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Crop Insurance NightmareCrop Insurance Nightmare

Why I'm switching underwriters this year

Kyle Stackhouse

February 12, 2014

3 Min Read

Well this goes on the list of things I have felt like doing, but will probably never do. I'll do my best at keeping this long story brief.

It was a long fall dealing with crop insurance. The story begins in 2011 when I rented additional ground in St. Joseph county. As normal, since the ground was not irrigated, I insured it using that entity (I had no other dryland ground in the county, I was already farming land under my irrigated entity). This has been our common practice for nearly three decades.

Everything went fine that year. In 2012 we had the drought, and I had a claim. No problems, I received my check, and all was good.

We continued into 2013 and made insurance selections and planted the crop. In late summer, I received notification that the insurance company had determined I was not a new producer, and they were reducing my yields, increasing my premiums (retroactive to 2011), and requiring re-payment of my 2012 claim.

You can imagine my disgust.

My agent appealed on my behalf and got nowhere. I went round and round with the underwriter. Through this I learned they do not track producers by legally established Entity Identification Numbers, but by the social security number of those who own the entity.

After understanding this irregularity, I then asked, "OK, so if I'm not a new producer, then why aren't we using my proven yields?" I still have not received a good answer to this.

Every question I asked I was referred to the 800-plus page manual. So I did some reading.

It turns out the insurance company was to have verified my 'new producer' status before making my 2012 payment. Had they done this my 2013 decisions very well may have been different. Never-the-less, when I pointed this out, I got absolutely nowhere.

There were other questions, many of them ignored. I wrote to everyone I could. I also sent my concerns to RMA, the supposed federal watchdog. Still, I never found a person with any sense to review the situation. I could go deeper, but you get the drift.

In the midst of this frustration I came up with the idea to send a stick and a handkerchief with my next letter. I would include instructions to tie the white hanky on the stick and wave it around while reading my note that says, "I give up!"

It is important to note, I did NOT send it. It was more of a stress relief just imagining the response when they opened the package.

In December, I dropped the issue. I knew I had a revenue claim coming for 2013, and at that point I didn't want to risk delay of that claim any longer. I also didn't want to risk being 'randomly' chosen for a yield history audit either. I went through one of those a few years ago (again during harvest). It was a pile of paperwork, and in the end they determined I was too conservative on my yields and raised them along with my guarantees.

Makes a lot of sense doesn't it? Needless to say, I will be using a different underwriter in 2014.

About the Author(s)

Kyle Stackhouse


After graduating from Purdue University in 1999 with a degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Kyle Stackhouse began farming in Plymouth, Ind., in northern Indiana. Kyle farms alongside his father Brad, not as an employee but as an owner who runs separate businesses in three counties in a 20-mile radius.  Kyle shares insight into day to day operations, current issues, and management of the family's mid-sized grain farm that specializes in NON-GMO and Identity Preserved crops.

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