On December 5, 2019, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) issued a reminder to all producers who received “top-up payments” that they need to purchase crop insurance for the next two years. https://www.rma.usda.gov/en/News-Room/Press/Stakeholder-Information/2019-News/RMA-Reminds-Producers-Who-Received-Top-Up-Payments. RMA stated that producers who received a prevented planting payment in 2019 for flooding, excess moisture, and causes other than drought automatically received the “top-up” payment from their approved insurance providers (AIP) starting in mid-October. RMA suggests that producers who may have a problem paying their premium should contact their AIP to set up a written payment agreement to avoid being ineligible to purchase crop insurance and having to repay the “top-up” payment.
ANALYSIS – The Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 authorized additional payment to producers who had suffered prevented planting losses. However, as a condition of receiving the additional payment, producers have to purchase crop insurance for the next two crop years. As RMA stated, producers who received qualifying prevented planting payments automatically received the additional payment.
RMA’s reminder is relating to the payment of premium. If premium is not paid by the termination date immediately subsequent to the premium billing date, the policy is terminated and the producer is not eligible for insurance for that crop year unless the termination was in error.
Normally this is not a problem for most producers because crops are harvested, or indemnities paid with the premium deducted, long before the termination date. However, 2019 has proven to be problematic because harvests have been delayed in some parts of the country affected by prevented planting, and RMA has authorized the delay in paying premiums without interest, so producers may not be aware that regardless of whether they have received an indemnity payment or harvested their crops, premium is due by the termination date. For most crops this date is March 15 but there are states and crops with a January 31, February 15 and February 28 termination dates.
Producers who may not have received their indemnity or harvested their crops should contact their AIPs to enter into written payment agreements before the termination date that allow for mutually agreeable terms to pay the premium. As long as the producer complies with the written payment agreement, the producer will be eligible for insurance for the 2020 crop year.
If the producer fails to pay the premium or enter into a written payment agreement before the termination date or fails to comply with the terms of the written payment agreement, the producer would not be eligible for insurance for the 2020 crop year and would have to repay the “top-up” payment. There is an exception that would allow the Administrator of RMA to reinstate a policy but the conditions contained in section 2(f)(2)(iii)(B) of the Common Crop Insurance Policy Basic Provisions (7 C.F.R. 457.8) are met but this exception is narrow.
All statements made are opinions of the author and are not intended to provide legal opinions or legal advice.