What Crop Insurance Level Should I Get for 2014?

Published on: 18:48PM Dec 10, 2013

Crop insurance is a risk management tool for farmers. Over the last couple of years it has, in many cases, paid off in substantial claims based primarily on the high spring or fall price. The University of Illinois just released a projection of the crop insurance premiums for productive soil in that state. Although large claims have been paid out recently, they are projecting a small decrease in corn premiums. This is primarily due to the projected spring price of $4.60 instead of $5.65 for this year.

Based on a Trend APH of 187 bpa, the estimated premiums from 70% coverage to 85% coverage are as follows:

  • 70% - $3.65
  • 75% - $6.12
  • 80% - $12.47
  • 85% - $24.41


This results in a guaranteed revenue base of $602 at 70% rising by $43 for each 5% increase to a final number of $731. The premium increase from 70% to 75% is only $2.47 whereas the increase from 80% to 85% is almost a full $10. On the face of it, the 85% coverage level seems to be much more expensive. However, you must determine the expected probability of having claim at each coverage level. For example, at the 85% coverage level, you might expect a full claim (from the 80% to 85% level) approximately 55-65% of the time. At the 70% level, your expectation for a claim might drop to only 10-20% of the time.

Therefore, you must run your numbers to determine your expected claim amount and then divide that by the marginal amount of extra premium to arrive at your expected return. When you perform these calculations, you may find that the 85% coverage level costs about the same as the 75% or less coverage. Also, for 2014 if prices stay low, it is even more important that farmers truly lock in their cash input costs. This may lead you to getting the highest coverage possible and if prices rally back to the $5.65 range, you may even get a bonus.

Every farmer's situation is different, but the key is that you cannot just look at the difference in premium, you must determine your "expected" yield versus the extra cost.