Farm insurance: 4 good reasons to get it June 14, 2016

If you sell or give away your eggs, or have friends and neighbors over to visit your chickens — and you don’t have farm insurance — you could find yourself in hot water. (Hint: if you don’t know whether you have farm insurance, you don’t have it.)

Eggs in many colors - use farm insurance

Your beautiful eggs could get you into trouble!

If you’re like most chicken keepers, you’re an unabashed show-off. You’ll pull anyone who shows the slightest interest into your kitchen to wow them with your insanely vibrant eggs; you’ll show them your fairy eggs, or eggs with odd bumps or color striations. Or you’ll gab about how orange your yolks are, how fresh eggs hold their shape better in the frying pan, how delicious they are… It never gets old watching people react to your fresh eggs–or experiencing their delight as you gift them with a dozen.

And you love showing guests your gorgeous flock of prized birds, strutting around your yard in a rainbow of colors. You show them how friendly your flock is, how your favorite birds will hop up into your lap, and you let your guest pet or hold your birds to see for themselves.

Two girls holding pet chickens- use farm insurance

Kids love to handle chickens! That could get you in trouble, too.

Whether you’re keeping your chickens for profit or pleasure, there’s zero chance you’re keeping them and their beautiful eggs all to yourself. Unfortunately, this puts you at risk.

Think your friends wouldn’t sue you?

Well, you could be right… but their health insurance company might, to recover their expenses. This happens all the time, and it’s called subrogation.

Here are two scenarios where it could happen:

Scenario 1: Food poisoning from eggs
No matter how careful you are, there’s always the chance that someone could get Salmonella from not properly cooking the eggs you’ve given them, and end up with a hefty hospital bill. I’m sure we’ve all heard of the nationwide recalls and class action lawsuits against big-time egg producers for Salmonella infection, but people sue small-time producers, too. Here are a few examples:

Maryland apple cider case (2010)
Michigan bakery case (2002)
Missouri raw milk case (2008)
California raw milk case (2006)

Scenario 2: Your chicken petting zoo
If you’re like us, you introduce your chickens to as many people as possible, knowing your flock will delight them with friendliness. But if folks don’t wash their hands after handling your birds, and then contract E. coli or Salmonella, they could end up with a huge hospital bill (or worse). This is even easier to trace than food-borne illness, and examples of these types of lawsuits abound, too. Here are a few:

Florida Petting Zoo case (2005)
California Petting Zoo case (2005)
North Carolina Petting Zoo case (2004)

Regardless of whether you sold eggs or gave them away for free—or  whether you reminded your friend to cook their eggs all the way through or to wash their hands—indeed, whether or not your eggs or chickens were in fact the source of the infection, if there’s even a suspicion they were, you could be sued. And no matter what, you’d incur significant legal expenses defending yourself. But if you lost? You’d have to find a way to pay those medical expenses PLUS the legal fees.

So you have to ask yourself: could you pay tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or more, without affecting your lifestyle? If the answer is no…

…Farm insurance to the rescue!

Farm insurance—both general farm liability and “farm products” insurance, which specifically cover chickens and eggs—covers legal expenses in case of a lawsuit, and pays damages up to a certain, set amount, however much you’re insured for.

4 good reasons to get farm insurance

#1 – Liability

Liability is the first and most important reason to get farm insurance. If you don’t have it—specifically, “farm products” insurance which explicitly covers eggs, poultry, and poultry products—illness and accident aren’t covered. And remember, someone’s insurance company can decide to sue you even if you’re innocent!

#2 – Insurance for your coops

You can include any livestock buildings you choose in your coverage. Do you have several coops? Farm insurance will include them all. If you keep other types of livestock—horses, for example, or goats—you can cover the barn or the pen.

#3 – Protect your chicken supplies

You’re covered in case of a fire, flood or other disaster.  Many homeowner’s policies wouldn’t cover, say, lightning damage to your expensive heated waterers, or all the feed that got ruined by a leaky roof. With farm insurance, farm products, supplies, and tools can all be covered—including feed and equipment!

#4 – Cover tractors and other farm equipment, too!

Normal homeowner insurance excludes farm equipment.  But with farm insurance, you can protect the tractor use use to drag your mobile coop, for example. And if there is some incident and you lose your Bobcat or other equipment used for farm animals, farm insurance covers replacement of those items

Those are the four good reasons for getting farm insurance.

The most amazing thing? For my family, it turned out that we actually saved money by switching to farm insurance. We were even able to increase our “umbrella” coverage by a significant amount. Farm insurance replaced our homeowner’s insurance, and we have the same types of coverage, same deductibles, same everything, except we get the added bonus of farm coverage, an added million in umbrella coverage—and we are saving $200 per year.

Go figure.

I don’t include this as one of the reasons, because maybe we were paying too much for our homeowner’s insurance to begin with; maybe your farm insurance quote will come in higher than your current homeowner’s insurance. I don’t know. I can only tell you that our experience was that we saved money–so maybe you will, too.

Who I chose for farm insurance

If you’re like me, the prospect of liability risk alone is enough to make you want to switch to farm insurance, so I wanted to have ready for you a long list of farm insurers from which to choose. I researched and made many, many phone calls, only to have folks either not get back to me, or to find out that poultry and poultry products are specifically excluded from most insurers’ farm policies. So I can only offer you contact information from my insurance agency. (And I promise you, I’m not making a dime off of this referral!)

Farm Family/American National
Find an agent near you
Main phone: (518) 431-5000
My agent in CT: Ron Hocutt, 860-875-3333

(We can’t say enough about Ron. He has taken very good care of us personally and My Pet Chicken over the years.)

9 Comments
Joyce M. June 18th, 2016

This is so incredibly important. I know a number of people who have had to drop their hospitalization insurance all together because their premiums were in the $1200 to $1400 per month range. That makes them very vulnerable and if they got sick from my eggs I am sure they would come knocking on my door to save themselves thousands. It is a sad state but their lack of insurance makes me vulnerable. It is definitely worth looking into to see if Farm Insurance would be a viable alternative to home owners insurance. Thanks for raising my awareness.

Nicholas A. Landa July 18th, 2016

Your post is very informative. Thanks for sharing!

Jennifer C. Butler July 22nd, 2016

I love your post! So useful ~ Thanks for sharing!

Sarah Smith August 16th, 2016

I had no idea that you could get insurance for livestock. I think that is a great idea and can help protect you in the case of a natural disaster. Another thing to consider is making sure to get a good insurance policy with low premiums.

Maggie Allen August 24th, 2016

Wow, I never even knew that there have been cases of food poisoning from eggs. That’s definitely a big deal! And since hospital bills can be very expensive, I can imagine that a case of bad eggs could definitely cut into your profits. Plus, you also have to spend time rebuilding your image afterwards, which can decrease profits even further.

Shawn Hall February 27th, 2017

We live in a suburban home with neighbors on all sides and a large backyard. We’re lucky that in Reno, NV, you are not limited to the number of hens (no roosters) and your coop can be any size with small restrictions (5′ from neibor’s fence, 3′ from your house, and no taller than 15′) we have less than 1/4 acre of land (we also grow some crops). Would I benefit from “farm insurance” even though it’s not really a farm (17 hens)?

Traci February 27th, 2017

Hi, Shawn. If you have other folks over to your place to see or handle your chickens (or even clean your coops, say)–or if you give away your eggs or cook them for guests to your house–then yes, you’d probably benefit from farm insurance! For us, it was a no-brainer because we were able to get coverage for our chickens and eggs, in addition to all of our normal home insurance coverage, and save money doing so.

John Mahoney March 2nd, 2017

I didn’t know that your farming equipment was included with your farm insurance. I can see that making sure you do our homework can help you save a ton of money and time. It is important to remember that choosing the right insurance can help you avoid stress and get the help you need when you need it.

Kylie Dotts August 9th, 2017

I didn’t realize that farm insurance also covered the buildings that your animals lived in. It would be good to know that regardless of what happened to those buildings you would be able to replace them and be able to have protection for your livestock. They’re a big provider if you have chickens or cows so keeping them safe would be important to make sure they can still help provide for your family.

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