Attorney Steven Boyne with Gunster law firm in Jacksonville suggests ways growers can maximize insurance claims resulting from Hurricane Irma. His remarks summarize a presentation he made at the Florida Agriculture Financial Management Conference earlier this month.
“The more documentation you can provide, the better,” Boyne says. “Don’t view the adjuster as an adversary. If you work closely with the adjuster, they can make or break your case, and ultimately they can be your friend. Oftentimes they don’t necessarily work for the insurance company” but possibly for an independent agency.
Boyne advises reviewing your insurance policies on an annual basis. “Oftentimes businesses change, acreages change, and relationships with contractors/subcontractors can change,” he says. He has seen insurers try to deny claims because growers submitted applications three to four years ago and haven’t updated their policies. He says growers may be paying more or less premium than is appropriate because circumstances have changed. Private insurers are more likely “to take a hard line in denying claims” than federal crop insurance, he says.
“Probably beyond filing the claims in time and working closely with your adjuster, I think the third area that you should look at is your relationships with contractors and subcontractors, because oftentimes under the terms of your agreements with them, you may end up having some coverage under their insurance,” Boyne says. “And folks tend to overlook that.”
All Florida agriculture took a heavy hit from Hurricane Irma. The state’s citrus industry was hardest hit, according to damage estimates made by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Much of the citrus crop was blown to the ground and many trees were toppled by Irma’s heavy winds. Growers say damages continue to mount as fruit continues to drop from trees more than two months after the September hurricane.
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