Putting the brakes on distracted driving

When you are behind the wheel, do you glance at your new texts or Facebook alerts? It only takes a second to lose focus on driving and mistakes behind the wheel can be fatal. While not all accidents can be prevented, at Texas Mutual, we’re putting the brakes on distracted driving by changing our culture.

Texting while driving using cell phone in carSmart phones give us the power to be constantly connected, but our new company policy requires that our employees eliminate the use of phones, even handheld devices, while operating any vehicle during work hours or when on a company trip. We’re asking our employees to wait to return a call or text until they make it safely to their destination or pull over behind picking up the phone and conversely, we should be mindful of our coworkers’ schedules. It’s about more than just putting the phone down. It’s about shifting our mindset about what safe driving looks like.

We invite you and your employees to adopt this same habit as well. The risk is just not worth the reward. By requiring your employees to drive distraction free, you can eliminate near misses, lower the number of driving accidents your workforce experiences and most importantly, help employees stay safe on the road and on the job.

Here are some tips on what you should do to eliminate distractions before you start driving:

  • If needed, alert any coworkers or family members that you will be unavailable while you are driving.
  • If you use your phone for navigation, make sure you have a safe docking solution so that you can stay focused on the road.
  • Pick your podcast, music or audio book before the wheels start rolling.
  • Put your phone in a center console or better yet, just turn it off.
  • Don’t contact employees when you know they could be on the road.
  • Let go of the expectation for employees to answer or return your message immediately.
  • Set an example for your workforce by adopting safe habits and letting your team know what and why you’re doing it.

For a sample policy from the National Safety Council, click here. Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or EndDD (End Distracted Driving) for statistics and resources to educate your workplace on the dangers of distracted driving. Also, watch our 60 Seconds to Safe Driving series for practical tips to be safe behind the wheel.

Bottom line, when you are behind the wheel, you should be focused on one thing: driving. We want to make sure our company culture supports that mindset for employees, and we hope you will as well.

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.

Other states claim data download now available on texasmutual.com

iStock-484100324[1].jpgWhen it comes to determining what type of safety training your employees need, a little information can go a long way. From understanding the most common risks for your industry to knowing exactly where things are going wrong on the job, having this type of insight can help keep workers safe.

Now, Texas Mutual is making it even simpler for policyholders with other states coverage to get valuable information about their claims by downloading data as an Excel file in the same way that Texas data has been available. This can reveal trends, such as employee knowledge gaps, unsafe practices, new employees lacking adequate training or a specific time of day injuries occur. With this information you can put safety training in place that will make a difference.

The other states data shows all the claims that have been filed outside of Texas and provides specific information about each claim, including the injured worker’s occupation, location of injury, date and time of the injury, description of the incident, date of hire, and more. Texas data is available in a similar format and provide the same great benefits that the new other states data download provides. These reports can be extensive depending on the business size, but having the data in an Excel files gives you the ability to sort and filter data in a way that best fits your needs and helps provide more targeted training. By focusing your training on key areas that have historically been an issue, you have the power to lower your e-mod, keep your workers’ comp costs down, and most importantly, keep your employees safe.

At Texas Mutual, we work hard to give you the tools and resources you need to keep employees safe. That’s why we’ve made it easy for you to access loss data, loss runs and other insightful reports by simply logging in to texasmutual.com. When you’re ready to review claims history for your Texas or out-of-state operations, visit our website and click on Loss Runs & Claims to access your data.

Texas Mutual Donates $400,000 in College Safety Grants

1610869_10153632271407814_4661133832863129017_nEach year, Texas Mutual has the chance to invest in safety programs that will impact thousands of Texans. One that we are especially proud to support is the risk management institute safety grant program that allows us to partner with colleges to educate local workers on safety issues relevant to the dominant industries in their regions.

As part of this program, Texas Mutual recently awarded four $100,000 grants to help maintain safety institutes at Kilgore College, Midland College, College of the Mainland in Texas City and Del Mar College in Corpus Christi.

Over the last 16 years, we’ve awarded $3.9 million in safety education grants, and approximately 30,000 students have attended free safety courses at these colleges.

For each college, there’s a different safety focus depending on the needs of the local community. In the Midland area, it’s oil and gas. In Kilgore, the majority of their training is industrial, and College of the Mainland focuses heavily on establishing various safety and incident management programs. Breaking from tradition, this year Del Mar College is establishing bus driver training. Using their donation from Texas Mutual, as well as the generous donation of a bus from the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority, the college will expand their existing Class A program to include Class B CDL license training as well. This meets a need in the community to train candidates to be Regional Transit Authority and local school bus drivers.

Texas Mutual’s Vice President of Safety Services Woody Hill visited each of the four colleges to present the grants and had a chance to visit with risk management institute leaders.

“Through the classes at these four safety institutes, more Texas employees are receiving free safety training, giving them tools to be successful in business. Most importantly, we’re taking a big step toward keeping workers safe by providing educational programs,” said Woody.

“These grants, along with other Texas Mutual safety programs, exemplify the company’s ongoing commitment to workplace safety and the prevention of workplace accidents. Workplace safety education is always a sound investment.”

To learn more about each college’s risk management institute, click the links below.

College of the Mainland

Kilgore College

Midland College

Del Mar College

Texas Mutual’s IT Department Growing

iStock_000047801104_smallOne of the biggest challenges any company faces is keeping up with the technological needs of their customers. At Texas Mutual, this challenge is met by highly talented IT professionals who make it possible for our policyholders, injured workers, health care providers, agents and employees to easily work together.

To make this happen, Texas Mutual’s IT department is busier than ever before. For instance, in the last six months alone, our IT teams have launched several new technologies, including an updated website, new intranet, new notification options for agents and countless updates to our existing systems. Most exciting of all, the IT department recently replaced our entire claims system and is currently working on replacing the policy and billing system.

With the many projects the department is working on come opportunities to bring more IT professionals on board. Texas Mutual’s IT department is the perfect place for tech pros who want a healthy work-life balance as well as the opportunity to innovate and grow professionally.

Take a look below to see how two of our IT team members found their place at Texas Mutual and what it’s like for them to work at the company:

Rob Jenkins, systems engineer

Q: What was it like when you started at Texas Mutual?

A: I moved more than 1,000 miles with my wife to start my career at Texas Mutual and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. People who know me know I don’t make radical decisions like that. I usually make pretty calculated decisions when it comes to life changes, but I knew it was a decision I wouldn’t regret. I instantly felt like I was part of a family here.

Q: What makes Texas Mutual’s IT environment different than most technology environments?

A: The fact that it doesn’t require you to give up your life. It’s an oddball in that sense. There are very few companies that’ll allow the family and work-life balance and let you work in IT. Working at Texas Mutual allowed me to start a family.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working for Texas Mutual?

A: Management here is phenomenal to work with. When you talk to them, they listen. They’re approachable. I think that’s critical. In other places, asking a question could limit your career with them

Brian Mullen, senior systems analyst

Q: What makes Texas Mutual’s IT environment different than most technology environments?

A: As a software engineer, you have two environments – corporations or startups. Startups are unpredictable, they can be bought up, and they often require long hours. When the opportunity to work here came along, I liked the idea of a consistent, stable job.

Q: What are most of your days like at Texas mutual?

A: Most of my days are spent working on whichever project we’re focusing on at the time. One of the best things about my days here is that I can count on leaving at a reasonable time every day so I can enjoy my son’s baseball games and time with my family. It’s rare that I’m called on for overtime, and it’s usually only during critical times, like when we launched a new product that makes imaging the bills and the workflow of processing those bills easier. Those were some of the few 10-hour days I’ve had since working here, but they were worth it. It’s always exciting to launch a new product.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working for Texas Mutual?

A: The customer-first culture we foster here. It enables me to provide the best product possible to my customers.

Ready for an IT career at Texas Mutual or know someone who would be a great fit? Find out why we’ve been named a Best Company to Work for in Texas for the last five years by visiting our careers page and connecting with us on LinkedIn.

On the Road with Texas Mutual Recruiting

By Stephanie Schumacher, Recruiting Consultant

By Stephanie Schumacher, Recruiting Consultant

Recent visits to the University of Texas and Texas State Technical College wrapped up a busy first season of college recruiting. I’ve packed everything away until this fall, when our recruiting efforts will continue. The overall result? New relationships, building our brand at universities and a pipeline of talent that will serve Texas Mutual for years to come.   Now, we’ve set our sights on filling a new class of underwriter trainees that will start June 2.

Recruiting for a new class of underwriters made me curious about underwriting. I got a chance to find out more from underwriter and Baylor grad Scott Bonds in our Dallas office.   So Scott, what does a day in your life look like?

Scott says:

I’d say for an underwriter in Texas, my day is pretty darn good.

6:15 a.m. – 6:50 a.m. Wake up, shower, grab a quick glass of orange juice and head to a local networking meeting.

7 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Network with a group of business people from all industries (Baylor Business Network of Dallas) and listen to an interesting presentation given by a Baylor Alum. I talk with a few alumni and meet a few who are agents in Dallas. They know about Texas Mutual, and I tell them the latest news on our success and which industries I see growing in my book of business. They like the update and talk about the upcoming football season.

8:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. Travel into work and fight traffic. I dream about the day road construction will be finished and anticipate how much better the drive will be.

9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Pull up my email and queue to see what the day has in store. I have two voicemails from agents. The first is a question on how to classify a risk.   The second wants to discuss pricing on a new business account we quoted last week. His presentation to the client is Friday, so he needs a quick response.

I return the phone calls and respond to a few emails. The agent who wanted to discuss the submission thinks his account deserves better pricing. I ask about the safety procedures the account has in place and what the insured has done to prevent a few larger losses from happening again. He says he will find out and get back to me later in the day.

I process a few endorsements and review renewal accounts. I’m able to release them fairly quickly. Now it’s time to head to lunch.

11 a.m. – noon Grab lunch with a co-worker down the street at a local Italian restaurant. We talk about a few of the accounts we are working on and how the Dallas sports teams are doing.

Noon – 2:30 p.m. I get back to my desk. I have a voicemail from the agent who needs additional pricing. He has the answers I need. I review how the losses will develop in our pricing tool and document why I’m able to reduce the pricing. He is excited and thinks we will get the business.

I review a more complex account and discuss some of the exposures with my supervisor. We agree that we need a slight increase due to the losses being higher than expected.

I send a few emails, process three more endorsements and pack up for my agency visit later at 3 p.m.

2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. Our marketing representative and I drive over to meet with one of my agents. Their office is actually near my house, so I take my own car to head home afterward.

3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Our marketing representative and I meet with the agency owners to discuss accounts and check their outlook for the year. The agency projects they will grow approximately 10 percent with us in the coming year.

We finish up our meeting around 3:45 p.m., and I walk around the office talking with some of the account managers and producers. I visit with an account manager and learn about her commute. Then, I speak with a few producers who are Baylor alumni about my meeting that morning and talk football. The owner of the agency drops by and gives us a hard time about it, as he went to a different school. We discuss a few more accounts the agency is targeting that may be a good fit for Texas Mutual. I make a few notes in my notebook and tell the producer I will be on the lookout for them when they hit my desk. I shake a few more hands as I’m walking out and head home.

4:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. I make the short(er) drive home.

As Scott describes his “typical Tuesday,” I notice he is clearly well-versed in analysis, teamwork, negotiating, customer service and relationship building. And football, lots of football.

Join me next time, when I go “On the Road” with Austin regional office senior underwriter Nathan Rudolph and update progress on our underwriting class.

On the Road with Texas Mutual Recruiting

Travel report:  Austin to Denton, 224 miles

Weather: Spring to Winter, back to Spring

Notable stops:  “The Super Pit” at UNT

By Stephanie Schumacher, Recruiting Consultant

By Stephanie Schumacher, Recruiting Consultant

Shortly after our visit to Baylor, the recruiting team’s travels took us to another sea of green in Denton, home of the University of North Texas (UNT).

The UNT career fair was held at UNT Coliseum, known on campus as “The Super Pit.” Over 100 employers gathered in the area circling the arena, called one of the finest basketball facilities in college athletics The facility was designed for functional flexibility and can easily be maneuvered into theatrical or concert configurations. The impressive Super Pit offers spectators an unobstructed view of the arena from every seat.

I was joined by Michelle Chamberlain of our Dallas regional office, along with UNT alumni Larry Martin and TJ LeBrun. Nearly 1,000 students poured into the building, anxious to find their future homes. The students who visited the Texas Mutual booth were risk management focused. Many are pursuing careers as underwriters or claims adjusters. A few even had multiple years of experience working for insurance carriers.

TJ noted, “This was a great way for Texas Mutual to increase brand awareness and exposure to the type of talent we can hopefully cultivate in the future.”

Larry Martin agreed. “Creating a pipeline of talent is critical to the future success of the company. The industry, as a whole, pulled back significantly on promoting itself as a career path during the recession. We would like to be on the forefront of efforts to reverse that.”

Where to next? Come out and meet some of our regional Texas Mutual all-stars at our final spring career fair:

April 3 – Texas State Technical College, Temple, TX

Ideas continue to roll in as our fall recruiting efforts evolve. Have suggestions or locations for our recruiting team? Send them to sschumacher@texasmutual.com.

About the author
Stephanie Schumacher is the corporate recruiter at Texas Mutual Insurance Company.  She was a founding partner and chief marketing officer at Platinum Select, LP, a medical staffing firm operating in all 50 states.  Platinum Select was recognized as the Fastest Growing Medical Staffing Company in the U.S. in 2006.  Stephanie spent five years traveling and collaborating on multiple startup concepts in Dallas.  She also served as a mentor for the City of Dallas’ Youth Today Entrepreneur Tomorrow program and was a board member for the West Dallas Chamber of Commerce.

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