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Once a loss occurs, farmers may have difficulty navigating the crop insurance claims process, especially given some of the complexities associated with crop insurance policies. The basic provisions included in the Common Crop Insurance Policy place significant responsibility on farmers who suffer covered losses.
Moreover, Farm Service Agency reports should be identical to acreage reports submitted for the purposes of obtaining crop insurance. If there are differences in the listed acreage, a producer should take the time to provide his or her insurer with a written explanation of why FSA documents differ from the acreage report.
These steps can be important, because, in the event of a loss claim, the insurance provider will likely compare the two sources of information. Uniformity in acreage reporting may very well serve to alleviate possible confusion.
Preserve damaged crop
Regardless of time constraints, the damaged crop should typically not be destroyed before a claims adjuster has finished the adjustment process. Furthermore, many specific crop insurance policies contain the requirement that representative samples of the crop be left undisturbed.
In addition, the Common Crop Insurance Policy requires that the consent of the insurance provider should be obtained before a farmer disturbs, harvests, or destroys the damaged crop or a required representative sample.
If an insurance company representative consents to the destruction or harvest of a damaged crop, it would be prudent for this communication to be documented in writing. A complete written record of communications involving the claim and the adjustment process will significantly limit the potential for confusion or miscommunication between the insurer and the insured, helping to facilitate a timely and efficient claims process.
The Common Crop Insurance Policy requires a farmer to provide information and documentation supporting his or her losses while cooperating in the investigation of the claim. As with many requests of this nature, the documentation requested by the insurance provider can be expansive and time-consuming to compile.
To help ensure a prompt resolution of the claim, producers should consider having a qualified party such as a crop consultant or agronomic specialist visit the farm and make notes as to any conditions that resulted in crop losses or prevented a timely planting of the crop.
Written statements from crop consultants and other experts can expedite the resolution of a crop insurance claim.
Moreover, additional proof of loss or adverse farming conditions, including photographs, farm records, crop samples, weather data, or scale tickets, may also help facilitate a more efficient handling of the loss claim.
Proper effort and attention to detail at the time of the initial claim to the insurance provider will likely help facilitate an efficient claims process and prevent unwanted issues from arising during the process. Producers will want to approach the claims and adjustment process with diligence and documentation of their losses.
Innocent mistakes and simple oversights in the process of pursuing a crop insurance claim can be problematic for an insured producer. However, a thorough notification and documentation of the initial crop insurance claim by the producer may significantly diminish the potential for uncertainty, confusion, or disagreement in the claims process.
Grant Ballard is an associate with the Banks Law Firm, PLLC in Little Rock, Arkansas. Mr Ballard focuses a portion of his practice on the litigation and arbitration of crop insurance claims and can be contacted via email at email@example.com.
This article was first published at nationalaglawcenter.com.