Keeping agri vehicles out of harm’s way this winter

Agri Winter Blog

By Malcolm Cawsey, Product Manager for Agriculture, ERS

The world of agriculture, leisure and recreation is as rich and varied as they come. Every day our team interacts with an incredibly diverse array of organisations – from farms and wildlife parks to university estates and garden centres.

However, in the winter months this world assumes a different form entirely. Some of our brokers’ customers will wind down for a quiet spell, while others ramp up for their peak trading period. Some even diversify their core business in order to keep the profits ticking over.

Garden centres are a great example of this. They may struggle to sell their regular plants during this period, but they’re ideal destinations for procuring Christmas trees as well as every conceivable decoration and festive appendage too. Many will transform themselves into winter wonderlands, installing ice rinks or all-singing-all-dancing grottos in which children can profess their good behaviour to Santa.

Even organisations that you might think would shut down entirely during this period have plenty to get on with. While it might not be much fun playing a round of golf in a mid-December snowstorm, golf clubs still have to maintain their estates, while many of them make up for the revenue shortfall by holding a variety of social events and Christmas parties.

The list goes on: wildlife parks hosting New Year’s Parties and light shows; sports stadia hosting end of year concerts; caravan parks hosting craft fairs. Indeed, many of you will doubtless be attending these events and showing your support to customers during the season of goodwill.

But while we’d never advocate talking too much shop over an eggnog or under the mistletoe, it’s always worth checking in to ensure that your customers – from traditional farms to leisure and recreation businesses – are preparing appropriately for the cold weather, which brings its own set of vehicle and machinery challenges.

Here’s a quick check list to make sure you’re prepared for the winter month ahead:

Out-of-use vehicles still need goodwill

Not all day-to-day machinery will be needed during the winter months. Commercial mowers can go for weeks without being called upon; the same is true of combine harvesters. And it’s not just machines – vehicles such as land trains or golf buggies are unlikely to be in high demand either.

However, all of these vehicles require the same winter maintenance as regular cars – checking the water levels, coolants, anti-freeze etc. – as well as giving them a thorough clean, underside included. So, as your customers are rushing around trying to prepare for their winter activities schedule, make sure they remember to service any out-of-use vehicles before putting them out of sight.

Snow is not always soft and fluffy

We don’t tend to get a white Christmas every year, but when the snow does arrive en masse we always see a handful of claims for machinery damage caused by collapsed barn roofs. Barns do a great job of keeping machinery dry and secure under normal circumstances, but their rooves can easily buckle should too much snow build up. Snow is surprisingly heavy, so if it’s coming down in earnest, it might be worth putting in a call to your farming customers to check they’re monitoring the situation.

Does year-end spell the end of your policy?

For many organisations, December 31st marks the end of their business year, and we always see a number of renewals honing into view before the Christmas break. So whether your customers are winding down for winter or gearing up for the festive season, make sure you give them a nudge if their agriculture, leisure and recreation policy is about to lapse.

Machinery prices may be cooling

One issue which tends to occur more with winter renewals is farming equipment that’s incorrectly valued. This happens because the value of the machinery fluctuates based on supply and demand; for crop-tending equipment like combines and bailers, prices are at their lowest in December. So when you’re working through the agri policy details with your customers, make sure you’re factoring in the values observed during spring and harvest as well.

In contrast, one area you don’t need to worry about is the value of ploughs and trailers. Our standard farms policy extends to cover these attachments and, unlike our competitors, we don’t put a monetary limit on their value.

We’ll be available, whatever the weather

If you have an Agricultural risk you’d like to discuss, speak to a member of the team today on 0345 600 2284 or agriculturequotes@ers.com

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