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Insurance for the small farm  RSS feed

 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
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Not crop insurance. Business insurance, liability, loss, theft, the usual sorts of coverage.
Anybody have experience? Without getting too personal, policy limits? Premiums? Ballpark figures are great, don't want to pry. But we are working on business plans and this is a potentially critical element.
Any companies you would recommend? Any to avoid? And I know, all insurance companies are vultures that will never pay on a claim, but that doesn't help when you're trying to find the least evil choice .
 
Mike Cantrell
Posts: 552
Location: Mid-Michigan
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Peter Ellis wrote:Any companies you would recommend? Any to avoid? And I know, all insurance companies are vultures that will never pay on a claim, but that doesn't help when you're trying to find the least evil choice .


For what it's worth, I'm an independent claims adjuster. I do commercial and residential claims for about thirty different insurance companies here in Michigan (some of them based here, some of them national).

They form a spectrum, as you might guess, from those who never want to turn loose of a dollar on one end, to the other end where they'll bend the rules in your favor, for the sake of good word-of-mouth.

There's a perception out there which you alluded to- that they're all clustered at the stingy end. My experience is that they form a pretty typical bell curve. A few extremely strict, a few extremely generous, and most of them halfway between.


I don't generally get to see any information on premiums. I'd assume that the strictest companies can charge the cheapest rates, and the loosest companies have to charge more, but insurance is a weird business, and that very well may not be the case.
(Did you know most insurance companies pay out more claims every year than they take in in premiums? All of the budget- salaries, facilities, equipment, everything- comes from investment returns. The law requires them to sit on these mountains of money so that they can promise they'll be solvent no matter what, and those mountains of money generated some investment return. It's enough to run the whole company on. Weird, right?)



Anyhow, I think I'll refrain from publicly naming who's strict and who's generous, but PM me if you're curious.

I think anyone would be well-served to talk to a couple of independent insurance agents (who can sell you policies from lots of different insurance cos) AND a few captive agents (who have just one company name on the door- Farmers, State Farm, AAA all use captive agents). Because different insurance cos have different target markets that will affect their underwriting decisions. You can't know who's wanting to reduce their number of single family homes under $200k within 15 miles of a 50,000-population city and increase their number of 2-5 family homes under $150k in the twelve counties south of I-96. That's a really specific made-up example, but it's to illustrate the kind of rebalancing decisions that are constantly going on, and can really affect you the customer heavily, without you being able to see why.

So shop around.
 
Ann Torrence
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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We just switched our homeowners to a "farm and ranch" policy. Dropped some coverage on one car, added some on another, so it's not exactly apples to apples, but the monthly bill went up less than $20 for general liability and coverage for things like the hoophouse and the walking tractor. Wish I'd done it earlier. I just called our agent and asked to meet to review our coverage and he suggested it. But we are in a rural area, so it's a product he's familiar with.

He did tell me that one of his clients with this kind of policy had just filed a claim on a $3500 bull that managed to electrocute itself on a deicer in a storm, to give an idea of what kinds of things can be covered.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
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Thanks to you both One of the things about entrepreneurship that is, all at the same time, challenging, frustrating and scary, is the extent to which you must learn to juggle. All the while researching to get the right balls in the air!
 
Tom Scialla
Posts: 22
Location: The great state of Georgia
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I was an insurance broker in New Jersey for over ten years. LOL. Good luck is all that I will tell you. Make sure that you work with an experienced agent or broker who knows what they are doing. I would go ask half a dozen farmers in your area who they use. Then I would interview them. I'm not kidding.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Tom Scialla wrote:I was an insurance broker in New Jersey for over ten years. LOL. Good luck is all that I will tell you. Make sure that you work with an experienced agent or broker who knows what they are doing. I would go ask half a dozen farmers in your area who they use. Then I would interview them. I'm not kidding.


lol. I hear you. Currently 13 months out of our home due to a burst pipe with the insurance company dragging their feet and then threatening to cancel coverage because the repairs have not been done!

We are getting out of here as soon as possible, but have to get the house back together and sold to escape. Michigan is our destination, back home for my wife and one more new state of residence for me.
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