Professional Liability Insurance Services Addresses Gap in Vineyard Market

PRODUCT: Vineyard and farm errors & omissions for managers, operators and related consulting services

COMPANY: Professional Liability Insurance Services Inc., a cover holder at Lloyd's of London

BEST RATING: A (Excellent)

AVAILABILITY: Coverage is available to surplus lines-licensed agents and agencies.

FOCUS: The U.S. is home to more than 9,000 wineries—and that total is growing at a pace of 33 new wineries per month, according to Wines & Vines magazine. Small to midsize vineyards make up more than 90% of the industry.

As wineries become more popular, third-party managers and operators continue to face complex and challenging tasks. In response to the fast growth of these operations, Professional Liability Insurance Services (PLIS) Underwriting Facilities designed a program to minimize liability exposure and provide features that are typically either excluded or not offered—filling the coverage gap for managers, operators and consultants of small to midsize vineyards or farms.

“In the marketplace, there is a greater focus on larger vineyards,” explains Rebecca Garcia, vice president of PLIS. “Agents have approached our in-house underwriting teams with a demand for coverage to fill this gap because they are having a difficult time finding specific E&O insurance for their small- to medium-risk clients.”

This gap specifically includes a sub-limited chemical applicator’s liability endorsement that is typically removed under a pollution exclusion. The component focuses on fertilizer, pest control or herbicide/pesticide that is discharged or dispersed on crops or vines and can cause bodily injury to people nearby or on neighboring properties.

Vineyards and farms also must monitor and manage environmental exposures. The environmental cleanup reimbursement endorsement reimburses for tests, monitoring, clean-up, removal, containment, treatment and detoxifying or neutralizing pollutants that have been released.

“In addition to addressing these gaps, the industry growth has prompted an increase in the need for extensive contract review and specialized food and beverage knowledge,” Garcia explains. “The designated risk management company included with the policy has years of industry experience and maintains established state and federal agency relationships that can assist with communication and regulation compliance, making them a valuable resource at no additional cost to the insured.”

UNDERWRITING: Vineyard and farm E&O coverage includes limits up to $5 million and addresses first-dollar subpoena defense coverage, up to $150,000; first-dollar defense for disciplinary proceedings, up to $150,000 per policy period; supplementary payments, up to $15,000 per policy period; personal injury; a contingent bodily injury/property damage sublimit; chemical applicator’s spray liability, up to $1 million sublimit for all damages; environmental cleanup reimbursement, up to $500,000 sublimit; and an electronic media coverage sublimit. Additional coverages are subject to additional premium.

Insureds gain access throughout the policy period to an independent risk management company via telephone or email for loss control assistance from nationally certified consultants who can assist with maintaining regulatory and economic pressures, loss control procedures, and contract and document review.

MINIMUM PREMIUM: No minimum premium. Each risk is underwritten based on individual merits.

TARGET: Small to midsize vineyards and farms. This includes food safety consultants, food service consultants, farm administrative consultants, irrigation consultants, vineyard consultants, vineyard or farm managers and operators, and winemaking consultants who do not have ownership in these facilities.

COVERAGE TERRITORY: All U.S. states.

CONTACT: PLIS Product Team; Professional Liability Insurance Services, 5802 Thunderbird, Lago Vista TX 78645; 800-761-7547.

Ronimarie Acord is an IA contributor.