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Monday

September 2014

22

Finding the silver lining in tornado

West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. films commerical at Eagle business

When the worst happens, there is always a silver lining; words that West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. strives to prove to its customers every day. Those moments when a claims adjuster is able to make a bad situation a little better have become the basis of the company's heart-touching TV commercials. So it would come as no surprise that when a caring group of West Bend adjusters responded to aid the resilient residents of Eagle after an EF2 tornado devastated the town, a commercial-worthy story unfolded.

The silver lining

After the tornado devastated Eagle on June 21, 2010, Hen House Cafe in Eagle owner Mary Matuszewski emerged from her house the next morning to survey the damage around her house, which, fortunately, consisted only of a lot of fallen trees. With one of those trees blocking her car in the garage, Matuszewski hopped on her bike and rode to the restaurant to investigate the level of damage there.

"When I rode up to the restaurant, there was West Bend Mutual Insurance's motor home, parked in the lot (of the restaurant)," Matuszewski remembers. The mobile unit and three West Bend Mutual adjusters were using her parking lot as a command post to assist clients throughout the area, unaware that Matuszewski and the Hen House were West Bend Mutual customers. In the midst of the damage that surrounded her, she couldn't help but laugh just a little that the company's claim of actually beating the homeowner home was true.

One of the adjusters on scene was claims manager Mark Horwath. He explained that the mobile home, also known as "the responder," is sent to disaster areas to make it easier for customers to process claims.

"We understand that when a tornado occurs, power goes out and phones go missing so you can't always call your adjuster right away," explained Horwath. "We attempt to set up in those areas and attempt to have a presence" to make it easier for customers to file their claims.

Matuszewski entered her restaurant to find that lightning had hit the restaurant and knocked out her computers. Since power was out, everything in the refrigerator was lost, and pools of water covered the floors from the melting ice. By the time Matuszewski had everything inside surveyed, the West Bend Mutual adjusters had already backed the mobile home up to the restaurant and were running an extension cord to the freezer so Matuszewski wouldn't have to lose any more food.

"I knew they had other people to take care of," recalls Matuszewski. "I just felt 'wow, they're doing this service for me.' It was really special."

With so many things left to take care of at home, Matuszewski was concerned about leaving her restaurant unattended. The adjusters offered to keep an eye on the restaurant while she tended to things at home.

"It brings a tear to my eye because that was really a good thing for them to do for me, knowing I had my own thing to do at home," said Matuszewski. "They were just there helping out. They wanted to do all they could do to help out."

Matuszewski was so impressed by the kindness of the three adjusters that she called one of their superiors to let them know how wonderful they had been.

Nine months after the tornado, Matuszewski got a phone call. West Bend Mutual wanted to retell the story of the Hen House and West Bend Mutual in one of their new commercials. On June 9, a film crew arrived at the Hen House Café to film Matuszewski and the adjusters retelling the story of their encounter.

"Each of the stories of the silver lining is based on a true encounter," said Kevin Rausch, director ofmarketing for the company.

"It was just a wonderful circumstance" of what the company stands for, he added.

"Our brand, messaging and advertising is based on what our associates do here, which are examples of the silver lining and going above and beyond," said Rausch.

Surely some Eagleresidents still have some fear and sadness. "I think there will be for a while," Matuszewski said. But as for their own silver lining in Eagle, "I think people coming together and helping one another" is the light in this, said Matuszewski.

The commercial is scheduled to air in late August or early September.

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