Will Your Liability Coverage Protect You From Pesticide Damage?

October 31, 2018 10:15 PM
Are you protected in the case of pesticide damage?

As farmers across the country wrap up the last of harvest, it’s prime time to review business decisions such as liability insurance coverage. According to University of Missouri Economist Ray Massey, farmers might need to review their liability based on current farming practices.

“Recent issues with dicamba spray drift highlight the need for farmers to understand their third-party liability due to herbicide applications,” he said in a recent press release. “[Farmers should] consult with an insurance or legal professional experienced in agricultural matters after reviewing their policy.”

“General liability may or may not help with their-party herbicide injury,” he added.

USDA permits farmers to exclude acres damaged from pesticide drift in their APH if damage is reported to their insurer within 72 hours. However, crop insurance doesn’t cover damage from pesticide drift, according to USDA Agriculture Risk Management Agency.

Insurance company practices for pesticide damage vary. In many cases they consider the cause of loss, according to Massey.

“Third-party herbicide injury causes include spray tank contamination, drift and volatilization,” he said. “Liability insurance generally covers accidental tank contamination and drift, but it is less clear whether damage caused by volatility is covered.”

Liability insurance companies often wait until after harvest to settle claims so they can better estimate yield loss based on the conditions of the season. Massey offers the following tips for picking your liability coverage:

  • Verify any applicator you hire is certified to apply the pesticide you’re using. If you spray your own crops take the training required for the products you use.
  • Review your application for general liability insurance and update your application if there have been changes in your operation such as hiring an employee.
  • Verify you have a spray endorsement provision in your policy if you spray your own fields. If you spray for others verify your endorsement covers commercial and private applications.
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