By: Trevor Troyer, Vice President Agricultural Risk Management, LLC
When should I file for a claim? That’s a question I get a lot. Some growers think that they should wait until they know that they have a loss. They want to harvest to see if they have a loss. That is not the correct answer to me. You should turn in a claim as soon as there is a weather event or other cause of loss situation. This helps to document what is happening during your growing season as it unfolds.
This spring in California there was a late frost/freeze event for several nights. Primary buds in many counties were killed. Some areas like Sonoma and Napa Counties had mild to moderate damage. Other counties in California had much worse damage. Oregon also had a lot of areas that were damaged. Some areas were quite severe with all the primaries frozen.
Obviously if the buds were all frozen you should contact your crop insurance agent and have him open a claim up. But what about damage you are not sure about? You know that you will still make a crop but are not sure if it will reduce your tonnage by any large amount. Depending on your coverage level you may think that you won’t have a loss. At this point don’t worry about the deductible percentage of your crop insurance policy. Call your crop insurance agent and open up a claim.
It is always better to have a claim open than not in this type of situation. There’s no way at this point in the season to determine how much your yield will be down. But if the claim is open and documented its better. This gives time to have an adjuster assigned, time to do an inspection and to document the damage. Damage done may not be as visible several months later. Damage can very well be cumulative as well. During the year you may have several weather events and other things that could reduce your yield.
Here’s what it says in the Basic Provisions of the Common Crop Insurance Policy:
14. Duties in the Event of Damage, Loss, Abandonment, Destruction, or Alternative Use of Crop or Acreage
Your Duties -
(a) In the case of damage or loss of production or revenue to any insured crop, you must protect the crop from further damage by providing sufficient care.
(b) You must provide a notice of loss in accordance with this section. Notice provisions:
(1) For a planted crop, when there is damage or loss of production, you must give us notice, by unit, within 72 hours of your initial discovery of damage or loss of production (but not later than 15 days after the end of the insurance period, even if you have not harvested the crop).
Per the USDA Risk Management Agency you have from 72 hours of the original cause of loss or until you discovery it and up to 15 days after the end of insurance. I do not recommend waiting till 15 days after the insurance period. It does happen though and I am sure I will have growers do it again. I have had vineyard owners call me and say that their tons are down for a certain variety. Then we have to piece together what happened. What was the cause of loss? When was it? Was this the only thing or were there other weather events? Is the loss only showing up only on one variety?
Losses will get paid but it is much easier on everyone if you report causes of loss right after they occur. That doesn’t mean you have to know for sure that you will have a loss, just that some event happened that may cause your crop to be reduced.
Here are the Causes of Loss out of the Grape Crop Provisions from the USDA RMA:
10. Causes of Loss.
(a) In accordance with the provisions of section 12 of the Basic Provisions, insurance is provided only against the following causes of loss that occurduring the insurance period:
(1) Adverse weather conditions;
(2) Fire, unless weeds and other forms of undergrowth have not been controlled or pruning debris has not been removed from the vineyard;
(3) Insects, except as excluded in 10(b)(1), but not damage due to insufficient or improper application of pest control measures;
(4) Plant disease, but not damage due to insufficient or improper application of disease control measures;
(7) Volcanic eruption; or
(8) Failure of irrigation water supply, if caused by an insured peril that occurs during the insurance period.
(b) In addition to the causes of loss excluded in section 12 (Causes of Loss) of the Basic Provisions, we will not insure against damage or loss of production due to:
(1) Phylloxera, regardless of cause; or
(2) Inability to market the grapes for any reason other than actual physical damage from an insurable cause specified in this section. For example, we will not pay you an indemnity if you are unable to market due to quarantine, boycott, or refusal of any person to accept production.
Number 1 on the list is Adverse weather conditions. This could be just about anything, frost, freeze, drought, excess moisture, hail etc. Fire is listed as well and because of this there can be damage many miles away from the fire due to smoke. Insect and disease damage are covered but you must show that you have application records for spraying etc. Wildlife is another one that can cause problems – deer, raccoons, birds and so on. I have even had a claim turned in for a bear. Earthquake and Volcanic Eruption I have never seen a claim turned in for. I am sure, unfortunately, that there will be one for an earthquake. Number 8, Failure of irrigation water supply, is something that can be a big problem for growers. Certain areas in California and Washington State rely heavily on irrigation. If there is a drought and your well or reservoir dries up then that is a payable cause of loss.
Don’t wait to contact your agent about a situation or adverse weather that may reduce your crop. That is what we are here for! For more information please contact Agricultural Risk Management LLC.
Office: (239) 789-4743