Stepping up for family after a workplace accident

More than 500 Texas families lost loved ones to workplace accidents in 2015. This is what drives Texas Mutual to promote safety, so that workplace deaths can be prevented. But if the unthinkable happens and a worker is involved in a catastrophic accident, our commitment extends to their family. It’s one of our most important responsibilities.

One of the ways we support surviving family members is through our scholarship program, which offers scholarships to qualified surviving family members of employees who die from an on-the-job accident.

On April 15, 2013, Morgan Carmichael became one of those whom Texas Mutual supports when her father died in a traffic accident on the job. Watch her story below.

It’s impossible to go back to normal after losing a family member, but it’s our mission to set children and spouses up for success. With a scholarship from Texas Mutual, Morgan is able to go to college without worrying how to pay for her tuition.

Our scholarship program is one of the ways we put our commitment to creating a stronger, safer Texas into action. The Texas Mutual Scholarship Program has distributed $600,390 in college funds to the dependents of catastrophically injured workers since 2001, with more than $85,000 awarded in 2017.

Learn more about our scholarship program on our website and see how to apply. To learn more about how we are making a difference in our great state, visit TXM for Texas.

Rebuilding after Harvey with Texas Mutual’s help

The Houston area was devastated by Hurricane Harvey this fall. The disaster was personal for Texas Mutual because it affected our own employees and many of the businesses that contribute to Texas’ economy. In response, we launched a $10 million grant program for policyholders just 10 days after the storm hit.

Policyholders could apply for up to $10,000 each to help with their recovery, and more than 1,100 business owners received a grant. Each one was affected in a different way, but what they all had in common was the drive to rebuild and the help they received along the way.

Kevin Topek Permaculture DesignsKevin Topek, owner of Permaculture Design LLC located in Bellaire, is a perfect example of that. His landscape design and installation company has been in the Houston area for 16 years and focuses on creating natural habitats and ecosystems.

Ninety-five percent of his neighborhood was completely flooded by Hurricane Harvey. The storm brought two feet of water into his business’ sheds. Many tools were damaged from the floodwaters, requiring extensive man hours to repair, while others needed replacement. After the storm subsided, Kevin’s business took in non-paying jobs so he could help his neighbors with disaster cleanup.

Kevin’s insurance agent, Jan Weatherton of Harco Insurance, contacted him and suggested he apply for a Hurricane Harvey relief grant from Texas Mutual. Using his phone’s sluggish hot spot to connect to the internet on his computer, Kevin detailed the damage his business had suffered: gasoline power tools and lawn mowers were submerged, organic fertilizer and pest control materials were waterlogged and ruined, and dozens of hand tools that were exposed to water became rusty, unusable equipment.

Texas Mutual employees worked tirelessly to process the relief grant applications we received and get responses quickly to policyholders. About one week after submitting his application, Kevin received an email notification letting him know he was approved for a grant. In his words, the response left him “gobsmacked.” He was completely stunned. The check arrived just three days later, giving him the means to start rebuilding his business. Kevin was able to quickly process paychecks for his two employees and put the remaining funds back into his business to help ease the burden during recovery.

In Texas, it is not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, but for Kevin, “it’s the right thing to do and I can’t imagine not doing it.” After receiving the grant funds, Kevin expressed his appreciation for Texas Mutual for helping to keep his business afloat in a challenging time.

“They have my loyalty as long as I’m in business in Texas,” he said.

Our commitment to a stronger, safer Texas

TXM for Texas LogoAt Texas Mutual, we are committed to helping you keep your employees safe on the job. When an injury does occur, we are there with compassion to help businesses recover and injured workers get back to a productive life. That compassion, rooted in each of our employees, extends far beyond the 68,000 businesses and 1.4 million employees that count on us for their workers’ compensation coverage. Take a look at the short video below to see the impact we are making.

Texas Mutual has a rich history of giving back to the communities in which we live, and our employees answer the call to help those in need time and time again. The collective impact of our efforts makes a difference for Texas, and that’s why we are introducing TXM for Texas. In many ways, TXM for Texas is the work we have always done and the partnerships we’ve always had. It speaks to our continuous commitment to the safety, wellness and education of our communities – all with the goal of creating a stronger, safer Texas.

Our commitment to you

At Texas Mutual, we view safety, wellness and education as the keys to success for our policyholders and our communities. We work with organizations that share that same commitment to improve the safety of workplaces and prevent injuries, to promote workplace wellness and healthy living, and to encourage education for those entering the workforce and beyond.

TXM for Safety

Safety is at the core of everything we do. Over the past year, Texas Mutual has awarded $1 million in safety grants for TXM policyholders, our employees created safety kits for cub scouts, and we distributed $228,000 to emergency responder organizations. We will continue these efforts to support the safety of our workplaces across the state of Texas.

TXM for Wellness

When your employees are healthy, they are less likely to get injured and more likely to return to work if an injury does occur. In 2017, Texas Mutual offered $1 million in wellness grants to our policyholders, our employees delivered Meals on Wheels, and we raised $52,000 for the MS-150. We know that healthy employees are safer employees, and we’ll continue to do our part to support healthy communities.

TXM for Education

We believe that education supports the strength of this great state. Our employees volunteer with local schools, we partner with colleges to provide safety-related courses, and we provide scholarships for dependents of workers who experienced catastrophic injuries. We advocate for education and will continue to do so to serve our future workforces.

The TXM for Texas difference you will see

In the coming weeks, we will feature each of our focus areas (safety, wellness and education) here on the Texas Mutual Blog. You can also join us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to see our commitment in action. We’ll highlight the compassionate work our employees do, recognize how our nonprofit partners make a difference in people’s lives every day, and share our efforts to make a measurable change in your communities. This is our commitment for a stronger, safer Texas.

$10 million in Hurricane Harvey Relief Grants for policyholders

Texas flag

We are heartbroken, along with many of you, about the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston and the gulf coast of Texas. Many of those impacted by the storm are the very people whose businesses we work hard to protect every day. We are committed to offering our full support to these employers, which is why Texas Mutual is pledging $10 million to the recovery effort for our policyholders.

This funding will help employers get their businesses on the road to recovery, pay employees’ wages, and rebuild. As these companies and employees work to repair the damage and move forward, we are honored to support them.

How to apply

If you are one of those employers in need, we are here for you. Grant applications open September 13 at noon and funds will be offered on a first come, first serve basis. Current policyholders who have sustained significant damage to a business location in one of the 58 counties on the governor’s Hurricane Harvey Disaster Declaration can apply for up to $10,000 in grant funds from Texas Mutual. Policyholders must have had an in-force policy effective September 12, 2017 or earlier.

Funds can be used for payroll, building rehab or repair, machinery and equipment repair or purchase, replacement of lost inventory, and other expenses associated with rebuilding. Your application will be sent to your agent to co-sign after you’ve submitted it to us. Our review committee is ready to process applications so that we can quickly get funding to those of you in need.

To apply for a grant, visit texasmutual.com/txmfortexas. Additional grant details are available in our frequently asked questions document, or on our website. There you can also find other recovery resources for your business.

Texas Mutual is proud to be your workers’ compensation provider. We know you are the backbone of Texas’ economy – that’s why we have a responsibility to ensure your success and contribute to the resilience of this great state.

Thank you for choosing Texas Mutual, and helping us build a stronger, safer Texas.

Rich Gergasko
President & CEO

rich-gergasko

Texas Mutual goes back to school

Students in Texas are back in school but summer ended earlier for their teachers and for school staff, who spent the last couple of weeks getting ready for the start of the year. Texas Mutual employees were there to help, sending volunteers to Austin’s Lucy Read Pre-Kindergarten in partnership with the United Way for Greater Austin, and making donations to BookSpring, a nonprofit dedicated to early childhood literacy for lower income students, and Irving Schools Foundation’s Supplies for Success program in Dallas.

Thirty-five volunteers helped out at Lucy Read in Austin. They decorated, arranged furniture, made ID cards, laid colored tape paths on the floor to help students navigate the school hallways, organized the school’s office supplies and pulled weeds in nearly 20 garden beds around the campus. Texas Mutual donated glue sticks, colored pencils, construction paper, folders and other supplies, and our volunteers sorted them into 360 school supply packs topped off with good luck messages for the year. Because of Texas Mutual’s donation and the volunteers who assembled the packs, every student enrolled will have the school supplies they need for the school year, taking the burden off of parents.

book spring“I really like to be involved with our community service projects, especially with the school opportunities that we have,” said Brittany Rusciano, a Texas Mutual IT systems analyst who volunteered at Lucy Read.

She added, “I don’t think that the education system always gets the attention that it needs, so every little bit that we can help out, even if that’s just lending a hand to put some posters up or pull some weeds, that means a lot to me, and I think it means a lot to the community and the kids going to these schools.”

In addition to our Lucy Read visit, employees in our special investigations division organized a book drive for the Austin nonprofit BookSpring. They collected 219 books which will be donated to children learning to read.

“I have a big heart for books and the work that BookSpring does is very important to me,” said Fraud Investigator Mari Mendez, who helped organize the book drive.

Volunteers sort school supplies at Lucy Read Pre-Kindergarten in Austin.

Jill Gonzalez, BookSpring’s associate director, added: “This donation was very exciting because we serve 40,000 kids in the Central Texas area and we take donations every day. We take in and give out between one and three thousand books a month, so every book helps and every book makes a difference.”

In Dallas, our employees raised $2,700 dollars to purchase 250 backpacks filled with school supplies. These were for students ranging from kindergarten to high school seniors and were part of Supplies for Success’ 6,800 overall donated packs. Nineteen Texas Mutual employees helped the Supplies for Success program distribute the backpacks to Irving families.

“It’s very rewarding to help out,” said Regina Glessner, a Texas Mutual underwriter who helped distribute the backpacks. “First of all, the amount of backpacks that you see there is incredible. Then it’s great to see the families that come through, and how appreciative they are that the community comes together like this for them. It’s just amazing how many families you really do touch who would not have been able to afford school supplies for their student.”

This year wasn’t the first time that our employees helped schools kick off the academic year. The United Way is one of our primary nonprofit partners, and we have been involved with their back-to-school efforts for the last five years. This is the third year that our Dallas office has organized for Supplies for Success.

“I think it’s awesome that Texas Mutual lets us do this,” Brittany, who volunteered at Lucy Read Pre-Kindergarten in Austin, said. “It’s an investment for Texas Mutual to allow us to do these things and I think it shows that they really care about the community.”

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How Texas Mutual will continue to serve those affected by Hurricane Harvey – Updated 9/12/17

The thoughts of all of us at Texas Mutual are with our fellow Texans in Houston and the Gulf Coast region affected by Hurricane Harvey, including the employees in our Houston Regional Office. Everyone’s focus should be on the security and safety of themselves, their loved ones and their property at this time.

Disaster relief.jpgBecause of the storm, some of our Houston area employees are not available for calls or emails. However, our employees in Austin, Dallas and Lubbock are available to meet your needs. Please call (800) 859-5995 with any questions, and our information services team will provide you with necessary assistance.

Texas Mutual stands ready to help, and has the following resources available for our policyholders, injured workers and insurance agency partners. This information will be updated as further details are available.

The Texas Department of Insurance has developed a helpful resources page for anyone affected by Hurricane Harvey, including tips for claim filing, ways to avoid fraudulent contractors and more.

Employers

Texas Mutual will provide a grace period for premium payments and suspend any policy cancellations for those in areas affected by the storm, in accordance with guidance from the Texas Department of Insurance. Our premium audit team will make accommodations to ensure that our business processes do not affect your recovery operations.

On Friday, September 8, we notified policyholders who have been selected to receive safety grants that the deadline has been extended to submit receipts for reimbursement by 60 days. These policyholders can contact the safety services team at 844-WORKSAFE (967-5723) with any questions.

Texas Mutual is pledging $10 million to the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort for policyholders. Current policyholders who have sustained significant damage can apply for up to $10,000 in grant funds. Grant applications open September 13 at noon. Visit texasmutual.com/txmfortexas for information on how to apply and for other resources for your business.

Injured workers

The primary focus for injured workers should be getting appropriate care. Workers in the affected area participating in our Texas Star Network can seek treatment with any medical provider, regardless of network status, in order to ensure that their needs are met. We will try to contact workers receiving paper benefit checks to see if an alternate delivery method is necessary due to flooding.  Your adjuster is here to help, but feel free to call our main number if you are not able to reach us.

If an injured worker in one of the affected areas misses a designated doctor or requirement medical exam because either the worker or provider was unavailable, benefits will not be suspended. Further, claim reporting and filing deadlines for claims in the affected areas are suspended for the duration of the Governor’s disaster declaration.

Agents

We value our partnership with our agents, and will do everything we can to help you continue to serve our mutual clients. Underwriting operations will continue out of our Dallas and Austin regional offices for as long as necessary to ensure that it is safe for our Houston employees to return to the office.

Remember that you can check the ‘Documents’ page on Texas Mutual Online to review any policy or agency documents you may need while mail service is unavailable. Call our main number if you need assistance with your online account.

Supporting recovery efforts

For those of you in other parts of the state who wish to help, the following resources are available:

Texas Mutual ADRN

Texas Mutual employees volunteered with the Austin Disaster Relief Network over the weekend. Our employees are ready to continue relief

  • United Way of Greater Houston is on the ground and providing support to those affected. You can give to the disaster relief fund here. United Way of Greater Houston also has a helpful resource guide available for those affected by the storm.
  • Texas Mutual is partnering with the Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN) to get much needed supplies for hurricane survivors. Central Texans are encouraged to bring donation items to ADRN’s Hope Family Thrift Store receiving dock at 1122 E. 51st Street, Austin, Texas, 78723. Donations are accepted at the receiving dock Monday through Saturday (closed Sunday) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit ADRN’s Hurricane Harvey response page for a list of items needed or for more information.

 

Getting schooled on safety

As parents send their kids back to school in the coming weeks, they are entrusting teachers to not only guide their children’s education, but also to keep them safe during their time away from home. Safety is an important component of school life, but it’s important for teachers to keep themselves safe as well. For teachers and school staff, the new academic year could mean an increased chance for the most frequent workers’ comp-related injuries we see in schools: slips, trips and falls.

Road signs in Japan : Warning signs, Children crossingFor teachers and all other school employees, including cafeteria and janitorial staff, the best way to prevent on-the-job injuries is to create a greater awareness of these potential hazards, which in turn will help every staff member prevent them.

Take a look below at our tips for reducing hazards and preventing falls in schools:

  • Hallways, classrooms and reception areas should be kept free of debris and clutter, and trash should be collected and removed daily.
  • Electrical and telephone cords should be routed around doorways and walkways.
  • Worn, torn or loose floor coverings should be repaired or replaced immediately.
  • Floors should be swept or vacuumed daily.
  • Spills should be cleaned up promptly and “Caution: Wet Floor” signs displayed.
  • Library and classroom bookshelves should be solidly constructed and neatly arranged to reduce the possibility of injuries sustained from collapsing shelves or toppling books.
  • Schools with stairwells should ensure the stairs are in good condition, covered with a non-skid material and equipped with sturdy handrails.

Free resources

A safe work environment requires proper training and a collective effort. You’ll find free resources below from Texas Mutual to help prevent slips, trips and falls, as well as safety material to help educators keep their students safe.

  • Utilize Texas Mutual’s free e-Learning online courses. With more than 200 courses to choose from, including fall prevention training, e-Learning helps educate faculty and staff on reducing common workplace injuries. To get started, select e-Learning under the safety resources tab in your texasmutual.com account.
  • For a deeper look into why slips, trips and falls happen and how they impact your business, watch our webinar on Tips for a Slip, Trip and Fall-Free Work Day.
  • Visit the National Education Association for free educator resources about emergency planning and violence prevention, and material for parents on school safety issues.

Teaching is an important profession that often emphasizes preparation and education to students, but those values are just as important for teachers. Preparing for the unexpected and educating yourself about potential workplace hazards are the best ways to prevent an injury at work.

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