Author Archives: Tyler Bruton

The 2018 CPCU (Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter) Conferment took place in San Diego, October 13th. FAMI Employees receiving their CPCU Designation are: Carri Brobst (I.T.), Amberle Fowler (Underwriting), Ashly Goering (I.T.) , Julie Miller (Claims), and Chris Mines (Product Management). Congratulations to all on their accomplishment!

MCPHERSON, KANSAS — Farmers Alliance employees recently crowned employee Zack Lock, Application Programmer, as the 2018 FAMI “Prince of Pink” in a special ceremony at the Home Office. Lock was one of six employees who volunteered to compete for the title by raising funds for McPherson’s Women And Children Combatting Cancer (WACCC). All combined, the 6 potential “Princes” collected $3,503.76 for the local organization. The other candidates included Tyler Bruton, Electronic Communications Coordinator, Jeff Collins, Buildings & Grounds Supervisor, Thomas Gray, Underwriter, Pat Reed, Office Claims Adjuster, and Stephan Rhymer, Underwriter.

Farmers Alliance employees participating in the “Prince of Pink” competition to support WACCC. Front row: Joshua Paine, Natalie Zink, JoLynn Stout, Zack Lock, Tammy Cape, Dixie Barrow. Back row: Jamie Hubin, Stephan Rhymer, Jeff Collins, Tyler Bruton, Thomas Gray, Pat Reed.

The “Prince of Pink” campaign was initiated by the Farmers Alliance Wellness Committee. Chairman Sandy Baldwin, Casualty Claims Manager, explained that the committee believes “wellness” includes more than just eating healthy and leading a physically active lifestyle. “It’s also about supporting your community, especially those who are facing health-related challenges,” she said. WACCC provides financial and emotional support to those fighting cancer.
The week-long campaign featured numerous fundraising activities presented by the six teams. Each “Prince” candidate was assigned a volunteer “campaign manager” who assisted with fundraising and promotion. Activities included all types of baked goods for sale or auction, arts and crafts items for auction, “candy-grams”, chances to win tickets to various events and activities, and a fun “Herd That” activity that would send a “herd” of cows to a co-worker’s office, which they would have to pay to have removed. In addition to supporting a great organization, the contest allowed employees to learn more about the mission of WACCC, as well.
President and CEO Brian Lopata (a two-time recipient of the “herd”) said, “Our Farmers Alliance family is much like any other family — we like to enjoy fun and food together, but we also like to make a difference in our community. The “Prince of Pink” campaign has been a great opportunity for us to have fun together while helping to meet a need in our community. And, we got to see Zack in that beautiful dress!” He thanked all employees for supporting this cause, especially the candidates and their campaign managers for all their hard work.

 

The Farmers Alliance Wellness Committee with WACCC representatives. Left to right: JoLynn Stout (FAMI), Sandy Baldwin (FAMI), Angie Timson (WACCC), Gloria Schroeder (FAMI), Jen Bonham (WACCC), Shayna McElwain (FAMI).

At Farmers Alliance, we want to help you protect your property AND your identity! Your identity is valuable, and recovering from an identity theft can be difficult and costly. A first step toward protecting identity theft is by assessing your risk. Through our partners at Cyber Scout, you can evaluate your risk quickly and easily.

It’s called your ID RiskCompass, and with just a few quick questions you can identify areas of strength AND weaknesses to address, with helpful tips for making simple changes.
You can find this at www.fami.com, click “Protect Your Identity” under the “Already a Customer?” list of options. You’ll see ID RiskCompass right at the top!
There’s even more great information available from CyberScout — you’ll find it in the Knowledge Center at that same web location.

As a reminder, you and your household members have access to an experienced, personal-touch fraud specialist from CyberScout at no cost. If you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, call to be connected to a fraud specialist at the CyberScout Resolution Center. A personal fraud specialist will guide you through the resolution process until the problem is fully resolved and your peace of mind is restored.
For help: 800.362.1075, ext. 1128 For info: www.fami-idtheft.com

As a Farmers Alliance customer, we want you to be proud of the company you trust for your insurance protection. One way that we work to earn your trust is by supporting the communities where we live and work. Farmers Alliance is headquartered in McPherson, Kansas, a community of about 14,000 situated right in the center of the country. This community is where our company was started more than 135 years ago, and is a big part of who we have become. Here are just a few ways that Farmers Alliance works to “give back” to our hometown:

• Support the local Food Bank, especially during our fall food drive• Participate in the McPherson Relay for Life supporting cancer research

• Support the McPherson County United Way by volunteering, employee pledges and company contributions

• Provide leadership and support to numerous civic and youth organizations, including Optimist Club, Kiwanis, and various sports

 

And the list goes on! Thank you for being a part of our “FAMI-ly”!

You’ve seen them, the videos and commercials warning about the dangers of texting and driving. But do you REALLY pay attention?
The danger is actually from any type of DISTRACTED DRIVING, and the danger is very, very real. While teen drivers are more susceptible to this due to their lack of experience, ALL drivers are at risk. Here are some things you can do to keep from getting distracted while driving. Simple, but can save lives!
• Do not text or use cell phones. If you need to use your cell phone, stop in a safe parking area.
• Avoid arguments or distracting conversations with passengers.
• Leave a little early to allow yourself time to stop to eat.
• Be sure children are properly and safely buckled up and give them books, toys or games to occupy their time.
• Properly secure pets in a pet carrier BEFORE moving your vehicle.
• Adjust vehicle controls, such as mirrors, heat or air conditioning, before you begin your trip. Take advantage of normal stops to adjust controls, or ask your passenger to adjust controls.
• Review maps and plan your route before you begin driving. If you need to look at a map stop in a safe parking area.
• Do not talk with occupants of other vehicles.
• Do not wear headphones to listen to music.
BOTTOM LINE: Stay focused, pay attention, expect the unexpected.

Keith Birkhead, Chairman of the Board for the Farmers Alliance Companies, was recently honored by the Kansas Association of Property and Casualty Insurance Companies (KAPCIC) for his service to the industry and the state. Annually, KAPCIC recognizes one individual who has been a long-standing, positive influence on the Kansas insurance industry. For 2018, the award was presented to Keith Birkhead.

Keith serves a Chairman of the Board for Farmers Alliance, having retired as President and CEO in 2015, with more than 38 years of service. During that time, Keith represented the Kansas insurance industry on numerous national boards, including the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, the Alliance of American Insurers (now known as PCI), and the American Institute for Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters. In late 2017, at the request of the Farmers Alliance Board of Directors, Keith returned to “active duty” as interim President & CEO during the company’s search for new leadership. He continued in that role until late August 2018.

According to Jack Rader, President of KAPCIC, “We want to recognize Keith for his decades of service to the insurance industry in Kansas. In addition to his past accomplishments, Keith’s recent actions were instrumental in maintaining the stability of the company during a time of significant change. This has benefitted policyholders and employees, and ensured a strong, stable future for Farmers Alliance and the entire market in Kansas.”

Birkhead is pictured with, left to right, Brian Schmidt (Farmers Alliance Property Claims Manager), Andy Edwardson (Farmers Alliance Chief Information Officer), Curtis Holle (Bremen Farmers Mutual Insurance Company President, and KAPCIC Board Member), Ryan Hicks (Farmers Alliance Vice President for Human Resources), Chris Brown (Upland Mutual Insurance Company President and KAPCIC Board Member), Rick Wilborn (Kansas State Senator and former KAPCIC Board Member), Sandy Baldwin (Farmers Alliance Casualty Claims Manager), Tonya Schafer (Farmers Alliance Vice President for Compliance & Product Development), Sue Howard (Farmers Alliance Corporate Secretary), Randy Lutgen (Farmers Alliance Vice President for Underwriting), Keith Birkhead, and Jack Rader (Farmers Alliance Chief Marketing Officer and KAPCIC President).

Farmers Alliance Welcomes New President Brian Lopata

August 15th, 2018, was a very special day for Farmers Alliance. As we marked our 130th year of protecting our policyholders, our 12th President, Brian Lopata, was welcomed to the FAMI-ly. Brian will begin his duties as President & CEO on August 27th, but this special celebration allowed he and his family (Betsy, Andrew and Gavin) to meet the FAMI-ly at Farmers Alliance.

The day of celebration began with a delicious breakfast provided by Chris Cakes of Wichita, Kansas. The pleasant aroma of freshly cooked pancakes, bacon and sausage filled the halls of Farmers Alliance as employees gathered for breakfast.

Jack Rader getting some “Flap Jacks”

Even though, Chris Cakes is known for their flapjack flipping, they are extremely talented in pancake art as well.

Pancake Art

The celebration also included a fun evening as well. Various food trucks began pulling into the north parking lot around 4 pm to set up shop. The food trucks (Big Chill Ice Cream, BS Sandwich Press, Hot-2-Trot Gourmet Hotdogs, Lo Lo’s Crepes, Smokin’ Diner and Urban Skillet) offered a variety of main dishes and desserts, allowing guests to have several choices.

A large tent provided a place for employees, retirees and their families to meet Brian and his family, and to escape the heat and enjoy their meals in the shade. Battle Zone DJ’s laid down some classic tracks for the night’s entertainment, along with announcing the winners of a raffle for some gift cards.

It was the perfect evening; full of food, fun, laughter, and conversation.

Welcome to the FAMI-ly, Brian, Betsy, Andrew, and Gavin Lopata!

 

 

 

Brian D. Lopata has been named President and Chief Executive Officer for the Farmers Alliance Companies, effective August 27, 2018. The announcement was made by L. Keith Birkhead, Chairman of the Board.

According to Birkhead, “Brian brings extensive experience in the insurance industry to this position, combined with a clear vision for the future of Farmers Alliance. Most of all, he is committed to the family-oriented culture, and is enthusiastic about developing the strong relationships with our employees, agent partners and policyholders.”
As President and Chief Executive Officer, Lopata will have day-to-day responsibility for all functional areas of the companies, working directly with members of the Executive Management Team.

Brian Lopata family

The Brian Lopata family
(Brian is pictured second from left)

A native of upstate New York, Lopata has held leadership positions in Underwriting, Marketing, and Customer Relations for two mutual insurance companies during his 27-year career. Since 2004, he was with Preferred Mutual Insurance Company, where he most recently served as Senior Vice President for Profit Center Operations and Customer Relations. His responsibilities have included day-to-day company operations, as well as strategic planning.

Lopata received his Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from the State University of New York at Oswego. He also holds the Associate in Underwriting and Associate in Insurance Services designations.

He and his wife, Betsy, have two adult sons. Brian and Betsy will relocate to McPherson in the near future.

There are billions of Bluetooth devices on the market today. In fact, it is almost harder to find a device that doesn’t have Bluetooth. Over the last several years devices with Bluetooth show up in the following:

  • Phones
  • Cars
  • Computers
  • TVs
  • Headsets
  • Gaming consoles
  • Tablets

 

Due to implementation of millions of Bluetooth devices in use, malicious security violations are now common events these days and expected to increase in the future.

 

The increased usage of Bluetooth devices makes security concerns even more alarming. Like any other wireless communication system Bluetooth transmission can be deliberately jammed or intercepted. False or modified information could be sent to the users by the attacker.

 

Some important common vulnerabilities are listed below:

 

  • Blue jacking: Blue jacking is the process of sending unsolicited messages to Bluetooth-enabled devices.
  • BlueSnarfing: is the illegal theft of information from Bluetooth enabled devices.
  • BlueBugging: is an attack in which the attacker exploits Bluetooth enabled in a device to get unauthorized access of the system and manipulate the target device to compromise its security.

 

Depending on your specific device, you’ll have different Bluetooth options and settings available, but the same general advice applies to all. If your Bluetooth device is not paired with another Bluetooth device at any time, turn its Bluetooth capability off to avoid an unknown device from trying to connect to it.  Even if you are paired with a device, you should still turn off Bluetooth discovery (so other devices can’t see your phone) as well as auto pairing (which can allow a device you’re not familiar with to connect to your phone without your approval).

 

Policyholders who suspect they are victims of fraud should contact Farmers Alliance at 620-241-2200 to find out how they can work with a fraud specialist to help manage and protect their identity.

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