National Crop Insurance Services
8900 Indian Creek Parkway, Suite 600
Overland Park, KS 66210
office: (913) 685-2767
fax: (913) 685-3080
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Dr. Thomas P. Zacharias
National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) is an international not-for-profit organization representing the interests of private crop insurance companies. NCIS members are the direct link to production agriculture in America.
Since 1915, NCIS has served agriculture through member companies. Its role in the industry was enhanced when, in 1989, two organizations, the Crop-Hail Insurance Actuarial Association (CHIAA) and the National Crop Insurance Association (NCIA) merged to form the modern-day NCIS structure.
Today, 16 (15) private-sector NCIS member companies, in partnership with the government, provide a complex risk management safety net to every producer in America choosing to participate. More than one million policies were written in 2010.
NCIS member companies write Crop-Hail Insurance; Multiple Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI), the federally subsidized risk management program; and, privately developed risk management products.
Knowing one crop failure or one disastrous year can wipe out multiple years of profit, crop insurance has become an essential risk management tool for America’s agricultural producers.
The development of every successful risk management tool relies on accurate information. Since the beginning, a primary NCIS focus has been on the importance of data. That focus has enabled NCIS to provide government and industry highly technical crop risk information used to develop diverse and equitable coverage. The information has been used to:
Develop fair underwriting guidelines;
Develop and test accurate loss adjustment procedures;
Develop appropriate loss statistics and crop specific policy terms;
Develop training and educational programs for industry professionals; and,
Develop research programs at more than 20 land-grant universities.
From labor intensive, manual documentation processes in the past, to computer systems processing data at warp speed, NCIS’s ability to respond to agricultural risk management is remarkable.
NCIS is often challenged with the task of analyzing proposed legislative changes to determine industry effectiveness. Developing actuarial scenarios, testing the data and reporting the findings to the Federal government assist the decision-making process and prevent unintended risk to production agriculture.
Extensive data collection and information management is the backbone of NCIS’s ability to respond to member needs.
While MPCI accounts for the majority of crop insurance protection and data, Crop-Hail insurance has been in existence longer.
NCIS assists the crop insurance industry in meeting the regulatory requirements of the individual states. It develops appropriate and adequate loss statistics and insurance policy terms and conditions specific to each crop and location.
As a licensed statistical agency, NCIS files Crop-Hail Final Average Loss Costs (FALCs) with state insurance departments on behalf of members.
NCIS also serves as a liaison with individual state insurance departments through active participation with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
The increasingly important role of NCIS is the process of policy review, standardization and education.
For any program to be equitable, the policies and procedures to accurately determine loss must be the same for every insured producer. Policies and procedures are written by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) and carefully reviewed by NCIS and its member companies.
It is the responsibility of NCIS to analyze changes and determine if those changes will potentially have a negative impact on production agriculture.
Final changes are published in the Loss Adjustment Standards Handbooks (LASH) for each crop procedure. There are more than 75 loss adjustment handbooks, most reviewed on an annual basis. Each year, approximately 30 handbooks are revised resulting in the release of new versions.
Standardization and education are critical to the continued success of any crop insurance program. NCIS committees provide timely feedback regarding research needs and improvements to crop policies and loss adjustment procedures. This valuable input is accomplished by utilizing the NCIS Regional/State Crop Insurance Committee structure, which have representatives from every NCIS member company.
NCIS R/S Committees conduct adjuster schools throughout the year. The schools promote uniformity in the application and understanding of policies and loss procedures. Adjuster schools also address important agronomical issues. Adjusters must be able to differentiate damages from hail, herbicide, stress and other causes of crop damage. Adjuster competency is assured through NCIS’s Crop Adjuster Proficiency Program (CAPP).
Through standardized policies and procedures and accurate and timely data analysis has proven that a private sector-Federal government partnership can work to benefit production agriculture.
Each year, NCIS conducts educational and professional forums for its members. More than 3,500 individuals attend these annual sessions on claims, program ethics, policy, and procedure.
With over 80 percent of the insurable farmland covered by crop insurance, the unique relationship between the U.S. government and the private sector has become the envy of developing nations around the globe.
The infrastructure of the public-private partnership continues to be studied by many developing nations. Government officials, university professors and private insurance company representatives from countries around the world visit the NCIS corporate office to learn more about the programs.
Every visiting nation understands an equitable and affordable risk management system available to every producer is one step toward a vibrant, sustainable system of production agriculture. These representatives understand that access to affordable crop insurance allows American farmers to provide affordable food for America and the rest of the world.
A Full Member consists of an insurance company writing primary coverage for crop insurance or rain insurance; an affiliated group of insurance companies that write primary coverage for crop insurance or rain insurance under common management in their general insurance operations; or, a managing general agent for one or more insurance companies that write primary coverage for crop insurance or rain insurance.
A Service Member is the same as a Full Member but one that elects to subscribe for some, but not all, of the assessment-based services offered by NCIS.
International Insurance Company Service Members are those organizations that are engaged in the writing of primary coverage outside the United States as their principal activity related to the crop insurance industry.
Organizational Associate Members are organizations not engaged in the writing of primary coverage, but have an interest in crop insurance or rain insurance.
- Farm Bureau Mutual of AR
Farm Bureau Mutual of ID
Farm Bureau Mutual of NC
United Farm Family Mutual Ins.
- Program Development Committee
- Crop-hail Actuarial & Statistics Committee
- MPCI Actuarial & Statistics Committee
- Crop-hail Policy, Procedure and Loss Adjustment Committee
- MPCI Policy, Procedure and Loss Adjustment Committee
- Technology & Information Processing Committee
- Training Committee
- Communications and Outreach Committee
- Audit Committee
- Nominating Committee
- Law Committee
These committees are made up of member company personnel who are appointed on the basis of their particular experience and expertise. Standing committee recommendations are presented to the Board of Directors for final action.
In addition to the standing committees, eighteen regional and state crop insurance committees help NCIS keep in close touch with local developments in agriculture and insurance throughout the United States. They meet periodically and make recommendations to the Board of Directors based on the specific needs in their areas.
While the Board of Directors sets the general policy of NCIS, the president and staff are responsible for putting this policy into action. NCIS has about fifty employees. This highly professional workforce possesses expertise in statistics, loss cost analysis, computer applications, crop production practices, crop insurance underwriting, loss adjustment, crop research, education, training, public relations and administrative management.
Tom Zacharias joined National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) in July of 1990. He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois, with B.S. and M.S. degrees in Agricultural-Economics from Texas A&M University. Prior to joining NCIS, Tom was an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
During his tenure at NCIS, Tom has served on several USDA and industry crop insurance workgroups and task forces, most recently part of the 2011 Standard Reinsurance Agreement negotiations. He has also been an invited speaker at reinsurance seminars, commodity association meetings, as well as international insurance association meetings.
Tom has authored and co-authored numerous publications including book chapters, refereed journal articles, book reviews in peer-reviewed journals, as well as other professional and agricultural extension presentations.
Tom is a member of The American Agricultural Economics Association.