In three and half years I have seen many types of insurance policies from Personal Lines to Commercial Lines to Farmowners, each having their own sets of “rules”. When it comes to Farmowners insurance and policies, there is one “rule” that is stressed above everything else- that these policies are “Dec Page” based and driven. But what does that mean?
Dec. Page driven means that if coverage is not shown on the Declaration pages, then good luck finding coverage for it. It is very important to make sure that everything you want covered is shown in the summary area of the policy, or as the insurance industry calls them, the Declaration pages.
Let’s say you need coverage for your small shed where you store the farm tools, but you don’t see it listed on the Declaration pages of the insurance policy. This means that you do not have coverage for it and you had better call your insurance agent or company to have it added. This also applies to coverage on livestock which is usually covered under a blanket limit, but if there isn’t a “blanket amount” shown with the number of livestock covered, then there is no coverage.
This “rule” is why it is important to make sure you have an agent and company that can look at your farm/operations and realize all the coverages that you will need, from building coverages, livestock coverage, and if you are a dairy farmer, milk contamination.
There is one sort of exception to this “rule” and that is the Other Private Structures coverage or Coverage B, depending how it is listed on your policy. These structures are for private use only and do not store anything used for business purposes in any way. This section covers any Private Structure that is not attached to the house/dwelling by a roof. The coverage is usually 20% of the Dwelling, Coverage A limit. So if your house is insured at $200,000, then coverage for other Private Structures is $20,000. This might not be enough if you have more than one detached garage or private structure. Luckily, this coverage can be adjusted to the amount needed to cover all necessary buildings.
So make sure when you get your policy that all the coverages you wanted and requested are shown on that Declarations Page. If not, call your agent to have it added immediately.
By Samantha Brensinger
As always, when a new President enters the White House, there is uncertainty and confusion. Two sides of the political world determining how things might shake out for existing laws, bills they were waiting to vote on, and who the administration is going to be. Confusion doesn’t just stop at the White House or Congress but flows to communities. The Agricultural Community is no different.
Candidates don’t really target Agriculture in their campaign trail, making most in the community to have to do their own research. Candidates target what some would call “big city” issues or “social” issues versus what can be done to help those who live in rural and less populated areas, that usually rely on Agriculture or “Mom and Pop” businesses for income. They put regulations and laws in place to “rein” in big corporations or Big Ag but forget how those same regulations affect family owned businesses, too. There is one item that will have an impact on Agriculture that is being discussed and will be voted on: Farm Bill 2018.
There have always been mixed feelings on this bill and what it brings to the Agriculture community but mixed feelings with the new administration at the helm is only the start. With control of Congress and White house going to the Republicans, this could be a slightly different environment for this bill to be discussed. Good or bad? That is something that is not known yet. Farm Bill 2014 is seeing its last years and the fight that came in congress over it lasted longer than anyone expected, delaying the bill over 2 years.
The Farm Bill holds a lot of items for Agriculture and Communities from Crop Insurance to nutrition programs. SNAP is part of the nutrition program integrated into the Farm Bill. Republicans tried to separate farming and nutrition by making 2 bills in 2014. SNAP and other nutrition programs are funded through the farm bill and take up 75% of the bill’s funding. As much as Republicans want to separate out the nutrition part of the bill, most are afraid that without it included, a Farm specific bill will never pass on its own.
The rest of the funding goes to Crop Insurance, farm safety net, Big Ag favorable programs, beginning farmer trainings, and micro-loan programs along with conservation and local food funding. Crop Insurance has always been another disagreement in the bill, some wanting to throw out the government funded insurance and force it into the private sector. The concern there is that there aren’t any insurance companies willing to pick up the coverage that could amount to large pay outs in claims.
The Farm bill isn’t something you usually see on mainstream media, or making headlines as a big issue for everyone to be concerned about but it is. All eyes should be on what changes they are looking to make or if the majority leaders will get what they wanted in 2014 and two bills will emerge.
By: Samantha Brensinger
A hot topic that’s been ongoing for some time, between many agencies, governments, communities in regards to Farms and families: The want to better the environment, particularly our water supply. When it comes to this topic, it doesn’t just affect big Agribusinesses. Over-reaching regulations can cost family farms more money than they can afford. Thankfully, for some, there are grants or programs to help, if you can get approved. The number 1 goal should be finding middle ground and benefits for both sides.
There are many that stand far off to either side of the fence on this topic, but many more sitting in the middle waiting for those that are way out to meet them. Environmental conservation and farming don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Actually, it has been proven time and time again that they work well together.
Over the years, research into environmental issues has also benefited farms by creating practices such as no-till, crop rotating, and proper manure management. No-till has helped with keeping the best topsoil in the field and not washed down into nearby rivers, streams and lakes. By keeping the plants roots in the ground, it holds the soil in place but also the plants start to decay putting additional nutrients in the soil for the next crop. The environmentally beneficial part of this is less manure and synthetic chemicals are needed to be applied, so less potential of washing into the water sources.
Rotating crops has the same benefits as no-till in that if you rotate the crops correctly there are always roots in the ground holding the soil. Also, if you rotate the right crops, what one crop takes out of the soil the other replaces. Once again, allowing for natural nutrient soil instead of manure and synthetic chemicals that could potentially wash into water sources.
Like taking care of a small garden, sometimes you need to balance the soil. This is where proper manure management comes into play. Even with no-till and rotating crops, there are nutrients the top soil is going to lose. Manure and some synthetic chemical fertilizer are used to replace these much-needed nutrients. Research has educated farmers when to apply and how much manure on fields to reduce the amount of runoff into water sources.
Thanks to research farms and Agribusinesses, we have been able to implement these items, not solely because of pressure from environmentalists and laws, but because it is beneficial to all. In the fight to keep the world in the best shape we can while feeding the world population, I think it’s important to remember that laws and regulations being forced out of government doesn’t have to be the way to get Farmers and businesses to comply and see the benefits. Show them why it helps, not only the environment, but what they do for a living and you will find better cooperation from all parties involved.
By: Samantha Brensinger
I never thought I would be in the insurance industry, or have an “office” job. I worked retail for most of my working life and always loved the interaction with customers and helping them find what they needed in the store; in other words customer service. Though I loved retail and customer service, I always had a passion for the Agriculture Industry. I didn’t think that my love of customer service and Agriculture could ever combine into a career in insurance.
A friend called me, saying the office where she worked was looking for a receptionist and I told the owner you would be interested, he should be giving you a call tomorrow or so. That call came in the same day, and caught me slightly off guard, but we set up an interview. That interview turned into a job offer and I was welcomed into Strickler Insurance Agency. I started out as a receptionist and helping Personal Lines as a customer service rep. I essentially took some information and made sure the respective agents got it. I learned so much about insurance in a 6 month span that I have no idea where my mind stored the information!
After about 4 months, I started to learn the accounting to help out the office. I learned even more about how important the agents invoicing was to what we called the backend of issuing policies. From the short time I spent helping with accounting I have learned to be very aware of how I invoice or log accounts so that the accountants have an easier time.
I helped with accounting for about 3 or 4 months and was moved once again to Commercial Lines Insurance. Here is where I found my “Home” for over a year and half now. I assist 2 commercial agents who write contractors, municipalities, breweries, distilleries, wineries, and building owners. The experience as an assistant has helped me understand the different coverages needed in different operations of business.
The experience in all these areas helped me realize I could bring my passion for Agriculture to my insurance office. Sitting down with the owners, we discussed what my goals were and that top goal was to start prospecting Agribusiness and Farms. Up to that point, Stickler Insurance really didn’t step into that arena and I wanted to! So, with the backing of the owners and the knowledge I learned from taking Agriculture courses in school, my sister and brother-in-law’s dairy farm, and insurance, FarmInsurancePro., was formed.
I am constantly looking for more information about the Agriculture industry and taking insurance courses to better understand how insurance helps cover an industry that is so unique and varied. I am always looking for businesses and farms to visit, to see how they work and how the insurance industry can cover their specific operation. I think I have surely found the best way to combine my two passions; Agriculture and customer service.
By: Samantha Brensinger