Insightful information for you | Summer 2020 GT GERMANIA TODAY
Page 8 is here. Hurricane Season ready? Are you
An active hurricane season makes flood insurance a must Page 4 Four ways to maintain your life policy in the face of hardship Page 10
GT GERMANIA TODAY Insightful information for you
S Shopping shingles: Spotting the differences between three-tab and architectural shingles How to create a hurricane evacuation plan for you and your family Germania turns votes into hope for childhood cancer research GCU ranked third-fastest growing credit union in 2019 Four ways to maintain your life policy in the face of hardship Unexpected call or message from Germania? Here’s how to tell it’s real 8 Hurricane season is here. Are you ready? Germania Farm Mutual Insurance Association 507 Highway 290 East Brenham, Texas 77833 800-392-2202 germaniainsurance.com Paul Ehlert President & Chief Executive Officer Min Choi Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer Melisa Bosse Director of Communication Elizabeth Kamenicky Editor Geoffrey Ullrich Contributing Writer Shane Butzow Designer Summer 2020 | Volume 46, Issue 2
4 An active
hurricane season makes flood insurance a must
5 6 9 9
10 11 12 12
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 of the month
Blog... How to prepare your home for hurricane season
2 | Germania Today
A message from OUR PRESIDENT
Paul Ehlert President & Chief Executive Officer T
ummer is here, and summertime activities in Texas are opening up. For my grandkids, it seems like summer started back when Spring Break ended. These last few months have been unusual to say the least. Germania transitioned 90% of our employees to working virtually from their homes in the middle of March as a result of COVID-19. We are currently planning the return of staff to the office; however it will not be the same as when they left. I believe we will all be adjusting to a new normal as a result of the pandemic with wellness checks and social distancing. Through Germania’s Reduced Driving Payback program, we were able to return nearly $9 million to our Germania personal auto policyholders to support their commitment for staying home and safe. And thanks to the outstanding participation by our members in this year ’s director election, Germania has donated $20,000 to St. Baldrick’s Foundation to support childhood cancer research. We had more than 5,000 votes cast this year over last year. COVID-19 did not stop the weather events this spring that impacted many of our policyholders. The month of May was especially not kind to us with tornadoes, high winds, and hail. And now we are in hurricane season. It’s hard to believe we had three storms develop before June 1. We were fortunate here in Texas that Cristobal went to the east of us.
Experts continue to predict a higher-than-average number of storms this hurricane season due to prevailing weather patterns. In this issue of Germania Today, we are offering numerous tips and resources to prepare for hurricane season, including how to create a hurricane evacuation plan, the importance of flood insurance, and preparing your home for hurricane season. Please know that Germania remains financially strong to assist our policyholders should a tropical storm or hurricane impact Texas. That is what we do and why we exist — to “bear one another ’s burdens” and serve others in their time of need. This also rings true for our Germania life insurance policyholders: we are here to help you navigate your circumstances in the face of financial hardships. Now, more than ever, a financial safety net for you and your family is priceless. Continue reading to learn more. As you go about your activities this summer, enjoy your time with friends and family. Please remember to continue following official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state guidelines and practice social distancing. Stay safe and well!
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hurricane season makes a An active
flood insurance must
4 | Germania Today
W ith an active hurricane season underway, now is not the time to learn the hard way – or rather the wet way – that your property insurance doesn’t cover property damage caused by floods. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted an above- normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially began June 1. With an increase in number and severity of hurricanes and major storms comes the danger of severe flooding – and not just in federally designated, high-risk flood zones. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), more than 40% of flood claims submitted between 2014 and 2018 have come from outside high-risk flood areas. No matter where you live, it’s important to understand the flood risk and what it can cost you, says Germania General Agency (GGA) Underwriter and Flood Specialist Heather Alexander. “Don’t wait until there’s an approaching threat to get coverage,” Alexander said. “Unless flood insurance is required by your mortgage lender, there is anywhere from a 15- to 30-day waiting period for coverage to take effect.”
Shopping shingles: Spotting the differences between three-tab and architectural shingles
As the most popular roof shingle type for homeowners, asphalt shingles are affordable, readily available, and come in a variety of colors and styles. The two most common asphalt shingles offered in residential roofing are three-tab shingles and architectural shingles. The latter provides higher-quality and longer-lasting protection from weather elements. Germania recently introduced revised ratings for asphalt shingle roofs to better serve policyholders who choose the architectural shingles. It’s easy to spot the differences between the widely popular three-tab shingles and architectural style shingles. Three-tab shingles are your more basic and less expensive roof shingles easily recognized by their uniform, one- dimensional pattern. They are often referred to as “three-tab,” because each individual shingle contains three tabs that install completely flat on the roof. Architectural shingles – also known as dimensional or laminate shingles – are more durable and last longer than three-tab shingles. Although architectural shingles come in a variety of colors and styles, they are all made of two shingle strips laminated together, giving them a more dimensional base than the flat, three-tab shingle. While architectural shingles typically cost more than their three-tab counterparts, they help maintain or even raise the value of a home if properly installed. This type of shingle is becoming more popular in the roofing market, prompting Germania to acknowledge its value and prevalence among its policyholders. Policyholders can view their roof type classification located on the declaration page of their policy. Contact your agent if you have recently replaced your roof or have architectural shingles to ensure your home is insured to the correct value with the best available pricing.
GGA, a subsidiary of Germania Farm Mutual, adds value to Germania and its agency force by providing access to additional insurance products and services, including flood insurance. Staffed with flood insurance experts, GGA is also able to assist agents and insureds with the claims process in the event of a catastrophic event. A basic property insurance policy may pay for water damage inside your house, such as a burst pipe, but will usually not cover the peril of flooding from rising waters. Flood insurance must be purchased separately to cover your home and its contents in the event of a flood. Speak with your agent or contact GGA directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 979-277-7087 to request a quote today.
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How to create a hurricane evacuation plan
for you and
6 | Germania Today
T exas hurricane season has arrived. If you haven’t done so already, it is imperative to prepare a hurricane evacuation plan to keep you and your family safe. When disaster strikes, preparation can make all the difference in the world. Not only does it ensure that you and your family are able to safely and quickly flee danger, it can provide order and reassurance in an otherwise frightening time. Creating a plan Call a family meeting . Begin to plan and consider some of the following items to ensure you have a safe and effective evacuation plan. Find out if you live in an evacuation zone . Figure out if your home is in a high-risk area, or evacuation zone. The zones are divided into ZIP codes starting at the Gulf Coast and moving inland. Create a plan . Plan each step in your family’s evacuation plan and, if possible, assign certain family members a task. Periodically review and practice these tasks with each family member. Not only does this ensure the evacuation process goes smoothly, having specific tasks can help calm nerves during a stressful time.
prepare the following items: • Batteries • Flashlight • Mobile phone • Food • Water • Emergency radio • Blankets • Extra clothes • Toiletries and personal hygiene items • First-aid kit, including essential medications • Map and map of evacuation routes
Plan for those with special needs. If you have infants, elderly family members, or anyone in your home with special needs, make sure to think through everything they will need to evacuate. If possible, stock up on extra medications beforehand. Pack for pets. Pets have special needs, too! When preparing your evacuation kit, make sure to have pet food, medications, carrying crate and/or leash, and a few extra treats or your pet’s favorite toy to help ease anxiety. Prepare your vehicle. The last thing you want when evacuating is car trouble. Make sure your vehicle has a fresh oil change and top off all of the fluids. Keep the gas tank full and maintain your tire pressure. Finally, check your windshield wipers and replace them if they’re brittle or old. Have cash on hand. While credit cards and digital wallets will most likely be sufficient, having cash on hand is a good idea. During emergency scenarios, systems can be overburdened, and you might not be able to use mobile pay or credit cards. Texas hurricane evacuation resources • R esources for hurricane evacuation from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) • TxDOT evacuation map • A dditional information and resources from the National Weather Service Get a property insurance quote from Germania Insurance and be prepared when disaster strikes.
Have a destination in mind . While your first priority should be getting you and your family out of harm’s way, you’ll need a place to go at some point. Having a destination in mind places an ending to the evacuation process, which can be psychologically important. Furthermore, your destination may determine which evacuation route you take. Plan an evacuation route . The Texas Department of Transportation provides up-to-date evacuation routes, which outline the major highways that can be used to leave evacuation zones. Reference these maps and discuss the best route for you and your family. It may also be a good idea to have alternate routes planned in the event of road closures. Pack and prepare the essentials Ensuring that you and your family have the supplies you need to evacuate is an essential part of creating a hurricane evacuation plan. Make sure to pack and
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T is here. Hurricane need to know.
Season Here’s what you
8 | Germania Today
T he 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is underway and expected to bring “above-normal activity,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Forecasters with the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center are calling for a busy season with as many as 19 named storms, six of which could become major hurricanes. A major hurricane is categorized as a Category 3, 4, or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. For reference, an average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, with half becoming hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. The combination of several climate factors are driving the prediction for above-normal activity in the Atlantic this year. Warmer-than-normal water temperatures are anticipated to provide more fuel for tropical cyclone formation and intensification. They are also associated with a more unstable atmosphere and moister air, both of which contribute to organized thunderstorm activity that is necessary for hurricane development. In addition, El Niño tends to increase upper-level winds across the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic, breaking apart hurricanes as they try to form. This pattern is not currently trending for the peak of hurricane season.
Germania turns votes into hope for childhood cancer research The final numbers are in, and Germania ended its 2020 board of directors election with 19,464 ballots cast – more than 5,000 votes than last year! Germania welcomes back to the board the following individuals who were elected for a three-year term: • K. Don McAfee (Mabank) • C. H. Herring, Jr. (Breckenridge) • Ralph A. Beadle (Lubbock) • Dwayne W. Herring (Amarillo) • Russell C. Janecka (Victoria) Earlier this year, Germania President and CEO Paul Ehlert committed Germania to donating $1 to St. Baldrick’s Foundation for every member who voted in this year ’s election. The participation was outstanding, and we are excited to give $20,000 in support of childhood cancer research! The Enterprise Holdings Foundation – the philanthropic arm of Enterprise Holdings, operator of Germania’s Enterprise Rent-A-Car fleet – has also committed $1,500 to St. Baldrick’s Foundation. You can learn more about St. Baldrick’s Foundation and its mission at www.stbaldricks.org/. GCU ranked third- fastest growing credit union in 2019 The Cornerstone Credit Union League has ranked Germania Credit Union (GCU) as the third-fastest growing credit union for credit unions under $50 million in assets in 2019. Each year, the Cornerstone Credit Union League releases economic data for more than 550 of its member credits unions located in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. In 2019, GCU ranked third in both loan and asset growth, increasing by 61.49% and 45.58%, respectively, over a 12-month period. “Consistently assisting our members achieve financial success is the core of GCU’s mission,” GCU President Nick Tonelli said. “It’s an honor to receive recognition for the accomplishments we have achieved in 2019, and we look forward to having another successful year of serving our members.” Opened in 1986, GCU is a member-owned financial cooperative that provides banking services, including loans, deposit accounts, and electronic services, to its more than 2,400 members. Current Germania policyholders are eligible to join GCU. For more information, visit germaniacreditunion.com or call 979-830-7523.
Although predictions are based on sophisticated statistical models using many years of historical data, keep in mind they are a guide and can change at any time. A single season can produce many storms that have little impact, or generate only a few storms with one or more hitting the U.S. coast with major impact. As the country begins to stabilize following the coronavirus pandemic, it remains critically important to make necessary preparations for the hurricane season. Keep in mind, you may need to adjust any preparedness actions based on the latest health and safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your local officials. “Germania stands ready to assist our policyholders, regardless of what the season brings,” said Jeremy Hardwick, catastrophe team manager. “We are sustaining business throughout this pandemic, and we will continue to do so to help our customers in their time of need.” Keep track of the 2020 hurricane season and make necessary preparations to keep you and your family safe by visiting https://www.weather.gov/wrn/ hurricane-preparedness.
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life policy maintain Four ways to your in the face of hardship O your life insurance. This can be very beneficial if you are in need of coverage or have impaired health but would no longer qualify for new coverage. Take out a loan against your whole life policy . In times like these, you may want to look to your cash value life insurance as a source of funds. Germania Life’s whole life policies have the added advantage of offering loans against the cash value and can be accessed without proof of credit if you have an available cash value. Please note, if a death occurs before the loan is depleted, the policy’s benefit will be reduced by any unpaid loan balance. Remove riders from your policy . Life insurance
hile the harshest effects of the coronavirus pandemic have seemed to pass, many insureds are still feeling the financial sting of layoffs, furloughs, and business interruptions. In the wake of a cash crunch, it’s human nature to cut unnecessary expenses and defer payments of loans and bills. Life insurance may start to look like an undue cost, but is it? Now, more than ever, a financial safety net for you and your family is priceless. Instead, consider these four ways to maintain your Germania Life policy in the face of financial hardship: Adjust how you make payments. If you are currently set up to pay multiple months of premium at one time, you can change your frequency to a billing mode you can afford. Germania Life offers several payment mode options, including monthly electronic funds transfer (EFT) payments, monthly coupon, as well as quarterly, semiannual, and annual bills. Decrease your death benefit . Some insureds – depending on your age and policy type – may be eligible to decrease your death benefit to lower your premium to fit your financial needs, while still retaining
riders are optional add-ons to your policy that provide additional terms and conditions that aren’t included in the standard policy. If your Germania Life policy has added riders, such as Accidental Death and Dismemberment or Waiver of Premium, you can remove them without affecting your base coverage. Let us help you navigate these uncertain times. Contact Germania Life at email@example.com or at 979-836-5224, ext. 2060.
10 | Germania Today
Unexpected call or message from O ver the past few months, Germania has received reports from our customers who have been called, texted, or emailed from someone claiming to work for Germania. Their phone number or email may even appear to be from Germania. This type of scam – known as spoofing – can be very effective in making you believe you are being contacted by a Germania representative, but are you? We want to make sure our policyholders know what methods we use if we need to contact you – and, most importantly, how we will never reach out and what we will never ask. Underwriting If you are contacted for an underwriting inquiry, a department representative will call, email, or mail you documents containing Germania’s logo and the company’s address and phone number. The caller or sender will always identify themselves and clearly state the purpose of the message. conversation with a phone call or email containing the representative’s contact information and their purpose. Once a relationship has been established, adjusters can communicate via cell phone or text if convenient for the customer. Personal information, such as your social security number, will never be requested. Follow-up surveys, mobile app information, and repair facility discussions can also be sent via text. Billing Germania? Here’s how to tell it’s real pandemic, postcards have been suspended, and the inspector will call the policyholder before conducting the inspection. Claims If you have filed a claim, Germania and its partners utilize a variety of channels to communicate with our policyholders. Whether it’s a property, auto or liability claim, a Germania representative will initiate the
If a policyholder is being contacted for billing inquiries, communications will most likely come from your agent. If you have contacted Germania directly, you will be responded to in the way you initiated the request (phone or email). All other correspondence is done via paper copy through the mail. Germania does not utilize texts to discuss billing information. If you are ever unsure of the reason behind a call, email, or letter, call your agent to confirm its purpose. It’s important to remain alert during these uncertain times!”
Germania also works with third-party vendors to conduct personal auto policy surveys and property inspections. Conducted by URI, auto policy surveys are initially sent via mail. If a response is not received, URI will reach out by phone to secure the survey information on Germania’s behalf. JMI Reports conducts property inspections on behalf of Germania. Under normal circumstances, postcards including Germania’s logo are mailed prior to inspecting the property. However, with the COVID-19
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Frozen lemonade Directions: 1. Make simple syrup by bringing 1 cup of water and
Ingredients: • 3 cups water • 1 cup sugar • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (5-6 lemons) • 1 tbs lemon zest (optional) • 5 cups ice • 1 lemon, sliced (garnish) • Maraschino cherries
1 cup of sugar to a boil in medium saucepan. 2. Cook until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool completely. 3. Blend the 2 remaining cups of water, simple syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest (optional), and ice in blender. 4. Pour into glasses and garnish with lemon slices and cherries. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Finding Zest©
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How to prepare hurricane season
for your home
Whether you live inland or on the coast, a powerful hurricane can be a devastating force of nature. That’s why it’s important to take steps to prepare your home for hurricane season. ... Continue reading at germaniainsurance.com/blogs
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