Working in insurance has made me sit back and evaluate my own working life and look at where I have gone wrong. This thought process has lit a fire under me. It never occurred to me in my 20’s when I was working on the land that I could have been sued for damages to property or third party. I was just there doing my job and handing in invoices. As it turns out it could have gone horribly wrong.
As you read through this blog, and I know you will because you value your kids and your own working life, I want you to evaluate your own working history and how you are working now and employing people.
There are three key points I wish to bring to your attention;
Public Liability: what it is and how it works
Working as a rural contractor
Records: importance of keeping a diary
The core of liability is simple, it is damage to person or property of a third party.
This relates to anyone that comes on to your property or place of business for both work and social. Without public liability cover if there is damage to property or an injury to a person on your property you will be responsible to pay damages should there be a claim lodged. The value of these damages claims can escalate very quickly. Especially in the situation where the person injured cannot work as a result of an incident on your property and this person has no income protection cover. They are going to need money to survive and you can bet they will come after you to get it. I was made aware of an example recently where a person was injured in a set of cattle yards, the validity of their claim in under question, however this is irrelevant because this person is still making a claim against the business owner and stating that they were not trained or shown what to do in the event of a beast turning on them. This has incurred cost on the part of the business owner defending themselves, but due to the fact that they have public liability cover the insurance company is operating on their behalf and conducting an inquiry in to the validity of this persons claim. Without the insurance cover the business owner would have to pay a legal advisor to act on their behalf and potentially have to compensate the claimant. This can run into a lot of money very quickly.
Working as a rural contractor:
It is quite common that when you get out on farm working for people they will have you on a contractor arrangement, ask you to have your own abn and submit invoices to them, this may be because the work is seasonal or they are not wanting to set up super and workers comp etc. Right or wrong it happens a lot.
Things to consider here though is you will be required to have your own public liability cover, your mum and dads cover for their farm will not extend to you working on other people’s places. It will only act if you are feeding your wages directly back into Mum and Dads business.
If you are on a farm working under contract and an action you perform results in damage to property or person they can make a claim against you and if you don’t have an insurance policy to act on your behalf you will have to pay damages for many years long after you stop working for this person.
I sit back and think about where I have worked and work I have done without the right cover and it makes me cringe. This is so very important and really the whole reason I am here talking to you. I do not want to see a young person just starting out be completely wiped out because of something really simple like this.
One thing that I encourage you to form the habit of is to keep a work diary, this is something I have done my entire working career. A diary will hold up in court as a legal document. In this diary record all training you receive and give yourself to others. I have used it to record all medical treatments to the horses I was working with, paddocks mustered, what bulls are where etc. If something goes wrong and someone tries to make out you are at fault, you have a place to go to back you up, for me this has been a great asset as I have work autonomously quite often.
As an insurance broker legally we are required to make notes on every conversation with our clients, this protects both parties. Farming is a business and the same attitude should be taken.
The ability to maintain training and safety records will impact a business’s insurability and will help in the event of a claim, there is less chance of a claim being declined if all the records are clear and concise.
In conclusion, the purpose of this article is purely to stir up conversations about covering yourself properly. It is a simple thing to pick up the phone and ask your broker if you are at risk. We are here to help you, it is against our legal binding duty of care to push cover on you that is not needed. We always act in the best interests of our clients. So please do not be afraid to pick up the phone, it could save you a lot pain and suffering.