The following story was written and published by the Maple River Messenger on July 31, 2014:
Kelso & Shelby Farmers Mutual Insurance Company is establishing a new fund that will give annually to fire departments within their writing territory. The initial donation was given to the Amboy Fire Department.
The idea for the donations originated when Nick Hager, manager of Kelso & Shelby Farmers Mutual in Amboy, approached the board of the company to inquire about donating money to the Amboy Fire Department to help them purchase a new thermal imaging camera. Hager learned that the fire department had been working for quite some time to acquire the capital to purchase the equipment while at an Amboy City Council meeting. “The department had already raised about $9,000 for the camera. They were pretty close, but needed about another $1,000,” said Hager. “I brought that to the board and explained the Amboy Fire Department could use $1,000 so they could get the camera. I asked if they would consider contributing that last $1,000 and they thought it was a good idea.” The board decided to take it a step further and open it up to fire departments within the territory they write insurance in and pick a different fire department every year to receive a $1,000 donation. “It is not a lot, but every little bit helps,” said Hager.
Fire departments would be required to fill out a short application, which will be available from their local agencies, explaining what equipment they are looking to purchase or why they should be considered for the donation. According to Hager, applications can be filed at any time and they will be considered once a year, most likely in July. This is relatively new, so the process for applications is still in the planning stage. Hager indicated it is possible that more than one donation could be awarded each year.
Shelby & Kelso writes insurance for several towns throughout south central Minnesota, ranging from Hutchinson to the Iowa border, covering a total of 17 counties. Hager said that a letter will be written up and sent out to the agents, who write for the company, informing them about this new opportunity and encourage them pass the word on to their local fire departments to submit an application request for the donation.
Hager mentioned, “We, as a company, are often times misunderstood as to what we do. We are a township mutual. We are a merged company. We have been here as Shelby Farmers Mutual since 1887 and then in 2007 we merged with Kelso Farmers Mutual in Le Sueur.” Hager said they are often thought of as an insurance agency where people come in to buy coverage. “We are not the insurance agency – independent insurance agents sell our insurance,” said Hager. They are owned by the policy holders throughout the area. They insure for fire, water, theft, vandalism and collision. Hager stated, “Despite our size, we can still write very large farm policies.”
Hager explained how they, as a company, will benefit directly from the Amboy Fire Department’s use of the thermal imaging camera. “It will save property in the long run,” he said. “If they can find a hot spot where there is still some fire or embers or smoldering they can extinguish that. It will minimize the flare ups that can happen.”
Regarding the payments they make to fire departments, Hager said, “Part of the policy is a fire department service fee, so we issue a lot of payments already to the fire department, but it is usually the result of a fire call and that money is already designated to other things. This will go to more of a general fund and will go to a different use.”
Fire Chief Brad Sternberg accepted the initial donation on behalf of the Amboy Fire Department. Regarding the donation, Hager said, “We were happy to be able to help them.”