contractors, the family keep 400 beef and 200 dairy cows, as well
as some 300 ewes, and devote almost 500 acres to arable
Insuring with Cornish Mutual has become something of a family
56-year-old John has been a Member for almost thirty years, as was
his father and both grandfathers before him. His brother, at the
family's original farm near Tiverton, is another Cornish Mutual
Cornish Mutual insures the Downs' livestock and machinery, as well
as providing liability cover for the farmland itself
- John has never insured anything with anyone else.
However, it is the farm's fleet policy, covering road vehicles and
tractors, that impresses him most.
"It's just so open," he says. "As long as you have five or more
vehicles, they give you one fair price for the lot."
The Downs put the policy to the test recently, when a tractor was
consumed by fire at the far end of the farm. They were not
John explains: "They paid out fairly, and there were no problems
at all. Quickly, too: I had a cheque in my hand within a couple of
The family had face-to-face help when making their claim, from
Area Manager Philip Wilson; their main contact at the company for
almost a decade.
"We're very lucky to have Philip," says John. "He's knowledgeable
and local, and happy to help you with the forms. You feel like he's
working for you.
"Cornish Mutual give us peace of mind. We know they're
competitive, and we have all our insurances with one company, and
one date to renew it all - the Devon County Show - so we don't
"They're local and agriculturally-based, too; it's not a big,
far-off company making millions in profit. You're dealing with the
salt of the earth. Why make life complicated?"
John and Sally's eldest son, Rodney, has recently become a father
himself. He farms at nearby Wrantage, and travels the globe as a
Nuffield Scholar, keeping abreast of the latest dairying techniques
As you might expect, he's a Cornish Mutual Member.