Insurance on the Farm: Tips for Decreasing Costs with Safe Driving

Tractors, planters and combines might not have much in common with sedans, coupes and convertibles. But in the glove box, there’s proof of one thing in common: insurance.

“You have to protect your farm at all costs, and insurance is key to help you do that,” says Daniel Berglund, chairman of the Texas Soybean Board and Texas soybean farmer.

Covering your farm and assets like equipment can be a costly line item in your budget, but it’s a necessity on the farm. The Maryland Rural Road Study reported that farm vehicle crashes in the U.S. carried a cost of more than $4.3 billion in 2017, with losses ranging from $10,000 to over $30,000 per incident. Fortunately, there are ways to help maximize your insurance investment and even decrease your cost.

“Your equipment is going to fall under your property coverage, and it falls into basically two parts,” says Kara Argetsinger, a property and liability insurance specialist with Agri-Services Agency. “Liability can protect you in case of accident or injury to others, and then you have your property coverage that covers the actual cash value of insured equipment for the farm in case of damage.”

On the Road

Moving equipment within one property is one thing, but moving your equipment between fields or farms, and sharing roads with other drivers, is a whole other story.

“This spring, we were moving our 11-row soybean planter. It doesn’t fold up like some bigger equipment, so we have a pilot car lead due to some tight turns and guardrails right on the side of the road,” says Berglund. “When I’m the pilot, I try to block traffic where I need to so whoever is driving the tractor can stay alert to what they need to focus on instead of traffic. It’s a whole different ballgame.”

Argetsinger says your farm liability coverage really comes into play when you hit the road with your equipment, and auto liability applies when you are driving your vehicles.

“Auto liability covers you in case of bodily injury or property damage to others in a motor vehicle accident. Your liability is going to cover damage that was caused to another party, and the property portion of your coverage is going to cover the damage to repair or replace your insured equipment,” she says.

Insurance Options with Safe Driving

While insurance is a necessary investment, Argetsinger says there are a few ways farmers can help lower their costs.

One of the options is checking if credits are available for your vehicles.

“Vehicles that you don’t use every day or maybe use every other day may qualify for credits because you don’t have the same exposure as the pickup truck that you drive every day,” she says.

Another option is to keep motor vehicle records on all your farm vehicle drivers. MVRs show that your drivers are capable and competent, and understand the risk in driving vehicles and equipment on the road, says Argetsinger.

“Your drivers are representing you, and you want to make sure that you have people who are capable of driving and understand the risk associated with driving your vehicles,” she says. “It’s just an incredibly helpful thing to do for yourself and your insurance.”

“Insurance is one of those things you need to have but hope you never have to use,” says Berglund. “It can protect you and your farm.”

This program is supported by the soy checkoff and multiple Qualified State Soybean Boards in an effort to make rural roads safer for all drivers.