When it is safe to do so, look at the vineyards closely to determine the damages that have occurred. Take photos of the damaged plants, land and buildings. There may be a number of different situations that have occurred. For example, buildings may have been destroyed, land might be burned, and vines could be damaged. You need to make sure that you adequately evaluate damages, so they can be related to the insurance company.
Some damages may not be immediately apparent. For example, vines that were exposed to fire or high heat might suffer long-term effects. An expert may be needed to view the vines and determine the extent of damages. Grapes may be smoke tainted and could produce wine that is therefore not useable.
Take photos of all the damages that have occurred. The more photos you can take the better because the adjuster has limited time to spend at your location. Some areas may be more highly damaged than others.
Vine damage might not be visible to naked eye. Some damage may have occurred to the inside of the vine. In this case, the vines may not come back next year or may not produce grapes for a number of years. If the vines are dead, they might need to be removed completely and the vineyard replanted. In fact, the soil could also be tainted from the fire, making it impossible to replant.
Do Not Destroy Evidence
Although you may be anxious to remove dead plants and begin to repair the land, it is important that you do not destroy any fire evidence. Plowing, removal of damaged vines and anything else must be halted until the adjuster arrives. In some cases, you may be given special permission to perform some advance work by the insurance company. If so, you must follow their specific guidelines in order to make sure that your damages will be covered.
In the meantime, you should begin to assess your losses and try to decide what to do. You may want to replant, or it might be best to cover the soil with a cover crop. If the soil has been burned the damages may be extensive because you might have to wait until you are able to replant. An expert may be helpful in assessing the situation, so you can make an informed decision about what you plan to do.
In addition to a copy of your insurance policy, there are some other documents that you should have ready for the adjuster. For example, you should have a map of the locations of the crops that are insured and any Farm Service Agency documents. Additionally, the adjuster will review the actual production history.
The adjuster will calculate crop yield. There are various ways that this is calculated. The adjuster will need to know the vines per acre, clusters per vine and the average cluster weight at the time of harvest. Many other factors may be taken into consideration when estimating yield. For example, the adjuster may consider weather conditions and might look at crop yield for neighboring vineyards. Adjusters are trained and experienced in calculating crop yield.
It is a good idea to make copies of everything related to the loss so that you can give documentation to the adjuster and keep a copy for yourself. Take notes of details of your claim including the claim number and the dates and times you spoke with the insurance company. Review your policy to make sure that you understand the coverage and any deductibles before the adjuster arrives.
If you are unsure about your coverage you should talk to your insurance company as soon as possible. Do not wait to have questions answered by the adjuster. If you can’t locate a copy of your policy, you can request one from your provider. Have all of your records in place before the adjuster arrives.
When to Expect the Crop Adjuster
An adjuster will be sent to your location as quickly as possible. In cases where there is an immediate need the insurance company will expedite the process. An immediate need may occur when the crop has to be replanted as quickly as possible. In cases where the crop has been completely wiped out, the quick need for an adjuster depends on what the grower intends to do.
If there is no urgency, the adjuster may not need to come out immediately. However, the insurance company should still ensure that the adjuster arrives within a reasonable length of time. In the meantime, do not do anything that is not approved through the insurance company.
The Adjuster’s Visit
The adjuster will need to view as much of the damaged vineyard as possible. Be prepared to provide details of where the crops are located and escort the adjuster through the vineyard to view them. A detailed map is essential for showing exactly which areas were damaged and where they are located.
The adjuster will take pictures and he may take some pieces of the vines along with him for further evaluation. Looking at the inside of the plant vines can indicate whether there is permanent damage. When you are as prepared as possible you are more likely to obtain the best possible claim settlement.