Warning: Check contractors’ insurance to protect against unexpected losses

NFU Mutual and the Ulster Farmers’ Union are advising Northern Ireland farmers to carefully check that any contractors they use have full insurance in place.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 8:23 am
UFU deputy president David Brown on his farm in Fermanagh. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
UFU deputy president David Brown on his farm in Fermanagh. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

The leading rural insurer has identified gaps in the insurance cover held by some contractors, which could have put farmers or members of the public at risk of high costs in the event of an accident or incident.

The warning comes as more Northern Ireland farmers are using contractors to carry out a wide range of farming tasks from hoof trimming and sheep shearing, to spraying and harvesting.

An NFU Mutual survey of farmers using contractors, conducted in September 2020, found that getting the job done safely and well was the most important factor for 51% of UK farmers followed by contractor expertise (19%), while value for money took third place (18%) and lastly – getting work done quickly (12%).

In Spring 2021, an NFU Mutual survey found that 40% of Northern Ireland farmers said they make use of contractors to help manage their farm.

Martin Malone, NFU Mutual Northern Ireland Manager said: “Farmers know the importance of having their farms’ insurance in good order to protect them if something goes wrong – but it’s just as important to make sure that any contractors have the right insurance to protect both the farmer they are working for and members of the public.

“When taking on a contractor, it can be a temptation to assume that their insurance will be in order – but whether they are a small outfit doing something like hoof-trimming or a large-scale building contractor it’s vital to check that they are insured correctly and are trained and competent to carry out and complete the work.”

Ulster Farmers’ Union Deputy President David Brown said: “Farmers may shy away from asking contractors for details about their insurance, especially if they’ve been doing work for them for a number of years. However, it is so important that farmers keep themselves right and one quick conversation will help provide peace of mind that everything is in order. This ensures that should something occur, the farmer will not be held financially responsible and that the insurance provider will cover the cost of any losses incurred.”

To help Northern Ireland farmers ensure that contractors they use have correct insurance in place, NFU Mutual has compiled a checklist.

- Make sure that any contractors coming onto your farm, from hoof trimmers or silage contractors to builders have insurance in place with a reputable company

- Ask the contractors to provide documentary evidence of this insurance and check that the policy hasn’t expired

- Make sure that the contractor’s public liability insurance has an adequate indemnity limit. If their indemnity limit is lower than for your farm policy, it may not provide sufficient cover for your protection

- Check that the insurance policy does not have specific exclusions relevant to the type of work that you’re asking the contractor to undertake – e.g. if a contractor is crop spraying on your land, ensure that the policy does not exclude crop spraying

- If you have any doubts, ensure that you get your contractor’s insurance documentation checked by your NFU Mutual Agent