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Farm Owners Could Benefit From Worker’s Compensation Coverage

Farm Owners Could Benefit From Worker’s Compensation Coverage
July 26, 2005 |

Imagine you have worked hard all day to finish so you can go fishing tomorrow. You ask your farm hand to help you hitch your bass boat to your truck. As the farm hand is holding the hitch, he loses his balance, and the hitch falls on him, breaking his leg. Now imagine that you take him to the doctor and find out that he is going to be out of work for about three months (about $5,000 in salary) and that his medical bills will be an additional $25,000.Do you have insurance to cover his medical expenses? Do you have insurance to replace this key employee’s lost income? The answers to these questions are perhaps more complex than most people realize. Worker’s compensation coverage may be the answer to these questions. While it is true that as a farmer, you are exempt from mandatory worker’s compensation laws; it is also true that this exemption does not mean farmers have no need for this coverage. To the contrary, farming is considered one of the most dangerous professions in the United States. According to the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC), the national averages are 750 deaths to farm owners per year, 500 deaths to persons visiting farms per year, 300 deaths to children per year and 140,000 disabling injuries to farm workers per year. The death rate on farms per year is actually higher than professions like mining and construction.Additionally, there are unique conditions on farms that make the worker’s compensation exposure different from other professions. Some of these unique exposures include isolated work sites, exceptionally long work days, and self-repair of large equipment and structures. In exchange for additional premium, the Alfa Insurance farm policy does offer an optional coverage called “employer’s liability.” However, it is important to understand that “employer’s liability” coverage and worker’s compensation are not the same. In exchange for a reduced premium relative to worker’s compensation coverage, “employer’s liability” coverage is much more limited and restrictive than worker’s compensation–meaning that employer’s liability coverage has exclusions and limitations that are not present in worker’s compensation policies. Which coverage is right for you? That depends upon your situation and how much risk you are willing to take. The best advice is to contact your agent to discuss the exposures on your farm and to make the decision that is right for you.Rex Seabrook is manager of farm underwriting for Alfa Insurance.

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