Issues & Answers Special Advertising Section:
 December 2022

Issues & Answers: Underwriting Agribusiness

Nathan Bleich, vice president of Agribusiness Underwriting for Philadelphia Insurance Cos., said most agribusiness clients may not fully understand all the ins and outs of insurance. “Agents have to help them understand some of their unique exposures and what they need coverage for,” he said. Following are excerpts from an interview.

Nathan Bleich
Vice President of Agribusiness Underwriting
Philadelphia Insurance Cos.

“Agribusiness agents have to help clients understand their exposures and what they need coverage for. Then they need to be a coverage expert.”

What are some of the trends and challenges in the agribusiness?

There’s a lot going on right now in the agribusiness space, from inflation to severe weather challenges and changes. There’s also wildfires taking place, especially in the western part of the country. Then there’s the availability of water to irrigate crops that’s becoming more of a challenge, and the utilization of precision agriculture, variable-rate technology, and the ability to apply water to more areas that need it. These are just some of the trends that are pertinent in today’s marketplace.

What is the most important thing agents should know about supporting agricultural clients?

They really need to know their business. What’s important to them? What do they want to cover? What are their liability exposures? Make sure they’ve got coverages that are custom tailored to those needs. They need to help them understand their exposures. They also need to know the carrier’s risk appetite. What does the insurance company want to write? What do they target? What are they really good at? Then, finally, financial stability. Is that insurance company going to be there in the time of a claim, which is when insureds need them the most.

What impact has inflation and supply issues had on agribusiness?

Inflation is a fact of life right now. For farmers, ranchers and agribusiness clients, they have to worry about increased fuel costs, increased fertilizer costs, increased seed costs. Their equipment and vehicle repairs are higher as well. This means less profit, and loans cost more and may be harder to get. From an agency standpoint, they may have to shop their insurance. If they are taking increases on their policies, it may be a time for them to shop their insurance and find the best fit for them for the best price. As those margins go down in other areas, they’re going to ask, “Hey, how much is my insurance costing me?” On top of that, the cost of claims has increased. Newer autos are harder to get, so a lot of people are repairing their old ones, but those costs have certainly increased with inflation.

How have wildfires impacted farmers and ranchers?

It’s been a huge impact, especially in the western part of the country. Whether it be dwelling or structural fires, equipment losses, crop insurance losses, damage to their crops, smoke taint to their crops or other commodities. Then just the difficulty of finding insurance coverage that covers them adequately. It’s definitely been a challenge. From a mitigation standpoint, there’s some things that they can do. They can have a plan ahead of time. Be prepared for when that event occurs.