You have crop insurance to protect against crop losses; a farm policy to cover barns and equipment; and workers compensation insurance to cover farmhands. But that doesn’t mean the farm is adequately covered, especially if you open the pasture gates and welcome visitors.
Agritourism is more popular than ever with more than 13,334 farms grossing an estimated $674 million from agritourism activities, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.
While pumpkin patches, U-pick berries, hayrides and corn mazes are great ways to introduce folks to the farm (and generate additional revenue), these activities come with additional risks. Agritourism insurance protects visitors who come to your farm — and protects your farm in case visitors become ill or are injured on the premises.
Agritourism insurance can be added to your insurance policy as an optional endorsement. It covers on-farm entertainment activities that are not considered part of regular farming business and may be excluded under your existing farm policy.
Ask your agent these five questions to help find the best agritourism policy:
1. What’s the right fit?
Find an insurance agent who is familiar with agritourism and can answer questions about the type and amount of coverage you need. Keep your agent updated about changes to your agritourism operations. Adding (or eliminating) activities could change your coverage requirements.
2. What does it cover and exclude?
Your insurance company may require you to also carry commercial insurance (in addition to your traditional farm or ranch policy) to maximize your coverage. Not all companies provide identical coverage: One insurer may cover activities that another excludes.
3. What records should I keep?
As part of maintaining your agritourism insurance policy, your insurer may require you to provide proof of appropriate farm signage, veterinary records, health department permits, and adequate health and safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and hand-washing stations.
The National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety has free resources, including downloadable signs, to educate visitors about safety on your farm.
4. What laws should I know?
Before opening up your farm for agritourism activities, make sure you’re compliant with all federal, state and local laws, regulations, codes and permitting requirements. The National Agricultural Law Center reports that over half of U.S. states have enacted statutes relating to agritourism activities, including liability protections for agritourism operators. Check the statutes in your state and abide by them. Agritourism insurance won’t protect against negligence.
5. Are waivers necessary?
There is no substitute for adequate insurance but asking guests to sign liability waivers offers an additional layer of protection. These waivers, which outline the specific risks of various agricultural activities, are considered legal documents.
While agritourism is a great way to introduce visitors to your farm or ranch, it also opens you up to additional liability that likely isn’t covered as part of your standard farm or ranch insurance policy. Connect with your Farm Bureau agent for an on-site SuperCheck to make sure you’re covered.