Category Archives: Public

Courtesy of Hutchinson News.

“As Harold “Hap” Walters was finishing up donating his 298th pint of blood on Monday during the quarterly Hutchinson Community Blood Drive, his wife excitedly came to the donation site to show him some mail that had just arrived.

Walters was the subject of an article in The Hutchinson News back in November, when he hit the 37-gallon donation mark.

The story has made its way around the country, including into a joke last week on late night TV.

Monday’s letter, however, was from the current CEO of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies in Indianapolis, Indiana, the place Walters worked for 34 years – including 23 as president and CEO – before retiring nearly three decades ago.

The letter included a photo of CEO Charles “Chuck” Chamness donating blood, Walters said, and a message from Chamness that Walters “is still inspiring the staff” despite an absence of 27 years.

Inspired by his story, the company had set up its first on-site blood drive – and designated it “Hap Walters Spirit Day.”

After finishing his donation, Walters made his appointment for the June drive. If things go as he hopes, he will hit 300 pints in August.”

Congratulations to Hap!

 

F-4 Tornado Destroys Family Farm, Farmers Alliance is Right There to Help

On May 25, 2016, a category F-4 tornado swept across central Kansas. Multiple homes were damaged – even railroad tracks were destroyed that night. Fortunately, nobody was injured.

The tornado, described as a half-mile-wide wedge, just barely skirted south of Chapman, a town of about 1,400, but struck several farmhouses in Dickinson County. One of those farmsteads belonged to a Farmers Alliance customer. It was a total loss.

Rich Cunningham (Senior Field Adjuster) adjusting the loss at the farmstead near Chapman.

Prior to the storm, the farm, situated on 500 acres, included a lovely 1944 square-foot home, 6 barns, 3 machine sheds, 3 other buildings, and 2 center pivots. After the storm, as you can see from the photo, none of the buildings were left standing, and the equipment was heavily damaged, or missing.

For Ken and Deb Wood, the place they had called home since 1993 was gone — all the machinery except one tractor, all the farm trucks and a semi truck, and all their personal vehicles except the pickup Mr. Wood was driving at the time of the storm.

Where to start?

With a total loss like this, one might expect it would take a long time to get the claim settled, let alone rebuild. There are several steps in the process, but it all begins with the initial review of the property by the claims adjuster. And while the entire rebuilding process would take many months, that initial review – and making payment to the customer – was completed in just a matter of days (see infographic).

 

 

While each loss has its own timeline, in this case, and even with a loss of this magnitude, the review was completed and payments were provided to our customer in just 7 days. Those payments allowed them to begin rebuilding their lives – finding new temporary housing, replacing items lost in the storm, and making plans for construction of their new home.

Finding a Place to Stay

The family needed an immediate place to stay during the rebuilding. A member of the Chapman community heard that the couple lost their house and they had a two story farm house that belonged to a deceased family member.  The house was fully furnished including towels in the closet, dishes in the cabinet, beds that were made and ready to sleep in.  All the family had to do was put food in the refrigerator and cabinets – and, some friends and family already did that for them. They walked through the door and continued to live there as if it was their home.

The Rebuilding Process

Over the past year, the “new” farmstead has been built from the ground up. It would take several months to clean up the debris and other remains from the vicious storm. New construction began in October, starting with pouring the basement.

 

October 11, 2016, shortly after the foundation was poured and set.

Framing of the house began shortly after the basement and foundation were poured. (Photo taken October 28, 2016)

To replace several small buildings and sheds, a large Morton machine shed was being put up in no time. (Photo taken October 28, 2016)

The exterior of the house is framed and sided, as well as the Morton building. All that is left is the interior to do. (Photos taken February 28, 2017)

Moving In

The Wood family was able to move into their new home during the first week of May 2017.

Ken explained, “We were in shock the first month or two and look back and understand why it was so important for Rich to be there to help us get all the pieces put together and how it is a process of making sure things are done right and step by step. We have told many people that our insurance company is Farmers Alliance when asked, because others are still in the middle of working through the process while we are done and in a new house.  The others are looking into Farmers Alliance because of how well our claim was processed. Everything was rebuilt in less than a year.”

The Woods’ Farmers Alliance agent, Morris Edwards, owner of the Edwards Agency in Chapman, KS, had this to say about the claims department. “I was very pleased with the response from Rich Cunningham, and all of the claims department. Not only were they quickly on site, they kept in contact with the family until the entire claim was settled. This is how we would all want to be treated at time of loss.”

Welcome home, Wood family!


Why choose Farmers Alliance?

At Farmers Alliance, we’ve provided excellent claims service for more than 125 years, and we are committed to continuing that legacy. We take our responsibility very seriously, and stand ready to help when you need us.

If you’re already a Farmers Alliance customer, thank you! We look forward to serving you if the need arises. If you’re not a Farmers Alliance customer yet, contact a Farmers Alliance agent near you!


 

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.

 

BloodMobile

The Red Cross Bloodmobile outside of Farmers Alliance

The American Red Cross exists to provide compassionate care to those in need. Through a network of generous donors, volunteers and employees, they share a mission of preventing and relieving suffering, here at home and around the world, through five key service areas: Disaster Relief, Supporting America’s Military Families, Lifesaving Blood, Heath and Safety Services, and International Services.

5.6 million blood donations are collected by the Red Cross each year! 3.3 million generous volunteer blood donors roll up a sleeve each year.

Blood donors are ordinary people – high school students, factory and office workers, business executives, parents and grandparents, and people from every walk of life, including the insurance professionals at Farmers Alliance!

Farmers Alliance has several employees that give blood whenever the truck comes around. JoLynn Stout (Human Resources) is the company blood drive coordinator. She promotes the drive, and recruits employees to sign up and give blood. Lunch is also provided to Red Cross Staff and employees.

Sandy Baldwin (Claims) is a frequent donor, and had this to say about giving. “Through personal experiences over the years, I’ve learned first-hand the importance of having a reliable blood supply available to those in need. Since Farmers Alliance has the Red Cross Bloodmobile come to our office, I really can’t think of a reason not to participate in the drive, or at least to give it a try. In most cases, giving blood is quick and easy. It just seems to be the right thing to do!”

If you would like to give to the Red Cross or would like to donate blood. Visit their site here.

In the very small township of Springfield, South Dakota, lies Koch Insurance. There are other Koch Insurance offices in South Dakota — the main office in Tyndall with two more branches in Tabor and Yankton. Kim Bierema is an agent that works in the Springfield office. Not only is she a Farmers Alliance Agent, she and her husband, Myron, are Farmers Alliance policyholders.

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Kim Bierema

Back in July, their air conditioner wasn’t cooling their home properly. “Something’s just not right here,” Kim explained. Kim called her local plumbing and heating company, and had a guy come out to look at it. He explained to the couple that the copper tubing in the air conditioning unit burst. They needed to replace the whole unit with a new one. The new unit was ordered and was installed.

Kim thought to herself, “I believe I have Equipment Breakdown coverage on my homeowners policy. I wonder if this would qualify for this situation.”

Kim contacted Farmers Alliance’s Claims Department and, sure enough, her air conditioner was covered under Equipment Breakdown. The claim was paid within a week’s time. The amount paid was $8,900 for the new air conditioner. She paid her $500 deductible.

“I’ve had this coverage since it was first introduced. I thought about getting rid of it several times, but I’m so thankful that I didn’t! Wow!”

Equipment Breakdown Coverage responds to the cost to repair or replace mechanical, electrical or pressure systems equipment that suffer a breakdown.

Your Farmers Alliance agent is the best source of information regarding these coverages. Talk with them about your specific situation, and they’ll know just what you need!

Courtesy of The Insurance Journal

Kansas recorded a 22 percent increase in traffic fatalities in 2016 compared with the previous year, and one state trooper says distracted driving is the main reason.

The Kansas Department of Transportation says 432 people died in traffic accidents in 2016.

The Wichita Eagle reports that the National Safety Council says traffic fatalities increased 6 percent nationwide in 2016.

Kansas Highway Patrol trooper Chad Crittenden says distracted driving is the key reason for the increase. He says he recently watched 14 drivers while he was stopped at a busy Wichita intersection — and 11 of the drivers went through the intersection either talking or texting on their phones.

Others say lower gas prices also are a factor, because more drivers are on the roads.

For the past 44 years, Farmers Alliance has put on an Education Luncheon to honor

employees’ hard work furthering their education. This year’s luncheon was held on February 15th, 2017. The Guests of Honor were employees who completed IIA/CPCU courses or designations in 2016. Attendees enjoyed a pasta buffet catered by Knackies of McPherson.

Here are some Fun Facts for 2016 Award Year:

  • There are currently 40 employees that hold the CPCU designation.
  • In 2016, there were 46 employees who sat for 119 IIA/CPCU exams.
  • Of those exams 40 employees successfully completed 87 exams.
  • Employee-Wide Pass Ratio for 2016: 73%
  • 21/46 employees completed at least one designation.
  • 38 employees successfully completed an IIA/CPCU course in 2016.

For this year’s luncheon, it was a “At the Movies” theme.

Kelly Kostelnik, Carri Brobst, and Teri Russell shared their education experiences with the group.

Teri Russell had this to say about completing her CPCU.

“I was encouraged on a regular basis to complete my CPCU. I took the hardest classes first, Law and Accounting. With those behind me, you’d think that finishing up would be a breeze, but life is happening all the time. I passed my last exam in May of 2016, and attended the conferment in Hawaii last September. Way beyond the knowledge that I’ve gained, I also gained the sense of accomplishment in completing a tough goal. Whether I will actually use it in my job or not– it will make me a better employee, a better citizen, and a better person.”

President Joe Brossard talked about the partnership with Central Christian College in McPherson, KS.  Some of our CPCU recipients teach insurance courses to college students.

President Joe Brossard addressing attending about the importance of insurance education

Congratulations to all award recipients!

 

Think identity theft mostly happens to older people? Or to high-income earners? The truth is that identity thieves focus their efforts wherever the opportunities are, and there are plenty of opportunities across most age groups.

Identity theft complaints are on the rise, with 16 percent of consumers filing reports, up from the previous year, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s 2016 Consumer Sentinel Network Databook.

Tax- or wage-related fraud was the most common reported identity-related fraud, accounting for 45 percent of consumer complaints, followed by credit card fraud and phone or utilities fraud representing 16 and 10 percent of complaints, respectively.

Most Affected Groups

For our nation’s service members, identity theft remains the number one complaint, unfortunately. And while in past years consumers of all ages reported incidents of the crime at relatively similar rates, the numbers now paint a different picture. Consumers between the ages of 40 and 69 are reporting identity theft at higher rates, suggesting a growing awareness of this crime—and vulnerability.

Here’s a look at three groups identity thieves target and why.

Seniors

More seniors are reporting identity theft. Consumers between the ages of 40-49 and 50-59 accounted for 15 percent and 24 percent of complaints, respectively, both up from the previous year. And the numbers for seniors are likely to be even higher, according to an AARP survey which found that “victims 55 years of age and older were significantly less likely to acknowledge that they were defrauded than victims under 55.” All-too-common scams include tax identity theft, medical identity theft and fraud committed by nursing home and long-term care staff

Military Personnel

Service members are reporting identity theft at a higher rate—30 percent—than the previous year. And they’re experiencing more familiar fraud and new-account fraud than most populations, according to the 2015 Identity Fraud Report from Javelin Strategy & Research. The military has used personally identifying information (PII), such as Social Security numbers, as general identifiers for personnel, which increases theft risks. Moreover, deployed military personnel who do not place an active duty alert on their credit files are easy targets for friends or family members.

College Students

Identity theft complaints among college-age students may have dropped slightly, but this group is four times more likely to have their identity stolen through familiar fraud than other populations, according to the 2015 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research. Much of the issue is likely due to awareness of behaviors that may put them at risk, as well as limited understanding of the costs and challenges of identity theft. For example, students are often very aware of computer security, but they share personal information widely and may not understand the importance of locking away or shredding important documents and IDs, and regularly checking their credit reports.

 

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.

If you go downstairs to the Farmers Alliance mail room during this holiday season, you will find more than just letters and packages. You will find several balloons in various shapes and sizes. Veeda Clark creates “Christmas Balloon Art”. She has made presents, an elf that sits on her shelf, and several other Christmas decorations.Veeda

This hobby started about three years ago, when Veeda would make balloon creations for her nieces and grand children’s birthdays. She has made several arches, columns, and table decorations. One of her favorite projects that she has done was her Niece, Sunnie’s Birthday Party.

The biggest decoration is a gateway arch that is red and white that sits in front of her desk. It took two hundred balloons to make, mainly small ones. She uses a pump for the larger balloons, but blows up the smaller ones by herself. She had to bring the arch in  three separate pieces in order to fit it in her car.

“It’s really hard to transport that amount of balloons in a Kia Soul.”

 

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