How to Buy Crop Insurance

Crop insurance is purchased by farmers to protect their crops against the risks presented by weather, insects, wildlife and other disasters. It is a risk management tool for farmers and growers who sometimes face financial problems due to low production during a season or a year. Crop insurance is federally subsidized, and all farmers are guaranteed a minimum amount of insurance (called CAT insurance) at no cost. Many farmers decide to purchase additional insurance. Buy crop insurance by determining how much extra protection you need and purchasing a plan from a private crop insurance agent.


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    Find a good crop insurance agent. Look for an agent who is licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
    • Use the USDA's Risk Management website to get a list of crop insurance agents in your area. It can be accessed at
    • Contact a regional office of the Risk Management Agency of the USDA if you are having trouble finding an agent. They have 10 regional offices. Contact information is available on the website, or call the main agency at 202-690-2803.
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    Determine what kind of insurance your crops are eligible for. Insurance is available for specific crops in different regions of the county.
    • Consider Multiple Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) for basic protection against insects, disease, wildlife and weather events such as drought, fire, rain and catastrophic storms.
    • Ask your agent if you are eligible for Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) insurance. This will protect you against seasons of low production and low prices. The amount of protection will depend on the amount of your revenues.
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    Measure the risk to your crops against your premium prices. A lot of federal funds are available to offset the cost of crop insurance, and most farmers will only pay from 33 to 62 percent of their MPCI or AGR premiums.
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    Talk to your agent about protection for crops that are not eligible for federal crop insurance in your area. The Non-Insured Crop Assistance program, provided by the USDA, might help you manage that risk.
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    Work with your agent to complete your crop insurance application thoroughly. You will need specific information about your acreage, harvests and revenues.
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    Read your crop insurance policies carefully, and make sure you understand them.
    • Talk to your agent and ask any questions you have about what crops are covered, what crops are excluded, how you pay your premiums and how claims are processed.
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    Meet insurance application deadlines. For spring crops, your insurance application must be submitted by March 15. Applications are due on November 15 for perennial crops.


  • Talk to your crop insurance agent about any livestock or dairy revenues you need to protect. Federal insurance is available for that as well, but the program is a little different than the crop insurance program. You will need separate policies.
  • Keep yourself informed on the federal government's crop insurance program. For example, President Obama suggested reforms to crop insurance in his 2012 State of the Union address. Those changes, if enacted, would impact the amount you pay for crop insurance and the amount you receive once claims are settled.

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Categories: Farming