Reducing Liabilities Within Your Agribusiness

The agriculture industry is very diverse. Ranging from livestock processing to grain storage and pesticide distribution.

Because agriculture is such a broad industry, insurance risks vary across that spectrum. Each unique agricultural business faces its own liabilities. Day-to-day risks mandate unique agribusiness insurance coverage for each operation and employee.

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Agricultural businesses must take proper steps to protect themselves and the public. Doing so can help protect the business’ financial and legal stability. Should a problem arise, insurance policies often help make repairs, compensate victims, and settle legal claims.

Choosing Agribusiness Liability Coverage

Business liability coverage usually doesn’t involve a single policy. You might need multiple policies to fully insure your agricultural business’ risks. Choosing the right combination of policies is a job for both you and your insurance agent.

Together, you and your agent can consider multiple coverage options for your agribusiness. Your first priority should be protecting the safety of your employees and guests. Without a safe business environment, operations cannot proceed normally. Always consider the following options, at minimum:

General Liability Coverage: Most standard business policies include a certain amount of liability insurance. General liability policies can help you compensate third parties for injuries or illnesses sustained on your location or as a result of your operation

Professional Liability Coverage: No business gets it right all the time. Agricultural professionals deal in products that are extremely valuable to the public. If a business provides bad advice or products, consumers may experience harm. Professional liability insurance can help you recover from allegations of damages to consumers. They can also help you make changes to prevent these mistakes from happening again.

Workers’ Compensation: Employee wellbeing is extremely valuable to agricultural business. If an employee gets sick or hurt on the job, it may disrupt production and compromise your products. You may have to pay an injured employee, whether you are liable or not. Workers’ comp insurance can help you compensate an injured employee while they are unable to perform their normal job duties.

Liability insurance can be specifically tailored to protect your business. Have a discussion with your agent about ways to address your business' risks.

Reducing Liabilities in Your Business

Creating a safe work environment should always be a priority. Doing so greatly reduces the chances that something will happen to one of your employees and in turn will increase the marketability of your business to insurance carriers. Regularly inspect your job sites for any hazards that could put your staff or customers at risk. 

Your first step in securing your business should be to walk around the location. Take note of any materials, locations, machinery or commodities that might cause harm. Make a list of potential hazards and analyze them with your agent. Doing so can help you pinpoint coverage that is right for you. Your insurance agent will likely ask you a lot of questions about your operations. Honest answers will give them a comprehensive picture of your business to better assist them in establishing the proper coverages.

  • Follow guidelines required by your state and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA regulations make sure that employees have safe environments in which to work. Regulations can be industry specific. They help keep your risks low and make your business a safer place in which to work.
  • Keep your machinery and processing equipment in good working order. During malfunctions, risks of business interruption and employee injuries increase. Make sure that these systems operate at optimal capacity and without damages. Only use your machinery for its intended purposes.
  • Only allow trained employees to operate any sensitive equipment, machinery or systems. Most employees specialize in one or two operations. Don’t allow them to work in areas in which they are not properly trained. Doing so could put the employee and the company in jeopardy.
  • Make sure employees are aware of practices to keep themselves and others safe while at work. Vigorously enforce safety rules and maintain a sanitary working environment. Agricultural production involves materials that consumers trust will come to them without contamination. Unsanitary conditions pose risks to both employees and to the general public. Make sure to comply with all state and federal laws. 
  • Require employees to use safety gear when necessary. These may include but are not limited to eye protection, gloves, masks, boots, hard hats and other garments. Such requirements greatly reduce potential injuries.
  • Keep an eye on production. Any business wants to ensure that its product is fit for the consumer. Oversight helps ensure quality production and may help you catch potential consumer hazards.
  • Regularly inspect major systems like the electricity, plumbing, HVAC and gas. Doing so annually can help you ensure safe operation of these systems.
  • Separate and properly secure potentially hazardous items. Doing so greatly reduces the chances of an accident.

Remember, general liability insurance may not be the only type of protection your business needs. You likely need other policies to fully insure your agricultural business. However, general liability coverage is an important starting point to secure your agribusiness.

Josh Smith is a Vice President at Bouchard Insurance. Josh specializes in Property and Casualty and Employee Benefits programs for large commercial businesses. | Connect on Linkedin