Farmers Weekly’s Business Clinic experts offer free advice on legal, finance, tax, insurance, farm management and land issues. Rural affairs specialist Tim Price explains what farmers need to think about when it comes to clearing snow from public roads in terms of their insurance cover.
Q: Will my farm tractor insurance policy cover me to clear snow from public roads?
A: Clearing snow from blocked rural roads is a service carried out by many farmers. It is a task often done without payment – or for expenses only – while some farmers have contracts with councils or other bodies to provide snow clearing services on a profit-making basis.
To make sure you are properly covered when you hitch up the snow plough, turn on all your lights, and head into snow-filled lanes, it is important to check you have the right insurance in place.
The first step is to check your tractor insurance policy. Typically, agricultural vehicle polices will include what is termed “permitted standard uses”.
Polices providing this cover will include wordings such as “Covered for use whilst lent to public authorities for the purpose of snow, frost or ice clearance”. Cover is provided while the policyholder is using the vehicle for these purposes.
The insurance position is different if snow-clearing services are provided on a contract or one-off basis for profit. In these circumstances, insurers should be informed so polices can be extended to provide cover. Underwriters may charge an additional premium relative to the risk.
Agricultural vehicle policies usually provide cover for trailers and implements such as snow ploughs when attached to any insured vehicle. When not attached, the amount of cover provided may be limited unless the implement has been specified – so it is worth checking the position with your insurer.
The same rules usually apply for farmers using vehicles insured under a tractor policy to clear snow from roads and car parks for organisations such as village halls.
Occasionally, farmers have contracts for snow clearance at small airports.
This is not likely to be automatically covered as insurers exclude any operations at airports from their permitted standard uses.
Specific cover is usually needed for a snow plough fitted to a vehicle not insured by an agricultural vehicle policy.
Farmers who have employers’ and public liability cover may use their employees on foot to assist with snow, ice and frost clearance as long as the work is done on a not for profit basis.
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