Tips to Help You Improve Crop Insurance Coverage During Harvest

Tips to Help You Improve Crop Insurance Coverage During Harvest

Harvest is getting underway and many farmers are finding that corn and soybean yields aren't as good as expected in areas of fields. Here are seven things you can to do at harvest time to help get the most out of your crop insurance coverage.

With the 2010 harvest getting underway, a great deal of yield variability within many fields can be expected. Those fields that have crop insurance coverage need to be organized in order to submit timely claims for indemnity payments or to provide records for Actual Production History (APH). Steve Johnson, an Iowa State University Extension farm management specialist, provides the following tips to help insured farmers get the most out of their crop insurance coverage at harvest time.

1) Notify your crop insurance agent within 72 hours of the initial discovery of damage and no later than 15 days after the end of the insurance period. The end of the insurance period is the earlier of total destruction of the crop on the insured unit, or harvest of the unit or December 1. If you initially discover damage within 15 days of  harvest or during harvest you must leave representative samples of the unharvested crop for inspection by a crop insurance adjuster. The samples must be at least 10 feet wide and extend the entire length of each field in the unit. An optional unit will typically be an individual field within a section of land by separate ownership.

2) In case of loss or an actual Production History audit the insured farmer must keep records separate for each unit. Enterprise unit coverage is common and combines production of all fields of that crop in the county together. Optional units will be combined if the production is commingled, which often occurs when insured farmers get busy during harvest. It may be necessary to keep production separate for each farming practice, type of crop and variety depending on the crop being harvested and crop insurance coverage in place.

3) Production stored on the farm from previous years must be measured by a crop insurance adjuster prior to adding any new crop bushels. For bushels stored on the farm and not at a loss, keep written records of bin markings, truckload identifications and/or combine monitor records in case of a future APH audit. For loss situations, when production from more than one unit and/or insurable and uninsurable acreage will be stored in the same storage structure, an inspection by an adjuster should be requested.

4) Maintain a ledger by crop and record the loads of production by unit and field number, the date of harvest; identify the truck or wagon used to transport the grain to the storage structure and the estimated volume of each load.

5) Production delivered to a commercial elevator or processor will require evidence of the delivery amount. Individual load tickets alone will not suffice, but a load summary and/or settlement sheet is required for verification of 100% of the production delivered, not just the insured farmer's share. Individual load tickets may be needed in addition to the summary and/or settlement sheets and can include specifics such as the farm identification. As much as possible, have available written third party verification or settlement of a claim.

6) In the event production must be fed prior to a claim being worked by the adjuster, the insured farmer is responsible for maintaining detailed records. That is a formal, consistent, written record system of fed production and you need to have the records available at the time the claim is prepared.

7) Cooperate with your crop insurance agent and adjuster in an investigation or settlement of a claim. Understand the emotions that come with harvest and always practice farm safety.

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