Fighting Denied Claims

Fighting Denied Claims

Claims adjusters for the crop insurance companies (also known as AIPs in crop insurance jargon) are experts at finding opportunities and excuses to deny coverage. Frequently insurers will object to minor errors in farmers’ insurance applications and crop records long after the premium has been paid and coverage attached. Crop insurance companies and the federal agencies that oversee them have been known to change their opinions about what constitutes a good farming practice or their records-keeping requirements with no advance notice to the farmer. Insurance agents and adjusters may also cost a producer hundreds of thousands of dollars through negligent acts, or even commit outright fraud.

Farmers and insurers typically must pass through mandatory claims arbitration. Although arbitration occurs outside the public court system, the arbitrator’s award is final and binding and, for better or worse, the “end of the road” for many producers whose claims for crop loss or crop damage have been denied. The keys to making sure the outcome is fair to the producer are gathering all the necessary witnesses, experts and evidence, and successfully navigating the government regulations surrounding crop insurance.

In the course of arbitration, the parties must often pursue a Final Agency Determination or other interpretation before the USDA Risk Management Agency, which administers the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation under the Federal Crop Insurance Act. It is also sometimes necessary to appeal RMA’s determinations (other than determinations of good farming practices) to the USDA National Appeals Division and the federal District Court system under the Administrative Procedures Act; before completing claims arbitration.

The system makes provisions to protect producers, but the regulations are complex and the stakes are high. Talk to us before you let your insurance company and government agencies have the last word on what your claim is worth.

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