Agriculture Financial Services Corp. (AFSC) is urging farmers to insure their crops against hail damage, following two years of exceptionally high claims.
“Last year marked the third highest amount of hail damage to crops across Alberta in our 77 years as a provincial hail insurer,” said Jackie Sanden, program co-ordinator with Lacombe-based AFSC, in a release.
“The damage was widespread. Southern Alberta and ‘Hail Alley’ — which stretches westward along Highway 2 from Rocky Mountain House to Calgary, and eastward through Wheatland County — were particularly hard hit.”
More than $257 million was paid out on 6,400-plus hail claims through AFSC’s straight hail insurance program and hail endorsement riders on crop insurance.
In 2012, a record $445.6 million was paid on more than 8,400 claims.
“You can be sure Alberta will get hail this year,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Dan Kulak.
“The question is how much. The wetter things get in June, the more storms we can end up with because the moisture just keeps recycling itself.”
This year, AFSC has increased the coverage levels of its straight hail insurance program.
Sanden said this reflects today’s higher crop values and rising input costs.
Straight hail insurance can be obtained anytime during the growing season but doesn’t take effect until noon the day after it’s purchased.
AFSC has been providing hail insurance to Alberta farmers since 1938, when the provincial government created the Alberta Hail Insurance Board — the predecessor to AFSC. Hail insurance wasn’t previously available to farmers everywhere in Alberta because the risk in some areas was too high, said Sanden.