Index insurances for grasslands – A review for Europe and North-America

Willemijn Vroege*, Tobias Dalhaus, Robert Finger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Grassland based farming systems are exposed to extreme weather events causing volatile farm incomes. Grazing and lacking yield measurements make it largely impossible to insure grassland production with traditional insurance products. In contrast, index insurance products have the potential to insure grasslands, as their payoff relies on an endogenous index that is highly correlated to, but independent of, the actual grass yield. To support future development of these products, we provide the first systematic overview of 12 index insurances put into practise for grasslands in Europe and North America. Additionally, based on this overview, we present prevailing findings that are important for further research and insurance practitioners. We find that a large diversity of index insurance types is applied in practise, including insurance solutions based on regional yield levels, weather variables or satellite imagery. We reveal separated insurance markets (i.e. country-specific products), which prevent knowledge spillovers and lead to largely isolated product developments. Thus, grassland insurance schemes can be improved by knowledge exchange and combining methods that are applied elsewhere. More specifically, insurances tailored to single farm's risk exposure, the combination of satellite with other geodata (e.g. land use information) or adapting legal specifications that disadvantage some types of insurances can improve an insurance's risk reducing capacity and make grassland based farming systems more resilient to weather extremes. This paper provides an entry point for such process, ensuring the development of efficient measures for farmers to cope with climatic risks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-111
JournalAgricultural Systems
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Grasslands
  • Index insurance
  • Risk management
  • Satellite imagery
  • Weather insurance


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