Owners of poultry houses insured by Alfa Insurance will need to watch for changes in their policies in the near future. These changes will affect owners of both new and pre-existing poultry houses and are aimed at improving the quality and longevity of poultry houses covered by Alfa.There will be two options for the coverage of existing poultry houses. Owners may opt to increase their deductibles on existing houses, or the houses can be retrofitted with approved knee braces connecting all trusses and side posts. Deductibles will increase each year for three years for poultry houses without knee braces. However, the higher deductibles may be removed if a house is brought to up to specifications at a later date. Pre-existing poultry houses without approved knee braces that are not already covered by Alfa Insurance will not be added to any policies.”Alfa began the process of developing new requirements early in 2005 by first meeting with its internal grower committee and poultry leadership,” said Rex Seabrook, farm underwriting manager for Alfa Insurance. “When meeting with the grower committee, Alfa outlined the issues facing the poultry insurance industry in Alabama and reviewed some of the proposed solutions. After reviewing the issues at hand, the grower committee provided direction for developing requirements that give poultry growers different options for their farms while also developing new requirements that are cost effective and that extend the life of a poultry house.”Years ago poultry houses were built using knee braces, but over the years knee braces were gradually eliminated to make room for advancements in plastic ceilings,” said Seabrook. “With the elimination of knee braces, structural failures quickly became much more commonplace, causing economic losses for the grower, the integrator and the insurer. Research shows that knee bracing improves structural stability by increasing the structure’s resistance to wind and by increasing its ability to carry loads on the truss structures and roof.”Alfa Insurance is working with builders, integrators and engineers to make sure new poultry houses will be brought up to the new requirements while still being cost effective to build. These requirements range from requiring fasteners approved for use with new ACQ-treated lumber, higher minimum load requirements for structural plans and higher standards for electrical systems. Anyone constructing a new house also will be required to have structural plans for the entire house in addition to engineered plans for the trusses.”Rex and the farm underwriting team have done an excellent job in consulting with poultry producers, structural engineers, builders, bankers and poultry integrators to develop a plan that will benefit poultry producers,” said Guy Hall, poultry director for the Alabama Farmers Federation. “By strengthening the existing poultry houses and improving structural requirements of new houses, producers will increase the life span of their houses, decrease the amount of losses in production and keep their insurance more affordable.”These changes will not take affect until the policyholder’s next renewal date, starting sometime early next year. Poultry house owners should not begin refitting their houses without first contacting their Alfa agent to be sure the knee braces they are installing meet the new policy requirements. Alfa will send out a letter to individual policyholders six months prior to any change in their policies.
Changes In Poultry House Construction Recommended