I know this is the main reason you have an insurance agent to review and write your insurance, but I believe that you, as a client, should know what might or might not be covered! This is an ace in the hole for you, if you are looking for new insurance coverage and want to make sure you are getting the best coverage with the best premium. Cause of Loss Forms play an important role.
Across the Commercial, Personal, and Farm insurance forms there are 3 types of Causes of Loss Forms: Basic, Broad, and Special. These forms bring further definition to items that can be covered. Basic covers the least with Special covering the most. Commercial, Personal and Farm policies share these types of forms and cover similar items but do not make the mistake that they are the same items or protect in the same way. The Farm coverage forms cover items that the Commercial and Personal Forms do not and vice versa.
Basic Form for Farms, is just that: Basic. If it’s not listed as a covered loss, there is no coverage.
Covered Items include
Windstorm or Hail Explosion
Debris Removal Reasonable Repairs
Damage to property removed for safekeeping
Fire Department service charge
Collapse Property cleanup and removal
Riot or Civil Commotion
Sinkhole Collapse Volcanic Action
Collision Earthquake Loss to “Livestock”
Flood Loss to “Livestock”
Just because its listed above does not mean that every case that could be classified as Collapse or Flood is covered. Example: Flood Loss to “Livestock”, 1. Only covers animals that are defined as livestock, 2. Covers flood caused by surface water, waves, tides, tidal water, overflow of any body of water, or spray from any of these whether or not driven by wind, including storm surge. Anything outside that definition would not be classified as Flood Loss to “livestock”. Poultry would not be covered under this as its not listed in the definition of livestock.
Broad Form for Farms, broadens the Basic form to include 12 additional causes of loss Covered losses include all Basic causes of losses plus:
- Electrocution of covered Livestock - Accidental shooting of covered livestock
- Loading/Unloading accidents - Breakage of glass or safety glazing
-Drowning of covered livestock from external causes
- Falling objects -Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
- Sudden and accidental tearing apart
- Accidental discharge or leakage of water or steam
- Freezing of plumbing, etc. -Sudden and accidental damage
- Attacks on covered livestock by dogs or wild animals
Quite a bit is added, but like Basic Form, these items have definitions that bring coverage to exactly what the insurance company is going to cover. For Example: Drowning of covered livestock from external causes- EXCLUDES Swine less than 30 days old. Attacks on covered livestock by dogs or wild animals, does NOT cover loss or damage to sheep or loss caused by the insured’s dog or wild animals that are in the care of the insured.
Last, but not least, is the Special Cause of Loss Form. This form is different than the Basic and Broad because all losses are covered unless specifically excluded. No exclusion? Then coverage is there for the cause of loss.
Example: Windstorm or Hail is a covered loss except for products in the open or for damage to watercraft or their trailers, furnishings, equipment or outboard motors unless they are fully enclosed in a building. Everything else would be covered.
So, when you are looking at your Farm policy you would see something like:
Livestock Limit $20,000 Cause: Broad Value: Actual Cash Value
This Example shows that the policy has been asked to cover Livestock with a total limit of $20,000 on a Broad Form, so all the Basic and Broad causes of loss are being covered, with their exclusions.
Knowing what Form is being used is important because if you are looking for the most comprehensive coverage, you are going to want the Broad or Special coverage form. If you are looking for main items to be covered, then Basic might be the key. These forms can also increase or decrease your premium. Be careful that the insurance company and agent are using the form that is going to cover your property the best!
By Samantha Brensinger
I receive many newpapers, publications and magazines to read and keep informed about the ever changing Insurance and Agribusiness industries. Lately, I have constantly come across articles about Cow Comfort from the Lancaster Farming (Southern edition), Country Folks Mid- Atlantic edition, posts on social media from extension offices or farmers themselves, and more.
Cow Comfort isn’t just about better treatment of livestock, but also relates to higher productions. Cow Comfort includes clean bedding, temperature, health, and feed. All these things need to be balanced to meet the cow’s “happy place.” Farmers use nutritionists to balance their herd’s food to make sure they are getting a good amount of nutrients in their diet. Too much protein and its lost to processing, and too little and the cow doesn’t produce to its best potential and could possibly lose weight. Ingredients are regularly tested to verify how many nutrients it contains and the formula is adjusted to keep feeding consistent.
When it comes to health, if livestock is sick, energy is used to fight the illness instead of producing milk. To help a cow get better, farmers use medication or antibiotics to fight whatever is causing the illness. These cows are then separated out of the milking herd so the medicine and antibiotics do not end up in the milk (the milk from a treated cow gets dumped), and also so the illness does not spread if contagious. It is important to treat a cow sooner rather than later not only from a production standpoint, but for the health and longevity of the cow’s life.
Clean bedding should be a no brainer. Cows want a clean and comfortable spot to lay and sleep, and if they aren’t sleeping then they are never giving their bodies time to rest. Just like people, cows can wear themselves out and being able to sleep comfortably doesn’t decrease milk production, but increases it because their bodies get to rejuvenate.
Temperature/weather is another factor in cow comfort and can be the toughest one to handle. No farmer can control the weather. The best they can do is try to use equipment to make it less of a factor. This factor could be one of the reasons why I have seen so many articles on this topic, because summer heat is on its way! The farm where I work keeps milking cows in a pack barn. This barn has four very large fans on the ceiling that turn on and rotate at a certain speed depending on the heat outside. Cows give off their own body heat and with temperatures rising, this helps prevent the barn from reaching overly hot temperatures. The barn is open-sided so it gives great air flow, and the moving fans help to create a cool barn. During the winter this same barn has two sets of curtains that drop down at designated temperatures. With the amount of body heat cows give off, closing the access for cool air to flow through is enough to keep the barn at a comfortable temperature for the cows.
Cow comfort is important to the cow’s welfare, but also to the farmer. If a farmer’s livestock is comfortable they are producing to the maximum and living longer. These factors help keep costs down by needing less cows to reach profitable production, it and benefits the environment because less cows mean less manure and less feed to sustain larger herds (which means less acreage for feed crops).
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
This week I chose an article by someone local and is a Virginia Cooperative Extension dairy agent in Rockingham county. Jeremy Daubert has been a big help getting my family moved into the county dairy 4-H club, the Virginia Dairy Princess Program, and the Dairy Bowl. Essentially, he has been our go to for any questions about how Virginia differs from Pennsylvania when it comes to rules and regulations around showing and being a part of these programs. Being from Pennsylvania himself he’s been there done that.
The article he wrote in the Lancaster Farming, Southern Edition, isn’t about new technology, or the state of the dairy industry but the topic is just as important, retirement and how it’s not only good for individuals but a good business practice! He reminds us that being prepared for “retirement”, the selling of the farm to an heir or another farmer, shouldn’t be decided at the time you decide to retire but something you should think about from the start. Being able to supplement payments from an heir or the income made from selling the farm makes for a better sustainable business as it moves into the future.
IRA’s, saving monthly, or saving at the end of the year instead of making a huge purchase are ways to put money aside for the day you decide it’s time for the next generation or farmer to take over. Making the transition from the life and business of farming to retirement is not an easy one but when it comes to income it can be made easier.
Orig. Article:Preparing your farm business for the future/Lancaster Farming t Vol 62 No 20
by Jeremy Daubert
With Pennsylvania seeing a $3 billion shortfall for the coming year, the Gov. Tom Wolf and State Congress are finding ways to make it work. With agreement to “hold the Line” on income taxes, the Governor has asked lawmakers to cut spending and implement drilling taxes and close loopholes.
What does this mean for Agriculture? Well, one of the ideas proposed by Pennsylvania Governor to save, is to lease-leaseback the Farm Show Complex. He wants to lease the Farm Show Complex to a private entity for 29 years. For an upfront payment of $200 million. The winning entity would then lease the facility back to the state with an annual rental payments based on a negotiated interest rate. This has been compared to getting a home equity loan to help balance the budget.
A highlight to the proposal is that the state Department of Agriculture would see a budget boost of $2.2 million in general operations fund. This is to help with workforce and modernizing its workflow. Other areas received level funding like Penn State’s College of Agriculture Sciences and Cooperative Extension. A win with a budget in a $3 billion deficit.
The one of biggest downfalls that is proposed is the $30 million cut to Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. The cut is about 1/3 of the schools operating budget but doesn’t harm the Animal Health Commission’s funding or the animal health diagnostic lab. PennVet is the state’s only Veterinary school.
There are many concerns about the cut proposed to PennVet but what the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs is seeing is that the core elements of the Ag. Department is being funded. They understand that they need to work together in the challenging times but are also seeing a 25% cut to the departments full budget, taking away funding for about half a dozen programs that are a asset to the agricultural industry.
They are looking at the additional taxes proposed by Gov. Wolf as a way to bring back the funding that continues to be on the chopping block every time the budget comes around. The programs that are back on the chopping block again are Centers for Dairy Excellence, Beef Excellence, and Farm Transitions, Agricultural promotion and the All-American Dairy Show and Keystone International Livestock Exposition. These have always been added back on by the General Assembly so the greatest concern remains to be the PennVet cut.
We will have to wait and see how the budge forms but if you are concerned about what is being proposed please make sure your voice is heard!
To see the whole article, click here
writer: Charlene M. Shupp Espenshade
The Northern Grapes Project took five years starting in 2011 till 2016, in total it involved 11 universities, a county extension association, 23 industry associations, and funded by USDA’s Specialty Crop Research.
The research targeted the cold hardy grapes industry which includes 12 states throughout New England, New York, and the Midwest. The research targeted viticulture. Enology, and marketing. The surveys that took place allowed for a better understanding of how big the industry is and how it has changed.
The prediction at the start of the project said that the industry was estimate to double in the next 5 years for cold hardy wines. This prediction came from the increase in consumers becoming more knowledgeable about the product and regional marketing. After the survey was completed in 2016 this prediction was proven correct.
Wineries have expanded to growing their own grapes, and adding tasting rooms with food and other beverages. Acreage for this regional industry has also increased from 5,900 acres to 7, 580.
Expansion and growth are expected to continue to grow with a 75% estimated growth in 5 years. About half of the Vineyards are expected to expand, this is causing some concern for available labor. Most cold hardy grape Vineyards had little labor other than owners, in 2015 58% had paid labor, mostly due to the increase in acreage.
There are some concerns that Vineyards still need to address. The first concern is that a lot of respondents to the surveys didn’t understand the complexity of the questions regarding cultivation, so targeted education in fungicides or insecticides and crop management might be needed to help make sure these Vineyards can reach max yields.
Another concern is the tonnage per acre, 4 tons/acre is average and 5 tons is not out of reach but in the survey 46% in 2012 and 43% in 2016, weren’t reaching that mark. This could cause bankruptcy because in most cases anything under 4 tons/acre is not enough for a profit.
Some concern is also arising out of growers not monitoring soil or vines. The project has closed but thanks to donations the education programming is able to continue. The webinars will continue through May 2017. Read full article here.
You can visit www.northngrapeproject.org for webinars, newsletter research and more.
Wine & Craft Beverage News/Lee Publication
Writer: Tamara Scully
As technology continue to advance, Agriculture finds a way to be included. In the past specialty crop growers didn't have a whole lot of options for weed control, relying on costly and time-consuming manual weed picking. This could be about to change! Manufactures in the U.S and Europe are producing automated wee removal systems that combine machine and intelligent control technologies with precise sprayers and intra-row cultivators.
The new invention would work between rows and when it finds a weed it would remove them using a spot spray or robotic hoeing. The Systems uses size differences, and crop row patterns to help determine crop from weed.
With continued advancements, it looks like specialty crop growers could have another and more efficient way to weed their fields that can also improve the environment. With the more precise us of herbicides that means less effect on ground soil/water and insects.
Read the full article here