Whew! Old MacDonald Had Insurance on His Farm  

From crops to cattle, from tractors to tourists, agricultural businesses vary greatly in their insurance risks and needs. Some coverage types are basic for any farm, while others are more specific to the type of business for which the farm is used. Following are options available to those in the agriculture business. Contact your insurance agent to see which policies are the best fit for your farm in order to get the protection you need.

Property insurance. This type of policy is a basic for any farm. It protects your property against lightning, fire, and explosion.

Liability insurance. Because you are running a business, you need liability insurance, no matter what type of farm you own. This provides protection if someone is harmed on your property or if someone’s property is damaged due to your farming operations. It covers medical and legal costs.

Additional or specific liability. These types of coverage depend on your business and may be a good option for you:

  • Animal shows/fairs. This covers your livestock when it is taken to 4-H shows or fairs.
  • Building construction liability. This provides coverage for employee injuries for farmers who are adding new structures or repairing old buildings on the property.
  • Farmers market liability. If a customer is injured at your market or has an allergic reaction to your product, this coverage protects you as a vendor.
  • Agritourism. Hay rides, sleigh rides, and other activities usually involve risk to patrons. This insurance covers the tourist-related aspects of your farm.

Crop insurance. Crop insurance comes in two types:

  • Crop-hail. This is provided by private insurers and protects against crop value loss due to hail damage.
  • Multiple peril. Offering protection against all types of natural disasters, this type of coverage is provided by both the private sector and the federal government. Coverage includes damages due to drought and excessive moisture.

Pollution insurance. Many farming operations include the risk of chemical spills, fuel spills, or other pollution incidents. This policy covers cleanup, damages, and bodily injury related to pollution episodes. This option may be included as part of a general farm liability policy.

Machinery insurance. Combines, tractors, balers, and other equipment often are essential for your business and costly to repair or replace. Coverage for farm machinery helps with costs resulting from fire, lightning, or explosions. Options are also available to help cover loss of income due to machinery breakdown.

Livestock and poultry insurance. These aren’t pets; they’re your livelihood. Insuring them is important. Coverage is available for cattle, horses, hogs, sheep, goats, and more. Basic policies typically cover fire, lightning, earthquakes, flood, smoke, tornadoes, theft, wild animal attacks, drowning, entrapment, accidental shooting, and electricity. Additional coverage is available for rabies, animal birth, and accidental injury.

Hobby farm insurance. Perhaps you own a small farm that you operate solely for pleasure rather than for business. You can get a custom policy that will provide the coverage needed for your smaller-scale operation.

With so many variables in this industry, it is important to consult regularly with your insurance agent.

What Is Terrorism Insurance and Should I Have it?

Terrorism insurance coverage is not what it used to be. Prior to 9/11, business owners got terrorism coverage free or for a small fee. Events of the past fifteen years have changed this.

As of 2002, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act set out insurance coverage basics for terrorist attacks.

The act established that commercial property owners must be offered a terrorism coverage option. Private insurers provide the commercial policy, but it is reinsured by the federal government.

Premium rates are based on risk for attack. If your business is located in or near a potential target for terrorism, rates are higher.

A policy for a large business in an urban area may costs thousands per year, while less vulnerable areas can see annual premiums of just $25.

It is up to the Treasury Department to administer the program and officially declare whether an event is a certified act of terror – only then is compensation provided for the losses.

If an act is certified as terrorism, a business owner’s terrorism insurance kicks in to cover property damage or losses caused by the attack.

These may include damages to structures and/or vehicles and injury or death of workers. Nuclear, biological, chemical, radiological, and war events are not covered.

Currently, 60 percent of business owners in the U.S. carry terrorism insurance. Should you? Consider the following:

  • Are you located near a potential target?
  • What is at risk? (Do you have a lot of property, vehicles, and employees?)
  • What is the policy cost?

How to Protect Your Valentine Sparkler  

Sweethearts can spend around $4.4 billion on diamonds, gold, and silver each Valentine’s Day.

From silver rings to diamond earrings to gold bracelets, these tokens of love come in many forms, often accompanied by a proposal.

If you are the recipient of one of these precious gifts, it’s important to take appropriate steps to safeguard your new treasure.

Check your insurance. Typically, homeowners and renters insurance policies cover jewelry. However, it’s important to check your specific policy for limitations. Your recent gift may out-dazzle your coverage. In that case, a floater or an endorsement may be a necessary addition to your policy to provide appropriate coverage. This can also include a “mysterious disappearance” clause, in case your new sparkler is ever lost.

Update your inventory. Don’t forget to add this item to your list of personal possessions. An inventory of your home’s contents can prove a lifesaver in the event you need to file a claim.

Have it appraised. This is especially important if the item is a family heirloom. Establishing its current value will help determine the amount of insurance needed and how much reimbursement you should receive if you file a claim. Your insurance agent, who knows you and your situation, should be able to recommend a trusted appraiser.

Store it securely. A jewelry box may not be the best option. For valuable pieces, a home safe or another secure location in the house is a good idea. You may even want to consider storing the item in a bank safe-deposit box if it will not be worn regularly.

Store it digitally. Take a picture of the gift. This can help with the claims process and provide helpful detail to your inventory list, especially if the piece is unique.

Your insurance professional can be your best friend in advising on coverage for your sparkler…and will likely extend congratulations, too!

If a Tree Falls on My House, Does It Make a Sound?  

Yes, but the sound of a falling tree won’t be as loud if you have insurance coverage – that is, the damage will have a more tranquil effect on your checking account if you’re insured.

Fortunately, your standard homeowners insurance policy provides coverage for the home and any contents damaged by a tree felled by wind, lightning, or hail.

What if it’s my neighbor’s tree? This typically does not matter. If your house is damaged by a tree, you should file a claim with your insurer. If the insurance company determines the tree fell due to neglect, it may attempt to collect from your neighbor’s insurance company. If successful, the company may reimburse you for your deductible.

Do I have to pay for removal of the tree? If the tree has hit your house or another structure, your policy usually covers the cost of removing the tree, up to a certain limit. If the structure it hit was not insured, generally you’ll have to pay for removal costs. A common exception is the blockage of a driveway or handicap ramp. If this is the case, the insurance company may pay for removal.

What about my beautiful plants? Fortunately, your lovely rosebushes are covered, too. If fire, lightning, explosion, theft, or vandalism damages a tree itself or other shrubs and plants, your homeowners insurance usually covers this as well. The limit is generally 5 percent of the insured amount on the home and is typically capped at $500 for any one plant.

Should Small Businesses Offer Employee Health Insurance?

If you’re a small business with fewer than fifty employees, the Affordable Care Act does not require you to provide your workers with health insurance in 2016. But maybe you should consider offering at least partial coverage. Here are several sound reasons to provide your employees with health coverage.

If you’re a small-business owner, you’re probably competing for employees against larger firms. Bigger firms use economy of scale to offer stronger benefit packages. Especially in today’s improving employment market, the best employees tend to gravitate to those bigger organizations with richer benefit packages.

Also, without health coverage, employees may delay important screening tests and preventive health care, such as flu vaccines and mammograms. And if your employee becomes ill without health coverage, you lose productivity. Even worse, the employee may come to work and spread illnesses such as colds and strep throat to coworkers. The result: you lose even more productivity.

Finally, workers’ compensation insurers prefer companies to offer health insurance. Why?

Because stats indicate that workers without health coverage are more likely to blame injuries on a work-related incident. An insurer may even refuse to quote on your account. For small employers, even one claim against their workers’ compensation policy may result in nonrenewal. As stats suggest, offering employee health care could diminish this risk.

The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) marketplace offers one option for providing flexible workplace coverage.

If your organization has between one and fifty employees (this number varies by state but can include family members), you can offer SHOP coverage to your employees at any time.

It’s not easy to navigate SHOP rules or determine how to offer coverage. But before you reject the issue, meet with your health insurance agent to discuss your options.

By providing employees health care coverage, you’ll attract a better candidate pool and save yourself and your employees from potentially unnecessary absences.

Improved Women’s Health Coverage Benefits Families  

Women are benefiting from changes brought about under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This act not only has given women access to medical care but also has been a boon to their families.

Previously, women who had cesarean sections and those with breast cancer or a genetic susceptibility for breast cancer were often unable to buy health insurance, and if they could, coverage was limited. And before 2014, only 12 percent of health care plans offered maternity coverage for a thirty-year-old woman. All this has changed. Now plans cover labor, delivery, and newborn baby care, and women are able to purchase policies regardless of whether they have had cesareans or breast cancer, or are at risk of developing breast cancer.

Preventive services for women have also improved. Women are covered without copays for services such as well-woman visits; gestational diabetes screening to rule out pregnancy-related diabetes; domestic and interpersonal domestic violence screening and counseling; breastfeeding support; mammograms and colonoscopies; and many more. The result is healthier women, which has had a ripple effect on both their families and their employers.

Women and men now pay the same premiums, and families have also benefited from the expansion of coverage to dependent children up to age twenty-six, which allows younger people to be covered under their parents’ health plans even if they are students and/or no longer living at home.

Your insurance professional can answer your questions about women’s health care coverage and, if you need a plan, will help you select the best option for you and your family.

Retired? You May Still Need Life Insurance

If you’re retired, you may think there is no need to continue carrying life insurance – but that may not be the case.

Certainly, the goal of life insurance is to replace lost income in the event that you die before you expect to; if you are no longer working, there is no income to replace.

But you may want to think about your financial situation before you let your policy lapse, because there are some reasons for continuing with life insurance beyond retirement.

Here are four:

  1. If you are in debt and paying off large loans, you might want to consider maintaining life insurance-perhaps as a policy that expires when your payments are scheduled to end. That way, your family won’t be burdened with your debt.
  2. Life insurance also can be used to pay for end-of-life expenses, such as funeral costs or federal and state estate and inheritance taxes.
  3. Another scenario in which you may need life insurance in retirement is if you have a disabled child who will need ongoing help to pay for an assisted-living facility or medical expenses. In this case, you might consider a policy that pays out to heirs only after both parents pass away.
  4. Life insurance can also be used if you are interested in leaving a legacy to a charity after your death. Instead of making $5,000 in annual donations now, for example, you might buy life insurance worth $100,000 (and pay the premiums with what would have been your annual donation). Then you make the charity the beneficiary upon your death.

For some retirees, life insurance may not make sense-but as you can see, there are scenarios in which continuing coverage is a good idea.

That said, it’s always a good idea to consult a professional for advice when making such important financial decisions.