WITH the insurance of farm machinery and farm vehicles often at the forefront of everyone’s minds throughout the summer and harvest months, considering how the buildings on your farm are covered can sometimes take a back seat.

However, as Chris Clement, commercial director for H&H Insurance Brokers, wants to highlight, ensuring your farm and rural buildings are adequately insured is critically important. Should the worst happen, with a few key considerations you can safeguard your farm from serious consequences.

Chris said: “Falling short on suitable insurance can have serious implications across your farming enterprise, and buildings insurance is not a place to be cutting corners on the cost of premiums.

"Considering the full costs of site clearance, fees, planning and labour can often be overlooked, I would strongly recommend seeking specialist advice to prevent serious repercussions down the line.

Electricity is one area that can pose a real threat to the safety of a farm building and, in the past, we have seen devastating fires as a result of faults in the electric installation. Our advisers always suggest electrics are checked with an up to date Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) every five years as a minimum, to protect the farm buildings from potential electrical risks. Insurance companies will often provide preferential rates where these checks have been done and certified.

“With regards to fire safety, a number of key factors require consideration. If the building is insulated, which is often the case in poultry and pig producing units, the type of material used for insulation used could represent a huge fire risk. It is therefore key to consider the materials used in composite panels.

"For fire risks, the proximity of buildings, such as whether they are adjoining or ten metres apart, is also important to take into account, and any new buildings would be advisable where possible to be a minimum of ten metres apart.

“Beyond this, it is essential to consider the type of farm buildings being insured when discussing the policy. If your farm has traditional buildings, i.e. stone buildings and slate roofs, these must be insured for their full rebuild costs. If there is asbestos, this must be noted, with asbestos plans produced for buildings which contain them.

“Listed buildings are more expensive to insure because of both their historical and architectural significance, and in the event of damage Listed Buildings also have to be replaced as they were. Buildings of completely wooden structures can often prove more costly to insure.

“Another implication to consider is any alterations or changes of use that have been made to any buildings. For example, if your barn has been turned into an ice cream parlour, a farm shop or a wedding venue, you must disclose this immediately to your broker to ensure you have the correct cover.

“Lastly, the contents of any farm building is of course also extremely important. Everything should be ideally insured on a new for old basis, and it is important that an individual’s building insurance dovetails with the buildings contents insurance."