Are You a Producer Considering Agritourism?

Are You a Producer Considering Agritourism?  image

Many of the family-owned farm operations that take part in Sonoma County Farm Trails have indicated that insurance to cover farm visits and the produce sold at our events and farm stands is hard to come by.  Even if insurance is available it can be very expensive.  One farm in Petaluma that, for many years, had invited school groups to come and learn about farming and pollinators was quoted $7,000 per year to cover just the visits.  Obviously, that was the end of that educational opportunity.

I had been using The Event Helper for weekend policies to cover Farm Trails events [such as the Fall & Spring Tour] at the Farm; and they were very good, but rather expensive at about $110/weekend.  However, if you want to do more than just a few events, that quickly becomes a lot of money.  (Note: because they don’t have a specific category for farm visits, I used “craft fair” as the closest type of event they offered.)  They also cover just the event (no alcohol) and do not cover anything you might have for sale.

At the recent Agritourism Summit in Petaluma, sponsored in part by SCFT, one of the in-depth discussion tables focused specifically on coverage for farm visits, food sales, overnights, demonstrations, etc.  It became clear very quickly that insurance agencies don’t have a turn-key response to this type of business activity.  As I searched multiple providers online for “small business insurance,” I found that “agriculture” isn’t even listed as a category.

A non-intuitive situation is that the insurance industry doesn’t really want to bundle your farm-related business to tie the ag business with your personal property coverage.  This situation is complicated if you are trying to find coverage from an insurance company that is regulated by the State of California.

Fortunately, SCFT introduced me to Susan Weber of Aslan Insurance in Santa Rosa.  She has written similar policies and was extremely helpful in structuring a position in which a “commercial farm policy” would cover the things that were outside of personal/residential coverage.  By focusing just on the business aspects with a carrier who was familiar with the type of visitation and farm produce situations we’re trying to cover, I wound up with a comprehensive policy at a very reasonable rate.  By comparison when I’d shopped my residential agent to ADD the farm business, the price quoted was three times that I ended up with.  The policy covers both SCFT visits (as well as my own open-house events) but also all the items produced on site for sale to the public.

Just for reference, the policy I got was for a $1,000,000 per incidence liability with a cap at $2,000,000 with no deductible—which seems to be standard for this type of coverage, but that I did not anticipate.  There are some caps for individual types of incident, but these seemed very reasonable to me. As a side note, I did have to sign papers saying that I understood that the carrier that was issuing the policy was not regulated by the State of California.

I was asked that if I mentioned Aslan, to make sure that people know that every situation is different and some coverage situations are easier than others.  But I did want to finish on a point that they were very helpful, flexible and were even willing to look at covering growth events in the future (like serving wine to visitors or partnering with a winery to do tastings or eventually opening a farm stand or retail outlet) if the opportunities presented themselves.

Good luck and I hope your agritourism business thrives!

Dr. Bill MacElroy, Monte-Bellaria di California


For your reference:

Susan Weber

2455 Bennett Valley Rd., Suite C103

Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Business: (707) 576-1713