Various ecological incidents worldwide serve as a reminder that we all have a responsibility to do what we can to protect the planet. Directives at both governmental and EU level means farmers could be held accountable for environmental spills that occur on their land, leaving them liable for both their and their neighbours’ clean-up costs. To avoid out-of-pocket expenses, it’s essential that any insurance policy held on the farm covers these kinds of spills.

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What substances and situations might cause pollution?

Modern farming relies on processes and products that make the industry efficient and cost-effective. When used properly, these are safe and pose no threat. However, should an accident occur, these same substances can cause damage to the environment. These may include but are not limited to:

  • Domestic heating oil
  • Agricultural fuel, eg diesel, petrol
  • Animal feedstuffs
  • Slurry, manure and silage effluent
  • Sewage and foul water
  • Pesticides
  • Fertilisers
  • Extinguishment water following a fire
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Historic issues eg asbestos

Sometimes spills can happen dramatically, but all too often the leakage can be gradual. In this case, it’s possible an employee, member of the family or visitor to the farm could come into contact with these substances, sometimes without realising it. When choosing a farm insurance policy, consider what hazardous situations may apply in your circumstances.

How can you protect yourself, and those around you?

Firstly, know what materials you use on your farm and the environmental impact and risks associated with them. Preventing pollutants from entering the water system, via ditches, streams and rivers, is imperative. If you need to store any of the possible pollutants listed above, handle them carefully and store them away from watercourses, protecting the environment in the event of a spill. Never let runoff discharge directly into a watercourse, and also spread fertiliser a good distance from ditches. And there is no substitute for regular maintenance to spot issues as quickly as possible. Insurance companies look favourably on farms that take the right precautions and have safety as a priority.

What should you look for when choosing insurance?

Adequate insurance will give you peace of mind should a spill happen. Ensure your farm insurance policy includes accidental pollution and covers the cost to repair any damage caused to the affected area. Remember, even if the spill is not your fault (as a result of vandalism, for example), if it happens on your land, you will be held responsible and be liable for any damages. Costs may not be limited to the clean up – in some cases you may have to reinstate the environment to the condition it was in before the accident.

As well as damaging the environment, pollution incidents can also risk your reputation. Being financially able to right any wrong that might occur on your property is also essential to maintain a good standing on both a business and personal level.

Environmental Impairment Liability Insurance will protect your business against the costs that arise from a pollution incident, including clean-up costs and biodiversity damage. You should also be covered for any damages that you are ordered to pay to impacted businesses or individuals, the cost of defending your claim, and claims arising from environmental impairment. Check your policy for any benefits and exclusions that apply.

No two farms have the same needs, so look for a policy that is tailor made to meet your particular requirements. An experienced insurance broker such as Britton Insurance will utilise their knowledge of the industry to secure the best farm insurance over at the best price for your specific needs.