Avian influenza outbreak warning sign© Stewart News/Rex Shutterstock

Insurance brokers Scrutton Bland and the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (Bfrepa) are developing an exclusive insurance policy to protect members against the cost of avian influenza.

The new cover, which was launched for consultation at Bfrepa’s annual conference in Birmingham on 24 November, provides the association with £1m of secondary cleansing and disinfection (C&D) cover for its 450 members.

The pay-out will be limited to £50,000 for any one member, with the cost of the cover likely to be collected through Bfrepa’s annual membership subscription.

Additional cover can also be purchased to meet individual requirements.

See also: UK bird flu costs hit £50m

Policy director Robert Gooch said the premium is likely to be a flat rate £30/year fee, added to the subscription.

“I believe this will be useful to both small producers with about 8,000-10,000 birds, and larger members who already have insurance cover of up to £200,000 but would like additional cover.

“We need all of our members to sign up and this will go to our council meeting on 8 December. We are getting feedback to the proposal today and will be promoting it widely over the next couple of weeks.”

Scrutton Bland said it was delighted to be working with Bfrepa members, who have overwhelmingly signed up to the Lion Code and Freedom Foods accreditation schemes. These include strong biosecurity requirements, which provide insurers with greater confidence.

Ed Nottingham, Scrutton Bland head of agriculture insurance, said secondary C&D was a real problem for the poultry sector, but that insurance could help ease the burden.

The AI outbreak at Staveley Eggs, near Preston in July, and the costly clean-up operation, had prompted the company to take action.

Meanwhile, Gary Ford, NFU chief poultry adviser, said the union was working closely with NFU Mutual to develop an insurance option and that industry was continuing to discuss creating an avian influenza clean-up fund.

The possibility of a chick levy, plus insurance, will be discussed by the pan-industry Poultry Health and Welfare Group on 14 December.