Saturday, August 21, 2010

Business Insurance

Nationwide Agribusiness Staff Visit
Vermont Flower Farm
Saturday, August 21, 2010

Almost 8 PM and raining lightly here in the mountain. Lots of rain coming this way by daybreak. Karl the Wonder Dog is already snoring loudly and Gail is talking to herself as she works on next year's plant orders which have to be submitted very soon. I just finished reading my mail and want to get caught up on some overdue writing including some thoughts on business insurance.

When people decide to pursue their small business dream, one of the last things on their list is always insurance. I never could figure out how a person could plan to extend their assets and liabilities to start a new enterprise and then neglect the importance of protecting those new and old assets. Just because your track record has been outstanding doesn't mean you don't need or won't need insurance. Perhaps new business owners think they can skate for a while or maybe they think their business is fairly safe. Personally I have never operated without insurance and I recommend you consider that plan too.

Two years ago when I was attending the Vermont Farm Show in Barre, Nationwide had a display for a new Agribusiness policy they were offering. The concept interested me and the suggestion that I could save some money while increasing my coverage sounded even better.

When we moved our business to our new Route 2 location in 2008, I simply added to an existing policy I had with Nationwide since 1985. That policy had started as vehicle coverage, then included a house, then another vehicle, then our business--on and on. I added a building and some equipment and picked up a workers comp add-on too. But this new agribusiness policy was tailored for farmers and it offered better coverage for less money and I switched.

Last year a new agent was assigned to my account. He was a farmer himself so he knew what other farmers were talking about. Once again, my policy benefits increased slightly but more importantly, I understood my coverage, what I was paying and how I would be protected. This was a good feeling. I mention it because when people place insurance at the bottom of their new business list, it's likely that when they do get insurance, they still do not understand what protection they do or do not have.

A few weeks back Roy Folsom, my agent, said that some regional Nationwide reps had expressed interest in what typical small business farmers in Vermont looked like. Roy had picked three area farmers and asked if Vermont Flower Farm would like to be included. Gail says I have an opinion on everything and as such the Nationwide crew arrived last Tuesday along with Roy and his border collie.

Vermont farms at their largest are not the 2-3000 cow dairy farms of the west. In fact they aren't just dairy or beef farms but might be sheep or goats or pigs or alpacas or llamas or emus or traditonal poultry . They might be vegetable farms or flower farms , organic or not, apple orchards or vineyards or even food or drink producers. One thing that Vermont has is diversity but despite that, none of these are big businesses.

Up top is a picture of the Nationwide crew, dog included, with Gail in the middle. These guys asked questions and listened attentively. In today's world, that's a good feeling. Gail and I feel comfortable with our policy and feel good knowing that Roy wants it that way. He visits us, waves greetings when we pass on the road and we know he's there.

If you haven't looked at your insurance coverage in a while, do it now. Call your agent and get together to go over your coverage. Read your current policy, makes note of questions or changes and prepare for your meeting. Explain what you do, how your assets have changed, who works for you and what work is performed. With that type information you can come away with a thorough understanding of where you are or what changes you should consider making. The whole process is not painful unless you never do it. Learn the easy way--make the call.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the rain is keeping the loons on the pond quiet tonight.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm

1 comment:

Clifton Johnson said...

More businessowners should be like you! Since owning a business has its risks, it should follow that people at least mitigate the risk by insuring their businesses. Hopefully this post should serve as a reminder that it's never a bad idea to have things insured. Thanks for sharing!

Clifton Johnson @ Insuring the Product