Skip to main content

Agritourism in Vermont and New Hampshire Adds Risks and Rewards to your Farm

Farm Insurance Agritourism

Across New Hampshire and Vermont, many small farms have discovered the additional profit and enjoyment by adding agritourism to their operations.

Simply defined, agritourism involves entertaining or educating visitors by sharing the lifestyle, work and products that you produce. This may be either a free or paid service offered by farms.

Before you open the gates to farm visitors from New Hampshire, Vermont, and beyond, you need to make sure you have the proper farm insurance. A suitable agritourism insurance policy would safeguard your property, profits and way of life.

Choosing the right agritourism insurance

You’re already aware that farming is a hazardous profession. There’s risk of injury from equipment, falls, animal bites, physical labor, and more. Most people have little awareness, concern, or understanding of these risks. Once you invite them to your farm, you face greater probability of complaints and potential lawsuits.

You’ll need specialized commercial insurance, often grouped under the term “agritourism insurance.” Agritourism insurance coverage goes above and beyond the policies you already have in place for your farm or ranch. This includes your property insurance, general liability, and any specific policies, such as equipment breakdown insurance.

Agritourism insurance can usually be added to your existing policies as endorsements. It depends on the unique experiences you plan to offer. Agritourism insurance rates can vary widely depending on the specific activities offered on the farm or ranch.

Ultimately, the goal is to identify and address on-premises activities excluded from regular farming or ranching operations. Many of these are activities are expressly excluded from standard farm policies.

This can include:

  • pick-your-own produce activities
  • selecting or self-cutting a Christmas tree
  • sampling or purchasing food
  • wine tastings
  • tours
  • animal petting areas or rides
  • wagon rides
  • educational programs
  • overnight camping
  • hunting
  • fishing
  • and more

Remember that you still face liability even if you don’t charge for a visit. You may still be liable if you simply enjoy welcoming people to your property to share more about what you do. This also includes the generous offer to have school children come for a field trip.

Dig into the details

Your insurance professional will need to understand exactly what you envision for your own agritourism enterprise. Will you offer regular tours or simply invite people for a few special activities during harvest or the holidays? Will visitors be watching or participating in chores?

The details you provide is important because each activity comes with unique liability. Your agritourism liability insurance coverage should protection from the specific risks you may face.

As an example, these are some risks inherent with selling products from a farm stand:

  • food contamination
  • clear labeling of potential allergens
  • loss of personal information if you process credit cards

Those risks are distinctly different from those that might be present when visitors interact with animals or use tools and machinery. For example:

  • animal bites
  • incidents on a riding trail
  • elevated risk of hand or head injuries

You may need product recall insurance, a foodborne illness policy, and even cyber liability insurance. Your general liability insurance policy may need to be written or adapted to cover visitor injury by animals or farm equipment.

Your agritourism insurance costs may be influenced by the risk factors that affect your farm. The size and scope of your operations may also be a contributing factor.

As you add activities, be sure to notify your insurance professional as well. Curious visitors may ask to see more. However, you’ll want to ensure your agritourism insurance policy still applies when you decide to open the barn doors or add new features to the experience.

Tourists embarking on an agritourism vineyard walking tour

Commercial property insurance

Your commercial property insurance needs may also change. For example, you might add some other costly structures or equipment, such as:

  • a play area
  • a tasting room
  • a visitors center
  • a picnic area

Those should be included in your commercial property policy. It would make sure you don’t lose your investment if a severe storm or fire damages or destroys them.

If you come to rely on any new equipment, it should be included in an equipment breakdown policy. You may need coverage for refrigeration, or a commercial kitchen used for income. Adding business income protection to that policy should be considered if it’s not already part of your coverage. This kind of coverage keeps revenue flowing while your equipment is restored or replaced.

Workers’ compensation

In some states, some agricultural and farm workers are exempted from workers’ compensation mandates. Some farm and ranch owners may think that applies to all their employees. Check with your agritourism insurance agent or broker to see if those working in your tourism operations need coverage. It may be that you need to give them insurance protection for work-related injury and illness.

Do you use volunteers? Ask about how to protect your business from the cost of claims for injuries they receive or sickness they contract from their duties. A product called volunteer accident insurance may be helpful, since workers’ compensation doesn’t extend to volunteers.

Avoid claims in the first place

Equally important as designing a comprehensive agritourism insurance plan is smart risk management. This is one of the best ways to prevent a claim from happening and may be required to obtain insurance for agritourism.

Your insurance professional should be able to suggest a range of risk management measures. Some of the most obvious include:

  • Distributing and training on a safety plan, addressing how to handle fire, hazardous spills, visitor injury, weather emergencies, etc.
  • Regular safety inspections and employee safety reviews
  • Documentation of regular maintenance of equipment, machine, building and other property
  • Appropriate veterinary visits for all animals to prevent or care for any injuries or disease
  • Prompt repair of any damaged property with caution signs in place as soon as an issue is discovered
  • Clear marking of hazards or restricted areas that are not open to visitors
  • Supervision of all animal interactions and review of expectations and rules beforehand
  • Adherence to all food-handling rules and labeling requirements
  • Prominent display and labeling of known or possible allergens
  • Safe parking areas with clear directions and regular checks for debris
  • Compliance with any state or local regulations related to proposed activities

There’s no question that agritourism provides an excellent opportunity to diversify your revenue sources and community involvement. Layering on new activities may not only generate more income but can also add enjoyment to your daily life.

Whether you’re thinking big or want to add a few simple visitor activities to your farm or ranch, the right coverage is important. The right agritourism insurance policy and risk management plan will help you welcome visitors with confidence.

Consult with an agent about Farm Insurance and your Agritourism ideas call 800-392-6532, or get started with a quote.

This article is for informational purposes only. Insurance needs and coverages vary; therefore, the terms of your policy will be specific to your situation. We recommend that you discuss your insurance needs with a licensed agent for details on pricing, coverages, and exclusions.

This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.
Copyright © 2022 Applied Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.