While the drought of 2012 has row crop farmers across the Midwest reeling, it is important for them to maintain sound farm management practices and remember to follow the protocols of their crop insurance providers. Farmers who suspect drought damage or other insurable losses should promptly contact their crop insurance provider to initiate the claim filing process. Initial contact for a claim is the responsibility of the farmer, so farmers should not expect their crop insurance agent to contact them first. With the overwhelming amount of claims this year, it is very important for farmers, insurance agents and loss adjusters to clearly communicate information about policy provisions, claim procedures and intentions for utilizing damaged crops.
After the farmer contacts his or her insurance agent about a potential loss, the insurance company will send a loss adjuster to the field for an inspection. The adjuster should contact the farmer to schedule the inspection. He or she will expect the farmer to be present during the inspection. If adjusters are swamped with inspections, they will likely prioritize and schedule their inspections based on the farmer’s intention for utilizing the damaged crop. For example a farmer who wishes to cut drought-damaged corn for silage may have an inspection performed before a farmer who plans to continue to care for and harvest corn for grain. Therefore, it is extremely important that the farmer makes his intentions known to his agent at the time of the initial claim notice. In all cases, a farmer should not cut, chop, disk, plow or otherwise destroy a standing crop until given permission by a claims adjuster or an insurance company representative.
Before the adjuster arrives at the farm for the inspection, the farmer should assemble his or her Farm Service Agency (FSA) documents that show the number of acres and locations of insured crops. The adjuster should have copies of the farmer’s crop insurance policy and production records (Actual Production History records). During the inspection, the loss adjuster may implement a series of procedures to obtain an estimate of crop losses. From there, the rest of the claims process will depend on the type of insurance policy carried by the farmer. Undoubtedly, the farmer will be required to submit various paperwork and forms required by the insurance company. The best way for the farmer to help himself is to submit all the requested forms before the deadlines identified by the insurance company.
For more information about federal crop insurance policies and protocols, talk to a crop insurance agent. You can find an agent locator tool and many other resources at the USDA’s Risk Management Agency website: www.rma.usda.gov.