Agri-Tourism, Agri-Tainment, Rural Heritage Activities for Liability

agri-tainment insurance

If you own or manage a seasonal or year-round farm or ranch operation, and provide tourist entertainment activities or features, you have a public liability exposure that likely goes beyond what your farm / ranch insurance company can insure.

Agri-Tourism services have become more popular in recent years as working farm and ranch owners look for additional ways to earn income while educating and entertaining people about the rural heritage of their areas.  Farm / Ranch Owners have become very creative in finding ways to entertain the public using their property’s natural features and the types of agriculture they are involved in. Operators usually provide more than one tourist activity.  For example, a farm may have a pond or stream and offer fishing, kayaking, and swimming.  They may raise organic orchard fruits and do their own drying, processing and candy making. They may sell baked goods, dried fruits and candy made from those fruits, and juices for wine making. They may give horse drawn trolley tours through the orchards, and rent bicycles.  They may have picnic grounds and RV park facilities near a horse trail system, and provide stabling for horses owned by guests.  A list of possible activities follows, though this list should not be considered complete. This list and description of operations are informational only. Ark Agency’s programs may not be able to insure all the activities shown.  Liquor sales, some Amusement activities, activities involving use of firearms, Motorized Touring and Motorized Fishing Boats, Paint Ball, “City Slicker”, and other Special Risk and Higher Risk Activities may require additional coverage or coverages under a separate policy to complete coverage needs.

Amusement
Corn Maze
Rock Climbing Features – Low Elements
Hay Stack Playground
Water Slide
Mini Golf
Low Exposure Amusement Rides
Trampoline
Fun House (Seasonal Features)

Entertainment Learning
Rodeos
“Wild West” Shows
Concerts
Dances
Theatre
Public Flower & Plant Displays
Tractor Drawn Vehicle Rides
Arts & Crafts Courses / Demonstrations
Cooking Demonstrations
Tractor Pulls & Demonstrations
Horse Pulls & Demonstrations
Cowboy Poetry Readings
Creative Writing
Archery
Game Room
Seasonal Festivals

Nature
Nature Camp
Bike Trails
Bike Rental
Bird Watching
Wild Flora Tours
Canoeing – Rent Canoes
Kayaking – Rent Kayaks
Guided River and Lake Tours
Hiking
Photography
Star-gazing – with guide
Snow Shoeing & Cross Country Ski Tours
Nature Trails for Public Use
Books, DVD, Photos,
Equipment, Novelty Sales
Community Gardens Farming
Wild Animal Observation

Services
Conference Center
Photo Prop Services
Transportation / Shuttle Services
Weddings & Reunions
Food Sales Services – Catering
Day Care for Children of Guests
Target Shooting – Firearms

Historical
Archeological Digs & Tours
Paleontology Digs & Tours
Historical Tours
Antique Machinery Exhibit
Rural Heritage Collections / Museum
Wagon Train
Reenactment Programs

Livestock Agriculture
Animal Petting Zoo
City Slicker Operations
Mini-Cattle Drive
Farm Family Camp
Family Ranch Camp
Working Vacation
Guest Ranch

Horse / Equine
Carriage & Buggy Rides
Hay Rides
Trail Rides
Pony Rides
Riding Instruction
Horse Demonstrations
Tours on Horseback
Horse Farm Tours

Motorized Vehicle
Trail for: Snowmobiles
Four-Wheelers
Off-Road Bikes
4-Wheel Drive Autos
Rental of Equipment

Hunting/Fishing
Hunting for a Fee
Hunting – Guided
Boating Tours or Transport
Fishing (Lake, Stream, Pond)

Lodging / Restaurant
Bed & Breakfast
Cabin Rental
Hotel-Lodge
RV Park
Rustic Camping
Restaurant
Chuck Wagon
Concessions
Pitch Fork Fondue
Picnic Park
Food Production & Retail Sales
Flour Milling
Meat / Meat Processing
Ag Snacks
Bakery
Gift Sales
Roadside Produce Sales
Roadside or Shop Antiques
Roadside or Shop Arts & Crafts
Orchard
Pumpkin Patch
Berry Patch
Vegetable Patch
Winery
Wine Making Class & Make Your Own
Christmas Tree “Cut Your Own” Farms
Ice Cream Making Tours & Retail Sales
Cheese Making Tours & Retail Sales
Flea Market
Farmers Market

High Risk Entertainment
Air Suspension
Hang Gliding
Hot Air Balloons
Paint Ball
Water Skiing & Instruction
Rock Climbing – High Element

Farm / Ranch Agri-tainment may offer day, evening, and overnight activities and accommodations. Daytime only operations often provide from five to ten activities to interest adults and children. Tour guides, Instructors, and other staff may be employed to supervise guests and teach classes and skills. Each activity should be provided in a way that shows attention to risk reduction while also providing the guest with a fun experience. To avoid coliform and other bacterial infections, clean hand-washing facilities should be located in several strategic locations on premises and be clearly marked for purpose and use. Both guests and staff should be instructed about hand-washing after touching animals, plants, and bathroom use. But also guests and staff should have access to frequent washing prior to working with food and eating.

Day and Overnight Operations should be designed with thought for after-hours surveillance and security. Barn, perimeter fencing, interior fencing, and gating designs can assist in keeping unsupervised guests and non-guests from accessing areas they should not enter and keeping animals out of public areas and roadways. Warning, directional and instructional signs are important as people often guide themselves around the property. Some activities may require participants to sign a warning and release of liability form, such as for horseback riding. Some states require signs and notices concerning location of electric fences, or about agricultural, recreational, and equine liability immunity laws. States may require an operator to have several permits or licenses to provide their services. Owners may contract with independent contractors and concessionaires to provide services, and owners should seek proof these are adequately insured and request to be listed as an additional insured on concessionaire’s and Independent’s liability policy.

Overnight guests may stay on premises for from two days to two weeks. Accommodations may be provided, such as cabins, motel, campgrounds or bunkhouse. Buildings on premises may include a lodge, dining and tasting rooms, meeting rooms and halls, retail sales and processing buildings, and a recreation building, in addition to traditional farm and ranch storage structures, stables, and barns. Swimming pools and ponds, saunas, hot tubs, and even “hot mineral spring baths” may be featured.

Products & Completed Operations liability may be required for sales of souvenir items, clothing, jewelry, books, food and food products, etc. Food service may be provided in a private dining hall, restaurant or cafeteria, from concession stands and machines, in addition to outdoor picnics, barbeques and chuck wagon dinners. Some have a liquor liability exposure for sales of wine, beer and hard liquor, and will require dram shop / liquor liability insurance.

Advertising and promotion at trade shows and travel fairs, in periodicals, newspapers, local flyers, and on the web is are exposures of moderate concern. Some operators provide transport services to and from public transportation sites and may have need of Commercial Auto Insurance or Hired and Nonowned Auto Insurance. Compensated Employees require Worker Compensation insurance under a separate policy of that type. Before, bringing in help, know how your state defines volunteers, independent contractors and employees, and how each type needs to be insured by law. Worker Comp is not part of a GL Policy. Note: Worker Compensation, Liquor Liability, and some higher risk recreational activities are not insurable under the GL policy. Separate Insurance policies may be required.

As a Farm / Ranch Agri-tainment operator —- you may worry that you may be sued or otherwise have a claim made against you for bodily injury or property damage by a customer, guest or someone else who comes in contact with you or the property that is part of your business. If sued, you will need to hire a lawyer to defend you and you wonder how you would go about doing this. If found negligent or responsible, you would likely have to pay a court-ordered or agreed-upon settlement to the injured party. Fortunately, much concern can be relieved when you buy a Commercial General Liability Policy [GL] to insure your specific activities.

Commercial General Liability Insurance protects you from financial loss should a guest, visitor, or a trespasser become injured [Bodily Injury] or their property is damaged [Property Damage] in relation to your operations, and they make a claim or file a law suit against you for damages.

How Risky are Agri-Tourism, Agri-Tainment, Rural Heritage Activities? Moderate to High Risk

These operations provide numerous supervised and non-supervised activities and services for guests that are on premises when the Farm / Ranch is open to the public. Guests may include children of every age that may be difficult to supervise at all times. Many of the activities are recreational and out-of-doors. There is concern about Trip and Fall conditions, relating to obstacles, lighting, and ground surface changes. People are naturally curious and may enter areas of the working farm / ranch where they are not to be allowed. Large animals are often present on the premises. Horse activities may be offered, and are reasonably safe compared to many other activities people participate in. Yet, horse-human activities do carry inherent risks. Accidents do happen when people at different stages of capability attempt to touch, handle, train, ride, drive and control large animals that are unpredictable even when well trained. And some horse-human accidents are serious. Even with the best of intentions and management practices anyone can have a claim made against them and be sued. These factors combine to rank such operations in a MODERATE to HIGH RISK category for incident or injury to happen. This however, depends upon the management, supervision, design, duration of and types of activities offered.

You Must Plan Ahead – A Five Pronged Strategy

No one wants someone to be injured on or in relation to their property or business operations. No one plans to have an accident that results in a liability claim they are responsible for. Yet, you still must plan against and for an accident, and there is a five-pronged strategy you should follow:

  1. Accident Avoidance is the first strategy. This is best accomplished by implementing a thoughtful operational risk reduction plan that provides a reasonably safe physical environment and procedures for horses and people. All staff members should be trained in those practices. [NAHA Risk Reduction Programs can assist you.]
  2. Emergency Procedure Planning is the second strategy, and it can be important to minimize the severity of an accident and provide proper care at the time.
  3. The third strategy is to use well-worded Warning and Release of Liability Agreements. [NAHA can provide contract models for you to evaluate and use.] Have them completed and signed completely and correctly by all participants. Keep the signed forms on file and safely stored for several years as suggested by an attorney in your state.
  4. The fourth strategy is to carefully review and comply with your state’s Equine Activities Immunities Law, if your state has one. All states have some form of the law except California, New York, Maryland, and Nevada. Some require special wording in warning and release agreements, and some require posting of specific warning signs on your property.
  5. Purchase an Equine Liability Insurance Policy that adequately covers and lists all of your specific activities in the policy. The policy should be placed with an A rated domestic insurance company having a good reputation for service, knowledge of equine risk, and for handling equine liability claims. Be wary of low pricing, as generally a low price means something important is missing in the policy or the Insurer may not understand how to price equine exposure. This important fifth strategy can protect you and your business from financial loss should an accident happen. It helps fulfill the sense of responsibility you have about serving the public, but it provides more than peace of mind. In event of a covered claim, the Insurer provides legal defense and pays for defense costs. It pays for claims costs and settlements made against you up to the limits of your policy. Just as important is the fact that knowledgeable professionals will handle and manage the details of your claim in a way that looks after your claim and litigation interests, so that you can continue functioning with the least amount of “hassle.”

Equine Activities Immunities Laws have been passed in 46 states. While these laws may help you avoid liability, they will not usually thwart a determined injured party from pursuing a claim or law suit. This is because to receive immunity under the law, the activity sponsor must have performed in a specific way according to what the law requires. And often immunity is determined through some type of expensive legal proceeding that can result in a large, often uncontrolled expense to an uninsured stable owner. You still need to be properly insured for liability.

General Liability Coverage & Limits

The General Liability Policy includes specified maximum limits or amounts of liability insurance for:

Medical Expense: Pays for low cost medical expense with no questions asked about your liability or responsibility in the matter.

Legal Defense Costs: Today court costs and hiring of a lawyer can quickly mount to $50,000 or more, an expense you do not want to come out of your pocket if you are sued and have to hire a lawyer.  If sued in relation to this activity,       the policy provides legal defense whether the case has merit or not.

Settlement or Claim Costs: For bodily injury and property damages for which you are responsible and held negligent and liable.

Common claim incidents for Agri-Tourism, Agri-tainment, Rural Heritage Operations include:

A guest becoming injured while participating in a sporting, recreational, or animal related activity.

Food service claims are not common, but are of concern for “Agri-tainment operations.

Guests who are injured require more care than the resident medical care staff can provide, resulting in a medical crisis.

A guest trips and falls while walking the premises and is injured.

Lack of hand-washing after touching plants and animals can be a source of serious e-coli contamination and illness.

Where to Begin

Your insurance needs are unique, therefore we believe in person to person service. Call or e-mail an Ark Agency Representative for an estimated premium, policy and company details, and qualification requirements. We work with several insurance companies and rates and coverage conditions vary. We will help you determine which application to use and advise on how to put insurance in force.

*General information is provided on this insurance topic. Acting on our coverage recommendations does not guarantee coverage if you have a loss or claim.

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