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Published November 07, 2011, 05:30 AM

The Climate Corp. has new name, enhanced product

New name, fine-tuned product. The Climate Corp., a San Francisco-based company formerly known as WeatherBill, has enhanced its product for the 2012 corn and soybean growing season, the company says.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

New name, fine-tuned product.

The Climate Corp., a San Francisco-based company formerly known as WeatherBill, has enhanced its product for the 2012 corn and soybean growing season, the company says.

The changes include more localized, farm-specific data and more accurate assessments of fields.

The Climate Corp.’s Total Weather Insurance uses technology and government data to customize crop insurance protection for agricultural producers.

Traditional crop insurance covers only a portion of yield and is based on actual production history, or APH. But APH often fails to accurately reflect how much a field will yield because of better seed varieties and improving farming practices, The Climate Corp. officials say.

The coverage gap creates lost profit potential that Total Weather Insurance can replace with a minimum of fuss and paperwork, the company says.

Say, for example, that a grower expects to harvest 180 bushels of corn per acre on a field, with federal crop insurance covering 120 bushels per acre. Total Weather Insurance would provide coverage for the remaining 60 bushels per acre.

Total Weather Insurance “is covering the profit portion of their crop that they “farmers) can’t get insurance for from the federal crop insurance program,” says Jeff Hamlin, director of agronomic research for The Climate Corp.

Also, compared to federal crop insurance, “Total Weather Insurance pays out a long more frequently and for these shallow losses that can add up over time,” he says.

Total Weather Insurance offers policies for corn, soybeans and winter wheat, although those policies can be adjusted for other crops, he says.

Insuring top-end bushels

“The whole concept of our product is to pay a grower for yield loss without sending an adjuster out to the field, without them having to document what their yields were,” Hamlin says.

“Unlike federal crop insurance, it’s not one size fits all, not where you buy the same thing that your neighbor buys. We look at what soil type you have, what you APH is, what your target yield is, what the weather patterns have been in your area — it’s very field specific. Each grower can get a different set of coverage,” he says.

Though some growers are skeptical, “Literally, they have a policy that says if bad weather happens, a check will show up in their mail box,” Hamlin says.

The company has found ways to fine-tune its product since last year, when Total Weather Insurance first rolled out.

Last year, for instance, rainfall polices looked only at how much rain “came into a system, not how long it stayed there,” Hamlin says.

Of course, soil types also played a role in how much impact that rain had on crops insured by Total Weather Insurance, he says.

This year, TWI policies incorporate farm-level soil type information, the company says.

Among other changes, this year’s product now allows growers to specify the number of days needed for field work and planting for a particular crop in a particular location. Total Weather Insurance then pays growers for excessive spring rains that don’t allow those planting days to be realized during the ideal planting period.

The company’s 2012 product was expected to go on sale Nov. 7 and will be available until March 15, the same deadline for federal crop insurance.

However, prices for Total Weather Insurance policies won’t necessary stay the same. They start out in November as low as they’ll ever be, but could rise if new weather information becomes available. Price won’t go down, regardless of any new weather information.

Growers typically talk with their agents about Total Weather Insurance in November and December and lock in a price. Then, by March 15, they decide how much of the policy they want to keep, Hamlin says.

New name, board member

The company’s old name created confusion, he says.

The new name has nothing to do with global warming, Hamlin says.

“Al Gore (a prominent advocate for global warming) hasn’t joined our board of directors,” he says.

However, Byron Dorgan, formerly a Democratic senator from North Dakota, joined the company’s board recently.

Initially, the company served any weather-sensitive industry. Now, it deals only with agriculture, Hamlin says.

David Friedberg, previously one of the founding members of Google’s corporate development team, launched The Climate Corp. to make it easier for people in agriculture to protect revenue.

Information: www.climate.com.

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