Six steps to the right environmental cover IMAGE

In the hurly burly of a busy farm it’s easy to not think too much about the chemicals, fertilisers and other liquids you use regularly. But they can be powerful and could be dangerous to you, others on the farm, and the land itself. In the event of a spill, it’s essential that any insurance policy you hold on the farm will cover you to avoid out-of-pocket expenses.

STEP 1 Understand the threat and learn what substances and situations might result in a spill. Read the labels and do your research before using anything on your farm. Knowing what materials you use on your farm and the environmental impact and risks associated with them is the best way to protect you, and those around you.

STEP 2 Take an inventory of what you have on the farm that might cause harm in an accident. What fuels such as domestic heating oil and diesel or petrol are present? What substances involved in raising livestock – including feedstuffs, silage effluent, and slurry or manure – apply in your situation? Do you use pesticides or fertiliser on your land? Are there any historic issues you need to take into account, such as the water left behind after a fire, or historic issues such as asbestos? And don’t forget other day-to-day potential contaminants such as sewage or foul water, and cleaning chemicals.

STEP 3 Undertake regular checks to make sure nothing untoward is happening. 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.

STEP 4 Prevent pollutants from entering the water system, via ditches, streams and rivers. If you need to store any of the possible pollutants listed above, handle them carefully and store them away from watercourses. 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.

STEP 5 Ensure your farm insurance includes accidental pollution and covers the cost to repair any damage caused to the affected area. Adequate insurance will give you peace of mind should a spill happen. 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.

STEP 6 Talk to an experienced broker to make sure you have the cover necessary. No two farms have the same needs, so look for a policy that is tailor made to meet your particular requirements. 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. 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.