|Hail tough for farmers in 2012|
|Local Content - Local Agriculture|
|Written by Garrett Simmons|
|Thursday, 29 November 2012 18:31|
They call it The Great White Combine.
When the sky darkens, the temperature drops and the summer winds kick into gear, agricultural producers know they’re in for a battle with hail.
That battle was particularly difficult in 2012, as the Alberta Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) reported a record number of hail claims, a record which far surpassed any previous hail season.
“We’ve had just over 11,000 hail claims between early June and September,” said Chris Dyck, senior manager of business risk management operations for AFSC. “A normal year would be around 6,500.”
That’s a staggering number, and one hail-insurance officials have not witnessed in over 60 years.
“We’ve been in the business since 1938, and it’s the worst year we’ve ever had,” added Dyck.
In total, $460 million in payouts will be the result of the record number of claims, and a good chunk of that is due to some significant storms here in southern Alberta. Dyck pointed to the June 5 storm in the Taber area as a major weather event, but indicated similar storms in Leduc, Strathmore and throughout Alberta all played a role.
“They were scattered throughout the province,” he said, as adjustors criss-crossed the various regions in the busiest season ever. “We had some issues keeping up early in the season, but we’re done now and everything has been paid out.”
What has been paid out includes insurance from two programs — the hail-endorsement included in crop insurance and the straight hail program. Dyck added that $460 million in payouts includes the variable price benefit.
“We look at the prices in the spring versus in the fall,” said Dyck, who added coverage in the spring is set before fall prices are known, and if those fall prices go up 10 per cent or more from the spring price, adjustments are made.
If a crop was priced at $10 per bushel in the spring and rises to $12 in the fall, producers reap the benefit.
“That’s more than 10 per cent — it’s 20 per cent, so we would increase their coverage by 20 per cent,” said Dyck. “Anyone that got paid a price that triggered that benefit will see that additional money.”
To make it all happen, however, Dyck added around-the-clock attention was paid to hail claims.
“It was tough, because we had about 120 adjustors working full-time and working overtime and weekends. We made every effort, but there were still significant wait times.”
Those wait times, and early harvest this season, created a need for AFSC to work with producers to find a solution, added Dyck.
“Some crops were maturing and people wanted to harvest, so we allowed them to leave representative strips for us to adjust,” he said, and mentioned for the most part, farmers were patient and AFSC eventually got through the process.
In the end, 2012 will go down as a record year, as Dyck said 2008 was the next-worst hail season on the books for AFSC.