GT GERMANIA TODAY Insightful information for you | Winter 2021 Increasing premiums, what gives? Page 4 5 things you need to know about home generators Page 7
coming. is Prepare yourself! Page 8
H Germania Today (USPS 086230) Published quarterly by Germania Farm Mutual Insurance Association Postmaster: Send address Germania Farm Mutual Insurance Association 507 Highway 290 East Brenham, Texas 77833 800-392-2202 germaniainsurance.com Winter 2021 | Volume 48, Issue 1 GERMANIA TODAY Insightful information for you Paul Ehlert President & Chief Executive Officer Min Choi Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer Melisa Bosse Director of Communication Elizabeth Marburger Editor Jodee Walker Contributing Writer Geoffrey Ullrich Contributing Writer Shane Butzow Designer
7 5 things you need to know about home generators
Winterizing essentials: How to winterize a house for the next Texas winter
3 4 5 6 6
A message from our President
Increasing premiums, what gives?
GermaniaLIFE: The do’s and don’ts of paramedical exams
Germania mourns the loss of Director Russell Janecka
Germania donates nearly $30K for quote for the cure
Recipe of the season
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.
Winterization essentials checklist
2 | Germania Today
A message from OUR PRESIDENT
H Paul Ehlert President & Chief Executive Officer T
Happy New Year! I hope you rang in 2022 with family and friends, and plenty of fireworks to signify the closing of a year riddled with the lingering pandemic, a historic winter storm, and a relentless hail season. Many of our policyholders were impacted by these catastrophic events; and Germania has been there to assist these policyholders with their covered losses. We will see what the weather has in store for us in 2022. As this is the winter issue of Germania Today, we felt it would be appropriate to focus on being proactive for the upcoming winter season. Many of us were caught off- guard with the freezing temperatures, snow, and ice last year and will be more prepared this season. In this issue, you will find a handy checklist to help you winterize your property, home, and vehicle before the temperatures fall. From covering outdoor pipes to inspecting your attic, now is the time to brush up on your winterization essentials, and we’re here to help make sure all your bases are covered. Were you one of thousands of Texans who installed or purchased a portable generator? If so, we want to make sure you know the ins and outs of your new appliance – including how it is covered under your Germania Farm Mutual policy – in “5 things you need to know about home generators.”
Finally, we are helping you put together your roadside emergency kit in the event you are stuck out on the roads and need temporary assistance. Our goal is for all of our policyholders to be adequately prepared for the variety of situations Mother Nature may throw our way this winter. I would like to close with a note of deepest sympathy for the family and friends of the late Russell Janecka. Russell passed away unexpectedly in September last year, leaving our Germania family in shock and grief. Russell was a member of the Germania Farm Mutual Board of Directors and a longtime agent based in Victoria. More importantly, he was our dear friend and a positive advocate in the insurance industry. He will be deeply missed. At Germania, we strive to embody our principle of bearing one another ’s burdens in everything we do, whether that is through exceptional claims service, preparation for impending weather events, or providing support during a loss. It is who we are and will continue to be a new year ’s resolution with each passing year. I hope you had an enjoyable holiday season. As always, thank you for trusting Germania with your insurance needs.
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Y ou may have noticed the price tags inching upward online, at grocery stores, gas stations, and now home and property insurance premiums. What gives? Like many things, the cost of home insurance is determined by many factors. Yes, rates can go up, but rate changes aren’t the only way premiums can increase. One common way that premiums are increasing now has to do with increased coverage limits, specifically Coverage A Dwelling limits. Building materials and labor costs are on the rise, which impacts both home values and repair costs. The increases in Texas have been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 winter storms, and a very active hail season. Increased demand and a reduction in construction material supply due to stunted production and supply chain challenges are driving up home values, and many homeowners will likely find that their existing valuation is no longer accurate. Making additions or improvements to their home is another factor that increases Coverage A values.
It is important to review your current policy and coverages with your agent for appropriate valuation and applicable discounts. Germania’s new Extended Replacement Cost coverage will also provide you additional assurance that the amount of Coverage A will be enough to cover the actual cost to rebuild. We understand no one likes to hear that their insurance costs will go up, but it is not without good reason. Dealing with a total loss is devastating, and the last thing you will want to find out is that the coverage amount you purchased previously is no longer adequate to rebuild your home. At Germania, we value honesty and transparency, and we look to our agents to help us embody these attributes with you, their insureds. Thank you for choosing Germania Insurance as your insurance provider and don’t hesitate to reach out to your agent with any questions and concerns you may have.
4 | Germania Today
The do’s and don’ts of paramedical exams
Interested in obtaining life insurance? Undergoing a paramedical exam is an important step to completing the process. To help our applicants prepare, GermaniaLIFE’s exam provider, Exam One, has provided a helpful list of what you should and should not do prior to your exam. We hope these simple steps will help you during this part of your life insurance journey. For more resources, please visit myexamone.com. To learn more about GermaniaLIFE’s offerings or to request a quote, call 1-800-392-2202, ext. 2060, or visit www.germaniainsurance.com/texas-insurance/life-insurance!
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$ 30K Germania donates quote for the cure Requesting a quote from our business held a special place in our hearts during the month of October. For the fourth consecutive year, Germania hosted its annual Quote for the Cure in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, pledging $1 to the Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC) in Austin for each quote requested through our website and our agencies directly. With the help of our agents and prospective insureds, Germania donated $29,226 to BCRC, benefiting their Patient Navigation Program and other support groups to provide guidance, education, and assistance for women affected by breast cancer and their families. Through the Patient Navigation Program, BCRC offers no-cost access to certified Patient Navigators who empower those affected by breast cancer with personalized support and compassion. Patient Navigators provide one-on-one guidance, structured support circles, resource education, and practical assistance to clients and their families. nearly for
Germania mourns the loss of Director Russell Janecka
We are saddened by the loss of Germania Farm Mutual Board of Director Russell Janecka of Victoria, who passed away Sept. 30. He was 61 years old. Russell was an agent for Local Chapter 240 in Victoria and was elected
by the membership to serve on the GFM Board of Directors in 1987. He assumed various leadership roles as he served on numerous subsidiary boards and committees, including Germania Insurance Company, Germania Fire & Casualty Company, Germania Select Insurance Company and the Board Governance Committee. Russell was particularly interested in corporate governance and chaired the Board’s Governance Committee for several years. He earned and maintained the industry’s Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow and Society of Certified Insurance Counselors professional designations and maintained certification as a Leadership Fellow for the National Association of Corporate Directors and also received the Farm Mutual Director Certification. He actively participated in advocacy for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and Texas Association of Mutual Insurance Companies In Washington, DC and in Austin. He was born and raised in Victoria, where he graduated high school in 1978. Russell enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Security Service upon graduation. He is a graduate of Victoria College and the University of Maryland Global Campus - European Division (formerly UMUC). Russell had been the owner of Janecka Insurance Agency since 1986 and was an active member of the Victoria community, serving on the City of Victoria Planning Commission, Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Victoria County United Way, Victoria Ballet Theatre, Victoria Literacy Council, and Habitat for Humanity of Victoria. Russell was preceded in death by his father, Maynard Charles Janecka. He is survived by his mother, Esterleen Adamek Janecka; his wife of 42 years, Gail Duncan Janecka; son Robert James “Bobby” Janecka and his wife Sarah; daughter Julie Marie Janecka; son Kevin Charles Janecka and friend Mercedes; and two grandsons in addition to a number of other relatives and friends.
To learn more about BCRC and its Patient Navigation Program, visit www.bcrc.org. If you or a loved one need information about breast health or breast cancer, call BCRC’s helpline at 512-524-2560 or submit an online request at www.tfaforms.com/4910274.
6 | Germania Today
5 things you need to know about home generators
I n response to last year ’s winter storms, there has been an exponential upswing in a demand for generators across the state. Were you one of thousands of Texans who considered or purchased a generator to have on hand for the next unexpected disaster? If so, keep reading to learn more about maintenance, coverage, and claims for your new appliance! 1. Make sure your generator is accurately covered in your property policy. Good news! Your generator is most likely already covered by your Germania property policy. How it is covered depends on if you have an installed or portable generator. If your generator is installed, then it is considered part of your home system and is covered under your Coverage A Dwelling coverage. If it is portable, your generator would be included under your Unscheduled Personal Property coverage. 2. Be sure to choose the right fuel for your generator – and have plenty on hand. Generators can be powered by gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, or solar energy. Some models allow you to switch between fuel types. It is important to know what type of fuel you need and stock up in the event of a disaster.
generator on a flat surface. It is also strongly recommended to run your generator outside at least 20 feet from your home to ensure proper ventilation and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. 4. Getting paid for a generator claim all depends on what happened. When filing a claim for your generator, keep in mind that it will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Coverage depends on your policy provisions and the events that caused a loss to your generator. 5. Germania’s new Equipment Breakdown coverage also applies to generators. Our new Equipment Breakdown coverage provides additional protection for common home appliances and equipment – including your backup generator – in the case of an electrical or mechanical breakdown. Beginning March 25, 2022, Equipment Breakdown coverage will automatically be added when your policy renews, so you will have peace of mind that you and your generator are covered! (Please refer to No. 4 for how claims will be handled.) Germania and your Germania authorized agent are reliable and ready to help in every season of the year. Stay warm, Texans!
3. Proper use of your generator will ensure it has a long life span and keep you safe. Always install and run your
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Winterizing essentials: winterize a house How to for the next Texas winter
8 | Germania Today
W inter in Texas can vary drastically; one year we barely notice the season, but the next, the entire state is buried in snow for a week. We never know when the next barrage of icy weather may blow through and if we aren’t prepared, our homes may suffer from the sub-freezing temperatures. That’s why now is the time to brush up on your home winterization essentials! We’ll guide you through the steps and show you how to winterize a house for the next Texas winter. Winterizing your home 1. Cover outdoor pipes. Outdoor hoses, pipes, and faucets are the most obvious things at risk of freezing and the most important part of your house to winterize. If they are filled with water when the cold hits, they could freeze, expand, and rupture. If temperatures aren’t too low for too long, a Styrofoam or insulated faucet cover can be a cheap solution. These simply latch on to the spigot and seal it off from the outside air. A towel and duct tape can do the trick if you’re in a pinch, too, but that is certainly not the best method. However, if you’re expecting intense cold for a
to allow the hot air to rise all the way up through the column before opening the flue. Otherwise, the dense, cold air could flood in and push the smoke out before it’s had a chance to warm the pathway up and out. 3. Winterize windows and doors. Heaters and fires won’t do much good if the warm air is escaping! That’s why your winterization process should always include a door and window inspection. Inspect your windows to make sure they are properly sealed and cover any holes with a durable caulk or weatherstripping. It’s also important to check the weatherstripping around your door frame and replace it if it’s worn or damaged. Not only does this keep the cold air out, but it also ensures little critters don’t invite themselves in and take a seat next to you at the fire! 4. Caulk cracks. Look for cracks in and around your walls and seal them with caulk. Although doors and windows are the most likely areas of your home to have cracks and gaps, you’ll want to conduct a thorough inspection of the interior and exterior portions of your home as you take steps to winterize your house. Look for any sort of gaps in the walls, siding, and trim that could allow warm air to leak out of your house and properly seal it with caulk or sealant of some kind. 5. Inspect the roof, clean gutters, and trim trees. Hot air rises, so it’s important that your roof is properly winterized. If you’re confident with a ladder, carefully inspect the shingles and make sure there are no obvious holes. While you’re up there, you might as well clean all of the leaves and sticks out of the gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters can accumulate extra water, which can be a big problem, especially when frozen. Winterizing your home also means winterizing your yard! If freezing rain or snow accumulates on trees near your house, it could cause them to sag and damage your roof. Take the time to trim any limbs back away from your roof and windows. 6. Inspect attic and insulation. The insulation in your attic plays a major role in keeping your home warm during the cold days of winter. When winterizing your house, peek in the attic to ensure all the insulation is in place and in good shape. If any cracks or gaps open your attic to the outside, unwanted guests like rodents
sustained period, it might be necessary to cut off the water supply to the outside faucets and drain them. This is the only sure way to prevent them from freezing and breaking. Hoses should be disconnected and drained. While an empty hose won’t suffer from freezing temperatures, they make a perfect hideout for snakes and insects seeking shelter from the cold. Unless you’re trying to make a critter condo, it’s a good idea to store hoses in a garage or storage shed. 2. Check your heater and chimney. Winterization isn’t just about making sure parts of your house don’t freeze - it’s also about making sure your heating methods are functional! Before the cold of winter really sets in, it’s a good time to contact your local HVAC service to inspect your heating system. You can also ensure that your system runs optimally by cleaning the filters and vents. If you use a fireplace to keep your house nice and toasty, make sure your chimney flue isn’t filled with squirrel or bird nests before lighting that first fire. It’s also a good idea to build a smaller preliminary fire
Continued on page 10...
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and insects may take advantage of the shelter and can even tear your insulation up to use as a nest. Replace any damaged insulation and seal cracks as needed. You’ll also want to inspect any vents in your attic; vents serve an important function by helping your home regulate temperature. Make sure the vents are unobstructed and functioning properly. 7. Winterize sprinkler systems. Most sprinkler systems are made of PVC piping, which is flexible to a degree, but can burst if conditions are right (or wrong). While the ground can be sufficient insulation from a milder freeze, it’s better to err on the side of caution. The exact steps you’ll need to take to winterize your sprinkler system will vary depending on how your system is built. However, the process is generally the same: Cut off the supply of water to the system and then drain the water from it. You may also want to turn off your sprinkler timer should you have one. If you’re unsure of how to go about doing this, your ...Continued from page 9: Winterizing essentials...
owner ’s manual should have a section with instructions for winterization. Otherwise, consult the advice of experts, such as the company that initially installed the system. 8. Winterize plants and landscaping. Plumbing isn’t the only thing that hates freezing weather! As you winterize your home, don’t forget about your plants! If you have potted plants, find a place in a shed or garage that can offer some protection from the frigid elements. If they are planted in the ground, cover them with bed sheets and quilts. This won’t always save them, but short of digging them up and bringing them inside, it’s the only real option you have. Although it may sound counterintuitive, watering your lawn before a freeze can help winterize your lawn and protect your grass from the cold. Water in the soil helps maintain heat and can prevent the ground from freezing solid. You can water in the evening for best results overnight - just make sure to disconnect your hose and protect your outdoor faucets after!
Recipe banana split fluff salad
Ingredients: 1 box instant banana pudding (3.4 oz) 1 can crushed pineapple, undrained (20 oz) 1 container whipped topping (8 oz) 1 c mini marshmallows 1/3 c mini chocolate chips
1/2 c finely chopped walnuts plus 2 tbs for garnish 2 ripe bananas, sliced 2 jars maraschino cherries, halved (10 oz each)
Instructions: 1. Stir together pudding mix and pineapple until dissolved and thickened. 2. Fold in the whipped topping with a spatula. 3. Gently stir in the marshmallows, nuts, chocolate chips, bananas, and cherries. 4. Refrigerate at least one hour to chill before serving.
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essentials checklist Winterization
Winterizing your home: • Cover your outdoor hoses, pipes, and faucets. • Have your heating system inspected and clean filters and vents. • Inspect your windows and doors to make sure they are properly sealed and cover any holes with a durable caulk or weatherstripping. • Look for cracks in and around your walls and seal them with caulk. • Inspect the roof, clean gutters, and trim trees away from your roof and windows. • Inspect attic and replace any damaged insulation and seal cracks as needed. • Turn off and drain the water from your sprinkler system. • Protect plants and landscaping by relocating or covering with bed sheets or quilts. Winterizing your vehicle: • Make sure your tires are properly inflated. • Check your tire tread with the “penny test” by inserting a penny between the treads with Lincoln’s head facing down. If the treads cover his head, you are good to go. • Keep up with your routine brake maintenance. • Take a few minutes to inspect your wiper blades and replace them if needed. • Replace wiper fluid with low-temperature fluid. • Check engine coolant and antifreeze levels. • Keep your gas tank full to avoid a buildup of condensation. • Test your battery. Most auto supply shops can test your battery for free.
Winter roadside emergency kit:
• Flashlight and batteries • Spare bulbs for headlights • First aid kit
• Simple tool kit • Reflective vest • Hazard lights, cones, or triangles
• Umbrella • Gas can • Jumper cables
• Lug wrench and jack • State and local maps • Rain poncho • Extra coat • Emergency blankets
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