Inviting the Public on to Farms Is a Risky Business

The Journal (Newcastle, England), April 9, 2004 | Go to article overview

Inviting the Public on to Farms Is a Risky Business


Byline: By Jennifer Mackenzie

Most farm and estate owners in the North will have seen insurance premiums increase across the board in the last year.

While there is good news in some sectors, where premiums are stabilising, increases will continue for many liability policies, particularly where public liability is concerned, warns Charles Foster of Lycetts, the largest independent broker of farm and estate insurance in the UK.

For some years now, property and estate owners have increasingly looked to diversify to supplement traditional farm incomes.

Many landowners have turned to tourism projects, such as outdoor activities, farm shops, small commercial units and sporting facilities.

However, allowing access to the public brings with it a new insurance challenge.

Mr Foster said: "Imagine a child receiving serious injuries at your pony trekking centre or being made ill by a product from your farm shop. Imagine if someone drives into a ditch because someone from your pick-your-own strawberry venture has left boxes on the road.

"Now imagine the situation if that had been a busload of American compensation lawyers, some of whom received serious injuries. No wonder public liability claims are at an all time high."

He added: "Increased public liability risk is, however, not limited to those who have diversified. Those who do not actively encourage members of the public on to their land also find themselves increasingly exposed to risk of litigation and, as the law stands, someone who is trespassing can sue if they injure themselves while on your property. …

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