Farmers Weekly launch the Farm Handling Experience Event

Farmers Weekly Launch Event


Farmers Weekly launch the Farm Handling Experience Event

It was a bold move when Farmers & Mercantile took the decision to create an engineering inspection division. “Having succeeded in the farm insurance market we were confident that we understood what farmers wanted: good specialist advice and service. 19 years young and having gained a reputation for reliability and integrity, F&M identified an area where there was real dissatisfaction amongst farmers and in the knowledge that we could do better, we set up our own engineering division” says founding Director Nigel Wellings. Today the division provides a national inspection service with excellent feedback. “Farmers are grateful to have our inspectors arrive on farm and to complete the work without fuss and without their assistance. It amazes us that other firms expect the farmer or a member of their staff to operate the machinery for the inspector” comments Keith Short, divisional manager.

On-farm inspector James Baimbridge says “independent inspections are beneficial to clients; the independent element ensures that they do not have the same person servicing and inspecting the machine, thereby eliminating any conflict of interest when failings or recommendations are made.”

F&M message

We want to help farmers fully understand their responsibilities with regard to Puwer and Loler. There’s a raft of legislation that surrounds this area of Health & Safety and it’s not always clear. Complying with the regulations bodes well for our clients; it proves that their attitude to risk management is professional and if there is an accident on the farm a valid certificate will be of importance. We want to support our farmers in avoiding prosecution should the Health & Safety Exec decide to investigate post-incident.

Why have we chosen to sponsor this new and unique event?

The common sense approach this event is aiming to achieve and what we are already doing, in our view creates great synergy. To us the farm handling event is about convenience, practicality and has a no nonsense approach. We are proud to be a part of this hands-on experience.

  • We are a leading inspection company specialising in agricultural LOLER & PUWER inspections
  • We provide nationwide coverage
  • We offer a professional and efficient service which ties in with this revolutionary event
  • The event will offer the full lifting equipment package

Visitor benefits

  • Meet the inspection team
  • Value for money and efficient use of time
  • Test drive and choose a machine and schedule its inspection for the following year
  • Book inspections for additional machines and compressors

What visitors can expect to learn from F&M’s presence at the event

  • What the HSE regulations state and how they apply to farm machinery
  • What inspectors are looking for
  • What can make a machine fail
  • Why it is important to have valid certificates

What visitors can talk to us about

  • Consequences of not having certificates
  • Advice on workshop/farm-made man platforms
  • Added benefits that we offer – comprehensive report and office backup
Farm Event Insurance article

Farm Event Insurance

Tony Allanson's daughter Grace on Pony being judgedQ Our local Parish Council is looking to organise a Village Fete next year. It is going to be held on grassland belonging to our farming business covering about 12 acres and is adjacent to one of our farm buildings. The Parish Council have said they will insure the event. Do I need to do anything as the landowner?

Written by: Nigel Wellings, founding director, Farmers & Mercantile. First published in Farmers Weekly 27th Feb 2015


Even though the Council may have Public Liability cover, as the event host you will still need to inform your farm insurers that your land is being used to hold such an event even if you have nothing to do with the organisation of it.

As your insurance adviser we would suggest that as landowner you are named as a joint insured on the insurance policy for the event. We would also expect to inform your farm insurers as it is still possible that liability could come back against you as the site owner. For instance, if a visitor trips in a rabbit burrow and break his/her leg it is quite likely that if trying to make a claim their solicitors will issue proceedings against both the event organiser and the landowner.

Even if ultimately a court does not hold the landowner liable there can be considerable costs involved in defending the case against you, which will be covered by your Public Liability insurance.

It is vitally important that you inform your insurers of any such events as the normal farm cover will not necessarily extend to automatically covering them. The costs involved to extend cover will vary depending on the type of event, but should be minimal if the event organiser has their own cover and has named you on their policy.

With the number and cost of personal injury claims increasing drastically over the last few years, it is vital to ensure landowners and occupiers have the relevant insurance in place before hosting any such events on your farm.

Insurers also need to be told if you are hosting an event such as a family wedding on-farm or even providing car parking in one of your fields for somebody else’s event. Do not be misled by the event organiser having their own public liability insurance –as the landowner or occupier on whose land the event is taking place, you still need to inform your own insurers.

Farm Event Insurance article

Farm Safety Notice

Engineering Inspection Requirements

Farm Safety Notice“Only people I employ drive my machines so I don’t need an engineering inspection. My insurance will cover me if there is an accident.”

A categorical no. This is a very commonly held misconception. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulations apply to everyone, whether you are self-employed, an employee or an owner operator. Any item of lifting machinery used on-farm should be inspected by a competent person to comply with the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) which includes the condition of the lift rams (including safety check valves); tilt/crowd ram; telescopic ram; hydraulic hoses; safe load indicator; the boom; pins and bushes and boom wear pads, and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) which includes the condition of the tyres; footbrake and handbrake operation; steering; cab and/or safety frame; and chassis.

Whilst your insurance may protect you against an accident on-farm, it will be unable to protect you against a prosecution or fine from the HSE. More and more farmers are being asked by the HSE to produce valid inspection certificates, even where the reason for the HSE being on-farm does not originate with the machinery. We receive phone calls from farmers saying that they’ve been given an opportunity to comply or be fined and have recently been called out to two farms in the Shropshire area to carry out urgent inspections at request of the HSE.

A thorough inspection of your lifting machinery can be likened to an MOT and needs to be carried out annually. A thorough examination and a detailed report will in most cases lead to much lower repair costs than if signs of wear or a small fault go undetected. Although most machines need to be inspected annually, it is important to note that man work platforms need to be inspected every 6 months along with the telehandler or forklift used to lift the platform.

By having your machines inspected you are ensuring good housekeeping, giving you peace of mind that you are doing everything possible to safeguard the well being of your employees and defend yourself against the risk of prosecution.


Environmental Impairment Liability

Q We recently had a hose burst on our sprayer whilst driving down the road.   Luckily we only had clean water in the sprayer.  It worried me however just what the situation would have been if chemicals had been in the sprayer and we were presented with a large bill for clean-up costs and damage to flora and fauna: would our insurance have covered this?

Written by: Nigel Wellings, founding director, Farmers & Mercantile

AFirst, you must report any potential pollution incident to the Environment Agency, it is a criminal offence not to do so.  Upon being notified of an incident the Environment Agency will visit the potentially polluted site, advise on clean-up and reinstatement procedure, and call in the necessary specialist contractors to clean up any contamination and stop further damage being caused.   All of the costs associated with this will then be passed on to you as the owner of the sprayer. Our experience of the size of farm-related pollution claims over the last two years ranges from £3,000 to £1m.

WelderMost farmers may automatically assume that their farm liability insurance policy will pick up all of the costs involved.   Unfortunately in many instances this is not the case, although insurance cover for environmental incidents on farm has been dramatically improved over the last few years by some insurers.

The implementation of the environmental liability directive in March 2009 placed onerous conditions on farmers and landowners and some insurers reacted quickly to ensure that full cover was provided.  However other insurers offer varying degrees of environmental liability insurance cover, some quite limited, and in many cases they refuse to deal with potential claims involving chemicals, or more worrying, chemicals being transported.

It is absolutely essential that your insurance adviser understands the exact environmental risks facing your farming business and that he/she has then fully advised you as to what is the most appropriate policy for you.   Sadly this complicated area of environmental law is often not well enough understood so make sure your adviser is sufficiently experienced.

Along with chemical and liquid fertiliser discharges, the other most common environmental claim we see is for escape of diesel into a watercourse following theft of diesel.   Again the clean-up costs associated can be high but it is essential that you inform the Environment Agency of any such incident rather than have it traced back to you.   Levels of insurance cover for this type of incident can vary greatly between different insurers so check yours and make sure your cover matches the level of risk you are willing to take.

This article was published in Farmers Weekly Business Clinic in Jan 2015

Young Drivers

Insuring young drivers – beware the minefield

Q Our 17 year old son wants to start driving. What is the best approach on insurance?

Written by: Nigel Wellings, founding director, Farmers & Mercantile

A As a farmer’s son or daughter approaches the age of 17, both child and parents look forward to the fact that the young person will be able to drive farm cars and small commercial vehicles on the road as well as perhaps purchasing their own vehicle.

BUT beware of the minefield that awaits in terms of insuring cars and commercial vehicles for young drivers.   Statistics that all insurers have access to show quite clearly that drivers aged between 17-25 are many times more likely to have a major accident than drivers older than 25.   Because of this greatly increased level of risk young driver premiums are much higher.   Statistics also show that the cost of young driver claims (because they often involve personal injury to passengers) is also much higher.

Young DriversAgainst this backdrop it is crucial that you discuss with your insurance broker prior to purchasing a vehicle for your children the best way to insure them and the potential costs.

The most crucial point is that you must disclose to insurers which vehicles you wish your children to drive and whether they are main, regular or occasional drivers.   Do not in any way be tempted to withhold this information, even on a fleet policy with Any Licensed Driver cover.   Insurers would be quite within their rights to turn down a claim for an undisclosed 18 year old driver.   Claiming mother or father is the main driver of a vehicle when it is really a son or daughter will also result in a claim being turned down.

You will also need to be realistic about the type of vehicle insurers will be willing to permit young drivers to drive.   High grouped performance cars and luxury four- wheel drive vehicles are a complete no go.

One of the most common discussions we have with farming parents is whether to insure children’s vehicles on the farm fleet policy or, as soon as they get their first vehicle, to have a stand-alone policy in their own name.   There are pros and cons to both approaches such as:

  • if insuring a young driver’s car on the farm fleet and it is involved in a major accident it could increase the cost of the overall farm fleet cover
  • if the young driver insures a vehicle separately they will build up their own no claims discount
  • farm fleet insurers will limit the usage of a vehicle by a young driver.   For instance, if the young person is going away to college/university and takes the car with them, insurers will not necessarily want to cover this alteration to the risk.

The golden rules therefore for insuring young drivers are as follows:

  • disclose young drivers and discuss in advance with your broker.   Do the research and obtain alternative young driver quotes.
  • be realistic – farm insurers do not want to insure 18 year olds on a new Range Rover or Porsche 911.
    be prepared  – premiums are considerable but will come down with age and a good driving record.
  • don’t cut corners and try to hide young drivers.   The cost of this could be very high.

This article was published in Farmers Weekly Business Clinic in Sept 2014

Barn Fire

Tenants Occupation & why it affects your insurance

Q I have been approached by an established business which wants to rent one of my farm buildings, what do I need to do about insurance?

Written by: Nigel Wellings, founding director, Farmers & Mercantile

Barn FireA Farmers and landowners need to fully consider the risk and insurance implications before jumping into any such a venture – they can have serious implications for insurance not only of the building in  question but sometimes for the whole farm.

First, what does the lease or tenancy document say? Most commonly the person letting out a building will be responsible for insuring the fabric of the building while a tenant will insure his property such as tools and stock inside it.

It is vital to disclose to your insurer that the buildings are no longer being used for farming purposes and that they will be let.   The occupation of the tenant and the processes being carried out in the let building must also be fully disclosed to insurers.   For instance, if you have let a building to a car repairer who is spray painting cars, the risk is much increased over say the storage of building materials.

Paint spraying carries an explosion and fire risk that insurers will probably want to survey to ensure it is managed properly.   They are likely to charge a much higher rate on a building used for paint spraying than one used for the storage of building materials.   If the building is not fully separated from others it could also affect the premium on other buildings due to potential fire spread.

It is essential that you have discussed with your broker the potential insurance ramifications of any proposed tenant.  As the landlord you must be aware of exactly what your let buildings are being used for.   We have come across cases where stolen goods and explosives were being stored and drugs were being produced because the landlord had never inspected the building.

In an extreme case we have seen insurers refuse to insure a whole farm because they are concerned about the risk posed by one tenant.

Another potential problem area is the use of heating by the tenant in a building let as non-heated.   The use of portable propane heaters will generally invalidate any insurance policy.   Any form of heating must be disclosed to insurers.   Fixed types of heating are commonly acceptable to insurers  however, make sure you discuss with your broker.

Gas bottles such as propane and butane are another common problem area.   In the event of a fire they can go off like a bomb and the fire brigade will not enter burning buildings containing them, leaving other tenants and perhaps parts of the farm business with little protection.   Gas bottles are best stored outside in a lockable steel cage.

You also need to be mindful of waste build-up that tenants might produce – wooden pallets, sawdust and scrap metal are all of concern to insurers as they tend to increase both fire and theft risk.

The last thing that you need is increased premiums or worse still, your own insurance being invalidated because of a tenant.  However the points above are only an overview of some of the important issues to consider.

The golden rule is to discuss possible ramifications with your broker/insurer before tenants take up occupation and thereafter be aware of their activity on an ongoing basis, including obligating them to notify you of any changes.


This article was published in Farmers Weekly Business Clinic in May/June 2014


Product Liability Insurance for Farmers

Question I have £5m of product liability included in my farm insurance but my farm consultant says it should be at least £10m. Is he right?

Answer Products liability cover protects the policyholder from the cost of claims arising where products that he sells from his farm cause injury or illness to a person or persons, or damage to someone else’s property.

MaizeIt is important to understand that it differs from public liability insurance in that the indemnity limit is per year of insurance rather than per claim.

Products liability claims that we have seen include:-

  • milk sold from the farm containing antibiotics and subsequently contaminating a full vat at the dairy
  • hay sold from the farm containing glass and causing injury to a prize racehorse
  • grain contaminated with rat bait contaminating a whole silo at the mill
  • eggs sold infected with salmonella poisoning consumers
  • livestock sold carrying a disease which is then passed on to other livestock

These claims are more and more common and increasingly likely to be pursued. Products liability insurance for a farm is usually included alongside your existing public liability insurance with a similar indemnity limit, commonly £5m.

However with claim levels increasing you do need to consider increasing this to £10m, depending on what type of produce you sell but especially if you are supplying retailers or food manufacturers.

It is important to understand your cover and any exclusions or conditions – insurers will only cover your legal liability under the laws of England and Wales and often exclude products sold to America or Canada as the risk of litigation is considered higher.

Also, insurers do not provide cover for any liability that you take on as part of a contract.   For instance, if you are supplying a supermarket or food manufacturer read the terms of the contract very carefully. Liabilities placed on you as part of that contract may go beyond that provided by normal product liability insurance.

Specialist covers such as product recall (when a retailer has to remove a product from its shelves because of a problem caused by your product) or financial loss cover can be provided where your product causes a financial loss but not physical injury or damage (for example – supplying the wrong variety of grain on a seed contract, resulting in the end user not receiving a milling or malting premium).

These insurances tend to be expensive so the most important point is to understand the terms of your contract, especially what you can be held liable for.   Show a copy of your policy to your insurance broker and ask them to explain clearly what will be covered by your existing public and products liability cover.

This article was written by Nigel Wellings and was published in the Business Clinic of Farmers Weekly 10th July 2014

On Farm Staff Training

I don’t employ anyone; Why do I need Employers’ Liability Insurance?

Many farming businesses no longer employ labour directly; they may utilise self-employed labour, unpaid family members, labour-only contractors or agency employees.

In each of these circumstances it is still vitally important that the farming business maintains Employers’ Liability insurance.

Employers’ Liability insurance is a legal requirement for any business that is using labour. The cover provides legal liability for injury or illness caused to anyone working on the farm. The normal indemnity limit in farming is £10,000,000 for any one claim. Together with Public & Products Liability insurance it is the most vital insurance cover on the farm.

On Farm Staff TrainingThe most common problem we see on farms today is where the farmer believes that because he uses self-employed labour Employers’ Liability cover is not required. This is categorically not the case; if that self-employed labour is utilising your premises, tools and machinery and is under your direction, in the eyes of the law they will be seen as an employee. Their tax status is totally irrelevant. The same situation arises if you have a family member, friend or neighbour helping you out for a day and no payment is made to them; in the eyes of the law they will be classed as an employee and you will need to have Employers’ Liability insurance to cover them.

If someone is seriously injured at work, the compensation claim and resultant legal fees can run into hundreds of thousands, and occasionally millions, of pounds, so it is crucial that Employers’ Liability insurance is not overlooked.

Premiums for Employers’ Liability cover will vary between insurers but will generally start from £100 per annum and increase with the amount of wages you pay out.

Good health and safety management on the farm will help keep premiums down as this should be reflected in fewer accidents.

Our advice has always been that even where you employ no direct labour it is always worth keeping the cover in place.

Case Study A recent claim we dealt with involved a self-employed builder who had quoted for and accepted a job to convert a redundant farm building into an office. The builder would occasionally borrow a tractor and trailer from the farmer for removing debris and unloading materials on site. One of the farm staff had also assisted the builder from time to time. Before the job was finished the builder sustained a back injury which caused him to be off work for approximately one year. The builder sued the farmer as his employer; insurers went to court to defend the farmer but lost the case as the Judge felt an employer/employee relationship existed due to the farmer providing occasional labour, tools and machinery. The court award to the builder was in the region of £100,000. Luckily the farmer had Employers’ Liability insurance that paid the court award plus all of the legal costs involved.

Never risk not having Employers’ Liability insurance.


LOLER and PUWER Requirements: Where You Stand

MerloIt is a requirement of the Health and Safety Executive that whether you are self-employed, an employee, an owner operator or smallholder, any item of lifting machinery used on-farm should be inspected by a competent person to comply with the following standards:-

LOLER98 Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations which includes the condition of the lift rams (including safety check valves), Tilt/crowd ram, Telescopic ram, hydraulic hoses, safe load indicator, the boom, pins and bushes and boom wear pads.

PUWER98 Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations which includes the condition of the tyres, footbrake and handbrake operation, steering, cab and/or safety frame, and chassis.

LOLER inspections are a vital part of your Landowner obligations. Some common misconceptions that our inspectors hear regularly regarding LOLER and PUWER requirements include;

  1. “Only people I employ drive it”
  2. “Only I drive it”
  3. “I am changing the machine soon so I don’t need to get it inspected”
  4. “My Public Liability insurance is suitable cover”
  5. “ It doesn’t go on the road”
  6. “It had an inspection certificate when I bought it 2 years ago” (needs to be inspected annually)

What our engineering inspector’s response is when asked why it should be done;

  • Good Housekeeping
  • Peace of mind
  • Legal requirement
  • Inspections aim to ensure that your lifting equipment complies with all PUWER and LOLER HSE standards, which have been mandatory since 1998
  • Machine Maintenance/ MOT
  • You receive a comprehensive report detailing any preventative measures that could be carried out to reduce not only the risk of serious injury, but also potentially costly repairs.
  • Encourage a proactive rather than a reactive approach
  • Cost effective – the approximate cost for a loader and air receiver is £165 plus VAT. This is less than the cost of your Farmers’ Weekly Subscription and considerably less than a fine from the HSE.
  • If the HSE is notified of any accident on the farm they will check to see what certificates are in place regardless, even if the loader or air vessel were not involved.
  • Unwise risk taking is an underlying problem within the industry and it can have devastating effects for those involved and their families.
  • However much experience you have had with lifting equipment accidents can still happen, especially those involving machinery failures.

A thorough inspection of your lifting machinery can be likened to an MOT and needs to be carried out annually. Important to note however is that any item of plant that lifts people, such as a man platform attachment, should be inspected at 6 monthly intervals along with the machine it is used on.

We emphasise that the inspection needs to be thorough and carried out by an independent engineer. There is no advantage or disadvantage to our engineers finding fault with a machine, hence the report that you receive is unbiased and detailed.
It is important that we work with, not against, farmers to comply with legislation. In most cases where signs of wear are found our recommendations will lead to a much lower repair bill than if the fault goes undetected. For example if play is found in the machines’ carriage pins it may simply require a replacement bush, whereas if left undetected, the pin will require replacement as well.

More farmers are being asked by the HSE to produce valid inspection certificates even where the reason for the HSE visit does not originate with the machinery. We receive phone calls from farmers saying that they’ve been given an opportunity to comply or be fined. Whilst you no doubt hold insurance to protect you against an accident on-farm, your insurance will not protect you against a prosecution or fine. For urgent requests if you have been visited by the HSE, we will escalate the inspections.

If you are an employer or self-employed person providing lifting equipment for use at work, or you have control of the use of lifting equipment, then the Regulations will apply to you.

This list will help you identify equipment covered by the Regulation;

  • Telescopic handlers
  • Rough terrain, counter-balance and Mounty forklift trucks
  • Skid steer loaders
  • 360 excavators including mini diggers
  • Backhoe loaders
  • Loading shovels
  • Cranes to include lorry mounted and 3 point linkage mounted big bag cranes
  • Timber forwarders
  • Access/Work platforms including man platform attachments used on telehandlers, scissor lifts, etc
  • Overhead workshop gantries
  • Electric and manual chain lift hoists
  • Lifting slings and lifting chains
  • Vehicle workshop lifts
  • Hydraulic bottle and trolley jacks
  • Engine workshop hoists

If you are in doubt please do contact us – call us on 01604 782782 or email to