Farmers Weekly’s Business Clinic experts offer free advice on legal, finance, tax, insurance, farm management and land issues.
Here Barney Hatcher, commercial insurance specialist with NFU Mutual explains what needs to be considered when diversifying into glamping.
Q. I am planning to set up a glamping (glamorous camping) enterprise to earn extra income on my beef and sheep farm in Devon. The prospective returns look good, but I am told the liability risks involved could make insurance difficult to get, or that cover might only be available if expensive health-and-safety measures such as security fencing around ponds and farm buildings are put in place?
Glamping has caught the imagination of holidaymakers and early adopters in attractive locations claim to be making good profits. However, there is a lot more to running a glamping enterprise than knocking together a few yurts in a weedy pasture.
Barney Hatcher, commercial insurance specialist, NFU Mutual
Glamping is about providing what visitors view as a trendy, rustic experience in an unusual or unique structure while ensuring they have a comfortable and safe environment.
To bring these two seemingly opposing challenges together requires very specific design, construction, maintenance and management. Whether running a B&B or offering a tree house experience, farmers face the same legal liabilities and potential for large claims for damages if members of the public have an accident on their premises.
Consult with your insurer from the outset. Their experience of the types of incidents that lead to claims can help outline site plans. Glamping sites are by nature non-standard and likely to use potentially flammable materials such as canvas sheeting, so insurers are likely to want to inspect the site and see that firms installing the accommodation and other features are reputable and experienced in the sector.
This helps ensure that the site has safety features built into it from the design stage, rather than expensively added at the last minute to satisfy safety or insurer concerns.
A high-profile issue for insurers will be the use of any stoves or burners – not just whether they are appropriate, of good quality and properly installed, but that any fuel or equipment supplied to use with the stove is suitable.
As with any diversification involving the public, any activities offered on site such as cycling, fishing, saunas, farm visits and quad biking will also need to be well-organised, carefully risk-assessed and managed as they present a high claims risk.
Some glamping enterprises are owned and managed by the farm, others run as a separate company, or even as a franchise, so insurers should be involved in consultation at the planning stage to deal with any ambiguities or potential gaps.
Providing things are clearly set out to show where responsibilities lie between the involved parties and are checked by solicitors, the way the business is structured is not likely to present difficulties when arranging insurance.
As well as cover to protect buildings and contents from fire, storm, flood and theft, those setting up glamping need to consider:
- Public liability – protects against claims from guests and other members of the public
- Employee liability – a legal requirement, not only for paid employees, but also family members who help out – even if only occasionally
- Product liability – protects against claims following use of food, fuel or other goods supplied
- Business interruption – makes up lost income following an insured incident such as a fire or storm that puts the business out of action for a period
- Cyber risk – glamping often relies on web-based services for promotion and administration – insurance can cover data restoration and forensic investigation.
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