By Jan Lee Buxengard
In spite of an overnight storm that dropped about five inches of snow, a total of 227 people attended the 136th annual meeting of the Wilmington Mutual Insurance Company on Feb. 22 at the Fest Building in Spring Grove. The noon meal was catered by Ivy Grove Café, and music was provided by the Starliters, all of Spring Grove.
Guests included Tom Sloan, field representative with North Star Mutual, as well as Steve Reller and Justin Pape of RAM Mutual, which is the statewide re-insurance company that insures the insurance company for extremely large losses.
“We decreased our policy count by five policies for a total of 1,174 policies. But we increased our insurance in force by $11,425,964,” Kari Alstad, the company’s secretary, manager and agent reported about the year 2012. “We thank you, our policyholders, for choosing our company to provide your property insurance.”
The company has 14 agents who serve the counties of Fillmore, Houston and Winona.
Our worldwide climate seems to have changed in recent years, and because of this change, property insurance carriers have been hit very hard, Alstad relayed. From hurricanes to tornados, lightning storms, wind storms and hail, the insurance companies have been affected.
“You will most likely see a change in your premium to help offset some of the expense that insurance companies have had to shoulder. As of now, Wilmington Mutual has not taken a rate increase, but both North Star and RAM, and I am sure most companies out there, have adjusted their rates accordingly. Hopefully we will see favorable changes in the weather so the current premium increases can be enough to offset the loss from these storms.”
Many of the people in Spring Grove area were affected by the hail storm last fall.
Justin Pape of Nisswa, Minn., manager of special investigations with RAM Mutual Insurance Company of Esko, was the guest speaker. With the aid of power point slides, he presented information about fires and water damage in buildings.
“I have seen many structure fires over the years,” he stated about his work. He uses several investigative tactics, including interviewing, electrical arc mapping and the assistance of burn patterns to help aid his investigation and narrow down the area of fire origin to help determine the cause of each loss.
When an area of fire origin is narrowed down he must collect all evidence in that area for testing to help assist with the cause determination. There are several questions that can be asked to an eyewitness to help aid an investigation. Some questions include:
• Was anyone home at the time of the loss?
• What room did you see flames in?
• Any problems with anything in the home?
• Was anything running at the time?
• If nobody was home, was the structure locked?
• If not, was it a burglary?
Before entering a burned structure he always checks the power to avoid getting an electrical shock and looks for signs of a tripped breaker in the electrical panel.
Candles are one of the leading causes of fires in homes. Safety measures should be used when burning candles. Never leave a candle unattended; use on a heat resistant surface; trim the wick to a quarter inch before use; and stop using the candle when a half inch of the wax remains. Discard the burned wick you trimmed off; otherwise, it will burn, heat the glass container, break it and wax will run out.
On the topic of water damage, Pape continued, “We are seeing an increased severity of this in homes within recent years.” It could be a water line or valve leak or break. “Simple water line breaking can be prevented with the right measures.”
The first indication of leaking is a big change in your water bill. Also, if you see stains on ceiling or walls, call a plumber.
Check for corrosion of water supply lines to sinks and toilets, the washing machine, dish washer, hot water heater, ice maker on the refrigerator, outside faucets, etc. Every six months, inspect the washing machine hose for corrosion and condensation, and never leave the house when the washing machine is in use.
Have a plumber check the water heater as a typical unit lasts 10 to 12 years.
There should be adequate insulation around water supply lines on exterior walls. Also, take garden hoses off the outside faucet so water doesn’t freeze and burst in the house on the other side of the faucet.
“The method of plumbing has changed in the last 10 to 20 years,” Pape pointed out. “Years ago copper lines were put in. Now days they use standard plastic, which has an increased chance to dry out, get bridle, crack and break. Over the last 10 years, the number of water losses in homes has increased due to some of these issues.”
“How simple it is to shut your water off when you go away or leave your home. A simple turn off valve takes the pressure off the line and can prevent costly damage. Locate the home’s water shut off and mark it.”
Election of officers
Incumbents Greg Guillien, Steve Klug and Justin Landsom were re-elected to three-year terms on the board.
Following the meeting, the board met to elect officers: Harold Meyer, president; Steve Klug, vice president; Kari Alstad, secretary; and Lawrence Fruechte, treasurer. Directors are Glenn Kinneberg, Gary Buxengard, Allen Krueger, Greg Guillien and Justin Landsom.