By Jan Lee Buxengard
The 140th annual meeting of the Wilmington Mutual Insurance Company was held February 24 at the Fest Building in Spring Grove. Policy holders, staff and guests enjoyed a noon meal catered by Ivy Grove Café, and music provided by Glen Alstad of Spring Grove.
Unfortunately, due to the snowstorm, attendance was reduced to 160 from the 273 who had signed up to attend. “We are grateful for all who came, considering what Mother Nature threw us,” Justin Landsom, company president, stated in opening remarks.
“For the year 2016, we decreased our policy count by 37 for a total of 1,095 policies. This amounted to a net deduction of $6,814,965 of policies in force,” reported Kari Alstad, secretary of the company board, office manager and agent. “At the end of the year we have insurance policies in force in the amount of $442,830,389.”
Wilmington Mutual provides insurance coverage for fire, lightning and additional lines, which include cattle drownings, overturned wagon/machinery, collision of machinery, water damage, vandalism and theft.
“When you live in a small community you have friends and neighbors. It is the same with township farm mutuals, who are your friends and neighbors,” Alstad pointed out.
Several tips were shared by Alstad regarding insurance matters:
• If you rent farm machinery, you need to add a special endorsement on your policy.
• Record household personal property items by taking photographs and storing them in a fire proof safe. This documentation can be referred back to if you have a loss.
• Be sure to update/replace smoke alarms/detectors and remember to change batteries. You can get out of your home sooner if they are in working order.
• Water damage from frozen pipes is a common claim during the winter months. If you go away for a period of time, shut off the main water valve for your home to avoid becoming vulnerable to the risk of water failures and water damage. A little extra time and effort is all that it takes to prevent problems.
In gratitude, Alstad added, “Thank you for putting your trust in Wilmington Mutual.”
Incumbents Gary Buxengard, Allen Krueger and Dale Neumann filed for office and were re-elected to three-year terms on the board. Following the meeting, board members met to vote on officers, who will remain the same as last year with Justin Landsom as president; Steve Klug, vice-president; Kari Alstad, secretary; and Lawrence Fruechte, treasurer.
Guest speaker at the meeting was Tom Sloan, field representative for North Star Mutual Insurance based in Cottonwood, Minn., which provides reinsurance to a majority of the Minnesota Township mutual insurance companies in the State of Minnesota. North Star insures for wind, hail, liability and inland marine.
Sloan shared a video from Minneapolis TV Channel 5 Eyewitness News regarding fire safety and risks in the home. For the documentary, cameras were set up to capture in graphic detail what occurred during several scenarios.
“Your home is the most deadly, and dangerous place to be when it comes to fire hazards,” the news reporter stated at the beginning. Topics covered in the video included:
• The homeowner should read labels regarding storage of paint and stain. It’s not the stained wood, but the rag used, that is the hazard. When rags are thrown into a pile, they dry out and the center of the pile can heat up to 549 degrees. In 3 ½ hours a spontaneous fire breaks out.
• Gasoline should never be stored in the home, but rather in an outbuilding. In the home, fumes from gasoline can cause an inferno from the pilot light on the gas water heater, or the spark from an electrical outlet.
• The kitchen is the number one place for fire. Forty percent of fires in the kitchen are unattended cooking. For a burning pan of oil, leave it where it is, get a cover on the pan to smother the fire, shut off the burner, and call the fire department. Don’t wait to call the fire department. To fight the fire, use a fire extinguisher, which you should have near an entrance. When using the extinguisher, remember PASS – Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep.
• Don’t throw water on an oil fire. Water turns oil to vapor, which causes steam and the oil explodes, resulting in flaming oil spreading all over.
• And, always have pot and pan handles turned inward so children can’t reach the handles and spill on themselves, or anyone else accidently bumping the handle and causing spillage of the hot contents.
Fire sprinkler systems are one of the best options for the home. Sprinklers can douse flames in two seconds. Sprinklers cause less water damage to the home because the system sprays less water than the fire department sprays on a fire. One of the misconceptions is that if one sprinkler goes off, they all go off. That is not true. Only the one where the fire is will start. When doing construction, the cost to install sprinklers is about $2 per square foot. People spend $3,000 to sprinkle their grass, but not to do fire sprinklers. It is well worth the money to know your family is safe and your home won’t burn to the ground.
Unused natural gas lines are another main cause of fire in the home. When appliances are converted from gas to electric and the old gas line isn’t removed, gas fumes can cause a fire. This gas smells like rotten eggs. Don’t flip any light switches on, nor make the phone call from inside the home, because doing so can cause a spark.
Following the video, Sloan concluded the program with this important message, “It will be ‘spring forward’ pretty soon. Remember to check the batteries for your smoke alarms.”