Farms, whether large or small, depend on their crop insurance coverage to provide relief after disasters or bad weather. However, some farmers mistakenly believe that their coverage for fire losses works similarly, and these assumptions often just aren’t accurate.
It’s no wonder that there’s so much confusion over fire insurance claims—it really is confusing! Farm insurance policies are often very different from insurance company to company, and they’re also often tailored to the individual needs of a farm property. While many farm policies include coverage for many instances of storm, flood, or drought, it’s important to understand that:
- Fire damage to crops often isn’t covered, even by national insurance programs. When crops are damaged by fire, many farmers are surprised to find out that their policies don’t provide coverage, except maybe in limited circumstances. For example, some crop insurance policies will cover fire started by a lightning strike, but may not cover a fire that started by a non-weather event on a neighboring property.
- Crop fire insurance coverage can be very different from policy to policy. Because farm insurance policies are so individual to the farms they cover, you can’t necessarily rely on what happened to a friend—or even a neighbor across the street—when trying to predict what might happen to you after a crop fire. Some crop insurance policies will cover some types of fire damage, and some farms even have some coverage for crop fires under their umbrella policies. The only way to really know is to look at the coverage you carry.
How Can I Make Sure My Farm Is Covered in the Event of a Crop Fire?
Whether you have already been affected by a crop fire or are simply thinking about the future of your farm, there are a few things you can do to make sure you have the fire insurance coverage that your farm needs:
- Read your policy. It’s so simple that it’s an easy step to overlook. If you have questions about your coverage, read through the insurance policies that cover your farm and your crops in the event of fire. Make sure you are looking at the most recent copy of your policy, and make a habit of reviewing your coverage at least once a year. If you don’t understand something in your policy, you should call your insurance company and clarify.
- Consider purchasing additional fire insurance. If it comes as a surprise that your main farm or crop policy doesn’t cover fire damage, you may be able to make changes to your coverage to protect you in the future. If crop fires aren’t covered in your main crop insurance policy or umbrella policy, you can generally choose to add supplemental fire insurance. Keep in mind that, especially in the case of large-scale wildfires, there may be government programs that help provide relief for some farmers who have lost crops.
- Speak with an attorney about your rights. If your crop insurance claim is denied, or if you don’t agree with the insurance company’s decision about your losses, you may want to talk with an attorney about your situation and your crop insurance claim. Insurance companies and adjusters may not always tell you everything you need to know to take care of your claim, and they may not always be treating you fairly. Even if you don’t ultimately decide to hire an attorney or fight a denial, you can at least get clear information about “bad faith” insurance practices and your rights as the insured.
For more information about insurance claims for damage to farms and fields, we encourage you to read through our free book, Understanding Agricultural Insurance Claims, or you can contact the Voss Law Firm directly at 1-888-614-7730 to talk about your concerns.