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Mitigating storm damage with stronger grain bins

The following information is provided by Nationwide®, the #1 farm and ranch insurer in the U.S.*

The August 2020 derecho storm in the Midwest inflicted catastrophic damage to hundreds of farms. Some of that 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 protect your stored grain and the revenue potential it represents.

Four questions to ask to see if stronger bins are right for your farm

Standard corrugated steel grain bins are rated for winds of 105 mph, but some bins are rated for winds up to 140 mph. Here are key questions to ask to see if these stronger bins are right for your farm.

Q1: How are bins made to withstand higher wind speeds?

Standard bins are made from a thin layer of corrugated steel. Bins that can withstand higher wind speeds are “beefed up” with additional rings at the top one-third of the structure, stiffer steel sidewalls or heavy-duty vertical stiffeners.

Q2: How do we know these bins can withstand higher wind speeds?

The American Society of Civil Engineers ASCE 7 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.

Q3: Are higher wind-rated bins more expensive than regular steel bins?

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.”

Q4: Are higher wind-speed rated bins more expensive to insure?

You’ll likely see increased premiums for higher wind speed-rated bins because of their higher insurable value. Michalek 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.

Know your needs and find out more from trusted partners

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.”

Are you interested in exploring stronger bin options? Talk to your Nationwide agribusiness insurance agent to start the process.

For more tips and information to help maintain the safety of your farm, visit

*A.M. Best Market Share Report 2019. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2021 Nationwide.

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