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Caring for our customers
when tragedy strikes

It's not every day that Eagle, Wis., gets national news coverage.

But, that's what happened when a tornado with 130-mph winds ravaged this quiet town of 2,000 the night of June 21, 2010.

If that wasn't bad enough, two smaller yet powerful tornados took their toll on the neighboring communities of Muskego and Big Bend, as well as surrounding areas.

It's a miracle no one was seriously injured, and just one person had a minor injury.

The devastation, however, was incredible. American Family customers filed 685 property and commercial claims and 85 auto claims.

If you put yourself in the shoes of customers whose homes and cars were damaged or destroyed, you'd want help as soon as possible.

And that's exactly how American Family responded, rebuilding lives in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Just 90 minutes after the tornado struck, members of our claims team arrived to meet with and help customers who had called about claims. They also helped customers whose non-working phones prevented them from reporting losses.

"Customers can be overwhelmed in a situation like this," says Jim Andersen, one of our claim managers. "That's why our adjusters met with customers to make sure they were OK and they clearly understood what to expect from us."

Paul Hartman was one of 30 adjusters in the area the morning after the twisters hit, to help begin the process of rebuilding lives. The adjusters made immediate payments to customers who needed food and shelter, answered questions and provided some good old-fashioned reassurance that things would get better.

Paul's job was to help customers experiencing the worst damage, including Josh Werner, whose home was among the 200 in Eagle destroyed by the storms.

"Paul brought us lunch, gave us some sodas, and before I was even able to finish what I was eating, I had a check in my hand," says Josh. "It was amazing."

"For people who no longer had a home, we arranged for temporary housing and settled losses in 24 to 48 hours," says Paul. "Customers were relieved – they had a place to live and a check in hand."

"Josh had his home claim handled virtually the first day, in less than 12 hours," says Agent Chris Lueth. "If that doesn't speak volumes, I don't know what does."

It's this level of swift, personalized service that American Family claim employees deliver, time and again, and rebuilding lives of customers in the process.


Lots of planning takes place to make sure American Family can help customers pick up the pieces when the unexpected occurs.

  • Extensive training for our adjusters.
    A combination of classroom time and hands-on
    experience with real-world situations prepare
    our adjusters to respond immediately when
    catastrophes happen.
  • Research on catastrophes. We analyze
    historical data on severe weather and its
    impacts. We use this information to proactively allocate our staff and resources so we can be at the
    ready when the next storm hits.
  • Having money ready to pay claims. While we can't predict when disasters will strike, we can
    plan for them. That's why we have sufficient reserves set aside called equity to help cover major
  • Preparing to find and help customers. After disasters strike, we use mapping technology to most
    accurately locate customers who need our help. And we maintain "claim offices on wheels" – customized
    state-of-the-art vehiclesthat travel to catastrophe sites with our response teams to help file claims and
    deliver payments to customers.