Tips to preparefor a crop insurance audit during harvest
As the sky concealed the rain and the sun blazed from above in 2012, many farmers found themselves filing large claims with their insurance providers. While most of the U.S. is faring better this year, one-third of the nation remains in either severe, extreme or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Kansas farmer Darin Grimm thought he kept solid records—until last year, when he went through a multi-year crop insurance audit process.
This was a common occurrence in farm country last year, according to Jeremy Forrett, vice president of Crop Growers, LLP. "Each high-dollar claim involves a comprehensive audit of the previous three years of production and acreage records."
Most of Grimm’s records focus on cross-checking yield information. "For us, it starts with the yield monitor, having it calibrated as accurately as possible," he says. "But we also put scales on our grain cart with printers so that we have better documentation of the production that came off each field."
Records to keep. Farmers should log harvest date, production per load, number of loads and conveyance measure each day, Forrett says. Additionally, he says it’s important to have records by crop insurance unit, bin and bunk measurements, field harvest records, and yield monitor records, if approved by the insurance provider.
Not only are the requirements different for each crop, but what is done with the harvested crop is also essential in harvest reporting. For production sold through a grain elevator or marketing group, Forrett says farmers need marketing records. Grain stored on the farm and fed to livestock should be tracked separately.
When feeding crops to livestock, the adjuster will need to know the number of livestock and the amount of product fed daily, he adds.
This is the type of situation when his scale cart printers came in handy, Grimm says. "Because we feed cattle and have multiple bins where grain is commingled, the grain cart scale records were the primary document we used as production evidence," he says.
Joni Naylor, a crop insurance specialist for Farm Credit Mid-America in Indiana, says that while farmers can jot down records on anything from soda pop cans to napkins, scale printouts like Grimm’s are preferred.
"It is so much easier to process a claim when all of the information is organized and in a report form," Naylor says. "It takes longer for adjusters to process a claim when notes aren’t organized and give very little detailed information."
According to Forrett, the best thing farmers can do is to keep the line of communication open with their insurance adjuster and maintain detailed records. "If your coverage is based off your farm’s production history, as opposed to a county average, which might be lower, your coverage will be more accurate and will serve your needs better," he adds.