New Braunfels Resident to Retire from Texas Mutual Board of Directors

September 9, 2013 - After nearly 20 years of service, George Wesch Jr., a New Braunfels resident, will retire from the Board of Directors of Texas Mutual Insurance Company, the state’s leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance. Wesch was an elected member of the board, which he joined in 1996.

“George has been a valued member of our board for many years, committed to representing the interests of small businesses,” Bob Barnes, chairman of Texas Mutual’s board of directors, said. “It has been an honor working with him to deliver benefits to our policyholder owners and their employees.”

As chief executive officer of Mission City Container Inc., in San Antonio, Wesch became a Texas Mutual policyholder in 1995. The following year, he was appointed to Texas Mutual’s board of directors by then-Governor George W. Bush. He became an elected board member in 2007.

Wesch is a member of, and has previously served on the boards of, the San Antonio Manufacturers Association and the Rotary Club of San Antonio. He is also a member and past president of the San Antonio Executives Association, and former board member of the Bandera Independent School District and Bandera County Fresh Water Supply District #1. Wesch has served as CEO of Mission City Container for nearly 30 years.

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Houston Resident Elected to Texas Mutual Board of Directors

August 28, 2013 - This afternoon, John Young, a Houston resident and president of John H. Young, Inc., and vice president of JOY Resources, Inc., was elected to the Board of Directors of Texas Mutual Insurance Company, the state’s leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance. Young was elected at the company’s annual policyholder meeting.

In addition to his positions with John H. Young and JOY Resources, Young and his family are majority owners of Central Bancshares, where he currently serves as chairman of the board, as well as Central Bank-Houston. Young is a member of The All-American Wildcatters—an informal oil industry fraternity that shares industry news—and past chairman of the Texas Oil & Gas Association (TxOGA).

Young currently serves on various committees of TxOGA and the U.S. Oil and Gas Association. He is on the board of trustees for the Texas Heart Institute and is chairman of the Texas Heart Institute Foundation. He has previously served as president of River Oaks Country Club and the Houston Chapter of the University of Texas Ex-Students Association.

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Mineral Wells Man Sentenced for Workers’ Comp Fraud

August 15, 2013 - Texas Mutual Insurance Company reported today that a Travis County district court sentenced Michael Shane Schmidt of Mineral Wells, Texas on workers’ compensation fraud-related charges. The court sentenced Schmidt to one year of deferred adjudication and ordered him to pay $2,649 in restitution to Texas Mutual.

Schmidt reported a job-related injury while working as a truck driver for E.L. Farmer and Company in Odessa, Texas. He claimed he was unable to work as a result of the injury, and Texas Mutual began paying income benefits to him.

Texas Mutual uncovered evidence that Schmidt was working as a truck driver for another company while receiving income benefits due to his alleged disability.

Investigators call this type of scam double-dipping because the claimant collects benefits for being too injured to work when he or she is, in fact, gainfully employed. Texas law requires claimants to contact their workers’ comp carrier when they return to work. Left unchecked, double-dipping and other workers’ comp fraud can lead to higher premiums for all Texas employers.

Note – A grand jury indictment is an accusation, not a conviction, of criminal conduct.

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Texas Business Indicted on Workers’ Comp Fraud Charges

August 1, 2013 - Texas Mutual Insurance Company announced today that a Travis County grand jury indicted Mark Edward Helm and McClanahan Drywall, Inc., of Emory, Texas, on workers' compensation fraud-related charges.

Helm was an officer of McClanahan Drywall, Inc. and obtained workers’ compensation coverage through Texas Mutual from Feb. 14, 2008, to June 7, 2009. Texas Mutual alleges that, during the periods of coverage, Helm misrepresented the number of employees and payroll associated with the company by falsely representing contract laborers as subcontractors.

Because workers’ compensation insurance premium is based, in part, on payroll, this type of scheme results in an employer being charged a lower premium than it actually owes. By hiding payroll, an employer can gain an unfair advantage over competitors.

Note: A grand jury indictment is a formal accusation, not a conviction, of criminal conduct.

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Ward Group Names Texas Mutual a Top Performer

July 30, 2013 - Texas Mutual Insurance Company announced today that it has been named one of the 50 top-performing insurance companies domiciled in the United States by Ward Group. The recognition is based on Texas Mutual’s financial performance between 2008 and 2012.

“Texas Mutual provides a stable, competitively priced source of workers’ compensation insurance for employers and their employees,” said Mike Barron, chief financial officer and senior vice president of financial services at Texas Mutual. “Financial strength is critical to our ability to fulfill our mission regardless of market or economic conditions. This recognition is an honor, and it underscores our permanent commitment to Texas businesses.”

Ward Group evaluated the five-year financial performances of more than 3,000 property and casualty companies. Top 50 companies outperformed the industry in these key areas: financial stability, revenue growth, capital/surplus positions, underwriting results and financial returns.

Rich Gergasko, president and CEO of Texas Mutual, noted that the company shares its financial success with qualifying policyholders through its dividend programs. By the end of the year, Texas Mutual will have paid nearly $1.4 billion in dividends since 1999. The company will have paid about $1 billion of that total since 2007.

“We are a policyholder-owned mutual company, and dividends are an important benefit of ownership,” said Gergasko. “By preventing workplace accidents and managing their associated costs, our policyholders contribute to the company’s success. Dividends reward them for sharing our vision of a safer Texas.”

For more information about the Ward 50, visit www.wardinc.com/wards50.

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Texas Mutual Pays $175 Million Policyholder Dividend

July 25, 2013 - Texas Mutual Insurance Company announced today that it has begun distributing $175 million in dividends among approximately 40,000 policyholders. Dividends reward loyal policyholders who share the company’s commitment to preventing workplace accidents and helping injured workers get well and back on the job.

This is the 15th consecutive year Texas Mutual has paid dividends, bringing the total to almost $1.4 billion. The company has paid the majority of that total – $1 billion – since 2007.

“Texas Mutual is a policyholder-owned company,” Bob Barnes, chairman of Texas Mutual’s board, said. “Our focus is on delivering benefits to our policyholder owners and taking care of their injured workers. Dividends are part of our long-term strategy for helping Texas employers control their workers’ compensation costs.”

Texas Mutual President and CEO Richard Gergasko said the company’s dividend track record reflects its permanent commitment to Texas businesses.

“Texas Mutual is more than a workers’ compensation provider,” Gergasko said. “We are a business partner to Texas employers, and we understand the importance of these dividends to our policyholders. This money goes back into the Texas economy and helps employers build their businesses for the future.”

Gergasko noted that Texas Mutual cannot guarantee future dividends, and the Texas Department of Insurance must approve all dividends.

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Texas Mutual Announces Four Fraud Indictments

July 22, 2013 - Texas Mutual Insurance Company reported today that Travis County grand juries indicted four claimants, in separate cases, on workers’ compensation fraud-related charges. The claimants allegedly collected a combined $22,837 in benefits they were not entitled to.

Following are the claimants and the amount in benefits they allegedly collected illegally: Mohammad Abid of Fort Worth, Texas, $8,390; Ernest U. Martinez of Midland, Texas, $6,816; Michael J. Roberson of Wichita Falls, Texas, $4,300; Jose R. Valdez-Ramirez of Giddings, Texas, $3,331.

In all four cases, the claimants reported job-related injuries and claimed they were unable to work because of their injuries. Texas Mutual began paying workers’ compensation income benefits to them.

Meanwhile, Texas Mutual uncovered evidence that the claimants were, in fact, gainfully employed. Texas law requires claimants to contact their workers’ comp carrier when they return to work.

Investigators call this type of scam double-dipping. Left unchecked, double-dipping and other workers’ comp fraud can lead to higher premiums for all Texas employers.

Note: A grand jury indictment is a formal accusation - not a conviction - of criminal conduct.

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Texas Mutual, VFIS of Texas Fund Safety Training for Rural Fire Departments

VFIS grant

Rich Gergasko (left), Texas Mutual president and CEO, presents a $5,000 check to David Wade, president of the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association. The money will fund safety training and certifications for emergency services employees.

July 9, 2013 - Texas Mutual Insurance Company, the state’s leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance, announced today that it has partnered with VFIS of Texas, a provider of specialized insurance solutions for the emergency service industry, to create a grant program for rural fire departments. The program will fund safety training and certifications for emergency services employees.

Rich Gergasko, president of Texas Mutual, presented a $5,000 check to David Wade, president of the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association (SFFMA), during the Annual SFFMA Training Conference and Convention at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott & Convention Center.

“Our members’ employees risk their lives every day to protect the public,” said Wade. “It is critical that they know how to protect themselves, as well. Unfortunately, our rural members are often underfunded. This money will help them get the training they need to do their jobs safely.”

A committee of VFIS and SFFMA staff will review grant applications and administer funds on an as-needed basis.

“Texas Mutual is on a mission to prevent workplace accidents and their associated consequences,” said Gergasko. “We admire and applaud the men and women who get the first call when a disaster happens. When we have the opportunity to invest in their safety, our board of directors, management and staff consider it money well-spent.”

Texas Mutual and VFIS of Texas also partner to offer a workers’ compensation safety group for qualifying fire departments and nonprofit EMS organizations. Group members have access to free safety training materials designed for their industry. They also get premium discounts and potential dividends if they control workplace accidents.

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Texas Mutual Issues $524K in Dividends

Workers comp dividends

Steve Math (second from left), Texas Mutual senior vice president of underwriting; and Rich Gergasko (right), Texas Mutual president and CEO; present a $398,735 dividend check to Curtis Heptner (left), master agent for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers (TAEP) safety group; and Alex Mills, TAEP president.

July 8, 2013 - Texas Mutual Insurance Company announced today that the
Texas Alliance of Energy Producers (TAEP) safety group has earned a $398,735 workers’ compensation dividend, and the
Lone Star Energy (LSE) safety group earned a $124,962 dividend.

Both dividends were based largely on each group’s collective workplace safety record.

“Even though the oil and gas industry can be very dangerous, our members value their employees’ safety, and they invest the resources necessary to protect workers on the job,” said Alex Mills, president of TAEP. “These dividends speak volumes about Texas Mutual’s commitment to rewarding employers who are doing the right things in regard to workplace safety.”

Safety groups are made up of employers in similar industries. Qualifying members get discounts on their workers’ compensation premiums, access to workplace safety materials tailored to their industries, and potential dividends for preventing accidents.

TAEP is open to qualifying oil and gas production companies. The group has earned $2.6 million in safety group dividends from Texas Mutual since 2006.

“Texas Mutual is on a mission to make our state a safer, more productive place to work,” said Rich Gergasko, Texas Mutual president and CEO. “TAEP and LSE members clearly share our vision. We thank them for investing the time and resources to keep workers safe on the job.”

The LSE safety group is open to qualifying butane/propane gas operators and dealers. LSE members have shared $1 million in group dividends since 2005.

“The fact that our group has earned nine consecutive dividends is indicative of how seriously we take safety,” said John Kelly of Kelly Propane and Fuel in Wichita Falls, Texas. “Texas Mutual is our business partner. They support everything we do to help our employees go home injury-free at the end of the day.”

Many safety group members will also earn a share of the $175 million individual policyholder dividend Texas Mutual’s board of directors approved in May. Individual dividends are based largely on each policyholder’s safety record. Approximately 40,000 policyholders will qualify for an individual dividend. Texas Mutual anticipates distributing individual dividends in late July.

Gergasko noted that Texas Mutual cannot guarantee future dividends, but the company has a solid history of paying dividends when financial conditions allow.

Since 1999, Texas Mutual has distributed nearly $1.4 billion in safety group and individual dividends among qualifying policyholders. It has distributed the majority of that total – $1 billion – since 2007.

For more information about dividends, visit texasmutual.com/OwnershipPays.

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Texas Mutual Answers IIAT’s Call for Economic Relief to West, Texas

July 2, 2013 - Texas Mutual Insurance Company announced today that it is donating $5,234 toward the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas (IIAT) Trusted Choice Foundation® relief fund for West, Texas. The money will help restore West and its fire services following the explosion at the West Fertilizer Company in April.

West, Texas

Joe Yurkovich (left), Texas Mutual senior vice president of strategic planning and policyholder services; and Steve Math (right), Texas Mutual senior vice president of underwriting; present a check to Patrick Watkins, IIAT president. The money will provide relief to West, Texas in the wake of the fertilizer plant explosion.

Steve Math, senior vice president of underwriting at Texas Mutual, presented the check to Patrick Watkins, IIAT president, this morning during the IIAT’s Annual Conference and Trade Show at the Omni Dallas Hotel.

“Volunteer firefighters were the first on the scene after the West explosion, risking their lives to protect others,” said Watkins. “It is critical that they have the resources they need to continue doing their jobs effectively and, above all, safely. When IIAT put out the call for donations, it was no surprise Texas Mutual responded. They’re a strong business partner, but more importantly, an unwavering supporter of IIAT’s community initiatives.”

In total, the IIAT/Trusted Choice Foundation® raised more than $50,000 toward the relief effort. Contributors included IIAT member agencies and insurance carriers.

“More than two decades ago, Texas Mutual made a permanent commitment to our state’s employers and their employees,” said Math. “That commitment extends to the communities where we live. Texas Mutual applauds the IIAT for spearheading this initiative, and we are proud to be associated with it.”

West is a community of about 3,000 people located 18 miles north of Waco. On April 17, 2013, the West Fertilizer Company caught fire. While emergency personnel worked to douse the flames, the plant exploded. Fifteen people died, and more than 200 were injured.

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