Does Farm Insurance Cover Pollution or Environmental Hazards?

Caeva O'Callaghan | December 18th, 2023

You probably don’t think about the chemicals, fertilisers and liquids you use on your farm every day. But these substances can be dangerous – so will your farm insurance cover you if there’s a spill?

Yes, it does. A working farm contains many environmental hazards, and dangers to members of the public and the landscape are many.

The good news, any farm insurance worth its salt will cover you for pollution and chemical accidents, as well as other environmental hazards.

In this article, we’ll cover the following questions:

  • Does my farm insurance protect against environmental hazards?
  • What pollution risks are there on a farm?
  • Will my insurance cover spills and chemical waste?

It’s easy to forget that farming involves working with many different pollutants and chemical hazards, from slurry to fertiliser and more. Read on to find out how this affects your farm insurance.

Farming and environmental insurance

All farm policies that we sell cover environmental damage resulting from a chemical or pollutant hazard. One insurer on our panel extends the policy to include damage to your own land, and not just property belonging to others.

This kind of cover is called Environmental Impairment Liability (EIL) insurance. This is the part of your policy responsible for covering the costs relating to an incident of pollution on your farm.

EIL insurance can cover you for risks such as:

  • Environment Agency clean-up costs
  • Any damages that you are ordered to pay from impacted businesses or individuals
  • The cost of defending your claim
  • Claims arising from environmental impairment

You may be able to find cover that provides a ‘retroactive date’ which means you are continuously covered from the date you first purchased the cover, even if this was from another insurer. This gives you more comprehensive cover in the event of a gradual incident.

Although most will identify with sudden and accidental incidents like a big diesel leak, gradual pollution is a real danger. For example, if there are minor spills in the area around diesel tanks, over time it will mix into the soil profile.

What pollution risks are there on a farm?

Any popular view of farms is going to include a picture-postcard pastoral scene, with green rolling fields, livestock and clean, fresh air. Of course, no one would deny they aren’t the cleanest of places – muddy, yes, and sometimes smelly. But for many people, including farmers themselves, it’s easy to overlook the most dangerous chemical and pollutant hazards present on a farm.

No matter if you farm arable crops or livestock, there will be some hazardous substances present which you will need to ensure you have cover for.

Common sources of pollution include:

  • Fertilisers
  • Livestock slurries and manure
  • Animal feedstuffs
  • Silage
  • Liquid waste or sewage
  • Agricultural fuel, e.g. diesel, petrol
  • Oil
  • Dirty water
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Pesticides

Any employee, family member, walker or visitor wandering over your land is at risk of coming into contact with these substances, especially if there has been gradual leakage. It is imperative that you’re aware of the environmental impact of the materials you use on your farm, and of their risks.

How to keep your farm safe

You should always have safety in mind when handling risky substances, from a potential claims view as well as remaining in good stead with your insurer. Providers look favourably on farms which take every precaution to ensure their working operations are safe.

Carefully plan all storage and handling arrangements for all potential pollutants, and always spread fertilisers a suitable distance from watercourses, including ditches.

Inspect where there are points of run-off from your farmyard, ring feeder areas and hard standings. Never let run-off discharge directly into a watercourse.

And of course, you should only ever employ waste spreader contractors who are fully trained and who follow all required legal guidance.

Everything on your land is your responsibility, no matter if an incident is your fault. For example, if your slurry tank is vandalised by criminals and pollutes a nearby river, you will be considered the polluter and as such are liable for any damages.

Talk to our experts about your farm insurance needs

If you have any questions about best practices, or what environmental hazards are covered by standard farm insurance, give us a call today and talk to one of our team of farm insurance experts. We look forward to helping you today!








All Information in this post is accurate as of the date of publishing.