Smallholders need insurance. Kim Stoddart takes a look at policies you might not be aware of…

You have to be careful how you talk about ‘covering’ and ‘coverage’ in my neck of the woods, as among some of my farming neighbours the phrase is used to refer to the act of reproduction for livestock. Therefore asking ‘are you covered’ when referring innocently to insurance could cause some confusion and certainly some amusement at best. So, for the purpose of leading into this feature and indeed setting the record straight about its subject– matter, I’d like to confirm that it is insurance coverage that I’ll be writing about here and, er, there will be no ‘covering’ of anything else that I’m aware of…

It’s a funny thing, insurance, in so far as it’s an industry built on our fear of what could go wrong. Essentially, you’re paying to protect yourself against a multitude of worst case scenarios. Here are just some more extreme examples from one policy provider: spontaneous combustion, earthquake, riot and civil commotion (actually, given the way things are going, the last two are looking less wildcard by the day). The point is, though, that hopefully most of these and more everyday disasters (such as livestock theft or flooding) will never happen; and if they were to, they wouldn’t cause financial devastation if you have an extensive policy in place that protects you. Really, you’re paying for peace of mind, but the reality is that it’s often a small price to pay for the protection it affords you should misfortune strike.

Most of us will be aware of the necessity to protect our property, livestock, machinery and land against threat, but there are other areas of cover also worth considering:

Employer’s Liability

Bruce Archibold of Isca Barum Insurance Brokers Ltd (formerly Fidelius Insurance Services Ltd) told me Employer’s Liability is an important area to look at even if you don’t actually employ people on your smallholding. “We find this to be of particular relevance lately as many people are not aware that friends or some family members, who may offer occasional assistance at a smallholding, still need to be covered as employees. Failing to do that could create a very difficult situation – especially if an injury were involved.”

So, if you ever have anyone helping out on your smallholding at any time (even if just in exchange for a cup of tea and a slice of cake), this is an area of cover also well worth considering.

Public Liability

On this same theme, Roger Morgan from Farm & General Insurance Consultants explained that it’s important to think about cover in terms of what you could inadvertently do to others. “There are several important aspects to consider,” he said. “Firstly the limit of indemnity (which is the amount paid for any one claim) for damage you cause either to people or property. Some policies are still offering amounts as low as £1m and other policies up to £5m. It is crucial to select the highest figure available. Sadly, there have been personal injury awards in farming nearer the £5m mark for injuries caused by falling objects or straying animals.

Secondly, you need to ensure the policy covers all the activities on the farm. Farm insurance traditionally covers literally the farming and growing risks. Look carefully to see if other activities are covered, as some policies include such things as bed and breakfast livery or caravanning and camping.

Thirdly, smallholders’ policies differ in that some will cover any land in your possession anywhere in the UK, whilst others restrict it only to your main address. So, if you have grazing licences or temporary grazing/grass keep, you may need to specify that area of land as well.”

Public Liability and your livestock

Again, this is one you wouldn’t normally consider as necessarily important, yet it is. Rural Insurance provides policies on behalf of brokers and, apparently, between 2013 and 2016 they’ve seen more than a 100 claims relating to the fatal injury of livestock away from the premises. The high cost claims come not from the death or injury to the animal but injury to members of the public or damage to their property.

Just one example relates to an incident in 2013 when a horse was spooked and escaped onto a public road, colliding with an oncoming car and seriously injuring the driver. This claim was settled by Rural on behalf of the horse owner at over £100,000.

In another case, a member of the public was walking down a public footpath, when a rhea bird (which had strayed away from home) allegedly attacked both the walker and their dog. The incident resulted in injuries for both parties….

Environmental Liability

This is another important area to consider, according to Roger Morgan from Farm and General Insurance. “This is confusing not just for smallholders but also some insurance advisers.

“As a basic rule, public liability covers damages to other people and their property. But you need a policy that includes environmental liability if you are concerned about damage to your own ground or damage to a water course or protected species and flora and fauna. This type of damage is easily done – for example by slurry or a leaking tank – or by anything that could enter a stream and pollute a water course.

“Many smallholder policies have not yet started to offer the cover of the mainstream farming policies. Therefore it’s important to look carefully at the policy wording to see if there is a section for environmental liability.”

Companies providing specialist smallholding insurance policies include:

Isca Barum Insurance Brokers Ltd (formerly Fidelius Insurance Services Ltd)

This company has a dedicated smallholding insurance team that can consult and advise on any size of smallholding, land ownership, or related insurance requirement. The key areas they cover include: Landowners Liability, Public & Products, Livestock, Property, Vehicle, and Employer’s Liability. For more information visit or call 01392 363 111 or email

Farm & General Insurance Consultants

This well-established company has just launched a dedicated smallholders’ service. They say it is different in that it includes comprehensive cover as well as a no claims bonus. With this company smallholders are also able to get quotes and buy their insurance online by way of


Founded more than 40 years ago, this long standing insurance provider is now ultimately owned by Allchurches Trust, a charitable organisation. Thus, uniquely in the insurance industry, all group profits are entirely devoted to charitable purposes. The company offers a wide range of cover for smallholders covering everything from farmhouse buildings and contents, through to personal accident, machinery and livestock.

For more information see or call them on 01328 857921.

Versatile Insurance

This provider offers insurance to cover a wide range of risks including the liabilities, buildings, livestock and produce. They say they are happy to just insure public liability (property owners’ liability if that’s all that is required).

For more information see or call them on 01837 658955.

FUW Insurance

FUW Insurance deals with the key providers in the agricultural insurance market, which means we can tailor the covers to meet the requirements of each farmer / smallholder under one policy and with one common renewal date. Specialist covers include Engineering, Environmental Impairment Liability, Renewable Energy and cover for diversification activities.

For more information visit or call 0344 800 3110

Greenlands Insurance

Greenlands Insurance Services Ltd is proud to reintroduce a highly tailorable ‘quote & buy’ insurance facility for UK smallholdings under 50 acres in size, designed for smallholders who do not require the more extensive, and expensive, ‘commercial use’ covers associated with larger working farms and estates. Cover is split across four core sections, i.e. commercial cover, liabilities, legal expenses (optional), and household buildings & contents (optional).

For more information see or call 01970 636925

Stuart Benger & Co Ltd

Stuart Benger & Co Ltd has been in business for over 25 years and during this period it has built and developed a team of highly experienced and dedicated insurance professionals that can deliver best practice and advise on a wide variety of insurance related needs. They take pride in offering the highest standards of personal service and make it their priority to gain a thorough understanding of their clients’ individual needs and requirements. This truly personal approach has resulted in them being on first name terms with many of their clients, the majority of whom have come to know and trust their staff members very well over the years.

For more information please contact Stuart Benger on or call 01743 462277.

Farmers & Mercantile

Farmers & Mercantile was established in 1996 and is one of the leading independent insurance brokerages specialising in farming in England, Scotland and Wales. Their offices in Northamptonshire, Shropshire, Yorkshire and Ayrshire are all staffed with farm insurance teams that are knowledgeable and expert in this field. Many of their staff have family farms and farming qualifications themselves. Their businesses’ success is in no small part due to the fact that their understanding of insurance is equalled by their farming knowledge. They have a customer retention rate of over 95% (probably one of the highest in the industry), they firmly believe this is because they offer ‘the best all round deal’ Service, Price, Cover and Reliability.

For more information call 01604 782782 or visit

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