Jun 13, 2012
File accurate crop insurance claims sooner rather than later

With crop losses piling up, growers covered by crop insurance programs need to file their claims as soon as possible, said Amy Irish-Brown, an Extension educator with Michigan State University.

Thirty-two states, including 366 counties, in the United States have apple insurance programs. Twelve states (68 counties) have blueberry programs. Not all states offer crop insurance, and not every county is covered in those states that do. Not all crops are covered, either. Apples and blueberries are covered, but cherries are not, according to USDA.

When buying a crop insurance policy, growers should carefully consider how the policy would work in conjunction with their other risk management strategies, to ensure the best possible outcome each year. Crop insurance agents can assist farmers in developing a good management plan, according to the USDA website.

When severe crop losses occur, growers need to call the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office and their crop insurance agents to get the paperwork started, Irish-Brown said.

“If you have insured crops, you should contact your insurance agent as soon as possible – typically within 48 hours after an event,” Irish-Brown said. “This is very important, so that your loss is acknowledged by the insurance provider.”

Producers who purchased crop insurance are covered for all natural causes of loss listed in their policies. For those without insurance, the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), managed by FSA, provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occurs due to natural disasters.

For uninsured crops, FSA offices want you to call them to file the appropriate paperwork for any potential disaster funds that might be made available in a given area, Irish-Brown said. Growers who have NAP policies with FSA on uninsurable crops need to file a Notice of Loss (form CCC-576) within 15 days.

Some growers who file claims will want to defer their payments as 2013 income, Irish-Brown said. She reminded growers to make sure they file the appropriate paperwork with their accountants for tax purposes.

Like any other insurance, crop insurance only works if you buy the policy before the loss takes place.

“I don’t want to run salt in the wounds of growers who don’t have it,” Irish-Brown said. “There might be some help available for those growers, but the federal government will determine that later. That is a much slower process.”

Common mistakes

Here are some of the most common mistakes made when filing crop insurance claims, according to USDA.

Underreporting your planted acreage per unit – Production to count for an insured crop is derived from all planted acreage for that crop per unit, whether you reported all of the acres in that unit or not.

  • Overreporting your planted acreage per unit – If you have overreported your acres, your production to count will be derived from all planted acreage for that crop per unit. The acreage will be reduced to the correct number of acres
  • Failure to report all farm serial numbers (FSNs) planted to the insured crop – If you fail to report all of the FSNs planted to the insured crop, the unreported FSNs will not have coverage
  • Failure to report the production for all FSNs – If you do not report all of your FSNs with production information, on or before the production reporting date, the production cannot be added at acreage reporting time.
  • Harvesting the crop in a manner other than insured – If you are harvesting the insured crop in a manner other than intended without informing the crop insurance carrier and you have a claim, you will have a problem
  • Destroying the insured crop without the company’s approval – Production for a crop that is destroyed before the claim adjustment is made will be assessed at the full production guarantee, and no indemnity will be paid.

By Derrek Sigler, Assistant Editor

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