Unrelenting days of record heat coupled with the virtual absence of rain this summer have withered much of Iowa 2012 crops. Officials with the Iowa Insurance Division, a state agency which regulates the insurance industry in the state, and officials of the Iowa Department of Agriculture are reminding farmers it is important that they work with their crop insurance agent as they move forward with filing a crop insurance claim.
Most crop insurance policies require claims to be filed in a timely manner, in some cases within 72 hours of discovering the damage. Clearly, drought is a different situation than damage from a hail or wind storm, but farmers should be in contact with their crop insurance agent as soon as possible. Farmers can also contact the federal Risk Management Agency at rma.usda.gov or 202-690-2803 for more information.
"It's important that farmers are in touch with their agent," says Iowa insurance commissioner Susan Voss. "That will set in motion the handling of the claim under this federally administered program. The insurance agent who sold the crop insurance policy can assist his or her client with filing the claim."
Make sure you understand the requirements and fill out necessary paperwork
Farmers should start by reviewing their insurance policy provisions and work with their insurance agents before destroying any damaged crops or harvest corn for silage, if it has been insured as a grain crop.
"Drought is very different from many storm events in that there is not one single point where the damage happens, it is ongoing. So, it is important that farmers work with their crop insurance agent so they can understand the requirements and fill out the necessary paperwork," says Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.
The RMA recommends farmers report damage and work with their agent upon discovery, 15 days before harvest begins and within 15 days of completing harvest.
Farmers should document their losses and not destroy any crops without clear direction from the insurance company, in writing if possible.
Crop insurance or multi-peril insurance protects farmers from losses due to natural disasters, such as drought. Coverage can be purchased through private insurance companies or their agents. Separate policies are needed to protect livestock and dairy revenues. Applications for crop insurance coverage must be submitted by deadlines that vary by crop. For example, the deadline for both submission of applications and renewal of coverage for corn and soybeans in Iowa is March 15.
Farmers who have complains or questions should contact Iowa Insurance Division
In addition to crop insurance, eligible farmers in all of Iowa's 99 counties have access to low-interest loans and other assistance from USDA due to disaster designations resulting from drought. For more information about emergency loans or other disaster assistance programs offered by the USDA's Farm Service Agency, producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office. Additional drought information and resources are available at the Iowa Governor's drought information page at governor.iowa.gov/drought.
Farmers and other consumers with complaints or general questions about insurance can contact the Iowa Insurance Division at 877-955-1212 or www.iid.state.ia.us.
About the Iowa Insurance Division: The Iowa Insurance Division has general control, supervision and direction over all insurance and securities business transacted in the state, and enforces Iowa's insurance and securities laws and regulations. The agency investigates consumer complaints and prosecutes companies, agents and brokers engaging in unfair trade practices. Farmers and other consumers with insurance or securities-related questions or complaints may contact the division toll free at 877-955-1212 or visit the division on the Web at www.iid.state.ia.us.