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Serving: IN

Workman's Comp Issue Sticky Wicket for Farm Situations

Workman's Comp Issue Sticky Wicket for Farm Situations
Maybe it's time to discuss your options with your insurance agent.

A man lost his hand in a farm accident this summer and the claim paid by the insurance company was $426,300. Another man shoveling grain into a pit tripped and fell and severely injured his arm. The claim paid was $270,000.

Dean Payne of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance says besides the pain and suffering caused, farm accidents are costly. Most of his company's farm policies carry up to $25,000 of medical coverage that can be applied to an injury. Liability may kick in if the farm owner is negligent and liable for the injury.

Stay alert: Costly accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. Be careful when operating farm machinery.

One nagging question is whether farmers should carry workman's compensation, Payne notes. Most of the farming community in Indiana holds to the fact that Indiana law does not require them to have workman's compensation. However, farming is strictly defined in the law as 'tending of livestock and working field crops,' Payne relates. Besides, the definitions are being interpreted differently in different parts of the state, he adds. If an injury results in legal action it is rarely settled with the protective limits of Workman's Compensation, he adds.

If you have a workman's compensation policy in place, it eliminates guesswork, Payne says, It also limits the exposure to suit outside the act if there was no negligence. The bottom line is that under Indiana law, farmers are not required to take out the coverage, and it becomes an individual decision.

One alarming trend is beginning to show up, Payne says. Some health insurers in Indiana are beginning to reject claims if there was farming activity involved in the incident that led to the injury and the claims. They appear to be taking the stance that since farming is your job, or an employee's job, you should have coverage from work for this type of situation.

The next time you review your insurance policies with your agent, leave time for a discussion about the pros and cons of carrying workman's comp insurance in your operation.

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