This was a hail of a year for a lot of Manitoba farmers — in fact, it was a record.
The Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC) received 4,700 hail claims in 2016 and has so far paid out more than $43 million on destroyed or damaged insured crops, David Koroscil, Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s acting manager of claim services, said in an interview Oct. 27. The final total in payouts could be a few million dollars higher.
“Last year (2015) was a record year with 3,400 (hail) claims and $31.1 million paid out,” he said. “The five-year average is about 2,100 claims.
“The Somerset (MASC office) catchment area was the hardest hit with just shy of 1,100 claims. You’re talking Treherne, Holland right down south to Clearwater and Snowflake. Some of the guys received hail multiple times and I was hearing of some of up to four times, or maybe more for a couple of them.”
There were hail claims coming in almost every couple of days from around the province much of the growing season, Koroscil said.
MASC isn’t the only hail insurer in Manitoba. A co-operative and several private firms also offer coverage. Total hail losses, including those covered by MASC, were $67 million, the Canadian Crop Hail Insurance Association said in a news release Oct. 18.
There were 7,868 hail insurance policies in Manitoba this year and a higher-than-average percentage of total policies claimed hail damage, the association said.
“Storms during the Labour Day weekend and again in the third week of September all resulted in hail claims,” the releases says. “Another storm system in the first week of October also delivered hail, but severity of the storm and resulting damage were not severe, particularly because harvest was well underway in most affected areas by this date. Many Manitoba producers received hail damage from more than one storm during this growing season.”
Hail insurance premiums paid to all insurers totalled $47 million, resulting in a loss ratio of 142.6 per cent, up from 108.6 per cent last year.
Preliminary estimates show 2016 payouts to western Canadian farmers for crop hail claims of just over $256 million on nearly 20,000 claims, the association said. Producer premiums totalled just over $300 million for an industry-wide loss ratio of 84.8 per cent.
Premiums paid increased significantly year over year, from $274 million in 2015 to just over $300 million in 2016.
Claims of 19,854 were up from 13,222 in 2015. The estimated total payout of $256 million as of Oct. 18, is well above last year’s figure of $167 million.
Although MASC had a record number of hail claims and payouts this year, other crop claims haven’t been that bad, Koroscil said.
“There is a lot of crop still out, but in a lot of cases producers have already harvested more than their (insurance) coverage so they are down to just parts of fields that were too wet to get to,” he said. “We don’t have a good handle yet as to the full extent of it. We know there are some guys who might have all of their flax out and a good chunk of canola. There is a lot around Riding Mountain particularly. One of our agronomists went up there this week and said in places south of Grandview there is water going over the road. You are going to need -15 for a while to firm up the land to try to get on it.”
Farmers have until November 30 to submit their harvested production reports, but are encouraged to do so earlier, especially if they are in a claim position. Once all the data has been assessed MASC will have a final tally on 2016 claims and payouts.