It’s Spray Season!
Given that we’re about to hit full stride on spray season in the northern half of the US, I thought it best to give a quick reminder on how agricultural premiums are handled. To a certain degree, agricultural premiums follow different rules from all other lines of business. The premiums are often the highest rated of any line, and they follow a unique cancellation method referred to as the short-rate scale. The reason for the higher premium is due in large part to two things: First, the nature of the flight patterns, being much lower to the ground, is much riskier than most other types of flying.
There are so many things in play, like power lines, treetops, the lack of adequate altitude for recovery in case of an emergency, and more. Second, chemical-related claims can be very severe. Often several hundred to several thousand acres can be treated with the wrong chemical before any adverse effect is known. Because of these two items, insurance carriers must charge an adequate premium for the risk they are taking. A third element that enters into the equation is seasonality, which is why premiums are canceled on a short-rate basis versus a pro rata basis. Short-rate cancellations return less premium than pro rata cancellations. Think of it as a sliding scale based on the number of days you need the chemical coverage, with a certain percentage returned after 30 days, 60 days, and so on.
If the returns were pro rata, the carrier would never make enough money to pay claims, because the majority of operators would only be paying for six to eight weeks’ worth of coverage (the duration of spray season in the northern United States). There are some positive factors to consider as well. Operators can reduce their premiums by sending their pilots to certified safety programs like PAASS (Professional Aerial Applicators Support System) and Operation SAFE (Self-regulating Application and Flight Efficiency).
Also keep in mind that there are several coverage options when it comes to chemical liability. It is imperative that you relay a detailed summary of all spraying activity prior to flying so that you know the operation is covered.