A Porsche squashed by a pile of firewood; a wood-splitter stolen by opportunistic thieves; kunekune pigs causing havoc on rural roads in the middle of the night – when you own a lifestyle block, anything can (and will) happen.
Country life is many a city dweller's dream but those who decide to make it a reality often find they are unprepared for some of the risks of rural life. The tools and animals are bigger, the weather more likely to cause damage and your responsibilities (and liabilities if things go wrong) are greater.
The incidents above are all real-life examples of claims lifestylers have made through rural insurance experts FMG. Phillippa Joll, lifestyle manager for FMG, says a lot of new lifestyle block owners don't realise the risks involved. They also don't know where to seek advice.
"People may not think about FMG when wondering who can help them out with advice," she says. "But whether or not they decide to use our insurance products, we are happy to talk them through the sorts of things they need to know when starting out."
She gives an example of some of the issues new lifestyle block owners may not be aware of and which could prove problematic.
"Winter is a good time to prune or cut down your trees. Trees near boundaries can be a problem for neighbours and power lines – and often need removing. But if you are unskilled with a chainsaw they can be a killer. Our advice would be to contact the correct authorities for advice on power lines."
Damage caused to farm vehicles is probably the most common claim from lifestyle block owners, says Joll. But liability is also a big issue and FMG's lifestyle liability cover is ideal for unexpected events.
One client (the owners of the kunekune mentioned above) was able to draw on their FMG insurance policy to pay for damages incurred when a pig escaped on to a road and was hit by a delivery van in the early morning. They were responsible for some of the repairs; FMG's lifestyle liability policy covered the costs.
Another client had a rustic cottage, let out as a romantic weekend getaway to affluent holiday makers. Firewood was stored at the rear of the adjoining carport to service the fireplace in the cottage.
One weekend, when an expensive Porsche belonging to a guest was parked in the carport, a stack of firewood collapsed causing significant panel and paint damage. Again, the client was able to claim on their FMG's liability policy.
Another lifestyler borrowed a neighbour's large wood-splitting machine mounted on a trailer to cut firewood. At the end of the first day they had not quite finished, so they left the wood-splitter in the paddock, intending to finish work the following morning.
In the morning, it was gone – possibly at the hands of an opportunist thief. The client was liable to the neighbour for the loss of the machine and was able to claim on the 'property in your care' benefit on the FMG's Liability Lifestyle policy.
People also may not be aware that house and contents insurance doesn't cover other rural buildings, such as barns and sheds, and that separate insurance is needed to protect them. If you are a horse owner, they can also provide cover for your beloved equine companions, and there is separate cover for farm contents and farm vehicles.
FMG are able to "arm with knowledge" anyone new to the farming game. From stock on the road to trees falling over boundary fences, there are all manner of risks that unwitting lifestylers may not think of – and FMG are an excellent first port of call for advice.
For more information: https://www.fmg.co.nz/lifestyle or call 0800 366 466.