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Author Topic: Bees & Hives and Insurance Liability  (Read 4651 times)
saltheart
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« on: January 03, 2005, 01:39:53 PM »

This weekend at a family gathering, we presented gifts of honey to our relatives. Our insurance broker is a relative and has been our broker for over 30 years, so there's no question of reliability. He's been aware of the bees for about 4 months, but never made an issue of it.

After receiving the honey, he asked if we were beekeepers as a hobby. We answered in the affirmative. He asked if we sold honey, and we replied 'no', as this is our first year and we didn't really have sufficient supplies to sell. He informed us that as long as we kept it as a hobby and didn't 'sell' the honey, our homeowners insurance and umbrella covered us for all liabilities regarding the hives and the honey...like if someone got stung or had a reaction to the honey. He went on to say that if we 'sold' any of the honey, our homeowners insurance would cease to cover us for bee or honey related liability issues, if they arose.

While all of this seems to make sense, as 'selling' the honey would seem to constitute a business venture, no matter how small, I have to wonder if anyone else out there has come across this issue, and if so, how they dealt with it. Did you simply ignore it and take the chance? Or did you find some other means of getting around the 'sales' aspect of the issue?

We only have 2 hives, and giving the honey away isn't really the issue as we never really got into the hobby for profit. But we do realize that 2 hives could potentially produce a lot more honey than we harvested this year (50-60 pounds), and even giving it away will have a cost, at least for the glass.

We're in Massachusetts, if that matters. Anyone out there come across this issue?
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Finman
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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2005, 02:08:36 PM »

I understand the speak so, that if your bees or honey makes to someone harm, your home insuarance does not reach at that area. - Did I  understood right?

If you have a firm, you can take "an all responsebilyty insuarance", and it compensates for outsiders all kind of accicents, where  your business is guilty. Who never knows what they are?  You drop a part of hive hive from your car and someone have collision with it ?
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Anonymous
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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2005, 02:47:54 PM »

Basically we've been told that 'homeowners' insurance will cover liability related to a 'hobby', but not a 'business', and that selling honey would constitute a 'business'. While all of this does seem to make sense, it places the hobbyist in a position of having to purchase special liability insurance at exhorbitant cost if the hobby goes further than just the fun and interest part of the endeavor.

Some folks collect coins and can, I suppose, sell their coins from time to time and make a profit. The commodity being sold is relatively harmless, can't cause personal injury or worse, and isn't for human consumption. Honeybees, on the other hand, can be quite hamrful to the nuisance neighbor or intruder who can't use common sense and stay away from the hives. Also, honey is sold pretty much for one reason and one reason only...for human consumption in one fashion or another. And therein lies the liability problem, or so I would gather from what I'm told.

We can, indeed, declare ourselves to be a business and sell the honey. But doing so would demand not only registering with the state and the feds as a busniess, but also purchasing liability insurance at high cost to cover against those potentially harmful instances with regard to bees and eating the honey. The cost of the insurance is simply so high that the amount of honey we'd have to sell before a profit could be realized would be immense.

Ignoring these issues is easy to do, and one can hope that nothing bad ever happens. But what if it did? The risk seems to be high. But there's many, many folks who sell their honey as hobbyists and I'm certain that few of them actually do obtain this high cost insurance. Do they all take the risk...knowingly or unknowingly?
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2005, 05:52:48 PM »

Does it make a difference since beekeeping falls under agriculture. Like farming and such. You know you don't have to pay sales tax on purchases for farm use.
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Horns Pure Honey
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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2005, 07:09:09 PM »

We put all of are stuff under are farms insurance. bye
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Ryan Horn
willebanks
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2005, 07:42:33 PM »

There must be someone in your state that would have a better grasp of the laws reguarding business insurance. I live in Connecticut and like your self have 2 hives. I have asked a lawyer friend about my bee's and was told that unless a person has some means by which to identify the ownership of a bee...it would be extremely difficult to litigate a sting. Wild bees still exists.

I never thought to ask about the honey except that I do tell everyone (It's on our Labels) that no honey should be given to children under 1 years of age.

I would recommend you contact your state or a business attorney for expert advice...a penny saved could be the house you live in!

willebanks
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asleitch
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2005, 07:59:12 AM »

Here in the UK, we get full liability cover by being members of our National Beekeeping Assocation - do you have anything similar?

We get public liability of £5,000,000 cover ($10,000,000), and various other things as part of our membership, along with insurance cover for AFB and EFB for about $2/hive. The first few hives are included for free.

Adam
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Horns Pure Honey
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2005, 06:13:50 PM »

Sounds cool to me. bye
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Ryan Horn
NCSteve
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2005, 05:48:35 PM »

Where Im at, the only way to claim "farm use" is if your farming produces at least 10% of your total income.

 Which sadly leaves most hobbyists out of it.

 Now I dont know if this is a new rule or an old one, but a friend of mine just got nailed with a back tax bill on a tractor he bought for his property paying under farmers tax. The tax folks said he cant be considered farming because his land didnt generate enough income.

 Now liability for selling honey...
 I dont know how much there really is because its a natural product. From what Im understanding from a state rep from our farmers market, the rub comes from products that have artificial colorings, preservatives, or other additives.

 Of course Im not a lawyer, so these are just things Ive heard. Your mileage may vary. And I MAY be wrong. Its happened once before.
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Newbee bee keeper
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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2005, 01:19:41 PM »

I am located in OHIO. I am also getting into beekeeping and plan on setting up two hives. I have talked to my lawyer and Insurance provider about the liability issue. They both stated that as long as I was just a hobbyist and not selling my honey than it is not considered a business and my homeowner's insurace would cover it under the liability.

Both my lwayer and Insurance provider suggested putting a fence around the area with a door on it to keep unwanted individuals out such as kids. They also suggested installing no tresspassing signs on my property. This would help cut my liability down if someone were to enter the area and get stung. I realize you can only do so much to protect yourself from lawsuits

I don't think they realize the risks they are taking if someone becomes sick when people sell honey. People sue over anything now a days. So think before you sell it.
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leominsterbeeman
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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2005, 04:57:54 PM »



You can never have too many signs...

I am still throwing caution to the wind -  I sell my honey and I don't have any insurance (Yet).  I have my hives on public property too....

There is a farm  insurance group that estimated they could protect me for $100/annually. Once I get back to work, I will post  their #  and website  in this thread.    

I run as a beeking business - that way I write off the expenses as a business expense/ deduction.   I don't think you can do that if beekeeping is a hobby.
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leominsterbeeman
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« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2005, 10:58:44 AM »

Beekeeper Insurance......

Find an agent through...

http://www.farmfamily.com


They tome me they could portect me from people who might get stung and want to attribute that to one of my hives. As far as protections from
people getting sick froh eating your honey,  well, I don't know about that.
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