As healthy eating trends continue to grow in popularity, the farmer’s market is no longer perceived merely as means to buy produce. It has evolved into a community-driven space where people gather together and socialize with each other. The farmer’s market facilitates a unique relationship between consumer and producer that mutually benefits both parties. Through the farmer’s market, consumers are able to source freshly-grown and even, seasonal produce to support local farmers and cultivators in their own or neighboring communities.
However, like any business, even a whiff of trouble can land a farmer’s market or its vendors in hot water. As such, both farmer’s market owners and vendors need to be able to protect themselves from any liabilities resulting from any potential disasters. These could include:
– Accidents caused to due to improper installation of booths or tents
– Slips and falls due to carelessly placed goods or containers
– Food poisoning and other food-borne diseases
– Accidents in the parking areas of farmers markets.
For perspective, consider this: one of the major risks associated with fresh produce is food-borne diseases like Salmonella, Campylobacter, E coli, and norovirus. Consumers who contract these illnesses after consuming any products sourced from a farmer’s market can end up footing medical costs that run as high as $1 million. The last thing food vendors need, besides a damaged reputation, is a liability that could seriously cripple their finances.
So, what are the types of insurance that a farmer market’s owners and vendors should look into?
General Liability Insurance
This insurance covers both market and product liability insurance, and therefore, protects vendors from any claims arising both from accidents or injuries caused on the premises and any complaints arising from the consumption of products sold by individual vendors. According to a survey conducted by the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC), 23% farmer markets do not have general liability insurance; and the 53% that do did not require proof of purchase from their vendors.
Product Liability Insurance
This insurance protects vendors and owners from liabilities arising from illnesses or injuries caused due to the products sold in the market. According to the aforementioned survey from the FMC, only 39% of farmer’s markets in the country required their vendors to carry product liability insurance, and 33% of those markets did not require proof of purchase. This is staggering, considering the fact that claims resulting from these liabilities can run into the millions depending on the severity of the injuries or illnesses caused.
Market Liability Insurance
This insurance covers claims arising from accidents and negligence occurring on the market premises such as trips or falls, unsafe parking practices and property damages incurred including those to the food stalls and booths in the market. Farmers markets and vendors can be sued even if the damages were caused by another party. So, purchasing market liability insurance can help cover the costs and risks associated with these claims.
What about legal fees and costs?
Defending and settling liability claims, even when they are frivolous or groundless, will incur legal fees. Therefore, vendors and owners should make sure their policy covers legal costs and fees. A policy that includes legal coverage also allows your insurance company to select the lawyer, and also help you in your decisions to pay or settle the claims.
But, what about small-scale vendors?
This is a legitimate concern from small-time farmers who fear that purchasing expensive insurance premiums could put them out of business. One way to avoid possible liability claims from cropping up is to follow strict growing and safety standards for the produce. However, even the best growing practices cannot guarantee safety: a slight misstep or oversight can inadvertently result in an unexpected fallout.
So, it’s just always better to be safe than sorry, and as such, many farmers markets are beginning to insist that their vendors carry some value in insurance for both general and product liability.
Hotwire’s Vendor Insurance Policy
Hotwire’s Vendor Insurance Policy is a vendor insurance program that has been designed to meet the needs of both small and big vendors. It includes coverage for both individual and vendor groups, with coverage periods ranging from one day (for single one-day special events) to annual premiums. Hotwire’s policy covers the following, but isn’t limited to:
– Injury or death of volunteers
– Property damage liability
– Products liability coverage
– Incidental medical malpractice
– General negligence claims
– Cost of investigation and defense of claims, even if groundless
For more details on Hotwire’s vendor policy, click here.