Insurance Update
June  2017
Issue No. 81
In this issue
Respect the dangers of fireworks

About Us 
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  A not-for-profit ministry of
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Inc.

Church of the Brethren Insurance Services provides the following products: dental, vision, basic life and accidental death & dismemberment, supplemental life and AD&D, dependent life and AD&D, retiree life, long-term disability, short-term disability, critical illness, and Medicare supplement for eligible Church of the Brethren employees .
Dental, vision, retiree life, and Medicare supplement coverage may also be available for eligible retired Church of the Brethren employees.
For eligibility information, call Connie Sandman at 800-746-1505, ext. 366, or contact your human resources representative.
Medical and ancillary plans (named above) may be available to Brethren-affiliated employer groups.
Long-Term Care Insurance is available for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities. 

Contact Us 
1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120


Summer can be a wonderful mix of activities and experiences. In keeping with this idea, we have prepared a potpourri of articles and information for you this month, each detailing a different summer reality and each also offering some health and safety tips that we hope will contribute to your overall wellness in this first month of summer.

Are you a pet lover? We want you to know about an exciting new product that will soon be offered through BBT. Read on to find out how our newest insurance can help with all those expensive medical treatments and visits for your pets.
We also want to highlight a matter that might seem surprising -- rip currents. They are a special kind of wave and water reality on seacoasts and on the shores of very large lakes. With so many people enjoying time at the shore during the summer months, it's important to know about these hidden -- and dangerous -- currents.
Another subject also may surprise you, but it is something most of us do in the summer. When was the last time you read an article about sweat? We hope you will find this one interesting and informative as it reviews the purpose and value of your body's ability to perspire.
And what says summer more than an awesome display of fireworks? We acknowledge their appeal and beauty, though caution you about the dangers of fireworks.
Finally, we needed something delicious and refreshing and also healthy to round out our summer medley. Read on to see what it is.
May you have fun with this mix of subjects, and in each case may you take something away with you that will help you stay healthy and safe.

Yes you heard correctly!
Brethren Insurance Services will soon offer insurance for pets

In the United States, 68 percent of households -- about 85 million families -- own a pet, and most of those people consider their pets to be family members. So it follows that more and more employers are offering pet insurance as a voluntary benefit. Many pet-owning employees are requesting this benefit, and it's becoming one of the fastest-growing voluntary benefits. In 2015, 36 percent of employers offered pet insurance, and by 2018 that figure is expected to rise to 60 percent.
As the cost of veterinary care rises, pet ownership can become very expensive. Americans spent $15.7 billion on veterinary care in 2015 out of a total of $60.3 billion spent on all aspects of pet ownership. The estimate for 2017 rises to a total of almost $70 billion spent on pets.
So should you consider buying health insurance for your pet? Consumer Reports has concluded that if you choose wisely, the odds are good that your policy will pay for itself at some point in your pet's life.
Among the insurance companies that have begun to offer pet insurance, Nationwide is the largest and is the carrier through which Brethren Insurance Services will be offering pet insurance to ministers and employer groups, as well as employees of churches, districts, and camps. Enrollment will begin early in the fall.
Nationwide offers a basic plan called My Pet Protection that covers:
  • Accidents and illness
  • Hereditary and congenital conditions
  • Cancer
  • Dental diseases
  • Behavioral treatments
  • Therapeutic diets and supplements
  • Specialty and ER coverage
  • Choice of any veterinarian
  • An annual deductible of $250.
A second plan called My Pet Protection with Wellness includes all of the above as well as the following:
  • Wellness exams
  • Spaying or neutering
  • Fleas and tick treatments
  • Teeth cleaning
  • Shots
Both programs have these added features:
  • They will pay boarding and kennel fees if the plan member is hospitalized as a result of illness or injury and needs their pet care.
  • They will pay for advertising and a reward if an insured pet strays or is stolen.
  • They offer replacement cost up to $1,000 if the pet is stolen or cannot be found within 60 days.
  • They also cover veterinary expenses associated with the death of an insured pet including euthanasia, cremation or burial, as well as the cost of another pet to take its place.
Because this is a group insurance plan, the age or breed of your pet does not affect eligibility.
The pets most likely to be insured are cats and dogs, but pet insurance is available for birds, certain reptiles, and other animals. There is also a vet helpline to offer 24/7 advice on matters from general pet health concerns to urgent care needs.
The above plans are designed for Church of the Brethren ministers and affiliated Brethren employer groups, as well as employees of churches, districts, and camps. Not all readers of Insurance Update are employees of organizations served by Brethren Insurance Services, but this information on pet insurance will be of general interest and companies like Nationwide do offer individual plans.
If you work for an organization served by Brethren Insurance Services and want more information, call us at 800-746-1505 and ask for Jeremiah Thompson, director of Insurance Operations.
ripcurrentsBeware of rip currents

Summer is a time for swimming and frolicking in the water, so naturally, that's when many people flock to the beach. If you've ever been to the beach, you probably know what an undertow is. And if you have done any sailing or read any nautical fiction, you've heard of rip tides. So when you hear the term "rip current," you probably think you know what it is. But, in truth, a rip current might be very different than you think.
Undertow is created when waves ebb and flow on the beach. A wave comes in and breaks. Some water sinks into the sand. Most of it flows back out to sea, creating the undertow, which is a fairly gentle flow. But because it is strong enough to tip over someone small and begin to wash the person seaward, an undertow can seem scary. However, the next wave will generally wash that person back toward the shore. The undertow is only dangerous if it up-ends a small person or a young child who then can't regain their footing.
A rip tide is caused by the movement of the tide in and out through a narrow opening, for example, the mouth of a harbor or an inlet or estuary. The force of the ingoing and outgoing flow of the tide is intensified by the narrow channel, and the tide can rip a boat or person in toward land or out to sea. Rip tides do not occur on a broad shoreline but at a narrow passage.
A rip current Is something else again, and may be the most dangerous because it is unexpected and can occur on a broad section of beach when and where you are not expecting it.  A rip current can be found on the sea coast, as well as on the shores of the Great Lakes. It is a powerful, narrow channel of fast-moving water. The mechanics are complex and involve the interaction of waves with water levels, with the shape of the nearshore bottom, and with other waves.
As waves travel from deep to shallow water and break near the shoreline, they generate currents that flow away from the shore and also along the shore. The currents flowing away can become rip currents if they are narrowed and intensified. Even on a shoreline that may appear wide and smooth. Sandbars and/or channels on the sea bottom can cause the focused, fast-moving section of water to travel in an offshore direction. Such currents can also occur because waves vary in speed and intensity, and they can happen when a current travelling along the shoreline encounters a jetty and is forced offshore. Speeds vary, but this variability makes rip currents especially dangerous to beachgoers. They can have a velocity as high as 5 miles per hour, faster than an Olympic swimmer. Rip currents can be identified visually from the shore, though they are easiest to see from a high vantage point. They sometimes look like a river through the surf: there is a break in the waves; the water can look flat in contrast to the lines of breaking waves on either side; the surface can sometimes look foamy and may have a different color from the surrounding water, cloudier or muddier. Sometimes you can see foam or debris floating out to sea in the rip current whereas debris in the breaking waves is being pushed toward shore.
While an undertow is the natural outflow of water when waves break, a rip current's narrow, focused, fast-moving stream of water occurs suddenly. It can sweep even strong swimmers out to sea. The instinctive reaction is to swim frantically toward shore, but very few swimmers can succeed against a rip current. The correct response is to swim sideways until you have been able to swim out of the strong current. These currents are the cause of more than 100 drownings every year in the United States and the occasion of more than 80 percent of water rescues on surf beaches.

So if you plan to spend time at the beach this summer, pay attention. If you spy what seems like a narrow path of water through the breakers, stay away and keep others away.

Adapted from
Why we sweat
The elucidation of perspiration

Sweating is a summer reality we don't think about much. We just endure it. We may try to avoid it by staying in air conditioning, by moving slowly when we are outside, by staying in the shade, or by abstaining from exercise. We rarely regard sweat as a good thing, and we only consider it when we are dripping with it. But it is a more complicated matter than something that happens only when we are hot, and it sometimes works as a useful warning and has positive health benefits.
Heat and Humidity
When the temperature rises, your sweat glands (some 2.6 million of them) spring into action, producing perspiration. Sweating is your body's natural way of keeping you cool. Some sweat evaporates from your skin, taking heat with it. The rest runs down your face and body. You feel hotter when it's humid out because the already saturated air leaves less room for the sweat to evaporate off your body.
Getting Mad
When you get angry, your body reaches its boiling point, releasing stress hormones that increase your heart rate and blood pressure and raise your body temperature, which can lead to sweating. Anger is a healthy emotion once in a while, but when you regularly lose your temper, it could signal a problem.
Breaking a sweat is one way to tell that you're getting a good workout. Because you lose fluid when you sweat -- especially when it's hot -- you need to stay hydrated. Remember to hydrate before you work out in addition to while you're working out and after you are done. This will help with body temperature and performance, too.
Being Under Pressure
Anyone who's missed a big work deadline or bungled a presentation in front of an audience knows how stress, anxiety, and embarrassment can make you sweat. Emotional stress specifically activates the sweat glands in the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, which is why it can be embarrassing to shake hands with someone when you're nervous.
When you're sick, your brain raises your body's thermostat a few degrees enabling your body to raise its temperature to make it a less welcoming place for germs. You'll feel cold and have chills. When your fever breaks and your thermostat resets itself back to about 98.6 degrees, you'll feel hot and start to sweat. The sweat helps to cool you off and get your body back to a normal temperature.
Feeling Sick
Being sick can make you sweat, and not just because you have a fever. Sweating can be a symptom of angina -- heart-related chest pain -- and a heart attack. Infections, diabetes, and an overactive thyroid gland all can make you sweat. Some diseases, like cancer and HIV, can cause night sweats. If you're sweating a lot more and are concerned, see your doctor.
That morning cup of Joe will do more than wake you up - it can also make you sweat. Coffee increases perspiration in two ways. First, caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, activating sweat glands (the more caffeine you drink, the more you sweat). Second, the heat from the drink itself can make your body feel hot enough to sweat.
Spicy Foods
When you bite into a an El Diablo burrito or get a mouthful of Hurricane Shrimp Creole, why does it feel like a four-alarm fire has just erupted in your mouth? Spicy foods fool your body into thinking it's hot by stimulating the same nerve receptors that respond to heat. That's why a plate of wings covered in No Wimps Allowed Hot Sauce or a bowl of kimchi can make your tongue sizzle and your face break out in a sweat.
Menopause and Hot Flashes
During menopause, plunging estrogen levels play tricks on the hypothalamus - the body's temperature gauge. No matter how frigid it is outside, a hot flash will make your body think you're in the middle of a heat wave. In a desperate attempt to shed excess heat, the blood vessels in your skin dilate and your sweat glands go into overdrive, leaving you feeling flushed, sweaty, and yearning for a cold shower.
Hormones surging through your body during pregnancy and an increased metabolic rate can make you hotter than usual and make your sweat glands more active. Be sure to drink enough fluids during those nine months to keep you and your baby hydrated. Once your baby arrives, you'll keep sweating more than usual for a few weeks as your body sheds the extra fluid it accumulated during pregnancy.
Too Much Alcohol
You can tell right away when people have been drinking excess amounts of alcohol. They are wobbly on their feet, slurring their speech, and their faces are flushed and sweaty. The sweatiness is due to an alcohol effect called vasodilation -- widening of the blood vessels in the skin.
Here's another reason to stamp out that cigarette -- smoking can make you sweat. Nicotine causes your body to release the chemical acetylcholine, which stimulates the sweat glands. It also raises heart rate and blood pressure and body temperature. Nicotine withdrawal also causes excess perspiration, but if you can sweat it out long enough to kick the habit, you'll lower your risk for cancer, emphysema, and dozens of other deadly diseases.


Side Effect of Medication
Though they're meant to make us feel better, some medications can cause their own symptoms. Sweating may be a side effect of several drugs, including antidepressants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs -- also known as NSAIDs, blood pressure medications, cancer treatments, and some diabetes drugs. If your drugs are making you too sweaty, talk to your doctor about changing your dose or switching to another drug.
Falling in love
It may feel like it's all about your heart, but falling in love actually starts in your brain, with a rush of adrenaline-like "love chemicals." These are responsible for the racing heart, sweaty palms, and other telltale physical signs that you're smitten.
So when you are sweating this summer and wishing you weren't, think about what it might mean and how useful this physiological mechanism really is, and be glad your body is working well.
Adapted from Medicine.Net -- Aug. 28, 2014.

fireworksFireworks -- beauty, excitement, and DANGER!

Summer is here. Fireworks season is upon us. The Fourth of July is only a month away. And June is Fireworks Safety Month. In light of all this, consider the following story.
A man and his family never missed the local Fourth of July Fireworks Show. He loved the explosions of fiery color flashing across the night sky. His only disappointment was that a certain amount of "dead" time and empty sky followed each set of fireworks as the professionals prepared the next batch. He wanted constant motion and action. He would have been happy to see a 20-minute show go out in five glorious minutes of extravagant sky-filling spectacle.
One year it happened. He could hardly believe his eyes. One explosion followed another. The sky was filled with bursting rosettes, sizzling rays, spears of light shooting out of exploding centers, sharp cracks and bright flashes like lightning, and great balls looking like huge planets filling the sky, flaming brightly and then beginning to fade only to shoot off more blazing spheres. There was no pause. The sky was filled with glorious color and light for an unbroken five minutes. The man heaved a great sigh of satisfaction.
But he learned later that the show he'd enjoyed so much was the result of a malfunction. Fireworks meant for 20 minutes had fired off all at once. The show he loved had been an accident and one of the professionals had been injured in the runaway display.
This story reminds us of how beautiful and absorbing fireworks are. They are ancient, having been invented by the Chinese almost 14 centuries ago, and their fiery color and explosive sound call to something in us deep and primal. But this story is also a cautionary tale. Fireworks are dangerous, and even the professionals can be hurt. And when amateurs begin lighting them off, the stats on resulting injuries are sobering.
The U.S. Council for Public Safety received reports of 11 fireworks-related deaths in 2015, the latest year for which there are statistics. Fireworks were involved in an estimated 11,900 injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2015. An estimated 8,000 of these injuries (67 percent) were treated between June 19 and July 18 - the weeks leading up to and following the Fourth of July holiday. Of the almost 12,000 injuries, 61 percent of the victims were males and 39 percent were females. Young people age 20 or younger accounted for 42 percent. People 15-19 years of age had the highest incidence, and children aged 5 to 9 had the second highest. Here are the numbers of injuries associated with some of the various forms of fireworks:

Sparklers.............................. 1,900
Bottle rockets.......................... 800
Firecrackers.......................... 1,200
Estimates of the parts of the body most frequently injured:

Hands and fingers......... 32 percent
Head, face and ears...... 25 percent
Eyes................................ 16 percent
Legs................................ 15 percent
Arms................................. 4 percent

While it's hard to associate a beloved holiday with the possibility of losing a finger or eye or worse, due to playing around with fireworks, we can't afford to not think about it.

The best safety advice is - never touch fireworks. Enjoy them only as the man in the story did - from the viewing area at a public fireworks show. Of course, not everyone will follow this advice, and because of that, there are rules and guidelines for handling fireworks that may help diminish the possibility of injury:
  • Check out local laws to see if fireworks are legal where you live
  • Read and follow the directions on the fireworks package
  • Do not allow children to handle fireworks
  • Wear safety glasses to protect the eyes
  • Never point or shoot fireworks at another person
  • Be aware of other people around you; make sure they are out of range of the fireworks
  • Use fireworks only outside in an open area, like a driveway or sidewalk
  • Never use fireworks in your home or in an enclosed space
  • Don't light fireworks in any type of container
  • Do not try to re-ignite a "dud" as it could explode near your hands or face
  • Only light one at a time
  • Do not try to make your own fireworks
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket; friction could set them off
  • Always have a bucket of water or a hose handy
  • Keep a first-aid kit handy
  • If serious injury is suffered, seek medical attention
  • NEVER drink alcoholic beverages and use fireworks at the same time!*
May you find a local fireworks display this summer and enjoy its beauty from the safety of your blanket or lawn chair and may you do it with people you love, for nothing brings us quintessential summer as much as fireworks bursting across the night sky.
*Adapted from: and
Guinness world records for fireworks 
There is something about fireworks that is larger than life, especially public displays, so let's see what truly large fireworks are like. Here are some Guinness world records:
Largest aerial firework shell
The largest aerial firework is fired at the Japanese Katakai-Matsuri Festival which is held every September in Katakai, Honshu, Japan. The "Yonshakudama" shell is loaded into a pipe canon. At just over 47 inches in diameter and weighing 1,014 pounds, the firework was created by Honda Masanori's Katakai Fireworks Co in Niigata Prefecture, Japan, and cost around $1,500 in 2016 dollars. It is fired to a height of around 2,700 feet and has been measured to bloom into a rosette form of about 2,624 feet in diameter.
Largest chocolate firework
The largest chocolate firework was made by Nestlé, measuring 9.8 feet high and 4.9 feet in diameter and containing 132 pounds of Swiss Cailler chocolates. The firework was released at the Hechtplatz, in Zürich, Switzerland, on  Dec. 31, 2002. When it was lit and exploded, it released the chocolates.
Largest Catherine Wheel
A Catherine wheel or pinwheel consists of a powder-filled spiral tube, mounted with a pin through its center. When ignited, it rotates quickly, producing a display of sparks and colored flame. The largest Catherine wheel measured 105 feet 1.56 inches in diameter and was built by Lily Fireworks Factory, in Mqabba, Malta, on  June 18, 2011. The structure was free-standing and the Catherine wheel completed four revolutions under its own propulsion.
Largest firework rocket
The largest firework rocket weighed 213 pounds 14 ounces, and was created by Dave Ferguson and the BFR Boys and launched in Hawthorne, Nevada, on Sept. 27, 2014. The rocket had an estimated burst size of over 1,180 feet.
Largest firework display
The largest firework display consisted of 810,904 fireworks and was achieved by Iglesia Ni Cristo (Philippines), at the Countdown to 2016 New Year Celebrations, in the Philippine Arena, Ciudad de Victoria Bocaue Bulacan, Philippines, on Jan. 1, 2016. The display began at the stroke of midnight 2016 and lasted for over 1 hour and 1 minute, in the pouring rain.
Most firework rockets launched in 30 seconds
The most firework rockets launched in 30 seconds is 125,801, in an attempt organized by Pyroworks International Inc., in Cebu, Philippines, on May 8, 2010. 16 stacks with 8,000 rockets in each were used for the attempt. All successful rockets were launched within 17 seconds.

frozenyogurtDessert for the health-conscious
In this summer potpourri we've discussed swimming, sweating, and fireworks, but no summer medley would be complete without something cold and delicious, and since this publication is about wellness, we need something that is healthy too. There can be only one candidate -- frozen yogurt. And what could be more fortuitous, since in addition to Fireworks Safety month, June is also National Frozen Yogurt month.
Now, yogurt has been around for a long time -- some sources say as long as four millennia -- but it is a rank newcomer in the frozen dessert world. Yogurt itself did not come to the U.S. until the early 1900s, and it was only in the 1970s that frozen yogurt was first sold (on a stick), and it was as late as 1981 when the first frozen yogurt franchise opened. By the 1990s, it had taken 10 percent of the frozen dessert market, and by 2017 revenue in the frozen yogurt market has risen to $2 billion, with more than 2,900 stores. The market is presently in a growth spurt with a 20 percent increase expected by 2020.
So frozen yogurt is giving ice cream a run for its summer money as a tasty, refreshing, and healthy dessert choice. Take a look at these health benefit claims:
  1. A small serving (1½ cups) of frozen yogurt provides about 15 percent of your daily calcium.
  2. Yogurt is also a good source of magnesium and potassium, both of which help reduce high blood pressure.
  3. The protein in one serving of yogurt (20 percent of the recommended daily allowance) is enough for the USDA to list it as a meat alternative in its school lunch program.
  4. Frozen yogurt also comes in low-fat, no-fat, or sugar-free options, and some are Vitamin-C fortified.
  5. Yogurt's tart flavor slows down the release of sugar in the body, which stabilizes appetite and energy levels.
  6. High calcium intake has been linked to lower risk of colon cancer.
  7. Yogurt with active cultures helps prevent certain gastrointestinal conditions including lactose intolerance, constipation, diarrhea, colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and H. pylori infection.
  8. Yogurt helps prevent osteoporosis since calcium has been shown to have beneficial effects on bone mass in people of all ages.
If you stick to healthy toppings like fruit and nuts and stay away from the Butterfingers and Oreos, frozen yogurt is hard to beat as a guilt-free dessert. One serving of frozen yogurt has half the calories of a slice of chocolate cake! And who doesn't benefit from eating a cool, savory treat? It makes your day better, you start enjoying people more, and you feel that everything is going to be alright.*
Even if you are devoutly health-conscious, you can still allow yourself a bit of self-indulgence while remaining true to your health convictions. Plan a trip to the frozen yogurt shop and enjoy that cool, smooth, slightly tart concoction that is cold, sweet, and refreshing. Summer is too short to miss out on dessert.
Brain Puzzle
We hope you are enjoying our new addition to
Insurance Update -- monthly BRAIN PUZZLES -- just for fun!


What does each set of three have in common? 

1. picnic ­- card - pool
2. earth - book - inch
3. car - tree - elephant
4. box - green - sea
5. greeting - credit - library
6. wagon - cart - steering
7. storm - needle - potato
8. blue - goose - black
9. yard - pogo - chop
10. candy - crab - caramel

1. egg - safe - whip
2. days - continents - seas
3. marigold - mustard - canary
4. eyes - eggs - laundry
5. lungs - brain - ears
6. little red riding hood - hot air balloon - high school gym
7. fishing pole - broken leg - Broadway play
8. turtle - M&M candy - ocean
9. French - car - unicorn
10. tent - baseball - horseshoe

1. dime - Pluto - Rhode Island
2. Ford Motor Company - Nebraska - US $5 bill
3. florist - furniture store - obstetrician
4. head - tail - cross
5. bicycle tire - toothpaste - chemistry lab


  1.  Which is faster, hot or cold?
  2.  Forwards I am heavy. Backwards I am not.  What am I?
  3.  What question can you never answer "yes" to?
  4.  What has teeth but cannot eat?
  5.  What kind of dog never bites?
  6.  What wears a cap but has no head?
  7.  Why is six afraid of seven?
  8.  What country is popular on Thanksgiving Day?
  9.  It is black, but you say it is clean. It is white but you  say
       it is dirty. What is it?
10. Which table doesn't have legs?
11. What's never used until it's broken?
12. What is the smallest room in the world?
13. Why did I throw the butter out of the window?
14. What starts with E, ends with E and only has  one letter?
15. What's the largest ant in the world?

Long-Term Care Insurance 
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care Insurance
Eligibility for long-term care insurance benefits is determined by the inability to meet at least two of these six activities of daily living -- bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, continence, or transferring. Cognitive impairment can also trigger benefits.
It's difficult to think about the fact that a debilitating condition or a disabling injury might leave you unable to care for yourself, or that when you reach your twilight years, the time will come when you will need some extra care. Long-term care insurance makes sure that you will get the care you need. It helps assure that the cost of your custodial care will not eat up your savings. Finally, and this is one of the best things about LTCI, it can help protect your children and other relatives from having to use their resources to care for you.
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care Insurance for all members and employees of the Church of the Brethren and their family and friends; and also for employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities and their families and friends.
If you are interested in obtaining this coverage, contact Brethren Insurance Services at or 800-746-1505 for a free, no-obligation proposal or  click here to request more information.