Germania Today | Spring 2021

Insightful information for you | Spring 2021 GT GERMANIA TODAY

and best bluebonnet spots The


Page 6 in Texas

Umbrella insurance: 6 common questions answered Page 4 A few facts about Texas bluebonnets Page 8




GERMANIA TODAY Insightful information for you

4 Umbrella insurance: 6 common questions answered


A few facts about Texas bluebonnets

Spring 2021 | Volume 47, Issue 1

Germania Farm Mutual Insurance Association 507 Highway 290 East Brenham, Texas 77833 800-392-2202

3 9 9

A Message from our President

Paul Ehlert

President & Chief Executive Officer Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer Director of Communication

It’s time to cast your vote

Min Choi

You are (virtually) invited to your Local Chapter meeting

Melisa Bosse

10 10 11

Elizabeth Marburger Editor Geoffrey Ullrich

Germania welcomes two new members to its GFM Board of Directors

Contributing Writer

Shane Butzow


Germania Today (USPS 086230) Published quarterly by Germania Farm Mutual Insurance Association Postmaster: Send address changes to Germania Today at P.O. Box 645, Brenham, TX 77834. Periodical postage paid at Brenham, Texas and additional mailing offices. Subscription price is 50 cents per year included in yearly premium.

Recipe - Guacamole

The long, winding road to storm recovery

2 | Germania Today

A message from OUR PRESIDENT

Paul Ehlert President & Chief Executive Officer T


pring is here and the warmer temperatures, sunshine, and bluebonnets are such a welcoming sight for all of us. Many of our Germania policyholders are still picking up the pieces from a particularly harsh winter. The snow and ice storm in February resulted in the largest winter event Germania has ever experienced. Many of our own employees and our agents endured losses of their own at the hands of Mother Nature. However, this did not stop them from providing responsive and caring claims service – working into the night and over the weekends to make sure each policyholder filing a claim was contacted and responded to in a timely manner. For those of you who may have experienced hurricanes or flooding, you know that recovery from large weather events, such as this arctic freeze, can take months. We appreciate your patience as we work with you during this time. It has been just over one year since the COVID-19 pandemic caused daily life as we knew it to come to a halt. Group gatherings were minimized or eliminated and virtual communication became more relevant than ever before. With COVID-19 still posing a risk, Germania has asked our agency partners to host their annual local chapter meetings virtually or by teleconference. A mainstay of Germania over the years has been our policyholders getting together in April for our annual membership meetings. I know most of us would have preferred meeting in person this year. I understand this is a significant shift in Germania’s culture of personal interaction among members and agents and may not be the most accessible option for all our policyholders. However, our foremost interest is to protect the health and well-being of our agents and policyholders.

We will also continue to hold our Board of Directors election via mail or online. Ballots were mailed March 25, and you may cast your vote either by return mail or online during the month of April. This is your chance to have a voice in the organization! Farm mutual insurance companies are unique and collaborative, so we rely on your input on who will provide direction and oversight for the company. April is a big month at Germania with Local Chapter meetings and Director Elections, but I am ready to get outside and soak up the sunshine this spring. In this issue, we have put together the ultimate Texas bluebonnet roadmap that will take you on a tour through many gorgeous towns, including our very own Brenham, Texas. Don’t forget to tag us in your bluebonnet pictures on social media. I can’t wait to see the many photos of our beautiful state flower on my newsfeed. Also in this issue, we are breaking down any questions you may have about umbrella insurance. Umbrella coverage is particularly important to have if you have certain risks, such as teenage drivers, own rental property, or a swimming pool, and can be a true safety net if you find yourself in a litigious situation. Germania has recently transformed its umbrella insurance products, and we look forward to helping you cover any needs not being met by your personal liability insurance. I feel blessed to have received my COVID-19 vaccine this spring and look forward to returning to more pre- pandemic activities this year. Don’t forget to pencil in a few important dates on behalf of Germania this spring and get outside and enjoy the sunshine!

Spring 2021 | 3

R Umbrella insurance: 6 common questions answered

4 | Germania Today

R esearching insurance can be challenging! As you read through options and policy details, you can often think of another question for every answer you find. If you’ve begun to research umbrella insurance in an effort to decide whether or not it’s right for you, you’ve probably got a good list going! To help you chisel away at that list and ultimately make an informed decision, we’ve answered six common umbrella insurance questions! 1. What is umbrella insurance? An umbrella insurance policy is an extra layer of liability insurance that extends beyond the coverage limits of your personal liability coverage, or the liability coverage limits of your auto and home insurance policies. Umbrella insurance is designed to pick up where your other policies leave off and protect your assets. 2. How much umbrella insurance do you need? To answer the question, How much umbrella insurance do I need? you have to first estimate the value of your assets. This includes the value of your home, vehicle, investments, and savings.

accident for which you are liable. It provides coverage that extends beyond the limits of your personal auto liability. However, depending on your carrier, there may be certain vehicles that are excluded from coverage. Such vehicles might be high-performance super cars, such as a Lamborghini or Ferrari. 4. Does umbrella insurance cover rental property? If you are a landlord, or own rental property, umbrella insurance may cover some of your property, depending on the carrier and policy. Personal umbrella insurance policies generally aren’t designed to cover the risks associated with someone who owns many large rental property units. For this reason, you might find that your umbrella policy would cover a small number of units. 5. Do I have to have an existing policy with an insurance company to get umbrella? While the exact requirements for underlying or coverages will vary from company to company, you typically have to have some sort of existing coverage with a carrier before they will write an umbrella policy. In some cases, they may require that you have both home and auto, but it is also possible that they will only require one or the other. However, regardless of which type of policy they require, you must purchase the amount of liability required by the company guidelines to qualify for umbrella. 6. Does everyone in my house have to have insurance for me to have an umbrella policy? While umbrella insurance policies provide additional liability coverage for you, the insured, it also provides coverage to your family members. For the purpose of these types of policies, “family member” is defined as a resident of your household who is a relative, which can include a ward or foster child, or someone who is under the age of 21 but under the care of another insured who is age 21 or over. Read the full blog at blogs to get answers to more commonly asked umbrella coverage questions. To learn more about Germania’s brand-new umbrella insurance products, reach out to your local Germania agent today!

Then, you need to understand the limits of your existing liability coverage. If the total value of your assets exceeds your underlying, or existing, liability coverage limits, then you likely should consider umbrella as a way to make up the difference. Finally, think about your personal level of risk, which is based on your occupation and lifestyle. You can get a general sense of your own risk by considering the aspects of your lifestyle that could potentially be a cause for damages to others. If you need assistance evaluating your assets or your level of risk, it is always a good idea to consult a financial adviser. In general, it’s always better to carry more coverage than you think you might need. While that may be cost-prohibitive in some scenarios, umbrella insurance is typically quite affordable. That is to say, the premium you would pay for a large amount of coverage is probably lower than you’d imagine, and certainly can be more affordable than if you were to have the same amount of coverage with an underlying policy. 3. Can umbrella insurance cover auto? One of the most common uses for umbrella insurance is protecting yourself from damages caused by an auto

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6 | Germania Today trails and The best bluebonnet spots in Texas 2021 Texas Bluebonnet Roadmap:

A lthough Texas is reeling from a recent arctic blast, the icy grasp of winter is letting go. The harsh freeze broke branches and froze foliage, but our state flower – the Texas bluebonnet – is a survivor. Soon, the rolling Texas Hill Country will be painted in beautiful shades of blue as the bluebonnets bloom again! Now more than ever, Texans look to the great outdoors for fun family activities to get us out of the house, and the Texas Bluebonnet Trail is the perfect opportunity. With so many gorgeous towns on this bluebonnet tour, like Kingsland, Marble Falls, Burnet, Brenham, Ennis, and Austin, you can pick your favorite or plan a road trip to see them all! Kingsland Located just outside of Llano, the quaint town of Kingsland isn’t accustomed to a lot of visitors — making it a great choice for the bluebonnet tour. Explore Kingsland’s many bluebonnet hot spots, including abandoned machinery and railroad tracks that have been taken over by the bluebonnets. Burnet

town and watch as the brilliant bluebonnets grow and coat it. Plus, it’s right next to Kingsland and Burnet, which creates a great trio of places if you’re short on time. Ennis The Ennis Garden Club usually starts its pursuit of bluebonnets in April, sharing the flower growth information with the Ennis Convention Center. Consider making this one of your major stops as the entire town loves bluebonnets and celebrates their mapped, bluebonnet driving trails. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (Austin) Named after the former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson, this wildflower park and research center is home to nearly 900 species of native Texas plants. With a variety of trails that gently loop through both meadows and gardens alike, you can spend an entire day casually exploring the scenery or even book guided tours. They host a number of educational programs for adults and children that teach the importance of conservation and cultivate an appreciation for the natural beauty Texas has to offer. It goes without saying that Texas’ state flower blooms in abundance here during the spring months, making it a perfect spot for a day full of bluebonnet gazing with the family. Big Bend National Park

The city of Burnet is officially recognized by the Texas legislature as the “Bluebonnet Capital of Texas.” Not only are the bluebonnets strewn across the hills and pastures, but Burnet also has a large bluebonnet festival during the second weekend of April. 300,000 people attend every year, making it a destination worth visiting. Brenham If you need a rest stop, Brenham is it. Brenham has a number of places to stay, places to eat and endless fields that are filled with bluebonnets. In addition to having photo opportunities, it also has several safe places to park. This isn’t always true when chasing photo ops, so definitely take advantage. Marble Falls Marble Falls has incredibly gorgeous scenery, including lakes, hills, and rivers. Visit Marble Falls to explore the

While our last destination is off the traditional Texas bluebonnet trail, it is well worth the trip if you’re looking for a unique and enchanting bluebonnet experience. In 2019, something spectacular happened amid the rocky landscape of Big Bend National Park. The previous October brought abnormal amounts of rain to the West Texas park,

which gave way to a rare bluebonnet “super bloom.” Across the 800,000-acre park, the barren fields sprang to life with these beautiful flowers, painting the red landscape a brilliant shade of blue. If you’re fond of camping, hiking, and breathtaking bluebonnet views, Big Bend is a must-see destination. Often reaching heights of up to 3 feet, the Big Bend Bluebonnet (Lupinus havardii) is thinner and taller than its cousins in the state’s interior. While we may not see another super bloom for some time, you can find these gorgeous flowers blooming throughout the spring.

Spring 2021 | 7

Texas bluebonnets A few facts about

The Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) has been the state flower of Texas since 1901 and holds a special place in any Texan’s heart. They are hardy and rugged, yet beautiful flowers that blanket roadsides, pastures, and meadows across the state every spring. Bluebonnets begin their lives as small, gravel-like seeds that can lay dormant for months and sometimes years before seedlings emerge. They usually sprout in October and grow slowly through the winter before rapidly growing and blossoming in the spring. They are well adapted to the unpredictable Texas winters and hold up well to frost and freezing. After germinating, their roots dig deep into the soil where they are protected from the cold. As their name suggests, bluebonnets are almost always blue. However, if you’ve ever seen them in shades of white, pink, or even maroon (which are known as ‘Texas Maroon’ or ‘Alamo Fire’ bluebonnets), you know that they can come in a variety of colors. This is due to slight genetic variations that can occur, which usually don’t last for long in the wild. If you spot one, consider yourself lucky! While the term “bluebonnet” can refer to many different species of flowers across the southwest, there are three subspecies that we consider the “Texas State Flower:” the titular Texas bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis), the sandyland bluebonnet (Lupinus subcarnosus), and

their lifecycle in certain areas and leave large bald patches in an otherwise beautiful field. Bluebonnets are for all Texans to enjoy, so it’s important to leave them undisturbed. Bluebonnet safety precautions Many of the areas you will travel to in pursuit of bluebonnets can be very rural. Always follow safety precautions and be careful when leaving the road. Find a safe place to park and obey any posted signs. DO NOT trespass and only venture onto private property if you have the owner ’s permission. Bluebonnet fields may be beautiful on the surface but can be potentially dangerous below. Because these flowery fields can be so dense, they often provide shelter to animals like snakes. Be cautious when moving around and through these areas, especially if you plan on crouching or sitting for a photo. Our Texas State Flower is beautiful but can be deadly. That’s right, bluebonnets are actually toxic to both humans and animals when ingested. This is yet another good reason to avoid picking these flowers! If you’re exploring the bluebonnet trail with children or pets, make sure to keep an eye on them. Finally, never travel alone off the beaten path. Take a travel buddy with you or at the very least, make sure someone knows where you are and when you plan to return. Hit the bluebonnet trail Bluebonnet season is one of the most exciting, beautiful, and scenic experiences of spring in Texas. You can become a part of this incredible tradition by planning your road trip today! And remember, as tempting as it may be, don’t pick the wildflowers. Take photos, not flowers! Hitting the bluebonnet trail? Share your photos with us by tagging Germania Insurance into your bluebonnet photos for a chance to be featured on our social media!

the Big Bend bluebonnet (Lupinus havardii). Is it illegal to pick bluebonnets in Texas?

You may have heard the rumor that it is illegal to pick bluebonnets in Texas. The truth is, it’s a little more complicated than that. While it isn’t technically illegal to pick bluebonnets, wandering onto private property to do so is. On public property, you may not be breaking any laws by picking a bluebonnet, but wildflower experts ask that you refrain from doing so. Picking one or two flowers may not be too damaging, but if everyone did the same, we could actually disrupt

8 | Germania Today

You are (virtually) invited to your Local Chapter meeting Spring is in the air, and it’s time to tune into your 2021 Local Chapter annual meeting! Germania’s foremost interest is to protect the well-being of our agents and policyholders. With COVID-19 remaining a risk, Germania has asked our local chapters to host their 2021 meetings virtually or by teleconference (phone). We understand this may not be the most accessible option for our policyholders, however, we feel current safety is of the utmost importance. We look forward to returning to in person meetings next year. If you have questions, please reach out to your agent for more information on your Local Chapter ’s annual meeting. What would you do with more? Did you know you can get a 12% discount when you pay your Personal Auto premium in full by the effective date of the policy? With Germania’s Paid in Full Discount, you pay 12% less, so you have more for the things you love. That means more ice cream trips with the family, more date nights, or more “me” time at the spa. The Paid in Full Discount is available for all vehicle types, including private passenger, motor homes, antique autos, and trailers. The Paid in Full Discount will be available to you on your next auto renewal. Your renewal will show the amount to pay if you would like to pay in full (with the discount applied). You will need to pay the premium in full prior to your policy effective date. Germania also offers many different payment plan options if paying in full in not the best option for you. Payments can be made with check, credit card, or electronic funds transfer. More savings means more of the things you love. Contact your Germania agent for more information about the Paid in Full Discount.

cast yov uo r te It’s time to

As a policyholder, you have the ultimate control over Germania Farm Mutual (GFM) Insurance Association through your election of its Board of

Directors. In April, you, as a GFM policyholder, will have the opportunity to vote on this

year ’s slate of directors. Ballot packets were mailed to all GFM policyholders March 25. Look for the envelope with Germania’s name and logo and labeled “Germania Director Ballot Enclosed.” You can either vote online or by return mail. Voting is easy, and we encourage you to participate as a member of this organization. GFM 2021 director candidates GFM’s Board is currently 17 in number, and each board member serves a term of three years. These terms are staggered to ensure only one-third of the board seats are up for election each year. This year ’s candidates vying for the six vacant board seats are Jeffrey “Jeff” Knippa, Bruce Germer, Robert “Tony” Reeves, Paul Ehlert, Laura Deutscher, and Victor G. Carrillo. Pictures and biographical information for each candidate is included in the ballot packet mailed to you or can be viewed online at www. Germania will make a $1 donation to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in support of childhood cancer research for every member who votes in the director election. Each member will also be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win one of 25 $200 Amazon gift cards.

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Germania welcomes two newmemebers GFMBoard of Directors to its

The Germania Farm Mutual Board of Directors appointed two new members to its board effective Jan. 1, 2021. Laura Deutscher and Victor G. Carrillo will be voted upon by GFM members this April, and if elected, will each serve a three-year term expiring in 2024. “Laura and Victor possess professional skills and personal characteristics that align with Germania’s Core Values and Guiding Principles,” Germania Insurance President and CEO Paul Ehlert said. “Both individuals will be great additions to the Board with their diverse experiences, perspectives, and competencies; and I look forward to working alongside them in the years to come.” A resident of Dallas, Texas, Deutscher earned her bachelor of science in accounting from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1984 and a master of business administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management in 1995. Deutscher is a certified public accountant and a member of

the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). Deutscher is a partner at MVP Advisory Group and is the practice leader for Shared Services. She was recognized as Business Insurance’s “Women to Watch” in 2013 and is a member of Local Chapter 3000. Carrillo holds a bachelor of science in geology from Hardin-Simmons University, a master of science in geology from Baylor University, a juris doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, and a graduate certificate in public management from The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Carrillo is also a member of NACD. Carrillo is a resident of Rockwall, Texas, and currently serves as the executive director of professional responsibility and government affairs for International Leadership of Texas – a public charter school serving approximately 21,000 Texas students. He is a member of Local Chapter 446.


Guacamole Ingredients: 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded, and peeled 1 lime, juiced 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne 1/2 medium onion, diced 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro 1 clove garlic, minced

Directions: In a large bowl, toss the peeled avocados and lime juice to coat. Drain and reserve the lime juice. Add salt, cumin, and cayenne to the avocados and mash using a potato masher. Then, fold in the onions, jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add one tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for one hour and then serve.

Adapted from the Food Network

10 | Germania Today

long,winding road The to storm recovery

CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEET As of December 31, 2020 (unaudited)

Admitted Assets Cash and Investments


Real Estate and Equipment


Premiums Receivable

147,932,696 4,516,844 2,741,092 15,806,552 5,042,629 $850,685,590

Accrued Investment Income Reinsurance Recoverable

Net Deferred Tax Asset

Other Assets Total Assets

Liabilities and Surplus Unearned Premiums

$287,669,162 132,262,265 90,268,635

Loss and Loss Adjustment Expenses

Life Future Policy Benefits Federal Income Tax Payable


Other Liabilities Total Liabilities

47,754,901 558,180,980 292,504,610 $850,685,590

Policyholders’ Surplus

Total Liabilities and Surplus

Winter storm Uri swept through Texas with a vengeance in February, dumping snow and ice on millions of vulnerable Texans. The winter storms and arctic temperatures created national headlines speculating the cost of damage could reach $20 billion, rivaling the cost of hurricanes Harvey (2017) and Katrina (2005). We understand what a frustrating and exhausting time this was for our policyholders. Our team worked tirelessly to vet through each claim to ensure each policyholder received the time and attention they deserved. Over 7,000 claims have been filed and assigned to adjusters in the aftermath of the winter storms – making it one of the largest claims event in Germania’s history. The winter storm provided the opportunity to remind us all of the processes to follow when facing devastation. • Document damage. Take photos and videos of damage and/ or temporary repairs. • Save receipts. Collect receipts for any expense incurred for temporary repairs and other out-of-pocket expenses. • Contact a mitigation contractor. Please contact a mitigation contractor to review any cleanup efforts before you begin to rebuild. This will help ensure the appropriate corrective actions are completed to minimize potential future damage and issues. Recovery from large weather events can take months. We appreciate your patience as we work with you during this time. Remember, you can check the status of your claim, associated documents, and the amount paid on your claims through your account by visiting or through our free Germania Insurance app. Search “Germania Insurance” in the Apple App or Google Play stores.

CONSOLIDATED INCOME STATEMENT For the year ended December 31, 2020 (unaudited) Underwriting Income Net Premiums Written


Change in Unearned Premiums


Net Premiums Earned Net Losses Incurred Loss Expenses Incurred

$541,022,960 $293,544,450 54,159,070 160,354,791

Underwriting Expenses Incurred Increase in Life Future Policy Benefits Net Losses and Expenses Incurred



Underwriting Gain (Loss)


Net Investment Income


Other Income


Net Income (Loss) before Taxes

47,473,583 8,296,342 $39,177,241

Federal Income Taxes Net Income (Loss)

TOTAL PROPERTY PAID LOSS AND LOSS ADJUSTMENT EXPENSE BY PERIL* Storm $125,464,336 Fire 23,662,751 Water 16,752,034 Theft 1,369,646 Other 6,328,598 Total $173,577,365

*Net of Salvage and Subrogation

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PO Box 645 Brenham, TX 77834-0645 GT GERMANIA TODAY

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Just beyond the city limits, a whole world of recreation is waiting in the sprawling fields and farms of rural Texas. Continue reading at

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