Crop Insurance Coverage: Frequently Asked Questions in Times of Floods

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by ISU Extension and Outreach Farm Management Field Specialists

Many producers have questions regarding what options they have under their multiple peril crop insurance (MPCI) policies. The following are questions that are commonly asked by producers with MPCI that are facing replant, delay, and prevented planting decisions.

Question: How many of Iowa’s corn and soybean acres are covered by crop insurance?

Flooded, unplanted field

Iowa farmers planted 23.0 million acres of corn and soybeans in 2024. Over 90% of those acres have been insured using Revenue Protection (RP) multi-peril crop insurance. These insurance policies can guarantee various levels of a percentage of the farm’s average yield times the higher of the projected price (average futures price in the month of February) or the harvest price (average futures price during the month of October), using the November 2024 futures contract for soybeans and the December 2024 futures contract for corn. Most farm operators carry a guarantee of their APH from 70% to 80% level of coverage. The projected prices (futures average prices in February 2024) were $4.66/bu. for corn and $11.55/bu. for soybeans, respectively.

Question: What should an insured farmer do once a crop loss is recognized?

  1. Notify the insurance agent within 72 hours of the discovery of damage, but not later than 15 days after the end of the insurance period. A notice of loss can be made by phone, in writing, or in person.
  2. Continue to care for the crop using “good farming practices” and protect it from further damage, if possible.
  3. Get permission from the insurance company, also referred to as your Approved Insurance Provider (AIP), before destroying or putting any crop to an alternative use.

Question: If I am prevented from planting by the final planting date, what are my choices under the terms of my policy provided I meet all other policy provisions and I do not qualify for double cropping?

You may:

  • Plant the insured crop during the late planting period, if applicable, and insurance coverage will be provided. The late planting period is generally 25 days after the final planting date but varies by crop and area. For most crops, the production guarantee is reduced 1% per day for each day planting is delayed after the final planting date.
    • May 31 – Final planting date for Corn
      • Late planting period – June 1-25
    • June 15 – Final planting date for Soybeans
      • Late planning period – June 16-July 10
  • Plant the insured crop after the late planting period (or after the final planting date if a late planting period is not applicable), and insurance coverage will be provided. The insurance guarantee will be the same as the insurance guarantee provided for prevented planting coverage.
  • Producers may elect to plant an approved cover crop after the late planting period. Program changes made in 2021 allow producers to hay, graze, or cut the cover crop for silage, haylage, or baleage before or after November 1 (not exceeding the 12 months period after which it can be considered forage) and receive the full indemnity payment for their first crop. The RMA Frequently Asked Questions webpage has more details on cover crops usage with prevented planting coverage.
  • Plant another crop (second crop) after the late planting period, or after the final planting date if no late planting period is applicable, and receive a prevented planting payment equal to 35% of the prevented planting guarantee.
  • Leave the acreage idle (black dirt) and receive a full prevented planting payment.

Question: What if the field remains underwater for an extended period of time?

If your field is under water for an extended period of time let your agent know. The agent can help file a notice of damage and have the insurance company take a closer look.

Question: Isn’t there a 20-20 rule for crop insurance coverage?

Yes, to qualify for an indemnity payment under the replanted, delayed or prevented planting provisions, a minimum area of 20 acres or 20% of the insured unit, whichever is smaller, must be affected.
A unit could be a field or a farm – if you elected an optional whole farm or basic unit. An enterprise unit could also have been elected, which reflects all the corn acres or all the soybean acres grouped together in a particular county.

Question: I chose enterprise units to save on premium. Can I now change to basic or optional units because flooding has damaged my planted crop acreage on a few fields?

Because unit structure impacts the premium cost, and in the case of enterprise units, also the premium subsidy, the policyholder’s decision to elect enterprise units is made no later than the sales closing date to reflect the binding contractual agreement between the two parties on or before March 15, 2024.

Question: Who will appraise the crops and assess the loss?

The crop insurance company will assign a crop insurance adjuster to appraise the crop and assess the loss. The insured farmer must maintain the crop until the appraisal is complete. If the company cannot make an accurate appraisal, or the farmer disagrees with the appraisal, the company can have the farmer leave representative sample areas.

These representative sample areas of the crop are to be maintained – including normal spraying if economically justified – until the company conducts a final inspection. Failure to maintain the representative sample areas could result in a determination that the cause of loss is not covered. Therefore no claims payment to the producer.

Once appraised the crop can be released by the company to be:

  • Destroyed – through tillage, shredding or chemical means; or
  • Used as silage or feed.

Question: Once released, may I harvest my corn as silage for feed?

Check with your crop insurance company. In a county where corn can be insured as grain only, the corn will be released, or harvested as silage and/or sold as feed. Any grain will be counted as production for your claim. In a county where corn can be insured as silage, the harvested silage will be counted as production.

Question: What is the difference among insurance units?

Many farmers have chosen to insure their crops using enterprise units in order to pay less expensive insurance premiums. Under enterprise units, losses are calculated by crop by county. Therefore, all the corn planted by a farmer is a given county would be added together to determine a loss. If a farmer has chosen optional units, then losses are calculated by crop by field unit. Premiums are typically higher if choosing optional units, but a good yield on one field does not cancel out the loss on another field.

Important Point: Do not destroy a crop, comingle grain from previous years or different owners or harvest for silage before contacting your insurance agent. Bins must be measured before comingling grain. When in doubt call your agent.

Question: What if I need to talk to someone about more than my crop insurance concerns?

Flooding and other unexpected impacts due to weather outside our control create stressful situations for everyone involved. Recognize and take action to mitigate personal, family, and business stress. If the capacity to address weather related impacts becomes overwhelming and unmanageable, seek professional help from a mental health agency, church pastor, private counselor, or crisis hotline. Iowans can contact ISU Extension and Outreach Iowa Concern, www.extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern/; 1-800-447-1985, for help and referrals for dealing with stress.

Additional ISU Extension Resources

More information can be found in Ag Decision Maker Files A1-57, Delayed and Prevented Planting Provisions or A1-48 Current Crop Insurance Policies. An electronic Decision Tool spreadsheet is also available to help analyze alternative actions. Producers should communicate with their crop insurance agent before making decisions about replanting or abandoning acres.

Flood damaged crops, crop insurance payments, and lease contracts

A Resource List for Crop Producers Impacted by Recent Flooding

Following Flooding: Managing Additional Stress

Iowa Beef Center: Flood related resources


For more information about managing flood damaged cropland as the waters recede and the situation is assessed is available from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Ag Decision Maker

An agricultural economics and business website.

Flood damaged crops, crop insurance payments, and lease contracts

Some Iowa corn and soybean producers are facing substantial, if not complete crop losses, due to flooding and other natural disasters in 2024. Fortunately, in recent years, well over 90% of Iowa’s corn and soybean acres are protected by multiple peril crop insurance. USDA RMA data from 2023 reported 95% of corn and soybean acres in the state were protected by Multiple Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI), and 15% of these acres also had additional companion program coverage, such as Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO), Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO), or Margin Protection (MP).

Most Iowa producers purchase crop insurance policies with a 75% or 80% level of coverage. This means that if crops are a total loss, the producer must withstand the first 20-25% of the loss. In 2023, 96% of the crop acres insured in Iowa were covered under MPCI Revenue Protection policies that offer an increasing guarantee if prices increase between February and October. So far, this has not shown to be a factor for 2024 crops, with current November/December Futures trading below the spring projected price guarantees of $4.66 per bushel for corn and $11.55 per bushel for soybeans.

Read more in the July Ag Decision Maker newsletter article and see guidance on addressing the agronomic impacts for flooded soils to restore field conditions or to plant a suitable cover crop is available for Iowa landowners and tenants.

Additional information about managing flood damaged cropland as the waters recede and the situation is assessed is available from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Ag Decision Maker

An agricultural economics and business website.

New Census of Agriculture reveals more farms, more farmers in Iowa

Every five years the United States Department of Agriculture carries out an extensive survey of farms and farmers across the nation. The information that is collected and published serves a wide variety of purposes. One of the more important ones is to provide a snapshot of what farms and farmers at the national, state, and county level look like and how they are changing over time.
Highlights

  • The number of farm units increased by 0.9%.
  • The number of farmer producers increased by 7.1%.
  • The average farm size decreased from 355 acres to 345 acres.
  • The number of small and medium acreage farms increased while the number of large acreage farms decreased.
  • The total acres of farmland decreased by 1.9%.
  • Crop sales accounted for 51% of total gross farm income, Livestock sales accounted for 44% and direct government payments accounted for 2%.

Read the full article by Dr. William Edwards on the Ag Decision Maker website.

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