Assessing Liability Risks with Animals and Associated Activities

Many 4-H families may not consider themselves as a farm or in need of a farm liability policy when they reside with a few animals on a small acreage. Others may own 4-H animals while keeping the animals at a nearby location enabling them to meet and monitor daily animal needs while living in town. All 4-H livestock families or for that matter anyone with animals, needs to consider risk. This includes both livestock and companion animals. Have you ever had a talk with your insurance agent about livestock or ATV liability risks for example?

A sheep, goat, calf, pig, llama, alpaca… we have all been there pursuing an escaped animal … could escape from your home premise resulting in harm or injury to another person. Perhaps property damage to the neighbor’s garden occurred, though it would be far worse if personal injury occurred. Any animal in the road could cause harm to the vehicle or its driver while escaping from its home.

Now the not as obvious. What if your animal escapes at the county fair or another exhibition event causing injury? Did you know such losses are not covered by the fair association’s or event organizations policy? Legally, the owner of the animal would be liable in these situations. While others may be named in litigation, the primary responsibility lies with the animal owner.

The typical homeowner policy would not cover these situations either. In many cases, a small farm liability policy would be good to consider for those with 4-H animals or even those with ATV’s to mitigate family financial loss should an incident occur. A small farm liability policy can be as low as $30-50 per year while being a rider for a homeowner’s policy or an additional policy endorsement.

Examples of possible situations include, livestock that escape and are struck on the roadway by a car causing injury to an individual or vehicular damage. A person could be kicked, knocked down, or otherwise hurt by your animal while you are at the fair or other exposition causing injury.

ATV’s or similar vehicles present the same issues in that families bring the vehicles to the fairgrounds participating in 4-H meetings. Should a 4-Her accidently injure someone while on the ATV, the farm liability policy would help to provide protection if the policy is appropriately designed.

Too often people only consider the optional coverage of theft or damage to equipment like an ATV. The reality is that an ATV for example could be replaced for several thousand dollars while a liability claiming harm from an ATV could cost tens or hundreds of thousand dollars! In retrospect, farm liability policies are inexpensive for the coverage. It would be highly recommended that all 4-H families with animals or those participating in ATV have a talk with their agent to make sure they are adequately covered. These items need to be listed and covered or endorsed separately on a policy.