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Business News Wales Meets: Louise Reid Farm Insurance Specialist with Towergate Insurance

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Business News Wales has the chance recently to speak to Louise Reid Farm Insurance Specialist with Towergate Insurance.

Can you tell us a little more about you, your role and your professional background?

After graduating with a Modern Languages degree I worked for a variety of blue-chip companies at various locations in the UK before returning to West Wales where I have worked for over 16 years in the insurance industry, specialising primarily in agricultural insurance broking.  I joined Towergate in January 2018 as their Agriculture Insurance Specialist working out of their Swansea office covering West, South and Mid Wales.

In your opinion is Brexit: friend or foe for farmers?

Once we leave the EU we would expect Welsh farmers’ access to markets to change. This could affect not only trade but the financial support that Welsh farmers have come to rely on.  In some cases the financial support received by farmers in the form of CAP subsidies ( single farm payments) can account for between 50-80% of farm income *.  If this is reduced or changed this would have an affect not only on the livelihoods of the Welsh farmers but on the rural community in Wales as a whole.

Looking on the bright side though it is certainly a time for farmers to maximise efficiency as best they can and perhaps Brexit will be the perfect opportunity for Welsh farmers to go back to the drawing board and seize more powers to shape agricultural policies in the future.

What trends can you see having an impact on modern farming?

The industry has been in a constant state of flux over the past 150 years.  Livestock is mainly split between cattle & sheep in Wales with a small amount of poultry and a lesser amount of pigs.  Interestingly, the total amount of land used for agricultural purposes accounts for over 80% of the total land area in Wales **.  In the last 10 years we have seen smaller farms selling up and larger dairy farms investing heavily in livestock numbers and land.  The larger the farm the more work is generated however we have seen farming becoming less labour intensive for some.  State- of- the- art milking parlours, many controlled by robots, are cutting down on labour hours and costs and allow more precise information to be gathered about the individual behavioural pattern of each animal.  Technology is making the whole process more efficient and streamlined.  The same is true for agricultural machines.  In recent years the inclement weather has caused a headache for farmers at harvest time and there is greater urgency to harvest the crops to feed the animals throughout the winter.  Larger, ultra-modern and advanced agricultural vehicles and tractors are now available so that the crop can be stored or baled in a fraction of the time compared with previous decades.

Have you noticed more farmers investing in insurance or are agricultural businesses leaving themselves vulnerable?

Farmers have always understood the importance of correct insurance and how it protects not only their farm, but their livelihood. Farmers have invariably insured their outbuildings, livestock, home, vehicles and had cover for their liability insurance; however in recent years there is more emphasis being placed on Health and Safety matters.  It is common knowledge that unfortunately a high percentage of workers in the UK are fatally injured in the agricultural sector. It’s a hazardous industry where there is dangerous machinery, livestock and vehicles.  Health and Safety is a fundamental requirement of a sustainable farming business and should be an essential part of farm business management. Managing risks in the correct way protects not only the farmer but his workers and his overall business and attract lower insurance premiums and legal costs.  Many farmers are unaware of the importance of having an annual inspection for all telehandlers and lifting equipment to establish whether the machine is defective. This is particularly important where the farmer has employees.

What other types of insurance policies are available to Welsh Farmers?

Many farms wish to improve the quality of their livestock by breeding or purchasing valuable, pedigree livestock.  Specific Mortality & Loss of Use cover is available for these individual animals to cover against accident, illness or disease and infertility.

In the event of a fire or storm claim on an outbuilding on the farm, although the actual building may be insured there may be a delay until building work can commence and the rebuilding process may take some time.  Business Interruption insurance is a type of insurance that covers the loss of income that a business suffers after a disaster.  For instance, if a fire demolishes the milking parlour the cows will still need to be milked!

Directors & Officers Insurance is a Liability Insurance which protects the personal assets of directors and officers of a business, and their spouses, in the event they are personally sued by employees, customers etc for actual or alleged wrongful acts in managing the business.

Health insurance is a policy designed to cover the cost of private medical treatment.  There are various types of policy available, offering various levels of cover at varying costs and Life Assurance is an excellent way to protect the things that mean the most our Welsh Farmers.  It can protect the financial future of their families if something unexpected happens to them.  Towergate provide specialist life cover advice based on your circumstances and can offer a free review of your current circumstances.

Is it just large farming businesses then that should be investing in farm insurance policies?

Whether a smallholding or a larger, more complex dairy, beef, sheep or arable operation, insurance can help protect farmers livelihood.

At Towergate, it’s common practice to arrange a face-to-face review at the farm to understand the processes of the business and then carry out a thorough review which will enable the correct recommendation to be made.  An insurance policy, whether a Farm Combined or a Farm Motor policy can usually be tailor made to cover the requirements of each individual farmer.

Why should farmers be choosing Towergate Insurance Brokers?

Towergate is one of the UK’s leading independent insurance broker and risk management advisors. It has excellent relationships with the UK’s specialist agricultural insurance underwriters enabling the team to source great deals and quality farm insurance products for the farming sector.

We work hard to be part of local communities in Wales, working closely with the farming community to understand the ever-changing risks that they face.  We also look after the insurance needs of private individuals and families seeking tailored personal covers.

If you are interested in learning more about the options available to you or your agricultural business, contact Louise Reid at Towergate on [email protected]

Towergate is a trading name of Towergate Underwriting Group Limited

Registered in England No.4043759 . Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority

*https://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-library/Brexit-UK-agriculture-policy-CBP-8218.pdf

** https://gov.wales/docs/statistics/2018/180620-farming-facts-figures-2018-en.pdf