CROP INSURANCE CLAIMS

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HOW to file a crop insurance claim? What to do. What not to do. How do I initiate a claim? Maintaining crop insurance coverage and understanding the claims process is crucial for farmers. Drought damage is an insurable loss under multiple peril crop insurance policies.

Notify the insurance agent within 72 hours of the discovery of damage. A notice of loss can be made by phone, in writing or in person. Although drought loss is not immediate, farmers should contact their agent as soon as they feel a loss is present.

Continue to care for the crop using good farming practices and protect it from further damage, if possible, get permission from the crop insurance company before destroying or putting any crop to an alternative use.

Call your crop insurance agent and follow up in writing and do not forget to keep a copy for your records. Your crop insurance company will arrange for a loss adjuster to inspect your crop. It is your responsibility to call your crop insurance agent and initiate this process.

How do I know when to file a claim? Any time you have crop damage that will adversely affect your yield, or the value of your crop, you may be eligible to file a claim.

The loss adjuster will determine whether your yield falls below the yield guarantee stated in your crop insurance policy. This applies to revenue guarantee policies, like Crop Revenue Coverage (CRC), as well as to traditional yield protection policies.

Your insurance company will assign a crop insurance adjuster to appraise the crop and assess the loss. The insured farmer must maintain the crop until the appraisal is complete.

If the company cannot make an accurate appraisal, or the farmer disagrees with the appraisal, the company can have the farmer leave representative sample areas.

These representative sample areas of the crop are to be maintained – including normal spraying if economically justified – until the company conducts a final inspection. Failure to maintain the representative sample areas could result in a determination that the cause of loss is not covered. Therefore, no claims payment may be due to the farmer.

Once appraised, the insurance company can make recommendations such as to destroy the crop through tillage, shredding or chemical means or to use it as silage or feed.

Policies are adjusted based on your agricultural revenue as reported in your tax return.

Most policies state that you (the insured) should notify your agent within 72 hours of discovery of crop damage. As a matter of urgency, you should always contact your agent immediately when you discover crop damage.

In some cases, you may discover a loss while you are harvesting. Stop harvesting and contact your agent right away. In the event of losses, you must file notice immediately after each unit is harvested.

Your agent should be informed within 15 days before the end of the insurance coverage period.

How soon should I expect an adjuster? In practice, there are different levels of urgency for crop inspectors.

If you are still within the window of opportunity to replant your crop, or switch to another crop, contact your crop insurance agent immediately.

The insurance company should make every effort to get an adjuster out right away. If, later in the farming season, your crop is wiped out by locusts, for example, or if a severe drought has damaged your crop, you still need to contact your agent.

But the urgency for an inspection depends on your intentions.

If you want to destroy the crop, then an adjuster needs to come out first, before you do anything. If, on the other hand, you intend to continue to care for the crop and harvest what you can, there is less urgency for the adjuster to make the inspection immediately. Even so, an assessment of damage should be done as soon as practical.

While you wait for the adjuster, remember these rules: Do not destroy any of your crops. Do not disk. Do not plow. Do not replant.  Do nothing to destroy your crop until you have permission from a claims adjuster or an insurance company representative.

Remember, do not destroy the evidence. What should I expect from the adjuster? The adjuster should contact you to schedule an inspection. He or she will expect and welcome your presence and help during the inspection. The adjuster will also be interested in what you have to say.

You can expect the adjuster to be familiar with your policy and to explain your options. You should have your Farm Service Agency (FSA) documents ready to show the number of acres and locations of your insured crops. The adjuster should have copies of your crop insurance policy documents and your Actual Production History (APH).

How is my crop yield calculated? For some crops, counting plants within a sample area at various locations in the field is a part of the process.

For other crops, determining the numbers of soybeans in a beaker is part of the process.

Adjusters may take pictures of your fields.

They may check with your neighbours on the condition of their crops and they may check with the local agriculture office for average yields in the area. They may even consult local weather data.

Calculating crop yield is not guesswork. It is a disciplined process. Your adjuster has extensive classroom and field training and is constantly studying to maintain his or her certification.

Your responsibilities involve reporting crop damage promptly before replanting.

Many policies have replanting payments. Within 72 hours of discovery of damage. 15 days before harvest begins, if loss is possible. Within 15 days after harvesting is completed and/or before the end of the insurance period. Caution – do not destroy evidence that is needed to support your claim without clear instructions from the insurance company, preferably in writing.

  • Note: In this column I offer general insurance information. Do not completely rely on this column in making insurance decisions. For specific guidelines email: insuculture@gmail.com

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