British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture has developed and distributed a guide to help Okanagan tree fruit growers understand hail coverage and the claims process.
Although Okanagan tree fruit growers have been experiencing ideal weather conditions this spring with reports that flowers are blooming a month earlier than normal, the weather can change quickly and growers are being reminded they can protect their investment with hail insurance offered jointly by the governments of British Columbia and Canada.
The guide notes that hail coverage cannot compensate for losses due to other perils such as frost or winter damage – yield coverage is intended for that purpose. Production insurance for tree fruits is purchased at two different times, with November 30 being the deadline to renew the policy for the upcoming year. Insurance coverage takes effect at 12:00 noon on the second day following receipt of full payment of the premium, the guide noted.
As soon as hail damage is suspected, the guide notes, the grower must file a Notice of Loss with the local production insurance office. This notice must be filed each and every time hail damage is suspected. As well, hail damaged fruit is graded twice, once disregarding any hail damage and then re-graded taking into account the hail damage. Grading of the fruit can only be done accurately when it is mature.
The governments of British Columbia and Canada subsidize the premium of each hail insurance policy in the province, the release noted, adding that a sample policy with 80% coverage for an apple crop worth $100,000 would result in $6,744 in producer premiums, with the governments contributing a roughly equal amount. Though coverage for up to 100% of a crop is available, many growers choose to purchase 80% coverage as an appropriate level, the ministry reported.
In 2014, B.C. growers produced more than 126,000 tonnes of apples, cherries, peaches, pears, plums and prunes, nectarines and apricots. Farm cash receipts from B.C.’s tree fruit growers amounted to nearly $105 million – more than one-third of Canada’s tree fruits receipts.
There are nearly 6,000 hectares in tree fruit orchards in B.C. with the majority located in the Okanagan Valley.