$10 million in Hurricane Harvey Relief Grants for policyholders

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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

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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.

10,000 meals and counting delivered to those in need

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Texas Mutual employee makes a delivery to a Meals on Wheels participant

At Texas Mutual, wellness and safety are at the heart of everything we do. That mission shapes our giving and empowers our employees to support their communities as well. One way Texas Mutual employees have chosen to do that is by spending their lunch hour taking care of those in need.

While some use their noontime break to run errands or dine out, one group of colleagues at Texas Mutual takes a different approach and delivers meals to feed the elderly in our neighborhood. This changing group of about 26 employees has delivered more than 10,000 meals over the span of 15 years.

The group volunteers with Meals on Wheels Central Texas, a chapter of Meals on Wheel and More, which is a national charity that makes sure housebound seniors have enough to food to eat. The volunteers pick up prepared food from the nonprofit’s kitchens and deliver it to program participants, who receive a hot meal to eat for lunch that day and a refrigerated one for later. This provides valuable assistance to seniors who have limited mobility and may not have family members nearby to help care for them.

That purpose is exactly what drives Lori Keegan, a quality assurance supervisor in our IT department. Lori is the volunteer coordinator of Texas Mutual’s Meals on Wheels partnership.

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Texas Mutual employees pack up meals before delivering in the community

“I’m fortunate enough to live close to my family, so I’m there for them, but other people aren’t that fortunate,” she said. “This is a way to help people who aren’t as fortunate as I am.”

Lori coordinates the schedules of the Texas Mutual volunteers, who each drive our route once or twice per month. Together, they deliver about 80 meals every month, building relationships with everyone they bring meals to.

“It’s more than just delivering the meal,” Lori said. “It’s about the total well-being of the person. Sometimes we’re the only person they might see all day.”

When our employees volunteer and support our mission, they make a difference in people’s lives and help us to build stronger, safer communities. Join us in supporting Meals on Wheels and visit our website to see how we’re making a difference in Texas.

Texas Mutual’s Day of Giving for the Cub Scouts

Texas heat can be overwhelming but with school out for the summer, plenty of children will be playing outdoors. Heat safety precautions are important, which is why Texas Mutual employees put together 4,500 summer safety kits last week for Cub Scouts in Texas. Each one contains bottled water, sunscreen and lip balm to ensure that the scouts can have a safe and fun time at summer camp. Each of our offices, in Lubbock, Austin, Houston and Dallas contributed, so the kits will reach Scouts all over the state.

“Safety is really important to us,” said Joel Rice, director of development for the Capitol Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. “We follow some pretty strict safety guidelines that are approved by our national organization because we care about keeping kids healthy.

“It seems like the most basic summer safety rules are the ones that young kids struggle with the most: use sunscreen, stay hydrated, don’t over-exert yourself. These kits will help them stay cool, safe and hydrated and still have fun in the sun.”

Putting together these safety kits was part of Texas Mutual’s first ever Day of Giving, in which all of our employees had the opportunity to work on a single community service project on the same day. Employees donated a part of their workday to assemble the summer safety kits. They will reach scouts at the Capitol Area Council in Central Texas, the South Plains Council in the Lubbock area, Dallas’ Circle Ten Council, and the Sam Houston Area Council in Houston.

Texas Mutual employees visiting the Capitol Area Council to deliver completed safety kits. Joel Rice is on the far right and Jon Yates, scout executive of the Capitol Area Council, is on the left in uniform.

The Cub Scouts will be swimming, hiking, playing sports, making arts and crafts, and learning skills like orienteering and leather work during day camps and longer stays. Most are aged between seven and 14. Consider these heat safety tips for kids and teens from the National Weather Service, and for your workplace, take a look at our recent post on keeping your employees safe in the Texas heat.

Texas Mutual cyclists complete 150 mile trek and raise $52,000 for multiple sclerosis research

At Texas Mutual, we not only give back to the communities that we serve, but also empower our employees to make a difference through charity.

Making it to the finish line in Austin

For the fourth year in a row, Texas Mutual participated in the BP MS 150, a charity two-day bicycle ride from Houston to Austin that took place the last weekend of April.

In addition to the ride itself, Texas Mutual’s MS 150 team has been fundraising for the cause for weeks. The team raised $52,000 and counting, while the MS 150 as a whole surpassed its $16 million goal.

While many riders are drawn to the team camaraderie, the physical challenge, and the philanthropic mission, for Texas Mutual Claims Supervisor Jennifer Abrams, it was personal. Her sister passed away due to multiple sclerosis so this ride, which raises money for research and treatment of the disease, is very important to her.

“I choke up with tears every time I talk about that because I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity to ride for a cause that matters to me, with the support of Texas Mutual,” she said.

In addition to our 35 riders, Texas Mutual sent 54 volunteers to the MS 150 to help our team and the event at large. They dispensed food, water and snacks, set up the overnight camp in La Grange, transported luggage, gave rides back from the finish line, and supported any riders who lagged behind from mechanical breakdowns or other problems.

This year, the riders overcame some tough weather, with heat and humidity on day one, and hail on day two that delayed the start time. On day two, riders also dealt with a headwind for dozens of miles that made for tough going.

Texas Mutual’s 2017 MS 150 riders and volunteers getting ready to depart for Houston.

The ride, which brings in 13,000 cyclists and 3,500 volunteers, has been held each year since 1985 and has been a core charitable event for Texas Mutual since 2014. Some riders are avid cyclists, like CEO Rich Gergasko, and some are getting into the sport for the first time. Either way, it’s the cause that brings our team back every year.

“I ride the MS 150 because I get to participate in an event with people of all ages and all walks of life, pushing their limits for a great cause,” said team co-captain Alan Cullen, a senior manager of IT at Texas Mutual.

Click here to learn about more about the 2017 BP MS 150 and for more information on Texas Mutual’s charitable giving, visit the Community Involvement page on texasmutual.com.

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