Insurance cover vital in extreme weather

WITH the bad weather at the end of last year wreaking havoc on many farms, what was the impact and what can be done to prepare for further harsh conditions? William Surman and David Boderke consider the options.

The heavy snow and freezing temperatures which blighted Britain at the end of 2010 led to hundreds of farm buildings collapsing and livestock being killed.

Add to that milk collections being affected, severe problems with feed deliveries and thousands of burst pipes, often leading to lack of water for stock, and this is the story of the winter so far.

Record weather

Record snowfalls and plunging temperatures in many parts of the UK - England had its coldest month for almost 25 years in December - brought severe logistical headaches to farmers from South West England to North East Scotland from the end of November.

NFU Mutual received 7,000 claims from farms, rural houses and businesses from the end of November to the beginning of January, at an estimated value of more than £40 million.

Heavy snowfall, particularly in North East Scotland and North East England between the end of November and December 14, resulted in more than 400 claims for weight of snow damage to farm buildings.

But many were not so lucky and were not covered adequately, or at all, for storm damage.

Insurance cover

John Kenny, NFU Mutual’s chief claims officer, said some had their farmhouse and stock buildings covered by insurance, but not livestock that was injured or killed during storm conditions, while some farmers only thought of taking out storm cover when they saw the clouds appearing, by which time it was too late.

He stressed that no matter what cover farmers have, they should not take unnecessary risks.

“Although it is tempting for farmers to try to remove snow and ice from a roof with someone in the bucket of a telehandler or something similar, or to carry out a task in a building with two to three feet of snow on the roof, they should stop and think, and remember the health and safety promise.

“There are too many instances of people being seriously, or sometimes fatally, injured in such circumstances.”

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