General liability insurance is essential to protect your farmers’ market and your organization. Farmers’ markets present some potential hazards: food served to the general public, crowds shopping for food, bulky equipment for displaying food, etc. A well-run farmers’ market in which the farmers’ market manager and the farmers and vendors are all committed to safety is important to help prevent accidents and injuries. But even the best run farmers’ market can still face accidents and other incidents in which someone may be injured or become ill. General liability insurance helps to protect your operations in the event someone chooses to take legal action against your farmers’ market.
If you are an incorporated nonprofit organization, you likely have general liability insurance in place. A phone call or meeting with your insurance broker can start the process of ensuring your current insurance provides adequate coverage or adding additional coverage that might be necessary to fully protect your operations. Because insurance carriers have a vested interest in ensuring your operations are safe and you have no claims that they must pay, they may have safety resources that can help you to audit your farmers’ market setup for potential hazards.
If you need to start shopping for general liability insurance you may want to reach out to farmers’ markets in your area to learn who they are insured with. Working with an insurance broker who already understands how farmers’ markets operate can save you time and help you to purchase the most cost-effective policy possible.
The University of California Small Farm Program has a publication available online that provides an excellent overview of farmers’ market safety and liability insurance needs: “A Guide to Managing Risks and Liability at California Certified Farmers Markets” (http://sfp.ucdavis.edu/files/144002.pdf). The guide was first published in 2005 so the contact information on the resource list may be out of date but the overall discussion of risk management, the safety checklist and the sample accident report are still very useful resources.