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Disability Insurance for Farmers

Personal note from the author:

Growing up, my father was a crop farmer.  He grew potatoes, corn, and onions.  He grew a few other crops as well but I mainly remember the onions because I had to weed them every summer.  My dad never missed any significant time due to injury or sickness but he was also fortunate in that he sold his farm when he was in his 50s.  Back pain from riding in a tractor, hip pain from the day-to-day, and the potential for sickness due to exposure to chemicals are all potential issues for anyone in the farming business. Disability insurance for farmers can help you protect your business and your family if you’re not one of the lucky ones.

Ranchers, farmers, and most people in the agricultural industry need disability insurance. Like the weather, missing work due to sickness or injury is largely unpredictable. Disability insurance for farmers and ranchers can help protect your income and your business should you be unable to work.  If you’re a farmer or rancher who needs disability insurance, read this article and then complete the form on the left for a personalized quote.  We can help.

What to Expect-Disability Insurance for Farmers

Like most professions, farmers and ranchers should have some type of disability insurance.  Disability insurance for farmers and ranchers protects your income and business in the event that you can’t work due to illness or an accident.

The average farmer is 47 years old and earns almost $54,000 annually. Over 85% of farmers and ranchers are male.

Disability insurance for farmers is priced according to your age, gender, and health.

The older you are, the more expensive the policies become.  It is best to purchase your policy as young as possible. However, knowing that most farmers put a lot of their money back into their business, this isn’t always feasible. Try to make sure that you have a policy in place as soon as it can be budgeted, hopefully before you’re in your 60s (when disability insurance becomes very expensive and loses much of its benefits.)

Men pay less for disability insurance than women.  I have yet to write for a female farmer or rancher but I know that they’re out there.  Due to the demographics of your business, the majority of these policies have preferential pricing.

Health can sometimes be an issue, which is why we shop around for the best policy for you from the major disability insurance carriers.  Although 90% of disabilities are caused by sickness or disease, many of the farmers and ranchers that we work with are primarily worried about accidents.  No matter what your main concern is, we can help you find a policy to address those needs.

What to Look For

If you are reading this article, then you don’t need to hear about how dangerous your job can be.  Your work is labor intensive, involves machinery and/or chemicals, and also comes with a “healthy” dose of stress.

As a farmer or rancher, becoming sick or hurt and unable to work can be financially catastrophic. What if you couldn’t go to work every day?  For most smaller operations, maybe your foreman could carry the load for a few weeks or months, but how long could they continue to do so?

Disability insurance for farmers is designed to give you peace of mind and protect your family and business from your inability to do your profession.  Some disability insurance policies will be better suited for farmers and ranchers, while others will decline to offer any coverage whatsoever.

For most of the farmers and ranchers that we work with, their goal is to actually protect two things in the event that they became disabled – their family income and their business.

Protecting Your Family

Like most people, you live on the income from your employer or business. While this income wouldn’t just stop if you broke your arm and went back to work in a few weeks, it would certainly be drastically affected should an illness prevent you from contributing for a few years.

The average disability claim is 31-34 months and there aren’t many people who could even survive half of that period without severe financial pressure.

Protecting your personal income from an injury or health event is similar for farmers as it is for any self-employed disability insurance needs.  The challenge is that your coverage is often based on your income, while your farm depreciation and expenses can result in little to no reportable income for federal income tax purposes. In most cases, this would disqualify you from purchasing personal disability insurance.

We work with a few carriers who specialize in this market who have creative solutions to help overcome this challenge.  If you’re a smaller operation showing a loss or very little income, you can purchase coverage based on the size of your farm (using acreage) or ranch (using herd size).  This allows a farmer or rancher to purchase individual disability coverage in order to protect personal income without having the reportable income which is usually necessary.

Your personal policy is meant to protect your family by providing tax-free (with a few exceptions) benefits to pay for your mortgage, utilities, cars/trucks, groceries, etc.  These benefits are there to help you maintain you and your family’s lifestyle, should you become disabled.

Protecting Your Business

You are likely the main driver of your farm’s revenue. Sure, you have employees who help with the day-to-day duties, but ultimately you’re the one making the big decisions, negotiating contracts, and making purchases in order to grow or maintain the business.

Many of those decisions come at a cost.  Interest on loans, salaries, payroll taxes, gas, and electric, etc. are all expenses that don’t just disappear because you can no longer work.  Your business still needs to run, even if you’re not there – your family and the families of your workers depend on it.

Business disability insurance, sometimes called business overhead expense provides coverage for all of the above.

If you’re unable to work due to sickness or injury, a business disability policy will help to pay some of the bills incurred by your farm.  While it won’t cover everything, it will certainly help maintain operations, allowing you have something to go back to once you’re back on your feet.

Even if the unthinkable occurs and it is unlikely that you’ll be able to go back to work for the foreseeable future, a business overhead expense policy will keep your farm running while it is prepped for sale.  For most farmers, your business is your largest asset.  Making sure that its value doesn’t erode because you’re unable to work for an extended period of time is therefore critical.

How Much Does All of This Cost?

Both individual disability insurance and business overhead expense coverage are highly customizable.  It is very unlikely that your policy would be the same as your neighbor’s down the street.  Therefore, it is impossible to quote numbers without building quotes which are constructed with your exact specifications.

That being said, there are a number of factors that can increase or decrease the cost of your disability insurance policy.

Your Health

As mentioned before, health plays a role in being able to purchase a disability insurance policy.  Some health conditions will require an exclusion (where no future claims would be allowed on that condition) while others necessitate a rating (which increases the cost of your coverage).

Tobacco use will increase your costs, while a healthy height-to-weight ratio can keep costs reasonable.

Your health is evaluated through your application, a short medical exam, and your medical records.  In some cases, the medical exam may be waived.

Your Policy’s Benefits

Disability insurance for farmers and ranchers will offer many different types of benefits.  The longer your policy allows you to stay on the claim, the more it will cost. This is called your benefit length. The larger your benefit amount (the monthly income paid to you or your business while you’re on claim/disabled), the more your policy will cost.

You can also add riders to your policy.

Adding a rider means that you can get additional benefits (for a cost) if you decide that they’re necessary or attractive.  Some policies offer a return of premium riders via which pay you back your premiums at a certain age (normally 65-67) if you didn’t use the policy.  Others allow you to increase your benefits without medical underwriting  (the health questions, exam, and doctor records mentioned earlier).  In some cases, you can receive a larger benefit amount if your disability is deemed catastrophic (such as losing multiple limbs, eyesight, or severe cognitive impairment).

Riders are mostly optional and should be discussed with your agent in order to determine if they’re right for you.


There are often discounts available when purchasing disability insurance. These discounts will help you reduce your policy’s premium costs, allowing you to use the savings to reinvest in your farm (or buy a new boat…it’s up to you).

You can get a discount if you buy more than one policy at once.  For instance, this article discusses purchasing both personal disability insurance for farmers and ranchers, as well as business overhead expense coverage.  Were you to purchase both simultaneously, some companies will discount the premiums of both.

You can also reduce your costs by purchasing policies for you and your employees.  Multi-life discounts reduce the cost of your policy, often by a larger percentage than the example above.  You don’t have to cover everyone, either.  These discounts can be triggered with as few as 3-5 insureds, and it is your choice as to who gets coverage and who doesn’t.

Some policies will also offer premium reductions if you opt for a social insurance supplement.

Disability insurance companies may not offer all of these benefits at once, so discuss what’s important to you with your agent and see how he/she can help.


Disability insurance for farmers and ranchers does not need to be expensive or confusing.

We offer expert, unbiased advice about disability insurance and work with farmers and ranchers to help them find the best disability insurance for their needs.

If you’re looking for disability insurance, you’ve come to the right place.  Complete the quote form on the left to get a customized example of coverage.  If you’d rather talk over the phone or you just have a few quick questions, you can always contact us to receive a confidential, complimentary discussion about your needs.

We’re here to help.

About Raymer Malone, CFP®
About Raymer Malone, CFP®

Raymer Malone, CFP® is principal and owner of www.highincomeprotection.com, an online insurance agency that specializes in disability insurance.  Ray has been in financial services since 1998 and has been life and health licensed since 2004. He started his company to help consumers get access to disability insurance products online and to provide them with the proper direction in selecting a policy. Ray resides in Lake Tahoe, NV with his wife and two children.

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