On August 10, 2020 an unusually strong and long-lasting line of thunderstorms, later determined a derecho, traveled over 700 miles throughout the Midwest inflicting catastrophic damage to hundreds of farms.
Many grain bins, empty or nearly empty preparing for harvest, were severely damaged beyond repair. Some of the damage could have been prevented with grain bins rated to withstand higher wind speeds.
Mitigating storm damage to farm buildings and their valuable contents is a big part of farm risk management. If high winds are a concern on your farm, stronger grain bins can help protect your stored grain and the revenue potential it represents.
This is why Nationwide launched BinStrongSM, an awareness campaign to help farm and agribusiness owners and operators understand the benefits of building stronger, higher wind-speed rated grain bins.
Four questions to ask to see if stronger bins are right for your farm:
Standard grain bins are made from a thin layer of corrugated steel and are rated for winds of 105 mph. Stronger grain bins rated for winds up to 140 mph are “beefed up” with additional rings at the top one-third of the structure, stiffer steel sidewalls or heavy-duty vertical stiffeners.
ASCE7 standards are the basis for rating structures including grain bins. The standards account for the load of the bin, its contents and environmental factors like severe storms and wind.
Stronger bins have higher material and construction costs. Bins rated for 120-mph winds cost around five to 10% more and those rated for 140-mph winds can be up to 30% more expensive than standard bins.
According to Ryan Michalek, Nationwide agribusiness risk management property engineer, “the additional cost makes sense when you spread it out over that time, especially when you account for having to sell grain directly into the market when you have damage. There are many ways revenue is lost when a grain bin is damaged by a storm. It’s a worthwhile investment if you feel your bins will be increasingly endangered by wind.”
You’ll likely see increased premiums for higher wind speed-rated bins because of their higher insurable value. Ryan Michalek, Nationwide agribusiness risk management property engineer, said premium rates, or insurance cost per unit value, may decrease in the future to reflect better loss experience.
“To some degree, having these stronger bins will contribute to ‘better risk’ because they’ll be less susceptible to wind damage,” he added.
Michalek encourages anyone looking at building new bins to consider the cost and benefits of stronger bins. That’s especially true given the rising frequency of severe weather and resulting costs to farmers.
“When you look at the wind speed map from the August 2020 derecho, there were winds around 120 mph,” he said. “If those locations would have had these stronger bins, our loss experience may have been much less.”
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