Where I am from, hearing the words “Your cows are out” is fairly common. I live in a farming community surrounded with row crops, poultry, and you guessed it, cattle. If you have ever owned cattle or known a farmer with cattle, you know this for a fact – sometimes they just get out, usually at night, and where there is one, there is usually another. It always seemed to be the Angus breed.
In general, cows are calm beasts for the most part, but occasionally you will get one or two with a gleam in their eyes of sheer mischief. These are the ones you have to watch out for!
Insurance and Cows
Until I worked in a Claims Department working liability claims, I never really grasped what “Your cows are out” really meant in the insurance world and how there is a delicate balance between the responsibility of the farmer and their insurance company.
When a cow is struck by a car on the roadway, whose insurance pays?
- Let’s answer the age-old question: How did the cow get out of the pasture? The adjuster may review several options: interviewing the farmer and neighbors to learn how frequently the cows get out, reviewing old claims for the same issue, and investigating the area where the cow resides. What condition is the fencing around the pasture? Are the posts sound or wobbly? Are the wires loose or taunt? Was a gate left open? Depending on the investigation results, this could potentially present a negligent liability issue for the farmer.
- If there were no obvious signs of how the cow got out then the farmer may not be negligent.
- If you have Comprehensive coverage on your car, then there is coverage for the cow damage to your car.
- If you do not have Comprehensive coverage on your car, there is potentially no coverage under your car insurance policy.
- If the cow(s) were hit intentionally, then your insurance (up to the limits of property damage) could potentially be responsible for paying the farmer for the damaged cow(s).
When we are traveling on any roadway, there are potential animal hazards to be on the lookout for – deer, dog, raccoon, opossum, armadillos, horses, and cows. The larger the animal and the speed traveling, the potentially more damaging to your car upon impact. Be aware of highway signs for deer, cattle, and equine, reduce your travel speed and exert caution when in those areas.
You Do The Math
We compared the average car to the average cow -- weight, height and cost. If an impact occurs, you do the math for the average property damage: car versus cow. The potential to be costly is there. So do yourself and fellow drivers a favor, if you notice a cow out, slow down and call the local authorities to share the area you sighted the loose animal. The farmer will thank you!