Fred Whitford doesn't sell insurance, but he put in a reasonable plug for farmers to consider an umbrella liability policy during a recent discussion with farmers at Equipment Technologies factory in Mooresville recently. Equipment Technologies makes Apache sprayers and now provides signal support the Raven's slingshot system in Indiana and Ohio. They were simply hosting this Morgan County Extension-sponsored meeting.
Whitford, director of Purdue University pesticide programs, was addressing how farmers should properly hook up trailers of any kind that they're going to pull. It's especially appropriate since hundreds of trailers carrying chemicals and/or seed will soon hit the back roads once planting begins.
The specialist has determined through informal surveys that as many as one out of five farmers have lost a trailer or something else they were pulling during their career. He says the first goal is to understand how to properly hook up and secure a trailer so that doesn't happen. It involves understanding how trailers and trucks are rated for pulling, knowing which type of ball hitch to purchase and being sure to use safety chains. Many people who have accidents have left out one or more of those steps. But even people who try to do things properly run into bad luck. Sometimes things simply break.
His point was that if a trailer takes off and should hit someone, do you have enough liability coverage to cover it and protect your farm assets? Perhaps Whitford has been watching the latest Farm Bureau Insurance commercials, where someone sits at a wooden desk in the middle of the yard or a driveway, and the announcer asks a tough question about insurance. The person usually answers, "I think I'm covered,' then begins doubting themselves and finally knocks on the wood of the desk. Farm Bureau's point is to stop knocking on wood for luck and to know what is in your policy before it's too late. Whomever you do business with, sit down with an agent and review things with you, and know where you stand.
Several people in the crowd where Whitford spoke most recently have one million dollar umbrella policies. Whether that's enough or not Whitford says may depend partly on how many assets you have at risk. Another farmer in the room had $3 million, a figure more to Whitford's liking, and one had $5 million, which he considered more than adequate.
However, he cautioned the crowd that he's not an insurance specialist. His whole point was to motivate them, to make sure they have considered the risks vs. having an umbrella policy, and to know what situations would and wouldn't be covered under their present policy.