American Family Insurance inspires, protects and rebuilds our customers’ dreams, as illustrated in the stories featured our 2013 annual report.
Perhaps you have had similar experiences.
Our customer focus starts with you and your relationship with our American Family agents, trusted advisers who care about knowing and meeting your needs. It continues with our employees, who are thoughtful, innovative and dedicated to serving you.
Our financial strength improved in 2013, with policyholder equity increasing to $6.6 billion. Policyholder equity is what we have available to protect you when the unexpected occurs. We anticipate paying more than $3.4 billion for claims incurred in 2013.
But we do more than pay claims. We provide in-car technology to help teens and adults become safer drivers. Our DreamBank in Madison, Wis., continues to inspire visitors by helping them identify and pursue their individual dreams. And, we support communities nationally through sustainability and charitable efforts.
Our dream is to protect more people across the country. A major part of this effort is our strong investment in products, systems and services for customers of our American Family agents.
We are also expanding our reach to consumers who prefer to conduct business using the Internet or call centers. In 2013, we acquired Homesite Group, a direct property insurance company, and helped create AssureStart, a startup direct small-business insurance distributor. They join The General®, a direct auto insurance company we acquired in 2012.
Together, the companies in our American Family group provide options to meet consumers’ varied preference.
Thank you for inspiring us with your dreams ... and for allowing American Family to serve you.
Editor’s note: Read and share the stories from your fellow American Family Insurance customers in our 2013 annual report. Tell us what inspires you about their dreams.
When you’ve got kids, there are certain comments you just don’t want to hear.
“Daddy, the cat peed on your workbench.”
“We all traded hats in school today! How come my head itches?”
And then I'll never forget this one: “Daddy, Daddy, it’s raining in the family room!”
When I heard that, I rushed downstairs to discover my children frolicking about as a steady shower sprinkled downward from the ceiling beams. What fun!
It was on that unseasonably warm March morning when the term “ice dam” entered my vocabulary.
Looking out our family room window, I could see portions of the ice dam – a solid layer of ice and icicles encrusting the rain gutter along the edge of the roof.
The rapidly melting snow running down the roof was blocked by this dam, and the water began creeping its way back up the roof, seeping under the shingles and dripping through cracks and holes in the roof covering.
Meanwhile, inside our house, the ceiling had become so sodden that it began to shower indoors.
Three factors contributed to this predicament:
Insulation and structural issues: We had warm air in the attic, largely due to improper insulation, and the lack of ridge and soffit vents. This warm air heated the underside of the roof, increasing the rate of melting snow on top. So, uh, it was the house’s fault!
Clogged gutters: Okay, this one’s on me. I was lazy and didn’t clean my gutters the preceding fall.
Snow buildup: If I had removed about 3 to 5 feet snow feet from edge of the roof, that would have reduced or even eliminated the ice dam(age). Hindsight is 20-20.
Maybe there were other causes, but those seemed to be the big ones.
By the time I figured all of this out, the “rain inside” was starting to get out of hand. When your kids have to wear raincoats and boots just to watch TV, you know you’ve got a problem.
I had to act quickly. Using a hastily purchased roof rake, I pulled enough snow off the roof to bring the indoor showers to a virtual halt.
Then came the arduous work of cleaning everything up, and addressing the lack of insulation and venting.
Ever since then, I’ve religiously cleaned my gutters in the fall, and have used my roof rake to remove snow from the roof throughout the winter.
No more ice dams.
I guess that’s water under the, um, bridge.
Last week, a customer called me a hero. Tonight, I’ll talk to someone else who considers me a hero.
I'm working a catastrophe event in central Illinois, where an extremely powerful tornado smashed through Washington and nearby communities the morning of Nov. 17. You may have seen stories in the news as it drew national and international attention.
I started out in American Family's Kansas City property claims office in 2008. In the next few years, I assisted at a number of catastrophe responses, and this sort of work appealed to me for various reasons.
For one thing, I like to see different parts of the country. I also like to meet people. And the team atmosphere is very strong – if I need information or the benefit of someone else’s perspective, I’m comfortable calling anyone on the team.
So, in 2011 I successfully applied for a job with the field catastrophe team. I love my job! You might think it would be depressing to go from one disaster to the next, but it’s quite the opposite. I’m a people person. Being able to meet someone face-to-face, and to offer comfort (or even a hug, if it’s needed) gives me a good feeling.
I arrived in Washington on Monday, Nov. 18, the day after the storm. It’s an incredible scene, when an entire community is challenged like this. You have people walking up and down the street, asking their neighbors or total strangers if they need a hand. Churches and other volunteer groups work long hours providing food, water and other needed supplies. There’s just this positive vibe all around you, as the community joins hands in the healing process.
I met with a customer in East Peoria, Ill., Wednesday, just down the road from Washington. About one-third of her home’s roof was torn off, and the inside was littered with drywall and insulation. Like many of us would be after experiencing such trauma, she was devastated and had trouble communicating with me.
We talked, we laughed, we hugged. As our customer started to open up a bit more, she shared that she had a hard time envisioning how her life would ever be the same again. And with the holidays just around the corner, those feelings of despair and helplessness were only magnified.
I was able to comfort her and help her to understand and believe that everything will come back together for her again. The roof will be rebuilt and the interior will be restored. Won’t be in time for Thanksgiving, but the contractor’s timeline may allow for Christmas at home.
“You’re my hero!” she exclaimed.
And that’s what I do for a living. That’s how I support my family, that’s what makes me feel like this is the right job for me. It looks like we’ll be here through the Thanksgiving holiday, teaming with the local and field claim units to get our customers back on their feet again.
The tough part is calling home to Kansas City every night. My daughter, Zayla, 7, demands to know, “When are you coming home, Mama?” My son, Zion, is only 3, and he’s just happy to hear my voice.
Someday soon, I will walk through that door, and get the chance to be a face-to-face mom again. That’s when I’ll really be a hero.
I grew up in the insurance business and have a dad who’s been an agent with another company for 30 years. I started in the business when I was 22 and joined American Family last year. My dad taught me the true role of an insurance professional.
As a kid, I would watch him interact with customers after school, and I even tagged along with him to funerals. At the time, I was often bored, but as I got older I started to see and understand things differently. He was, and remains, a trusted adviser in the community.
I grew up in a small town, so my sister and I would walk to his office after school and do our homework in his conference room. I was about 10 or 11 years old at the time – old enough to have a very basic understanding of what insurance is (mostly auto insurance -- when there’s a car accident, an insurance company pays to fix it).
One day, I got a very real and emotional understanding of what my dad did for a living. My sister and I walked down the hall to his conference room and passed his office on the way. The office door was closed, but I could hear voices of adults and small children. My sister and I could hear muffled sounds coming from his office. It sounded like a woman crying and little kids whimpering.
When his office door opened, I peeked down the hallway to see who was in there with him. It was a woman and her two children (3 and 5 years old). The woman was very emotional and you could tell she was crying. Her kids were holding onto her pant leg, while my dad gave the woman a big hug.
After they left, I went into dad’s office and asked him why the woman was crying. My dad had his back to me in his chair and as he turned around I realized he was pretty upset as well. He looked at me (I’ll never forget the emotion in his face) and said, “Son, that woman and her children lost their husband and dad in a car accident last week. I just told them that the mortgage was paid off, the cars were paid off, the kids’ college was paid for and mom could stay home and raise the children.”
Dad later told me the man who died hadn’t told his wife he had purchased such a large life insurance policy. Apparently, Dad greeted the woman at the funeral and told her she needed to come by his office when she was ready. She thought her husband had enough life insurance for the burial and maybe a little more. She had no idea there would be enough to pay off the mortgage, cover the kids’ college educations and supplement her income.
That experience has always stayed with me. It’s not only a reminder of how precious life is, but how important life insurance is. I believe it’s my job to bring up the subject with all my customers, educate them about life and provide life insurance options to meet their needs.
I still get a little emotional telling this story – even though I’ve told it a thousand times!
Every year when severe storm warnings are issued, I’m reminded of just how strong some of these storms can be. Back in August 2005, I had a first-hand glimpse of the damage a severe storm can cause when I helped clean up after a tornado hit my town.
On Aug. 18, 2005, an F3 tornado carved a ten-mile long, half-mile-wide swath of destruction across rural subdivisions and farms in Stoughton, Wis. When the winds stopped, 156 homes were destroyed or heavily damaged and another 84 homes were slightly damaged. Countless cars, boats and other vehicles were damaged or destroyed. Damage exceeded $35 million. Tragically, one person was killed.
In the following days, I volunteered to help with the clean-up. Let me tell you, cleaning up after a tornado is a humbling experience. In the damaged part of town, everywhere I looked there were houses reduced to piles of bricks and splintered lumber, and cars condensed into twisted hunks of sheet metal.
During the storm, Mother Nature went out of her way to show how fickle she can be. Amidst the destruction, one house I went to seemed completely undamaged. The dining room table was still set for dinner and there was a neat pile of papers on a desk ready for attention. The kitchen however, was gone. In fact, the entire back half of the house was gone. It was as though someone took a gigantic knife and carved off the back half of the house but left the front intact and undisturbed.
Throughout the day, I overheard many interesting answers to good questions:
Q: “I thought you had brown shingles on your garage?”
A: “I do. But the garage that’s leaning against my house belongs to my neighbor down the street.”
Q: “What happened to your car?”
A: “It’s in that tree over there.”
Despite the impact the tornado made on their lives, I was amazed how some people maintained their sense of humor. One man told me he now regretted spending the extra money for 40-year shingles when he had his house re-roofed the previous year. Another commented, “I hope my wife isn’t mad that I didn’t get the dishes done.”
Before the next severe weather alert hits your area, take a few moments to look around your home and identify where you or your family may be vulnerable. Find your best place for shelter and make sure everyone knows where to go and what to do when severe weather threatens.