By Lorie Ham
One of the values of the board for Mennonite Aid Plan/Mennonite Insurance is that they pray before and during their meetings. They feel they have seen many answers to prayer through the years, including one dealing with their ability to write liability insurance—something that took them years of hard work and prayers before it was accomplished.
According to board member Jim Brandt, it was sometime in the mid-1950s when Mennonite Aid Plan members began asking for liability insurance. “However, under the California code, we were not allowed to offer liability. The need for liability insurance was a continuing issue for the next 65 years.”
Throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, the call for liability insurance continued to increase but their efforts were still without any long-term success. At one point, they found a good source for their liability policies in GuideOne Insurance Company, but in 2002 that company discontinued those. Next, they turned to Merced Mutual, a company similar to theirs but twice the size, who began covering Mennonite Aid’s liability needs in California. However, the need to provide a reasonably priced liability policy in Oregon and Washington remained.
“In May of 2016, we devised a solution to subsidize our homeowner policies in the Northwest so that the burden on our members was not as great,” continues Brandt. “We allowed a rebate of the excess cost of personal liability thereby absorbing the additional costs of our Pacific Northwest members.
“Because of the continuing issue with liability (especially in the Pacific Northwest) and the costs imposed upon us, we also hired a consultant in 2016 to evaluate options.”
At their board meeting in October of 2016, the board decided to move ahead with two of the five options presented by the consultant. One of those options they began to pursue was to seek legislation that would allow them to write liability. The other one was that of starting a new insurance company, owned by MAP, to write liability. However, the board felt that both options were filled with obstacles. A committee made up of Dennis Langhofer, Jerry Linscheid, Jim Brandt, and Jim Enns were assigned to investigate the two options.
On December 2, 2016, Jim Enns and Larry Miller met with Assembly member Jim Patterson of the twenty-third district. This was just the beginning of many meetings and much work as they pursued this option, which ended up being the best one. “We also bathed our plans in prayer,” states Brandt.
On September 1, 2017, a California law was signed giving them the authority to write liability insurance. “At one time the Department of Insurance told us that we would never get that,” shares Jerry Linscheid (who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Mennonite Aid Plan/Mennonite Insurance Services). “Our board prayed and the passage of the law seemed an answer to prayer.”
“From our first meeting with Assemblyman Jim Patterson and legislative committee hearings to the final adoption by the assembly and senate to the governor’s signature, God’s leading had to be and was evident,” shares Jim Enns, Vice Chair/CFO of Mennonite Aid Plan/Mennonite Insurance Services.
While finally being able to offer liability insurance to their customers was one of the most memorable examples of an answer to prayer, the board and staff feel there have been many times through the years where they have truly seen God’s hand at work.
One of those earlier occasions was at the untimely death of their manager, Ron Licata. “God’s leading was significant on two fronts,” shares Enns. “First, we had a board chair at the time with significant knowledge and education in business and economics as a professor at Fresno Pacific University, Dennis Langhofer. He had time available to step in on a part-time basis to lead us through the interim between managers. Secondly, I believe God had led us to hire Jerry Linscheid prior to Ron’s death, to provide for a smooth transition.”
Jerry Linscheid shares another memorable incidence of an answer to prayer. “In 2015 the Rough Fire started north of Hume Lake and on the north side of the Kings River. It traveled south, crossing the river, towards Hume Lake Christian Camp and the many private cabins there. The prayers from our board and staff were just a small proportion of the thousands of people praying that the area be spared. The fire came up to the camp and went around it. Many people believe that the area was divinely protected from that fire. We insured about a dozen cabins at Hume Lake and would have been severely strained had they all burned.”
To this day, the board continues to pray before and during their meetings as they strive to provide for the needs of their clients. If you have a story of answered prayer you would like to share with Mennonite Insurance they would love to have you share on their Facebook page, and you can learn more about their history on their website.