Q: What information do I need to provide to the crop insurance company and when?
A: Policyholders should contact the crop insurance company that sold the policy prior to putting their spring- planted crop acres to another use by harvesting for silage, diverting irrigation from the crops or by abandoning the acres.
Producers should give a damage notice within 72 hours of the initial discovery of damage or loss of production. That timing is tricky when damage is due to developing drought. Producers must provide the damage notice no later than 15 days after the end of the insurance period, even if the crop has not been harvested.
Producers may provide notice by telephone or in person to the company. The notice must be confirmed in writing within 15 days.
It is very important that the policyholder work closely with the company before making any changes to the care of the crop. The company must have a chance to appraise and release the acres before the crop is destroyed or abandoned. If the company cannot make an accurate appraisal, or the producer disagrees with the appraisal at the time the acreage is to be destroyed or no longer cared for, the company and producer can work out representative sample areas to be left intact for future appraisal purposes.
USDA's Risk Management Agency provides more information on duties in the event of damage, loss, abandonment, destruction or alternative use of the crop or acreage in Section 14 of the Common Crop Insurance Policy Basic Provisions (11- br) Policy.
Q: Can I cut my corn insured for grain as silage?
A: Insurance coverage for corn may be available for grain only, or for grain and/or silage based on the insurance offer within the county.
If any portion of the crop will not be harvested or will be put to another use (i.e., harvested as silage in a grain only county), the insured crop must be appraised as soon as possible. If an accurate appraisal cannot be made, companies may defer the appraisal until such time an accurate appraisal can be made (i.e., maturity line appraisal method versus stand reduction method).
If the insured disagrees with the initial appraisal and requests to defer the appraisal and the company agrees, representative sample areas may be used. In this case, the representative sample areas must continue to be cared, with the exception of irrigation, until the final appraisal can be made.
Q: Should I Continue To Care For Drought-Damaged Crops?
A: Producers must continue to care for and maintain crops that have been damaged and will be taken to harvest. Many producers have asked about the degree of maintenance required in such cases.
Producers are required to continue to care for the crop, following generally recognized practices. They may seek advice from ag experts in the area as to what, how much, and when to spray to maintain the production that is currently in the field and protect the crop from further damage.
Producers that destroy or abandon the crop and leave representative samples with the agreement of the insurance company, must maintain the samples the same as if the entire crop was left. The samples must be maintained until the company conducts a final inspection and releases the representative sample areas. Failure to maintain the crop following damage could result in a determination that the cause of loss was not covered and therefore, no claims payment was due.
Jan Eliassen is a private risk management education consultant for the crop insurance industry, USDA's Risk Management Agency and several state departments of agriculture.
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