Meet our client: The OMME Hungarian Beekeepers’ Association

Zsolt Varga, Hungarian Practice Leader for Food & Agri caught up with Péter Bross, President of OMME, to discuss their latest policy and why it is unique to them.

Varga: Please can you tell us a little bit about the OMME Hungarian Beekeepers’ Association? 
Bross: The OMME is a professional beekeepers association. We have over 14,000 members, consisting of local SMEs and private entrepreneurs producing honey. We represent and support our members in many ways from providing advice and best practice to guidance and help to participate in projects financed by the EU and Agricultural Ministry of Hungary, such as buying new equipment and medicines for the bees, and fostering mutual marketing campaigns.

As an association our situation is unique because we represent so many private individuals who in theory should have their own individual insurance policies. But we wanted to offer our members another insurance option, insuring their risks as a collective.

Varga: What sort of insurance needs do you have?
Bross: Initially we required only a liability insurance scheme for our members.  As a professional beekeeper organisation, we felt it was important to provide appropriate assistance to both the injured party and the beekeeper in the event of damage to the beekeeper’s business. We are also working to improve the relationship between the public and beekeepers, and insurance plays an important role in that.

More recently we have invested in a property insurance scheme, which will be launched this year. We took this decision partly because of our positive experience with GrECo and partly in response to the increasing number of cases of damage experienced by beekeepers. Our weather is becoming more and more volatile, with more frequent periods of severe drought and floods caused by sudden and heavy rainfall. In 2022, several apiaries suffered major losses that could have been mitigated with the correct insurance in place. Our latest insurance policy cannot be privately bought from any insurer in Hungary.  It’s unique in Hungary, and indeed in Europe as a whole, because it insures all of our members en masse against risks brought about by climate change and also against the bees being killed by the ever-increasing use of pesticides or other such chemicals.

Varga: Was there any resistance from your members or from the General Assembly to providing insurance?
Weber: I am the International Director and I work diligently with my team of 12 in the international division. My role is to work closely with our international partners and in-house brokers and risk managers to tailor solutions for their specific needs, supporting them throughout the whole process. We distinguish ourselves by providing excellent customer service, which has secured us ongoing relationships with some clients for over + 60 years!  It has also meant, over the years, that we have been able to increase both personal and business lines.  We focus on always providing our clients with a wide range of integrated services which solve their problems, offer the best solutions, and the best cost-benefit without sacrificing quality.

Varga: Is it costly for your members?
Bross: Quite the opposite.  The financial burden for our members is low.  With the two insurance programmes, it only costs each beekeeper on average 10 Euros per year.

Varga: So how does the insurance policy work?  How do you prove whose bees did what?
Bross: That’s the tricky part.  As with all insurance claims, each one is unique, and this is particularly true in the beekeeping sector because it is a very specialised type of livestock.  It is extremely difficult to determine whose bees caused the damage, because, for example the bees do not have any unique markings and can’t be restricted to property boundaries.

When we do experience an incident, the beekeepers report it to our central office and our county advisory network helps with the submission of claims.  This then gets passed on to the experts at GrECo who liaise with the insurance company and follow each claim through to the end. It’s a remarkably smooth process.

Varga: Can you provide us with some examples of incidents that your members have faced?
Bross: Unfortunately, there have been many.  In terms of liability cases, last year a hiker was attacked by bees. She was stung several times and broke her glasses while fleeing. Our liability insurance didn’t just cover the injuries, but also the damage to her personal property.

Another memorable case was a bee attack on an ostrich farm, which resulted in the death of several birds.  It was an interesting case because they are exotic animals worth a princely sum.  Despite this, the insurance company still settled the claim. The following year, the problem happened again. However, thanks to successful mediation, the damages were settled amicably for both parties.

And, in terms of property claims, we have already experienced claims for damaged property due to gale force winds. But it’s not just the weather causing issues for beekeepers. On New Year’s Eve, revellers broke into an apiary and destroyed several hives. Naturally, a police report was filed, and within 30 days, the insurance company paid for the damage.

Varga: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Bross: Successful claims such as these have really opened the Association’s eyes to the need for insurance for our members, where previously it had been strongly felt none was needed. We think, we have found solutions to the most common beekeeping damages. We are thrilled such a unique insurance programme could be established in Hungary and we hope that we can serve as a good example for beekeeping organisations in neighbouring countries, and anyone else in need of out of the ordinary insurance policies.

Natalia Zaborovska

Péter Bross

President of OMME

Natalia Zaborovska

Zsolt Varga

Practice Leader for Food & Agri Hungary

T +36 20 292 33 73

Related Insights

New FOODprint Publication

In the latest edition of GrECo’s Food & Agri client magazine, FOODprint, we place our focus on a key challenge faced by this industry: the impacts of climate change

Read More …

Five reasons why you should be using drones to help your agri business optimize precision farming

Are you using drones in your agri business yet?  If not, here’s five reasons why you should be.

Farming today looks incredibly different to operations twenty years ago.  Gone are the days of guessing weather patterns and crop yields.  Over the years we have seen the modern farmer utilising technology to his/her advantage to provide a more efficient farming process.  Today, drones are playing a major part in modernising farming further and proving to save farmers money by increasing the efficiency of their farming methods, boosting their crop yields, improving their sustainability, reducing their risks, and providing more accurate data for their insurance companies should they ever need to make a claim.

Are you using drones in your agri business yet?  If not, here’s five reasons why you should be:

1. High-resolution images for precision farming

Precision farming is key nowadays and drones are proving to be a very valuable tool in helping farmers to achieve their precision farming goals.  Agri businesses often need to create accurate aerial imagery of a specific area and using drones is an extremely cost-effective, fast, and unquestionable way to achieve this.  A drone’s high-precision GPS enables you to photograph the same area over time (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly) simply by programming the exact co-ordinates for the spot you want to study.  The drone’s software then splices the images together to create a highly accurate, invaluable orthophoto.  This birds-eye view will provide you with insights about subtle changes to your crop quality that you might not be able to see at ground level, as well as conditions that are often not visible to the human eye, such as pest infestations, water stress and fertilizer needs.

2. Precise spraying with drones

Drone usage is not just about taking photos and footage to forewarn farmers of changes to their crops.  Many in the agricultural industry are using drones to spray crops, typically in areas where it would be difficult for machinery to do the job.  Drones are used in this way to complement rather than replace traditional spraying methods whilst improving your sustainability. Their accuracy and efficiency in this capacity is phenomenal thanks to the use of sensors which can identify not just the plants you want to spray, but the specific parts of the to be sprayed. This precision means less money spent on spraying crops that don’t need spraying, and less of an environmental impact on nature living in your fields.

3.  Beyond liquid sprays: application of granular materials

A drone’s use goes beyond the spraying of fertilizers and weedkillers too.  Those in the know are using their spraying drones to reseed grassland, spread granular fertiliser, feed aquatic animals such as fish and shrimp, and many more uses besides.   These jobs can be done remotely and autonomously, saving you more time and money.

4. Exact damage assessments

At a time when extreme weather is causing many problems for the agricultural industry, drones have proven to be a god send because they can be used to accurately assess the damage caused by different natural forces. The advanced sensors built into drones can estimate the extent of the damage caused by wildfires, storms, or other natural incidents, as well as use machine learning to estimate the number of missing or damaged crops.  This means you can correctly assess the economic impact of any climate-related incidents and plan a precise replanting workflow for your crops.  This data is also useful for any insurance claims you may have to make.

5. Environmental health assessment with drones

Drones are also able to help you with your sustainability footprint and reporting.  You are now able to use them to not only precisely monitor how each operation is progressing in your fields, but also to assess the impact of your operations.  Thus, enabling you to draw concrete conclusions and continuously refine your farming methods for a more efficient and sustainable outcome. In many situations, studies like these have revealed things farmers hadn’t previously thought would affect their yields.  For example, drones can be used to test water in irrigation ponds, identifying potentially harmful bacteria or chemicals before watering the crops.  They can also monitor irrigation systems for any potential leaks before it becomes an issue for crops.

Whatever the nature of your farming business, if you’re not already using them, drones are undeniably one of the next steps for you to consider revolutionising your agricultural practices and management.  They are timesaving, money-saving, sustainability-enhancing, and provide invaluable data for both you in your everyday farming practices, and your insurance company if you ever need to make a claim.   Just don’t forget to insure your drones!

Natalia Zaborovska

Zsolt Varga

Practice Leader for Food & Agri Hungary

T +36 20 292 33 73

Related articles

New FOODprint Publication

In the latest edition of GrECo’s Food & Agri client magazine, FOODprint, we place our focus on a key challenge faced by this industry: the impacts of climate change

Read more…

How do Food & Agriculture companies insure their plants abroad?

International Insurance in Agriculture

Multiple positive benefits come with international insurance programs.

International or Local Insurance?

When an enterprise has a wide range of operations in more than one country, a convenient form of insurance ensures the entire enterprise, together with foreign entities, in an international program.

This is a fitting solution for companies with subsidiaries, commercial agencies, warehouses or production plants abroad.

Advantages of the international programme?

Multiple positive benefits come with international insurance programs.

They allow for controlling the scope of coverage and the cost of insurance from the level of the parent company by one person responsible for the risk or insurance. It is easy to obtain a homogenous and possibly the broadest scope of insurance coverage for the entire company without leaving any gaps. International programs usually mean higher limits and broader protection than those locally available for individual companies or plants.

Thanks to their wide scope and uniform structure, international programs come with a lower premium. This is not always guaranteed, but in most cases, the premium is lower than one negotiated with many different offers for individual companies/subsidiaries.

The conclusion of an international program allows a higher level of deductible. A group of companies, acting as a whole, can retain a higher share than a single entity. The higher risk levels remaining with the client, the smaller share of risk transferred to the insurer and the lower the final premium.

In the international program, people responsible for risk or insurance have access to all claims data, which allows for better analysis of causes and minimization of unacceptable risks. Finally, control over claims also means more effective claims handling by insurers.

However, there are several elements where international programs will not always be sufficient, and a better solution would be insurance taken on the local market. For example, there are risks exclusive to one company which do not exist at a group level (e.g. crop insurance). Also, we should not forget insurance that requires local service (e.g. health or accident insurance for employees).

As seen above, from the parent company’s point of view, international programmes have many advantages but do not always cover 100% of the risks associated with the activities of local companies. Therefore, the best solution is to combine both insurances. Use an international programme for those risks and assets managed at the group level and attach local policies (to the extent that the programme does not offer full coverage).

Based on this assumption, the best solution for the client will be to use the professional assistance of an experienced broker in both the development of international programmes and with a good understanding of the local market in the many countries where he actively works. GrECo is such a choice.

Related Insights

Zsolt Varga

Practice Leader
Food & Agriculture

T +36 20 292 33 73