Crop insurance plays an ever increasing role in modern farming. However, like any safety net, crop insurance can be wrought with holes. Over the years I’ve seen producers have their claims denied for many different reasons. Often times these reasons are really no fault of the producer. Simply stated, the federal crop insurance rules are very complex and can be unforgiving.
Generally, when a producer believes they have a claim, they call up their agent. The agent then submits a claim and at some point an adjuster is assigned to the case. The adjuster comes out to the farm and evaluates the crop, measures bins, and so forth. Although the adjuster should be well versed in the procedures, sometimes such is not the case. We had a case a few years ago where the producer had frost kill the corn before it reached maturity. The producer wanted to have the corn salvaged for silage. The adjuster informed the producer that strips would have to be left in the field for further analysis. So, the producer left 2 rows of corn at various areas of the field. However, the claim was denied because the insurance company said a full combine header width should have been left, not just two rows.
Unless a producer is going to become well versed in the Loss Adjustment Manual (LAM) that governs the procedures for evaluating certain losses, and is several hundred pages long, the producer is at the mercy of the instructions given to them by the adjuster.
When you are faced with a loss, and given instruction by an adjuster or other insurance company representative, it is critical that a producer document what is told to them. It is even advisable that you have the individual write out the instructions and sign. That way if the actions of the producer are ever questioned, there is hard evidence that the producer was following the instructions given to them. The crop insurance rules generally allow a “no harm-no foul” relief if the producer was following the direction of the crop insurance company. But, if the producer cannot prove they were following such directions, it turns into an uphill battle quickly.
It is advisable that a producer keep a log that keeps track of the following:
1. Date that loss was first detected by producer.
2. Date that insurance company was contacted and who was spoken to by the producer.
3. Date that adjuster contacted producer and name of adjuster.
4. Date that adjuster made an onsite visit.
5. Specifics that were told to the producer, especially instructions, by the adjuster.
6. What action was taken by the producer and when.
In addition, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. Take pictures of the issues that you encounter, and even a video. Further, with the adjuster’s consent, even videoing the conversation with the adjuster and the instructions given should not be looked at as being overbroad.
Although none of us want more paperwork, doing some of the above can ensure that holes in the safety net are stitched shut. Just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, the crop insurance safety net is only as strong as the weakest cord. Unfortunately, a producer may not know of the weakest cord until the claim is denied. Most importantly, if a producer disagrees with the denial of a claim, there is generally a one year limitation to appeal the denial. Failure to file an appeal in that time frame will close the door on the ability to appeal.
John J. Schwarz, II, is a lifelong farmer and farms 4,000 acres with his family in Northeast Indiana and has been an agricultural law attorney for 12 years. He can be reached at 260-351-4440, email@example.com, or visit him at www.farmlegacy.com. These articles are for general informational purposes only and do not constitute an attorney-client relationship.
Popular posts from this blog
It has begun. Nervous clients, including farmers and others, have started calling with growing concern about what can only be described as nightmarish changes to federal tax laws. Changes being discussed are a extreme reduction of the current federal estate/gift tax exemption, elimination of step up in basis, elimination of Section 1031 like-kind-exchanges, as well as other drastic changes being proposed by the new administration. Before delving into the subject matter in more detail, people should remember the immortal words of Yogi Berra when he said, “it’s like déjà vu all over again”, and look back on December 31, 2012. When the clock was to strike midnight, we were not going to see Cinderella’s carriage turn back into a pumpkin, but the federal gift and estate tax exemption was to plummet from $5.12 million per person all the way to $1 million per person. Prior to that, taxpayers had enjoyed the ability to pass up to $5.12 mill
Free National Farm Seminar "Strengthening and Sustaining Farms and Farmers" Join us for a free seminar featuring a dynamic group of local and nationally recognized individuals discussing the path farmers need to be on so as to strengthen their operations and also themselves. When: February 5, 2020 Where: Ivy Tech Community Campus, Logansport, Indiana. On February 5, 2020, at 5:00 pm, there will be a seminar in Logansport, Indiana, at the Ivy Tech Community Room, located at: 1 Ivy Tech Way, Logansport, IN 46947. Our seminar will focus on ways to strengthen your farm and yourself. We have been blessed with being able to bring in a strong lineup of speakers from across the County. For many farmers, times are still very tough in agriculture. The down economic conditions continue to persist with some saying such will continue for quite some time. For many farms, survival will not come down to growing the mos
Last month we covered the Doctrine of Title by Acquiescence. T he law of acquiescence pertains to adjoining property owners who are either mistaken where the line between properties are, or agree that a fence or barrier that is not on the legal boundary line is to be considered the legal boundary line. So, under the law of acquiescence, land can be gained or lost by mistake or by agreement. Another doctrine where land can be gained or lost is the Doctrine of Adverse Possession, sometimes referred to as “squatter’s rights”. Adverse Possession occurs where a person in possession of land owned by someone else may acquire valid title to it, so long as certain requirements are met. It arises from English common law, where land in England was continuously changing hands not via purchases, but conquest, pillage, theft, etc. The theory was that if you could show you possessed land long enough, your title to the land would not be questioned. W