An agricultural insurer has warned farmers they should reassess the value of their machinery, buildings and equipment or face losing thousands of pounds on theft and fire claims.
The most recent rural crime statistics, released by NFU Mutual in August, showed the cost of rural theft in the UK hit a seven-year peak last year, with the biggest percentage increase – 62% – seen in Scotland.
Now, Will Kendrick of Farmers and Mercantile Insurance Brokers claims farmers are running the risk of being underinsured for farm contents, including tools, workshop machinery, hay, straw, fertiliser, sprays, diesel and oil.
He singled out arable farmers and said if they bought new machinery for this year’s harvest or are keeping crops in store, they should give an accurate estimate of the value of their farm buildings’ contents to their insurers.
“Unfortunately, it is often the case that farmers only discover that they are underinsured when they come to make a claim, as they start to work out exactly what they have and what is missing or damaged,” he said.
“Other valuable commodities, such as oil, diesel, tools and animal feed, are often overlooked by farmers but these are attractive targets for thieves and should be subject to the appropriate level of cover.”
Mr Kendrick called on farmers to make an inventory of contents ahead of winter.
“The longer, darker nights give thieves, vandals and arsonists the perfect cover to operate, so taking extra precautions will help lower the risk of being targeted – and can even lead to lower insurance premiums,” he said.
“Keep machinery and vehicles in securely locked sheds and consider installing security cameras, alarms, light sensors and security signage.
“Immobilise farm machinery, where possible, ensure nothing is on display in the cab and always keep the keys in a secure location.
“Diesel is a valuable commodity, so ensure that tractors are locked up at night, to prevent thieves siphoning fuel, and consider fitting fuel bowsers with wheel clamps or hitch locks.”
He added that metal-stripping was becoming a popular crime, with tools, building materials, machine parts and cabling all key targets.
Mr Kendrick said: “Consider replacing copper and lead with artificial lead, which is less costly to replace, or mark the metal with tamper-proof stickers and use anti-climb paint.
“Ensure the perimeters are well maintained and restrict access to the yard with locked gates and security barriers and consider signing up to Farm, Country and Neighbourhood Watch schemes.”