Crop insurance premium rebates: here’s how dairy farmers can get paid to protect their fields

Crop insurance premium rebates: here’s how dairy farmers can get paid to protect their fields

If you’re a dairy farmer in Wisconsin with land to spare, or you’re already a dairy farmer and row cropper (or produce your own livestock feed on-farm), there may be a good chance—and future opportunities— to get some money back into your pocket. Crop insurance premium rebates are a great financial asset for the agricultural world right now, especially in this turbulent time for dairy farmers and low prices.

In May 2023, the State of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture announced the total figures of rebates and payments it will be doling out to farmers and producers who are using their land to grow cover crops. Around $725,000 was issued to farmers and ranchers that applied last year in 2022. (Applications for this year’s crop insurance premium rebates already closed in January 2023.) Recipients are receiving $5/acre of area planted in cover crops over 2022.

Good news for farmers just learning about the program: a chance to apply will happen every year. If you didn’t apply last year, you’re not missing out— and it’s still not too late to get cover crops going this season.

This may be “old” news, dating back to May of this year— with applications closed and reward funds already dispersed— but we think it’s important to note this program as it has become a helpful permanent financial fixture for all Wisconsin farmers. Last year 2022, Wisconsin legislation approved the crop insurance premium rebate program for cover crop growers to quick bipartisan agreement, installing it as a regular annual funding opportunity— issuing premium refunds up to $800,000 (or 160,000) acres grown in cover crops.

The policy is a win-win-win solution.

A win for all farmers financially, a win for ecologically-minded and regenerative farmers, and a win for the insurance industry. But why cover crops? And why should dairy farmers (and all farmers, for that matter) cash in?

Cover crops are either main season or complementary crops that bring many benefits to the farmer, the environment, and to soil health (and thus your land’s equity) on-farm. These are typically crops that are “rotated” in between plantings of main season crops like corn, soy, wheat, or barley.

They can be planted on fields that are “resting” as winter cover in order to keep weed pressure down for future plantings, and can even help keep soil in place to prevent erosion. They can also restore organic matter / nitrogren / green manure to soil when terminated and tilled in. Some can kill soil-borne pests and disease, others can help combat soil compaction— the list of cover crop benefits goes on. Mainly, the benefits of cover crops are on the level of improving soil health (thus crop productivity) and minimizing environmental impacts.

There is a double benefit of cover crops for dairy (and livestock) growers.

Many popular cover crop varieties can also be main-season crops to provide feed or forage to livestock. These include oats, rye, sorghum, aflafa, and some others— while other cover crop options that may or may not be effective feed for livestock include peas, daikon, hairy vetch, and others.

Some dairy or beef producers may automatically qualify for the program and are encouraged to apply if they grow these crops for feed or forage already. Or, if they don’t have crop insurance coverage for their alfalfa, oats, or other cover crop or main season crop for livestock acreage, they should so they can cash in on this crop insurance rebate opportunity.

That’s the rub: applicants for the rebate program are only eligible if they are enrolled with an approved insurance provider, and the policy is active. This is why, along with recommending the program to both dairy and row crop farmers to start, we also encourage producers interested in the program to get covered by crop insurance as soon as they possibly can to be eligible for the 2023 season, and thus any possible 2024 rebate payments. It’s also not too late to implement a cover crop into your rotation with short season cover crops or main season crops, such as oats, sorghum, or rye.

Dairy producers should take note of this, too, not just row croppers— the crop insurance premium rebates work for livestock farmers as well, or any farmer with main season crop production that supplements or is integrated into their larger operation. Dairy farmers seeking any extra security, coverage, and financial padding to eke out these lean times ahead with volatile dairy prices may already be covered by some type of dairy insurance policy— whether it’s Dairy Revenue Protection (DRP) or Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC). The same goes for sole livestock coverage policies, like Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) or Livestock Risk Protection (LRP).

The added protection of crop insurance for livestock feed or forage sourcing, and which also incorporates cover crops, can provide another layer of protection and financial stability to keep your business on its feet. It certainly doesn’t hurt!

For Wisconsin farmers of all kinds— dairy, livestock, or tried-and-true row croppers— get in touch with a Colville agent to discuss our policy options, how we can help you achieve your goals by getting crop insurance premium rebates on your cover crops, and leverage the benefits of crop insurance all-around.

We’re eager to work with dairy, livestock, row crop, and even fruit and hemp growers to tailor insurance policies to their operations that help make them more money with insurance and survive even the most drastic market fluctuations— and not to add premiums that hobble overhead or increase business burdens.

We’re always on the lookout for insurance-related hacks and advantages, just like this recent Wisconsin farm legislation, that can help our clientele and all farmers get more (and keep more) cash in their pockets.

Give us a call and we’ll get you set up with the right policy and coverage to be eligible for cover crop insurance premium rebates— there’s still time!

Long-Term Dairy Industry Outlook is Bright

Long-Term Dairy Industry Outlook is Bright

2022 for the dairy industry was one matter. For 2023, the year’s trends look to be taking dairy farmers on a completely different path. With milk and dairy production generally on the rise, and with feed costs as high as they are, it looks like the dairy industry could flounder — if it weren’t, however, for some very positive trends in the not-too-distant future.

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That’s right: the long-term dairy industry outlook is bright, though 2023 is off to an admittedly bumpy start, with the cost/price margins looking as they are. The right kind of dairy insurance could be instrumental for farmers to get through lean times. Let’s take a look at it all: the good news, the bad news, and what farmers can do about all of it.

Dairy prices are low – but the cost of feed is high

Dairy farmers are, of course, nervous about milk prices. The cost of production remains high in the form of feed; and yet, dairy prices are set to a downward trend.

Recent reports reflect that the industry is indeed in a confusing state: buyers are keen to snatch up low-priced milk. But, there doesn’t seem to be a strong demand to be found out there in the market, or to explain trends showing why low-priced milk being bought at the steady rate it is currently.

Industry experts conclude that this may be due to a buildup of overstock supply or storage — or, general overproduction. These same experts also state that milk prices continue to look low for the next few months as this continues to be a trend. That said, global milk prices just recently went up slightly (for wholesale/auction), though by less than 5%. Still, it’s a glimmer of hope that prices could come around again.

Price projections not always accurate – trends can be over- or underestimated

It’s important that dairy farmers manage their expectations — for both good and bad. Hoard’s Dairyman reminds us that commodity prices are famous for over- and underestimating the relationship between costs of production and price, which means that projected prices may not be accurate or follow exactly the anticipated trends.

Costs of production and milk prices are only tools of prediction. It’s always possible the market, owing to other forces, could buck the trends if there are irregularities or unexpected fluctuations with supply or demand.

For example, Dairy Herd Management references the March World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) as predicting higher milk production, thus lower dairy prices all round; meanwhile, Wisconsin State Farmer points out trends in some key states and target months heading from 2022 into 2023 demonstrating a fall in milk production. This could mean a rise in prices either nationally or locally in the far future if these market forces shape or affect other parts of the nation in bigger ways to come.

Tips for months ahead: look at national prices – not local or nearby prices

Producers should take note, however, that local or regional costs and prices — especially the high and low ones, respectively, in negative trends — shouldn’t dictate or deter their plans. Set your sights on the national prices and trends. Take advantage of low feed costs and high dairy product prices in your locality when they do come around.

This advice is directed to farmers who may be experiencing lower-than-average dairy prices and costs of production right in their regions compared to what the national trends or predictions are set. A good example of why: FarmWeekNow reports that dairy organizations currently, and in the past, have been able to sway federal prices and trends through petitioning for allowances and deductions, especially during times like these— whereas regional and local prices differ as they call their own shots.

The takeaway: look to federal price setting and trends as the standard. These can be influenced or changed (and dairy farmers through organizations can get involved in this directly).

Long-term projections show average or better-than-average price margins

As all dairy farmers know too well by now, volatile trends like these are to be expected. Surviving them is all part of the business. You know the drill: tighten the belt, come up with a risk management plan, and wait it out until better days.

According to long-term trends, however, better days for dairy farmers could be coming. Hoard’s Dairyman points out trends showing that the final quarter in late 2023 is predicted to have historically average or even higher than average margins of feed vs. dairy prices, at a time period ahead set around 6 to 12 months from now.

It’s a time for dairy farmers to make temporary decisions that help their operations survive and meet the bottom line, rather than focusing on growth— or, even bowing out or downsizing excessively. Options like dairy insurance and other means can help producers with this approach.

Dairy insurance can fill the gaps until then – strengthen risk management plan

All market experts and trends agree: one of the best tools for dairy farmers to strap down during market volatility is to invest in dairy insurance and specifically Dairy Revenue Protection (DRP) coverage. These policies can be established following and according to set federal prices; if prices (and rising feed costs) tamper with the farmer’s bottom line, they can still pull in a substantial amount of survivable income until the market forces fare for the better.

For some operations, a combination of DRP and herd culling can be an effective strategy, especially if trends show overproduction and oversupply. That said, a DRP policy can help prevent farmers from taking drastic downsizing measures (such as culling) when it’s possible that the trends could turn around for the better in just a matter of months, or within the year.

Strap in, farmers: yes, it will be a bumpy ride, but projections suggest it’s towards better days. In the interim, coming up with an airtight risk management plan that includes the right type of dairy insurance — Dairy Revenue Protection and other options — will help the ride be a more enjoyable and fruitful one.

Outlook on Crop Insurance in the Hemp Industry

Outlook on Crop Insurance in the Hemp Industry

Hemp is fast becoming a major — even feature — cash crop in our country. From fiber and industrial hemp to CBD/floral hemp, seed hemp, and grain hemp for food or therapeutic uses, this tall green annual is here to stay as an important crop that requires protection and coverage for commercial growers.

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In 2021 the USDA finally responded to hemp grower feedback and implemented better crop insurance options for the plant than existed before. In 2022 it was reported that Industrial Hemp was valued at $824 million in total, both in open fields and under protected cover. Of these, floral hemp for CBD production topped the charts, valued at $623 million.

It’s clear that hemp producers are vital contributors to agriculture and our country’s economy. However, leading up to these years (starting in 2018 when hemp production was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill), crop insurance policies for growers were either unsubstantial or too rigid for hemp growers — especially regarding how they worked with hemp processors…that is, until recent years.

With hemp growers playing a bigger and bigger role in the agricultural economy, how is crop insurance changing and opening up to this relatively new crop? Here is an outlook on crop insurance in the hemp industry and where crop insurance policies may be headed.

Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) for Hemp

For 2020 and onward, the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) finally implemented Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) policies for commercial hemp growers, starting with a pilot program and offering Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) for the 2020 season back in 2019. In its provisions, Hemp MPCI would only be eligible for coverage if contracts were established between a hemp producer and a hemp processing company.

If floral hemp was to be produced, it could not have THC levels exceeding .3. At least 5 acres for CBD and 20 acres for grain or fiber are required for federal coverage — through private insurance has different limits. There would also be no replant or prevented plant payments.

But keep in mind: coverage for crops going above this THC level (called “going hot”), and how crop insurance kicks in to cover you for this incident, varies from state to state. There are also alternatives such as private crop insurance policies that can enroll you in different coverage for this event (including our coverage).

Via Farm Progress, as of now MPCI coverage still only applies to very specific areas of the country, and it has been that way since the 2021 growing season: counties in only 25 states around the nation can enroll. However, with the rate at which federal crop insurance is expanding, it is not unlikely to expect there will be a greater expansion of states and counties in coming years with these policies and as the needs and economic size of hemp operations continue to grow — though seeing no new implementations for 2023 could also mean these crop insurance limitations will all around remain the same. As for THC levels and other crop insurance provisions, it’s likely that these will stay the same.

Small Hemp Growers are Specializing – Mainstream Hemp Getting Bigger

While reports around different states may vary on this, changes in the hemp industry within the state of Kansas may be telling of where hemp production is headed— and thus where crop insurance policies to protect it around the country may be headed, too.

According to the Kansas Reflector, there is an overall shrinking number of licensed hemp growers in the state. This may sound like a bad thing at first, but in the long run, it may be beneficial to the entire industry: helping both producers and crop insurance companies dial in higher standards, more reliable outcomes, and thus better-suited policies to match these outcomes. After what could be called the 2019 hemp “gold rush” (a huge influx of new producers when hemp was legalized), establishing a more predictable (and stronger) status quo for hemp crop insurance could be right around the corner. This could mean new and different policies that match and cover different revenue levels or product qualifications.

Small-scale hemp growers and family farms are pivoting in ways to bring in stronger income streams by specializing only in certain hemp products: not only CBD, but also products in the food industry; there are also greater markets for animal feed with grain hemp, plus building materials utilizing hemp. On the other hand, as more and more small-scale growers have dropped out of the business, well-established mid- to large-sized hemp commercial growers are expanding— though trends show that total hemp acreage (in Kansas specifically) remains low, around 1000 acres.

Both federal insurance and private companies may find changes on the horizon soon that can tailor themselves better to both the needs of small growers and large commercial operations. This could mean more expansive and more flexible crop insurance programs.

Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) for Hemp

Before hemp MPCI became available federally, the USDA offered a Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) program leading into the 2020 growing season that was set to be available to any hemp grower nationwide (regardless of location or acreage). This had similar provisions for the MPCI coverage that would soon be rolled out later for the same year: .3 THC content limits, protection against weather events, etc. However, it is available nationwide as opposed to only in specific counties.

However, this policy only insures the grower against revenue loss — not from direct weather events or perils, such as with MPCI. While it is a more “inclusive” policy (allowing any grower to insure up to $8.5 million and file Schedule F taxes) for obvious reasons, growers will find MPCI more and more desirable.

Actual Production Coverage (API) for Hemp

After the 2021 growing year, the USDA also offered Actual Production History (APH) coverage for hemp once the industry yield and revenue trends had been established. This policy would also have similar provisions to the above plans for fiber, grain, and CBD oil production, and cover yield losses — but also extend to a wider range of possible perils. It is only available in a limited number of counties, like MPCI, and covers the value of production rather than revenue.

For more information on different hemp crop insurance policies be sure to visit the USDA website. While many of these programs are offered federally, we at Colville Crop Insurance have our own private options that could be a better fit for you and your hemp business. Give us a call!

April 2023 Storms: A Reminder of the Importance of Hail Insurance for Farms

April 2023 Storms: A Reminder of the Importance of Hail Insurance for Farms

Right in time for hail season, April 2023 set a strong precedent for the famously hail-heavy month, according to many reports on the aftermath of several severe spring weather storms.

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• The scope of the damage
• Should farmers have expected storms like these?
• How these hailstorms will affect farmers now (and in the future)
• How does hail insurance work?

The storms that brought hail also inflicted strong winds, tornadoes, and wind-driven wildfires that damaged cities, homes, communities, and acres upon acres of farmland alike — and brings a strong reminder to farmers of the importance of having a hail insurance policy in place well in advance of the season, that will cover hail, wind, tornado, and even fire damage.

The scope of the damage

According to CNN and the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, more than 100 hail reports and 5 tornado reports came in during April 4th’s highly anticipated storm event. Four-inch softball-sized hail struck Iowa, and slightly smaller hailstones and 90-mile-an-hour winds affected parts of central Illinois. All this just after a recent report showed that Illinois ranks #4 in the nation for hail claims in 2022, trailing after Texas, Arkansas, and Minnesota.

As a prelude to this destructive spring storm, more than 50 tornadoes touched down in some of these areas in the days prior. On April 4th, the most destructive storm day in the Midwest, around 15 additional tornadoes touched down with hard winds occurring in several states.

The Des Moines Register reported that one tornado that touched down in Iowa — categorized as an EF1, with 110 mph winds and a 15-mile-long trail — scattered debris across farmlands, which no doubt affected farmers and their ability to ready fields for spring planting and will likely cut into their revenue this year. The Washington Post documented many wrecked buildings, silos, and other scenes of destruction affecting agricultural communities.

In Oklahoma, winds from these storms whipped up a dangerous wildfire outbreak. Almost 100 fires were lit by these earliest of spring storms, burning thousands of acres — no doubt some of it agricultural — and destroying many homes. Hopefully their hail insurance policies cover wildfire damage in addition to hail, wind, and tornado damage.

Should farmers have expected storms like these?

Weather experts are saying that storms with this amount of power and damage aren’t unusual this time of year: farmers should expect them. That said, the number of tornadoes spawned by these storm systems was unusually high according to some while others say that “storm seasons” are expected to begin occurring once every few years.

What was most unusual, however — and not anticipated by any weather experts or meteorologists — is that one single large severe storm system moving across the country (especially with such high tornado numbers) touched down in two completely different and distant regions, most notably Illinois and Arkansas. What this means for farmers (and everyone): a severe weather watch or tornado warning could be issued in one area, but unexpectedly hit another area that is completely unprepared.

This makes weather analysts a bit restless about what storm systems will look like in May: the more notorious month for tornadoes (with historically higher numbers) and storm damage. While there is a ton of news coverage and statistics on the impacts these events had on homes, citizens, and communities, only time will tell how these impacted farms, agricultural business, and their crops when insurance statistics are reported later in the year.

How these hailstorms will affect farmers now (and in the future)

Because any statistics on crop insurance coverage come straight from insurance companies, there will be no way to know how uninsured (or underinsured) farmers were affected, but it bears repeating: farmers affected by hail, wind, or tornadoes can rarely get coverage retroactively! This is why April (and March) are the ideal months for farmers to purchase hail insurance BEFORE disaster hits.

Since weather events like these are becoming more frequent and expected, especially these ultra-destructive “derecho” weather events (having mainline winds of at least 100 mph like the one in 2020), some farm insurance coverage rates are going up, with premiums sometimes doubling or even tripling. But, this only applies to farm-related property insurance. Farmers seeking coverage for their crop assets can rejoice, as hail insurance premiums (and by association, wind and tornado coverage) are expected to stay roughly the same in most places.

How does hail insurance work?

You may think you have financial protection against losses from hail covered in your Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) policies. But the fact is most MPCI policies leave out hail damage. An entire hail insurance policy will need to be purchased separately, typically from a private insurance provider, company, or agent as it is not offered publicly federally.

Here’s the good news: you can have MPCI with one provider (even a federal provider) and still have hail insurance on the side. Most hail insurance policies, though not all — be sure to speak with your agent —will also provide coverage against strong winds, tornados, and even fire, lightning, or product loss during transit. Colville Crop Insurance offer such hail insurance policies that cover all of these things!

The bottom line: don’t delay. Early April has set a strong precedent for what storms may look like this spring, and we haven’t even reached the month of May, where tornado and wind damage are more likely and could be even more destructive. Again, while April is the more likely month for hail damage, a hail insurance policy from us will also cover wind damage, tornado damage, and even fire damage. You’ll have coverage against hail damage for the remainder of April while being fully prepared for what winds Mother Nature may bring your way come May.

Give us a call today and rest easy knowing that you have your bases covered.

All About Hail Insurance: What You Get Out of the Deal (Hint: It Covers More Than Just Hail Damage)

All About Hail Insurance: What You Get Out of the Deal (Hint: It Covers More Than Just Hail Damage)

March is here, and that means April is not too far around the corner. For row croppers, orchard growers, and the like, this means the hail season is not too far behind, along with certain choice deadlines for getting hail crop insurance lined up before you start planting your crop for 2023.

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Farmers should know that hail damage is not covered under the main Federal Crop Insurance Program in the U.S. For hail-specific coverage, you’ll need to contact a private insurance agent or company that offers it… which we just so happen to do.

While farmers might wince at the thought of having to shell out cash for hail coverage (especially as it’s not government-subsidized like other options), they’ll love hearing that hail insurance has very low deductibles, and sometimes no deductible at all! This is because it’s pretty common for hail damage to fall short of the deductibles on other types of weather-related insurance policies. Thus, the need for hail-specific coverage with low to no deductibles.

Want to know all about hail insurance? Considering a policy? Here’s what you get out of the deal, and some perks to hail insurance you may not know.

Hail insurance covers a lot more than just hail!

Despite the deceptively simple title, hail insurance is inclusive of a lot more than just hail damage. However, that can and does depend on the insurance agent or company.

Many private agents and companies (including us here at Colville Crop Insurance!) offer coverage for several other weather-related events wrapped right up into your policy. And no, it’s not a Multi-Peril policy… it is technically a Named Peril policy, even if the policy still addresses multiple weather perils.

Some coverage you may find included with your hail insurance policy:

  • Fire. Wildfires are becoming increasingly common and highly devastating weather events to farmers everywhere. Your hail insurance policy could cover fire events that are related to weather that damage your crops (but not related to on-farm originated fires or electrical fires). At Colville Crop Insurance, we also offer a policy that compensates growers for fires damaging product even post-harvest while it is still in the harvester.
  • Lightning. It’s true that most wildfires are caused by lightning, and thus coverage for this could be wrapped up under fire insurance with your hail policy. That said, lighting strikes can cause damage to crops in other surprising ways. If lightning strikes the soil around your crops, it can create an unnatural spike of nitrates that may damage or kill them off — and in instances like these, lightning under hail insurance will have you covered. Like fire insurance, Colville Crop Insurance protects against damage to crops even post-harvest while still in the harvester.
  • Vandalism. That’s right, some hail insurance policies will help you cash in on stealing, tampering, malicious damage, shrinkage, etc. to your crops in the field (and in some cases, post-harvest) that affect your revenue. It’s not just Mother Nature’s mischief farmers might need to be worried about, but the human-caused type, too.
  • Transit protection. Some hail policies may also throw in transit protection as part of the deal. This means product (post-harvest) is covered during transportation from damage or loss to accidents or other events while in the vehicle or other transit method. For example, we offer coverage for transit to the first storage location up to 50 miles and even protect against damage to product caused by collision, culvert/bridge/dock collapse, and even unanticipated overturning of the transport vehicle.
  • Plenty of add-ons. Not enough coverage? No worries. A lot of hail policies are also designed for implementing and incorporating other types of weather events that could happen and potentially damage your crops: such as wind, re-planting costs, unanticipated harvest expenses, and more.

Hail insurance offers even more unexpected perks.

In addition to the fact that hail insurance covers other weather events, there are other unique qualities about hail policies that every good farmer should know about.

You can purchase hail-specific insurance anytime during the season.

While in many ways Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) policies tend to be more favorable purchases for farmers, which cover hail damage along with many other types of natural and non-natural threats, but one of the huge bonuses to hail insurance under the Named Peril category is that you can buy it any time of year.

That means there’s no rush to get coverage squared away in the next couple of months in order to make sure you’re secure against hail or other incidents.

You can go in on a policy with your neighbors that covers you both.

This may come as a surprise to some farmers. Some insurance providers (including us), will cover hail damage within a range even if it didn’t happen on-farm. Our hail policy specifically offers coverage for hail damage within a 3-square-mile grid.

What if hail damage occurred within the 3 by 3-mile grid, but impacted your neighbor’s fields instead? You could still get compensation for this loss. It could be advantageous for multiple farms to share hail insurance policies in some cases.

If you live in a less hail-prone area, you’ll pay less for insurance.

Farmers who have never dealt with hail — or don’t expect to deal with it often, based on their location — might still want to consider hail insurance nevertheless.

For one, your policy will be far less expensive than it would be in a hail-prone area! But even if that weren’t the case, “freak” hailstorm events are becoming more frequent, more intense, and popping up in more areas where they are not expected. Even if it is a bit of extra change every year for your business, having (or not having) hail insurance could mean the difference between a rogue hailstorm completely making or breaking your business — yes, even completely losing the family legacy.

Take last year’s February hailstorms in Texas for example. Or even the story about this Ohio apple farmer, who might have had to close their doors if they didn’t have hail insurance. And hail is not a common occurrence in Ohio

Remember: hail insurance goes far beyond covering farms that experience frequent hail storms. It offers many other perks that you might want to consider. If you’re curious about what Named Peril and Multi-Peril hail insurance policies could cover, get in touch with us today!

If you live in a less hail-prone area, you’ll pay less for insurance.

Farmers who have never dealt with hail — or don’t expect to deal with it often, based on their location — might still want to consider hail insurance nevertheless.

For one, your policy will be far less expensive hail-prone area. On the other hand, “freak” hailstorm events are becoming more frequent, more intense, and popping up in more areas where they are not expected. Even if it is a bit of extra change every year for your business, having (or not having) hail insurance could mean the difference between a rogue hailstorm completely making or breaking your business — yes, even completely losing the family legacy.

Take last year’s February hailstorms in Texas for example. Or even the story about this Ohio apple farmer, who might have had to close their doors if they didn’t have hail insurance. Hail is not a common occurrence in Ohio!

Remember, hail insurance goes far beyond needing it because you live in a hail-prone region, and it offers many other perks of coverage that you should consider. If you’re curious about what Named Peril and Multi-Peril hail insurance policies could cover, get in touch with us today!

Is Hail Getting Worse? | Statistics About Hailstorms, Agriculture, and Why Crop Insurance Matters

Is Hail Getting Worse? | Statistics About Hailstorms, Agriculture, and Why Crop Insurance Matters

Is hail getting worse? Should you worry more about potential crop damage, your insurance coverage, and the longevity of your business when it comes to this icy weather event?

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• According to insurance statistics, hail insurance claims are going up.
• Hailstorm damage and frequency are both increasing with intensity.
• “Hail Alley” – And how it’s changing over the years
• Hailstorms are becoming more commonplace and destructive in areas where they weren’t before.
• Which areas are the most likely to experience hailstorms and hail damage?
• How much in damages are hailstorms causing?
• Farmers: don’t overlook the importance of hail insurance this spring.

Word is going around (and farmers themselves report) that hailstorms could be getting more intense, more frequent (in certain areas), and popping up more and more intensely in areas where they weren’t as common in the past. But what do the statistics say? What does this mean for you as a grower and for your crop insurance?

During this spring season — and with hailstorms taking a turn for the worse around the world and in the U.S. in recent years — considering a hail insurance policy is a worthwhile measure to take for the well-being of your operation. Here are some statistics about hailstorms, agriculture, and why crop insurance matters when it comes to hail and farming.

According to insurance statistics, hail insurance claims are going up.

There aren’t many statistics specifically on hail insurance claims for agricultural crops out there. Nevertheless, the stats across the entire insurance industry (including hail property damage) are quite telling in terms of the direction where general hail insurance coverage is headed: and that direction is upwards.

The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, along with the NICB, indicate that claims for hail damage have gone up over the recent years of 2018 through 2020. Standard claims went up by 2%, with the actual number of claims jumping up by over 100,000 between 2018 and 2019.

Meanwhile, QC claims related to hail damage (QC meaning Questionable Claims, or claims insurance companies suspected were fraudulent), went up by 34%, over one-third from previous years. This is substantial! Even with a rise in mostly Questionable Claims alone (with some of them proven to be legitimate, others not), this indicates a steep trend of hail incidents so severe that farmers and property owners alike are needing to lean on insurance for better security more and more.

Again, while there aren’t statistics like these on hail insurance for crops, the insurance industry overall — both farmers and insurers — are braced for these general trends. Farmers on the ground can speak to there being greater fears around hail damage now more than ever…something a proper hail insurance crop policy could address.

Hailstorm damage and frequency are both increasing with intensity.

More and more hailstorms are happening in recent years. When they do, they’re worse than usual, studies show. Climate data from these studies also expect that gradually rising temperatures will enable MORE hailstones to form when these events take place; research shows that warming temperatures enable both the formation of more hailstones in storms and a greater chance of landfall as a result. Worse: hailstones that do make landfall are starting to get larger and larger on average!

That said, surveys of row crop farmers show that large hailstones aren’t necessarily the kind of hail they fear the most. Rather, high volumes of small hail moving at high speed, such as in a windstorm, are shown to inflict far more damage on crops than large hail (think of a shotgun vs. a rifle blast). Still, this type of dangerous hail — sometimes called the “icy combine” because of what it does to crops — could also become more likely thanks to increasing temperatures.

Larger hail over time may also be a greater threat to livestock farmers than row crop farmers. Not to mention: larger hail creates hazards and damage to infrastructure, buildings, and mechanical equipment for farmers of all kinds, no matter what they produce.

While hail insurance or crop insurance won’t cover the direct death or loss of livestock to injury or hail incidents — nor can it cover damage or destruction of farm buildings or equipment — it can protect what farmers grow along with their revenue by compensating for losses due to hail damage to crops in the field. (Not to mention, hail insurance can cover a LOT of other perils besides hail!)   One of the big selling points is that hail starts covering on the very 1st acre.  Most farmers now have EU (enterprise unit) coverage on their multi-peril crop insurance plan.  This means all acres of the given crop are insured as a single unit and you must have a loss based on the production from all of your acres added together to be paid an indemnity.  Hail is the perfect compliment to the EU policy since it starts paying on acre 1.

“Hail Alley” – And how it’s changing over the years

It’s just the way insurance works: if you’re in an area more prone to certain weather, your premiums on that type of weather are going to be higher as a result. That’s not a bad thing.

The region known as Hail Alley in the U.S. is a perfect example. All up and down this corridor you may find higher hail insurance rates from some insurance companies if you want a policy that fully protects you from damage. That said, the rates are probably more than worth the price considering the losses they could inflict on your business. All farmers know that a hailstorm could make or break a successful year of production, or even an entire business. Here’s the thing…

Hailstorms are becoming more commonplace and destructive in areas where they weren’t before.

In the past, the region known as Hail Alley historically spanned out east from Wyoming to Nebraska, then down through eastern Colorado. Some experts insist it stretches even further down into Oklahoma, Kansas, and the Texas Panhandle.

However, research is showing that the nature and area of Hail Alley could change in the coming years. In fact, Hail Alley could be moving into new areas and even intensifying. (For example, current Hail Alley regions like Colorado and Kansas could expect more intense hailstorms on the whole.)

On the other hand, data seems to show Hail Alley could expand farther and farther south the warmer temperatures get. This means places like Texas could become a more prominent part of Hail Alley and thus even more hail-prone than they were before.

Statistics agree: Texas is a massive target for Mother Nature and her hailstorms. Texas had the highest number of hail events in 2022 AND in 2020. Texas-based hail claims made up 23% of ALL hail claims in the entire U.S. from the years 2018 to 2020, and the state consistently had more hailstorms than any other state over the years 2012 through 2021.

This is notable considering Texas still doesn’t top the list of states considered the most hail-heavy, but it’s getting there. The bottom line: with rapidly changing weather trends and patterns across the country, hail insurance could quickly become a standard insurance policy to keep agricultural businesses protected from more intense and surprising hail events.

Even if you thought you shouldn’t fear hail and don’t need hail insurance, this could change at the drop of a hat, with trends like these!

Which areas are the most likely to experience hailstorms and hail damage?

What other hotspots should be made more aware of hail and hail insurance coverage, considering these trends?

While only the northern part of Texas is a hail-prone region (albeit a heavy one), entire states like Kansas and Nebraska carry a high risk for hail just about anywhere you live… yes, no matter where you are in the state. In fact, these two states make up the bulk area of Hail Alley, even if they experience less hailstorms on average than north Texas.

Great portions of Iowa and Oklahoma should watch out, too, as they likewise make up a substantial portion of the corridor. That said, climate predictions expect that overall hailstorm frequency in the U.S. will go down, even in Hail Alley… but the intensity of these storms will go up, especially in Texas more than any other state.

Reports are also showing that hailstorm frequency AND intensity are establishing in states and areas outside of Hail Alley. These are the weather patterns that growers around the country should be paying attention to. Even if you’re not in a hail-prone area and never considered hail insurance, with these changing trends… it may be time to!

For example, South Carolina is becoming a more hail-associated state, even though it lies far outside of Hail Alley. Still, it trails only four states behind Texas on the list of states that experienced the most hailstorms between 2012 and 2021. It’s still nowhere close to the most historically hail-heavy region of the U.S.; and yet, it is experiencing substantial damages owed to hailstorms.

Then there is Ohio, which experienced 144 substantial hailstorms between 2012 and 2021 responsible for around $11.1 billion in damages. Ohio row croppers and even orchard growers don’t tend to put hail insurance on the front lines of their coverage — though some Ohio growers have found a hail policy to be life-saving even if they never expected hail to touch their crops. (Especially in a state so far out of Hail Alley)!

The takeaway: statistics, farmer experiences, and even on-the-ground reports from insurance agents (including ours) speak for themselves. If hail hasn’t happened to you yet, even if you live far out of Hail Alley, there’s no telling if that will keep being the case.

The likelihood of significant hail damage taking place just about anywhere is going up. The only thing that will fully prepare you for that eventuality and any possible economic losses to your business… hail insurance!

How much in damages are hailstorms causing?

It goes without saying: there’s a reason hail insurance exists. State Farm Insurance has reported that costs of hail insurance damage (to property), and the insurance claims associated with them, have gone up by $1 billion from 2021 to 2022.

Though there aren’t exact numbers for agricultural claims and amounts specifically, it’s a sign that hail damage is becoming a serious and peaking trend, and it might continue to do so in coming years.

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, Nebraska— a notoriously hail-prone state in the center of Hail Alley — suffered $4.6 billion in natural disaster damage throughout 2022, even higher than weather-related causes in previous years…including the 2019 major flood, 2021 tornado outbreaks, and the 2020 derecho. One major contributor to these damages: hail.

June 2022 brought hail and high winds to Nebraska, along with hailstorms that occurred through April 2022, bringing about severe economic damages to homes and agriculture alike. June 11th alone created 5-inch diameter hail in one part of the state, breaking local records for largest hailstones ever measured in the county!

Together with all these storms reported by the Lincoln Journal Star, hail took part in creating some of the largest monetary losses in the history of Nebraska. Insurance companies state that they haven’t seen anything comparable to these wind- or hail-related damages like this in years before 2022. All in all, hail caused $2 billion in losses associated with insurance claims in Nebraska alone — and those are only the insurance claims that were actually covered, and not speaking for farmers or property owners who were uninsured or under-insured.

Farmers: don’t overlook the importance of hail insurance this spring.

Even if hail doesn’t seem like a peril to your agricultural operation at the moment — or it even if it hasn’t affected your operation, state, or region in years past — keep your eyes on the trends! Experts, farmers, and insurance authorities all sing the same tune: hail is a serious economic threat and could get worse in the coming years.

Hail is getting more intense everywhere, and becoming a more frequent occurrence in places where hail damage is not typical. Even the geographics of Hail Alley may be changing. Not to mention, overall, hail insurance claims for property damage have spiked. No doubt they will spike for agricultural professionals as well.

For farmers who haven’t had concerns about hail damage to their crops, mostly because of where they are located, this highly damaging weather event could become a new norm and a new reality in their region — and you don’t want to be caught unprotected by unprecedented hailstorms, and worse, deal with a serious loss of revenue (or the loss of an entire business and family legacy).

Get in touch with a trusted insurance company and agent for more info about hail insurance. The wonderful thing about these hail insurance policies, many will have you covered for many other types of perils: such as fire, lightning damage, damage during transport, and more!