Prairie hail insurers see slow year so far

Hail insurance claims filed so far this growing season by Prairie farmers are well below average for this time of year, making for “one of the slowest years on record.”

However, the Canadian Crop Hail Association, a Prairie hail insurers’ group, noted Friday that “based on past experience, the situation has the potential to change quickly.”

For example, the group said, in 1994, claims were low in Saskatchewan, but claim totals rose to above-normal levels following “big storms” in August.

Furthermore, the group noted, as crops mature, they’re much more susceptible to irreversible hail damage. Since crops in many regions are behind normal for development, they will be in the field longer and susceptible to late hailstorms.

Hail claims to date this year in Saskatchewan sit at about 2,050, up about 400 from two weeks ago, but down from about 10,500 at this time last year. New claims came in following a storm July 17 in the Shellbrook, Prince Albert and Melfort regions.

So far this season in Alberta, the group said, farmers have filed about 600 hail claims, down from about 3,450 at this time last year. New claims in the past two weeks have come from the Lethbridge area and east of Edmonton.

Some claims, such as in canola that’s still flowering, are being deferred until the crop is more mature, the group said. Alberta’s hail insurance adjusters, meanwhile, are focusing on low-yielding crops that farmers want to put to alternate use other than harvesting.

Almost 800 hail claims have been filed in Manitoba, up about 250 from two weeks ago but down from nearly 1,600 at this time last year, the group said Friday, adding that while Manitoba’s claims to date are well below average, “there have been slower years in recent memory.”

Relatively small storms caused relatively light damage in Manitoba, such as those around Russell and Silverton July 17, Homewood and Sperling on July 27, the Lowe Farm area July 27 and the Roland area July 28.

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