Farmers shocked, angry over insurance payment refusals

Eligible acres | ‘Permanent water bodies’ are not eligible

Some Saskatchewan farmers who were expecting insurance payments for unseeded acres because of excess moisture are discovering they won’t receives cheques this year, even though they did in past years.

Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp. chief executive officer Shawn Jaques said the policy hasn’t changed, but adjusters now have time to get out and look.

He said the corporation has had complaints, but adjusters are following procedures they couldn’t follow in the past three years because the excess moisture resulted in so many claims.

“In 2010, ’11 and ’12 we auto-registered claims and we paid a number of them without even inspecting them,” he said.

“It was just so wet everywhere, so some of our procedures in completing the claims we changed.”

There were about 12,000 unseeded acreage claims in 2010, nearly 14,000 in 2011 and 10,000 last year.

Jaques said unseeded acreage claims are paid where a producer was able to prepare his land for a crop but was then flooded out. For example, producers will receive payments if sloughs were worked up or burned and the land put in condition for spring seeding before excess moisture made it impossible.

“Permanent water bodies, or land that has been wet for a number of years and will continue to be wet, or the producer couldn’t have done anything in the fall with that land, those aren’t eligible,” he said.

Arlynn Kurtz, who farms near Stockholm and is a vice-president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, said he has heard lots of complaints, particularly from farmers in the east, central and southern parts of the province.

“I even took my claim right into the office and the first thing they told me was, ‘well, it’s under bulrushes now, how can you expect us to pay,’ ” he said. “I said, ‘whoa, whoa, whoa, this was winter wheat last year and we combined the field.’ ”

Kurtz said it seems the corporation is trying to save money by not paying as many claims.

Farmers are annoyed and some are threatening to cancel their policies. Others have mentioned the possibility of a class action lawsuit.

There are anecdotal reports of farmers expecting cheques of $70,000 who have been told they won’t receive a cent.

The unseeded acreage benefit provides $70 per eligible acre as part of the core crop insurance package. An eligible acre is one that is normally seeded but remains unseeded by June 20 because of excess moisture. Claims had to be made by June 25, although those submitted by July 2 could be accepted with reduced payments.

A five percent deductible on acres that are normally seeded is applied to quarters of land with acres deemed too wet to seed. Producers were also able to buy additional coverage for $15 or $30 per acre.

Kurtz said it sounds as if different crop insurance offices are approaching the issue differently, and the corporation must resolve the issue.

“There are some very irate farmers out there,” he said.

APAS has requested a meeting with agriculture minister Lyle Stewart, and this topic will be on the agenda, Kurtz said.

  • Dave

    Crop insurance has to always take a risk based approach when it comes to any kind of claim, whether it be production loss, crop loss, or loss due to disaster from excess moisture or drought. They often paid out claims as it says to producers without even going to the site because they could’nt get to it but with todays technology of satalite imagery crop insurance was actually able to see just how wet many of those field were without looking at them. They took the risk of paying many of the claims without seeing what the actual damage was and after doing this for two years in a row producers shouldn’t expect this is how things were going to happen again in 2012. 2012 started out as a dry spring but then turned we. The south part of the prov. got a pile of snow but most areas got out later and were able to seed most of their land. The fact they did visual inspections this year shows that the amount of excessive moisture was a lot less province wide than prior years and therefore producer shouldn’t expect that once again the checks are going to just flow in the mail because thats how it was done before. As for how offices are treating the producers that needs to be dealt with by the managers in those areas and if they are failing to do their jobs then the corporation has a liability that it cannot overlook and therefore should have people in place who can deal with producers in a positive way. To If your land has been under water for the last two years and is now going into year three crop insurance isn’t going to keep paying you on it. From a risk based approach CI can’t keep paying out money on land that is prone to flooding and will continue to be under water. As for farmers who are going to pull their policies do you think you can really afford to do that? What other options as a producer do you have to manage your risk? Third party hail is not enough and with the cost share of the premiums being taken on by the feds and the prov. you can’t buy cheaper insurance out there; that card won’t work because all you are doing is hurting your own operation in the short and long run. If your CI office is not being cooperative then go higher up, there is always someone else who can look at your dispute and the more producers joining together to make their complaint will definitley get action. Finally I want to say I do not work for crop insurance and never have in Sask. but I know enough of what producer can and can’t do and hopefully what I have said will help Sask producers take more positive measures and use some common sense in resolving this issue.

  • bob

    Farmers should be paid and if not should be allowed to drain that water with no questions asked