Heading towards the end of our series, we are now discussing the fourth topic from our Managing Risk in Farming report, the growing organisation of rural crime. Chris Lewis, Branch Director from our Ludlow branch, gives his insurance perspective on why having the right insurance cover is critical.
An ever-present issue for landowners and businesses across the UK, rural crime is a considerable and growing economic and social issue in the countryside.
In a recent study for Farmers Weekly1, over 8/10 respondents said they believe rural crime has gone up over the past 12 months, while a similar number were concerned that they (or their farms) would become a victim of crime.
While these are certainly worrying statistics, they are not perhaps particularly surprising. Much of the recent evidence points to a more organised ‘gang’ approach to crime – certainly, when it comes to stealing high value farm equipment and motor vehicles. Quad bikes being particularly at risk. This is evident given the number of recent insurance claims. At Marsh Commercial, we have processed over 1,700 vehicle claims over the past 12 months.
Criminal activity is not limited to theft, of course. Trespassing and fly tipping affected well over half the 600+ farmers who responded to the FW survey. Hare coursing has also moved from an irregular irritation to an increasing problem.
This requires farms to invest more heavily in security measures – everything from strong locks to gates, sheds, garages and outbuildings to installing CCTV (or dummy CCTV). The FW research also suggests some larger arable estates are spending upwards of £10,000, while in the most affected areas farmers are buying guard dogs to protect yards and livestock or are employing security guards.
Rural crime has reached epidemic proportions in some areas of the country. And in some instances insurance cover is being restricted if farms and businesses are being continually targeted by thieves – even those with sophisticated security measures in place. The fall out in terms of the financial cost and the time spent dealing with losses, such as replacing machinery, stock and dealing with insurance claims, can be considerable.
Aside from this practical impact, the emotional and anxiety issues of the fear of crime are very real here in the countryside – a topic we will look at in our final article on wellbeing and emotional health.
The insurance perspective: An independent analysis
While it may be stating the obvious, having the right farm insurance cover is critical. However, as we have mentioned above, many insurers are adding exceptions to policies where farms are being continually targeted.
Working with a broker can be of significant value – to analyse your risk and look across multiple insurers to find the most appropriate and cost effective cover, even for high-risk farms and agri-businesses.
Your broker can also provide expert advice on the additional security measures that can be implemented to make farms more ‘attractive’ to insurers. Some insurers may, in some instances, offer risk improvement bursaries for improving security. However, it is important that you do not spend money on expensive security measures, as it will not guarantee a lower premium. Similarly, vehicle trackers and data tags may have an impact, other measures, may not. Again, this is where your broker can advise.
Costs aside, it is also important to partner with an insurance provider able to respond quickly to claims – to enable the rapid replacement of assets or livestock to ensure farms can get back to work as quickly as possible.
On our final topic of the series, we talk about the range of pressures farmers are facing right across the sector and its significant impact on mental health and wellbeing. You can download the full report here.