Even in rural communities, theft of property, mobile equipment and motor vehicles can be relatively common. Restrict public access to properties with locks and gates and use security lighting and camera systems to scare away bad actors. It’s also helpful to park equipment out of easy view and remove the keys to any vehicles.
More and more farm operations are becoming intimately involved in food production as a way to supplement income or create a direct relationship with customers. As with other areas of agriculture, food safety requires strict adherence to training and sanitation precautions. You should also be strict with housekeeping practices to reduce clutter and the chance for contamination. Equipment maintenance is also important to ensure good working order and appropriate cleaning.
To learn about Nationwide’s risk management services or get started with a farm review for your operation, visit https://www.nationwide.com/agribusiness.