Sask. takes brunt of hail damage

Hail claims on the Prairies are tracking similar to last year with Saskatchewan farmers reporting the most damage so far.

However, there are still six weeks or so that could result in hail storms, leading Canadian Crop Hail Association president Rick Omelchenko to speculate that final numbers could be higher.

More than 10,000 claims have been made so far and about 7,000 of them have come from Saskatchewan. Last year, about 11,000 claims were filed.

Omelchenko said hail activity in Saskatchewan is up over the five-year average. The same is true in Alberta, while Manitoba claims are down.

The hail season concludes in October and crops are still vulnerable through harvest.

Omelchenko said claims rose steadily through June, July and August with most companies reporting above-average numbers.

“Payouts are kind of in that average situation so far, but the storms aren’t over yet,” he said. “The loss ratio in Saskatchewan is the highest of the three provinces.”

During fall, hail is still a risk because heat and humidity can combine for a pop-up storm.

“The cooler temperatures make the storms less frequent but what happens is whenever a hot spell comes through right away storms are getting recorded,” Omelchenko said.

Hail companies have noticed that hail storms and patterns are changing. The previous trend of a large storm that travels right from the Alberta foothills through to Manitoba’s Interlake isn’t happening much anymore.

“It’s been less frequent and more severe in areas now than it was,” he said of hail. “What’s happening is there’s storms popping up everywhere. They’re smaller storms but more severe in the centres. It’s hard to explain.”

Adjusters have noticed that they have to examine fields from one end to the other to make proper assessments.

“It goes from 100 percent (loss) in one spot to less than five in another spot very quickly,” Omelchenko said.

Storms recorded in the last half of August resulted in about 700 claims; 500 of those were with two companies affecting Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Companies have been working hard to adjust the claims coming in.

Murray Bantle of Co-operative Hail Insurance Company said that company has completed June adjustments, is nearly done July and has more than half of August claims done.

Farmers who suffer hail damage are reminded to leave adequate samples for adjusters.

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