Business Insurance for Livestock

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Contributor, Benzinga
September 25, 2020

If your business involves the husbandry or transport of livestock, you probably already know that there are a number of risks that come with working with live animals. From accidental shootings by hunters to sudden collisions on the road, there are plenty of hazards that can jeopardize your livelihood.

Livestock insurance can help protect your business by providing compensation for the untimely death of any of your animals. From horses to chickens, there are many customized insurance options. If you’re working without livestock insurance and you’d like to learn more about getting a comprehensive policy, our guide will help you get started by comparing your options. 

Best Livestock Insurance

There is no singular set of livestock insurance policies, and the livestock insurance options you’ll have access to will vary depending on the company you choose to service your policy. 

Not sure where to begin? Consider collecting a few quotes from our favorite livestock insurance providers below. 

Types of Livestock Insurance

Livestock insurance is a highly individualized type of coverage. The specific coverages you’ll get with your insurance policy may vary widely depending on the coverage options offered by your insurance provider of choice. Let’s take a look at a sample of the types of insurance options you might have access to. 

Herd Insurance

The most popular way to insure livestock is through a herd insurance policy. When you sign up for a herd insurance policy, you’ll tell your insurance provider how many individual animals you need coverage for. 

For example, you might want to insure 100 heads of Holstein cattle. If your animal inventory grows, you might need to add a newly acquired livestock endorsement to your insurance to keep your coverage current for all of your livestock. Some of the most commonly-insured herd animals include:

  • Cattle
  • Pigs
  • Sheep
  • Goats
  • Chickens
  • Bison
  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Geese or ducks

Your herd insurance will then provide compensation for a wide range of injuries and damages to your animals. Some covered perils may include:

  • Accidents to your livestock. If 1 or more of your animals are killed due to an accidental peril (like a fire or electrocution), your livestock insurance will compensate you for the value of the animal. Most accident policies also include coverage for injuries and deaths sustained while boarding your livestock onto transportation vehicles.
  • Weather and natural disasters. From hailstorms to volcanic eruptions, natural disasters can present a serious risk to your livestock. Weather and natural disaster coverage compensates you for any damage that comes as a result of a covered weather peril. Note that most policies include exclusions for losses that come from flood or earthquakes — though you may be able to add an endorsement to your policy if you live in an area where either of these are common.
  • Collisions while in transit. Transporting your livestock can be dangerous. If a transportation vehicle is involved in an accident and you suffer losses, your livestock insurance will compensate you for the damage.

Though these perils are the most-often covered under livestock insurance policies, inclusions and exclusions can vary depending on your insurance provider. Some additional coverages your insurance company might offer can include:

  • Accidental shootings. If a hunter mistakes your livestock for wild game and kills an animal, accidental shooting coverage will compensate you for the damage.
  • Attacks by dogs or other animals. If a wild animal breaks into your livestock enclosure and attacks your livestock, wild animal attack coverage can help compensate you.
  • Building collapse. This coverage compensates you for livestock losses if your livestock enclosure collapses and kills an animal. Note that this coverage will only compensate you for livestock losses — if you want coverage for the building itself and the necessary repairs, consider purchasing a commercial property insurance policy.

Even the most comprehensive livestock insurance policy won’t cover everything. For example, no standard livestock insurance policy will compensate you for animals who die of natural causes, including disease and old age. If you’re interested in protecting yourself from financial losses resulting from natural causes of death, ask your insurance provider if you can add an animal mortality endorsement to your policy. 

Individual Insurance

Individual livestock insurance can be beneficial for farm and ranch owners who need to insure a few high-value animals. When you sign onto an individual policy, you’ll insure each animal up to a maximum value. 

For high-value animals, you might need to have an expert assess a maximum value on your behalf to ensure that the policy provider doesn’t end up paying out more money than the animal is worth. Most insurance providers allow you to identify and insure each animal depending on the method that you use to identify them on your farm or ranch — for example, with an identification tag or name.

Like herd insurance, your individual livestock insurance will include a list of covered and excluded perils. Individual livestock insurance also doesn’t cover death resulting from natural causes — though you may be able to add an additional endorsement to your policy. 

Blanket Insurance

Sometimes referred to as unscheduled livestock coverage, blanket livestock coverage combines your livestock insurance with additional protections for your farm and ranch. Beyond individual or herd insurance coverages, your blanket insurance policy will likely include coverage for:

  • Equipment.  Blanket insurance policies typically include standard coverage for the equipment you use on your farm or ranch — for example, milking devices or identification tagging equipment. Any hand tools that you use on your property for work are also usually included.
  • Commercial property. Blanket coverages also include commercial property insurance for your farm or ranch. Commercial property insurance is similar to homeowner’s insurance because it compensates you if your property is damaged by a covered peril. For example, if your barn or fencing is vandalized, your commercial property insurance will help you pay for a repair or replacement up to your coverage limit.

Like other types of livestock insurance, blanket policies vary by insurance company. Be sure to ask your insurance provider about coverage inclusions and exclusions before you invest. 

Cost of Livestock Insurance

The specific price that you’ll pay for your livestock insurance will vary depending on a range of factors. Some characteristics that might influence what you’ll pay for insurance can include:

  • The number of animals you want to insure. The more animals you include on your insurance policy, the more likely you are to need to file a claim. This means that as your herd size increases, so does your insurance cost.
  • Your coverage limits. Like most other types of insurance, livestock insurance policies include coverage maximums that limit the amount of money that you can claim from your insurance. For example, if you have a limit of $500 per animal, you can’t claim more than $500 per animal killed or injured on a single claim — no matter what costs you actually incur. The higher your limits, the more you’ll pay each month for insurance.
  • The location of your farm or ranch. If your business is located in an area where certain natural disasters and covered perils are common, you’re more likely to file an insurance claim. This means that you’ll pay more for coverage.

Coverage inclusions and prices may vary widely from 1 insurance company to the next. The best way to get an accurate estimate of what you can expect to pay is to collect quotes from a few competing insurance providers. 

How Livestock Insurance Works

Livestock insurance is a type of insurance coverage that compensates you if your livestock is killed or injured during a covered peril. Covered perils may differ between insurance companies, but most include natural disasters (like fire and lightning storms), transportation accidents and theft. 

Some commonly excluded perils include damages resulting from earthquakes, flooding and natural causes of death. Depending on your insurance provider, you may be able to add an endorsement to your policy to extend your coverage.

If you don’t already have a comprehensive business owner’s policy for your farm or ranch, you might want to consider a blanket insurance policy. A blanket insurance policy combines livestock insurance with coverage for your equipment and commercial property. A blanket insurance policy can provide you with a more convenient and affordable way to ensure that your entire business is protected. 

Protect Your Livestock With Insurance

Keeping your livestock protected with an insurance policy is crucial — especially if you depend on cattle, poultry or another herd animal for the majority of your business’s operations. Because policy pricing may vary widely between insurers, the best way to be sure that you’re getting the best deal possible is to collect at least a few quotes from competing insurance providers. 

Start by entering your ZIP code to explore a few of our recommended options.