As crop insurance brokers will know, demand for their services is often affected by the stages of the year that farmers are at themselves. Depending on the issues farmers are facing at any one time, they might be looking at how they can protect their investments – something that's especially true during the harvest season.
The numbers are simply staggering. Total winter crop production this year is expected to be 33.2 million tonnes, according to the government's Australian Crop Report. It's a huge amount, even though drought in eastern states has shaved 12 per cent of this total.
So, with 2018 already entering its final months and farmers entering the pre-Christmas harvesting season, here's five of the things crop insurance brokers will need to consider as they work with farmers across the country.
1) There's a danger of fire when harvesting
For farmers and their insurance brokers, tackling the increased risk of fire calls for a number of different approaches.
It's one of the biggest changes in a farmer's risk profile at harvest time. Fires can start easily at this time of year, whether it's because of heavy machinery working in fields, or simply because hay stack fires can easily start and spread.
For farmers and their insurance brokers, tackling the increased risk of fire calls for a number of different approaches. Obviously one way to manage this risk is to ensure their crop insurance cover extends to any fire damage at this time of year.
Farmers can also proactively manage the risk of fire during harvest season, by keeping their equipment and machinery clean and chaff free, using a heat resistant paint on vulnerable areas, checking electrics and keeping fire extinguishers close to hand.
2) Delays in planting will affect the harvest timings
While harvests usually run from October to December, many brokers will know that this can change significantly depending on the weather and if a farmer had any delays mid-year when they were initially planting their crop.
As a result, it's important to talk to farmers, especially those that are shifting their harvest for any reason. If they were delayed in planting because of a significant weather event, for example, there may be a bigger problem. Even if they aren't delaying harvest, weather conditions earlier in the year might be forcing farmers to alter their harvesting plans.
In this situation, it's a great opportunity for brokers to start a conversation about the levels of crop insurance they have and whether they provide the right cover for the risks they face.
Working in agriculture is still the most dangerous area, according to SafeWork Australia.
3) Many hands can make for dangerous work
Harvesting season is one of the busiest times for farmers, with a new cohort of workers called upon to help bring in the harvest. Coupled with the large machinery that modern farms rely on, the risk of a serious accident is certainly high. It's one of the reasons agriculture is still the most dangerous sector to work in, according to SafeWork Australia.
As temporary workers come on to cropping properties, it's on farmers to make sure everyone has the right training and knowledge about health and safety to ensure they can bring in the crop, especially if there are varying levels of experience among staff. Newer farm hands will have to get up to speed quickly when working alongside harvesting equipment and the additional risks this poses.
Just a reminder as National Farm Safety and Health Week 2018 comes to a close. pic.twitter.com/mjc2wcmJTH
— Crop-Tech Consulting (@CropTechInc) September 21, 2018
4) Harvesting season will change a farm's risks
Risks for farmers will extend well beyond their crops, which is why it's so important for brokers to be having these broader conversations with farmers about the challenges they face and how these will change during the harvest season.
Health and safety, mentioned above, is just one type of risk that will change. That's why farmers should be working to understand their risk exposure across people, finances and materials, and how these differ at this time of year.
This risk management has to extend beyond the farm as well. With more heavy machinery on Australia's rural roads, there's a danger both to farmers and motorists on the road. Thinking more holistically about risk management at this time is one area where a broker's insights will be particularly valuable.
5) Harvest time will affect an insurance claims
Perhaps most important for crop insurance brokers to keep track of is that harvest time will usually be when any insurance claims are completed, because it's only once a harvest is completed that it's possible to understand any losses.
Take a multi-peril crop insurance policy, for example. This policy sets a certain yield and, if a farmer is unable to realise that yield because of weather, drought or fire, they're insured for the difference between the insured amount and their actual yield. Now that farmers are harvesting, they'll be able to understand how weather events they are insured against have affected their yield, and what they can do about it.
What are the next steps?
For brokers, harvest time is a chance to have these conversations with farmers about the risks they are facing and the steps they are taking to help offset them. Obviously crop insurance will be one aspect of this, especially if farmers are looking forward to their levels of cover for 2019, or are simply counting the cost of a tough year in 2018.
As brokers head into these conversations, they need to have the right tools at their fingertips to make sure they're getting a good result for their clients. One way to do this is to use an online portal like Primacy's PATH. This online platform for brokers allows them to quickly access quotes and tailor policies for clients, from anywhere.
PATH's a perfect solution for brokers at this time of year, giving them the ability to work with clients on their terms, and help them manage any claims they need to make as a result of the harvest season. To learn more about Primacy's PATH offering, or about our broader services to insurance brokers, contact our team today.