According to Deutsche Welle, an Austrian court has held a farmer liable after one of his cows killed a hiker walking through his farm. The article reported that the cow grew enraged at the hiker’s dog and charged at them. The farmer will have to pay over $200,000 in restitution for the horrible event to the deceased’s spouse and son.
I’m not well-versed on the nuances of Austrian liability law and insurance. But what if a similar (hopefully non-fatal) accident happened on a farm in the U.S. – how would insurance play a role?
Luckily, there’s a thing called “farm insurance.” It can get complicated, but often a farm insurance policy is just a hodgepodge of property and liability coverages – with a lot of customization in between for the unique needs of each farm.
Today, let’s just focus on the liability part. Imagine Farmer Joe’s cow, Betty, runs wild and breaks the leg of someone visiting his farm. What happens?
Paying for liability damages and medical expenses
The standard farm liability policy will cover damages if someone is hurt on the farm (subject to various limitations and exclusions, of course). So when Betty breaks someone’s leg, Farmer Joe’s insurance will help cover any damages he has to pay. The farm policy will also pay for some medical expenses, regardless of who is at fault for the injury. Medical expenses usually include first aid and other necessary services.
Feats of strength are not covered
Easy enough. But imagine another scenario: Farmer Joe is holding a cow race on his farm and has invited his neighbors to watch. Betty breaks loose from the race track and breaks his neighbor’s leg. In this case, Farmer Joe is probably not covered for any injuries arising out of races, strength contests, or stunts. Nor is he covered if someone got hurt while riding Betty for a fee.
Lots of policies, lots of options
There are many types of farms: dairy farms, cattle ranches, horse farms, poultry farms, agritourism farms. There are many different types of insurance coverages available for each unique situation. Here’s just a taste:
- Horse farms and ranches (property and liability)
- Commercial equine (liability for horse-breeding operations)
- Equine (business coverage if a horse becomes ill or dies)
- Livestock insurance (covers animals other than horses)
- Crop insurance
- Farrier (property and liability for people who shoe horses)
- Riding instructor
- Roadside farm stand and farmers’ market insurance
- Agritourism (corn mazes, on-premises hay rides, petting zoos)
It’s always important to talk to an insurance agent about your coverage needs. You may not think that you have farm liability exposures, but if you live in a semi-rural or rural area and own livestock, it’s probably a good idea to double check.
You can read more about farm and ranch insurance here.