Summer of hailstorms across Manitoba

Manitoba was the unfortunate prairie winner in the hail lottery during this crop year, recording losses of $46 million.

That was a huge jump from last year, when $16 million in claims were paid out in that province.

Alberta and Saskatchewan losses due to hail were down this year compared to the five-year average, according to a Canadian Crop Hail Association report.

David Van Deynze of the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp. said it was the biggest hail year in memory, with storms spread throughout the growing season and over a wide area.

That made it easier for adjusters to keep up with inspections and processing of claims.

“It’s never a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but from a trying to get the claims done perspective, if it spreads it out geographically and time-wise, it does make it a little bit easier.”

Severe hail events in late June and late July proved particularly costly for Manitoba farmers and hail insurance payouts.

“We had a few storms of note,” said Van Deynze.

“At the end of June there was a big storm around the Roseisle community that did quite a bit of damage and some pretty heavy losses.”

A late July storm near Wawanesa was also nasty, as was a blast near the end of August around Altona.

“It kept us hopping in those areas,” he said.

Adjusters are nearly caught up with claims, he added, and more money will be paid out than was collected in premiums this year, for a loss ratio of 108.6 percent.

“Essentially the hail program has lost a little bit of money in 2015,” said Van Deynze.

“As far as MASC is concerned, it’s still a pretty good position…. We haven’t lost money in 10 years or more so we’re still in a good position. This won’t significantly impact premiums next year or anything like that.”

The CCHA’s preliminary estimates for the Prairies indicate about $167 million in crop hail claims in 2015 on 13,222 losses.

Producers paid nearly $274 million in premiums, which translates into a loss ratio of 61.1 percent.

Prairie hail claims were similar to last year’s numbers, the CCHA said, but payouts in 2014 were much higher, at $249 million.

Saskatchewan and Alberta had fewer losses than in 2014. The loss ratio in Alberta was 66.3 percent this year compared to 106.4 last year. Total payouts were reported at $50 million, compared to $99 million in 2014.

Saskatchewan’s ratio was 45.6 percent, compared to 73.7 percent in 2014. About $71 million in claims were paid this year in that province, down significantly from last year.

“Payouts per acre and per acre insurance limits have climbed steadily over the years as individual farm size increases across the Prairies,” the CCHA said in its final hail report of the year.

“This year, while there were several storms of significance across the Prairies, the overall impact was less severe than a year ago. The average claim in 2015 was $12,645, down from $18,628 in 2014.”

The CCHA represents companies that sell crop hail insurance to farmers in Western Canada.

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