Producer, Ryan Justus, recently quoted in Capital Press’ article on “agritourism”


Agritourism requires added coverage


Mateusz Perkowski


Mateusz Perkowski/Capital Press Peter Sherman and his wife, Carin, help their son, Liam, and daughter, Emma, pick out pumpkins at a farm on Sauvie Island near Portland, Ore. experts say agritourism operations require common sense to prevent injuries and insurance coverage in case they occur anyway.

Pumpkin farmer Matt Roloff says the prospect of calamity doesn’t dissuade him from opening his property north of Hillsboro, Ore., to the public each year.

“Anytime you have 30,000 people rolling through your place, inevitably somebody will get hurt,” he said. “You can’t let the risk scare you out of business.”

Roloff said he tries to use common sense when designing attractions at his 34-acre farm, which features a tree fort, pirate ship, medieval caste and Western town, among other constructions.

At the same time, Roloff makes sure the operation is well insured in case injuries do occur, he said. “Accidents happen when you get that many people.”

Liability and insurance issues, along with regulatory and legal constraints, are among the top challenges faced by agritourism operators, according to a survey by University of California Cooperative Extension.

Obtaining a policy that covers agritourism activities is now easier than it has been in the past, said Ryan Justus, a farm specialist at Premier Northwest Insurance.

“More people are doing it and more people are offering it,” he said.

Even so, coverage remains a financial hurdle for some farmers because insurance companies see agritourism operations as having a high exposure to risk, Justus said.

“Is it cheap insurance? No, it’s not. It’s expensive,” he said.

Premiums for agritourism insurance typically run from about $2,500 to $5,000 per year and must be purchased on top of regular policies that cover buildings and equipment, Justus said.

The cost of insurance goes up based on revenues as well as the types of activities involved — a pumpkin patch and corn maze will be cheaper to cover than a hay ride and inflatable bouncy castle, he said.

A rule of thumb is that anytime children are riding, bouncing or sliding on something, the insurance premium rises, Justus said. “You’re into that next category that’s going to be a bit more expensive.”

The insured farmer has to be found negligent before an insurance provider will pay out a claim — with serious injuries, the company will send in investigators to determine if negligence was to blame, he said.

Generally, an attorney for the injured visitor will send a letter seeking damages, which prompts the farmer’s insurer to get involved, Justus said. In some cases, the farmer will admit he was liable.

If the parties disagree about negligence, the case goes to court, he said.

It’s important for farmers to fully inform their insurer about the activities offered at the operation so they’re not exposed to too much risk, said Brian Bauman of Bauman Farms near Gervais, Ore.

“The activities get adjusted and changed to make sure we’re doing the best job we can,” Bauman said.

Bauman Farms has a set of rules for each activity and ensures its employees are ready to enforce them, he said. “We do a lot of training with all our staff.”

Concerns about injuries have prompted Roloff to scrap some ideas, such as a wall that visitors could climb over with the help of a net.

“We decided the risk wasn’t worth the reward,” he said.

Roloff said he mitigates risk by ensuring that parents enter the property with their children, rather than letting their kids run around unsupervised.

“You have to use really good judgment,” he said.

Some growers have visitors sign “hold harmless” waivers, in which they acknowledge the risk of entering the operation and waive claims for damages, said Melissa Fery, a small farms extension agent with Oregon State University.

Such waivers shouldn’t replace insurance coverage — a farmer can still face lawsuits alleging negligence — but they provide visitors with additional awareness of the hazards, she said.… 11/4/2013



SAIF Corporation declares dividend for policyholders

Board of Directors approves a $130 million total dividend; checks to be mailed to approximately 43,000 employers in October.

September 18, 2013

Salem, OR – SAIF Corporation’s Board of Directors today declared a $130 million dividend for approximately 43,000 current and former customers.

Customers with policies that ended in 2012 are eligible for the dividend. Individual dividend information will be available to employers through SAIF’s website,, beginning October 11. Checks will be mailed to eligible SAIF policyholders during October.

“SAIF is able to pay this dividend because of solid investment returns and continued success in managing workplace safety and controlling losses,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Brenda Rocklin.

“The first priority of SAIF Corporation’s Board of Directors is to ensure that SAIF can meet its financial obligations to injured workers and their dependents,” said Cathy Travis, chair of SAIF’s board. “We reviewed current audit reports, which confirm that we can declare this $130 million policyholder dividend and safeguard the funds we need to pay injured worker benefits.”

SAIF Corporation is Oregon’s not-for-profit, state-chartered workers’ compensation insurance company. SAIF has been doing business for 99 years and is the leading workers’ compensation insurance provider in Oregon.


Premier NW Insurance Honored at National Sales Conference

Premier NW Insurance Honored at National Sales Conference

DES MOINES, IA – Ryan Justus and Rex Rider of Premier NW Insurance, with offices in Salem, Clackamas and Sandy, were recognized at the Nationwide® Agribusiness Insurance Company national sales conference held in Las Vegas, NV as among the company’s leading writers of farm insurance. The agency is an On Your Side® Farm Certified Agency, a designation which recognizes their skill and dedication to the farming industry.

The annual FAST Track Conference was held in recognition of top-producing agents in sales of new farm insurance policies during 2012.

“Farm coverage is a highly specialized line of insurance,” said Jerry Hillard, Farm Sales Associate Vice President, Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance Company, Des Moines. “Only agents who specialize in this highly complex type of business can provide our farm customers with important advice and counsel. Our FAST Track Conference recognizes agents who have made this commitment.”

While more than 9,300 agencies write farm insurance for Nationwide Agribusiness, only 94 qualified for the 2013 FAST Track Conference.

“Congratulations to Premier NW Insurance on reaching this level of recognition,” said Hillard, “and for their ongoing dedication to protecting Oregon farmers.”

 Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance Company, and its affiliate, Farmland Mutual Insurance Company, are part of Nationwide®, Columbus, OH. Nationwide Agribusiness, rated A+ (Superior) by The A.M. Best Company, is the country’s #1 farm insurer, and a leader in insurance and risk management solutions for commercial agribusinesses in the food and fiber chain. For more information, visit Nationwide Agribusiness offers the AgriChoice® farm policy which provides customized coverages for farm operations of various sizes and types.

Nationwide, the Nationwide Framemark, and On Your Side are federally registered service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.