January 17, 2018

2017: The Year California Burned From North to South

At the time of this writing, the massive inferno of the Thomas fire is finally under control, at 92 percent contained. This fire, the largest in California’s history, has ravaged more than 280,000 acres and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses—many of which are of Western Growers members. And to top it off, the Thomas fires comes on the heels of mega wildfires earlier this year that engulfed a good chunk of Northern California and burned on the hills of Orange County. Some fire researchers are saying that fire risk won’t decrease anytime soon in California and that more and more homes and businesses will continue to be threatened. We are here to help.

As these wildfires blaze, damage to crops and agriculture-related industries will continue. These type of weather catastrophes can wipe out your profits for the whole year, and Western Growers Insurance Services wants to help you decrease the risk of losing your investment.

You can minimize your damage by taking advantage of risk protection insurance. There are two coverages that apply during a wildfire crisis: Crop Insurance and Weather Risk.

Crop Insurance has the ability to protect the remaining crop as long as the fire (or fires) is not determined to be manmade. Beyond the physical loss of the crop due to the fire, the remainder of the crop could be compromised by smoke damage or smoke taint. Smoke taint will affect the quality of the crop and could present problems at delivery. With a variety of crop insurance products and services available, we can help your operation evaluate each and design the coverage that’s right for you.

In addition to crop insurance, Western Growers Insurance Services offers Weather Risk to provide compensation to a business if it is affected by some defined weather event. This type of coverage can mitigate risks for growing operations and business entities from the effects of wildfires, adverse weather and price decline. If certain defined conditions occur—such as price decline, wind, excessive rain, lack of rain, freeze, excessive heat or other events—the buyer of the insurance will get paid even if they do not incur a loss or suffer no financial loss. This coverage is available to any business including growers, wineries, cooling facilities, fertilizer companies and transportation companies, among others.

A few things to keep in mind when utilizing these coverages:

•   For those impacted by weather catastrophes, it’s important to notify your crop insurance agent of any loss within 72 hours. In addition to contacting your agent, you must put any Notice of Loss in writing within 15 days.

•   The insured can provide Notice of Loss via telephone, email, fax, postal service or in person. After the loss is filed, an adjuster will contact the insured directly to physically review the damage in the block or orchard.

•   In order to prevent delays, make sure that the contact information—especially cell phone number—of the key contact at the growing operation is provided and up to date when you file the loss.

•   The insured is still required to care for the crop if possible and, if notice is given within 15 days prior to harvest, is required to leave representative samples of the crop.