Montana Board of Hail Insurance Raises Coverage Limits

May 8, 2007

The Montana Board of Hail Insurance has raised coverage limits after Gov. Brian Schweitzer signed legislation to increase the maximum coverage under the insurance program operated by the Montana Department of Agriculture.

The five-member board voted April 27 to set the insurance limits to $50 an acre for dryland crops and $76 an acre for irrigated crops. The previous limits were $40 and $56.

“Input costs for dryland and irrigated crops have gone through the roof, and ag lenders want more assurance that their loans will be covered,” said board Chairman Gary Gollehon of Brady.

“Allowing producers to recover at least the majority of their planting costs remains the goal of the program. This increase in the hail program, along with multi-peril insurance, will assist farmers to do just that,” Gollehon said.

Farmers originally asked lawmakers to double the available coverage, said Trudy Laas Skari, a board member from Chester.

The board also formally added camelina, chickpeas and sainfoin to the list of crops, and added a new fruit category that includes cherries, apples and grapes. Legally, the program can issue hail insurance for any crop grown in Montana. The board decided that listing the crops would emphasize the availability of insurance, said state agriculture Director Nancy K. Peterson, who serves as a member of the board.

In December 2006, the board approved a 50 percent refund of premiums paid last year because of a relatively low incidence of hail losses in 2006. The program insured 1.7 million crop acres in 2006, down from a record 1.9 million acres in 2005.

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