Choosing locally grown food and supporting the farmers who grow it is no longer just a fad. As we’re all becoming more health-conscious and mindful about what we eat, it has become a way of life, and farmers’ markets have grown in popularity.
Selling at a Farmers’ Market adds substantial value to your business, as any farmer, small producer, or artisan knows. You get to interact more closely with your customers, and they’re a great way to try out new products and get immediate feedback. You also have the freedom to set your own prices, which helps you develop your business.
Being a vendor at a farmers’ market certainly has a lot of benefits, but there are also some risks. You are exposing yourself to liability for injuries, illnesses, and other types of damage. This can result in financial loss that could be devastating for your business.
For example, a customer might trip over a piece of equipment and injure themselves, or they might get sick from eating something you sold, resulting in claims that could force you to close your business.
Moreover, it’s not unusual for organizers to require their vendors to carry farmers market insurance. The organizers also need to get insurance in the form of commercial general liability insurance, but the coverage does not extend to the vendors as well, so you will need to carry your own.
What Is Farmers Market Insurance?
Farmers market insurance covers third-party claims made against food vendors who participate in farmers’ markets. This can include slip-and-fall accidents, illnesses induced by food products as well as equipment loss.
General liability insurance and product liability insurance are the two most common types of insurance for farmers’ market vendors.
General liability insurance covers injuries caused by things like trips and falls, unsecured tents, and so on. Most farmers market organizers will require you to have this type of insurance, and they’ll most likely also ask you to sign a “Hold Harmless Agreement” to protect themselves against claims, damages, and loss.
If someone sues you for injury or illness, there’s a good chance they will sue everyone involved, including the organizers, and that’s why they take these safety measures.
Product liability insurance refers to the products that you sell and will protect you from claims resulting from food-borne illnesses. Farmers’ markets revolve around the food they sell. Even if you pride yourself on the high quality of your products, things can slip through the cracks. Maybe a customer has an allergic reaction to a product, and they claim that it was not clearly labeled. This is the kind of risk you need to consider.
If you hire people to help you sell products at a farmers’ market, you’ll also need workers’ compensation insurance which covers medical costs and wage replacement in case one of your employees gets injured on the job or develops a work-related illness.
To reduce the risk, we also recommend that you provide your employees with safety training. This not only protects them from potential injuries but also reduces the risk to customers because, in the process, they will learn to handle the products, equipment, and space appropriately. Providing this training can even lower your insurance premiums.