As seen in Indian Country Magazine
AMERIND Risk is owned by tribes that pool their resources to assert control of their sovereignty and economic destiny
AMERIND Risk was founded on the principle of Tribes believing, protecting and investing in themselves. More than 400 tribes created AMERIND Risk in 1986 in response to an insurance crisis in Indian Country. When commercial insurance became too costly and failed to accommodate the unique needs of Native American property, tribes found a way to offer affordable, accessible claims coverage to tribal housing authorities, while keeping liability costs down and honoring unique tribal cultures and traditions.
What started as an $18 million insurance risk-pool entity more than 30 years ago has since grown to cover billions of dollars’ worth of assets nationwide. To this day, AMERIND Risk remains the only 100-percent, tribally owned and operated insurance provider committed to Indian country.
“Tribes have more control and flexibility buying from themselves than sending their money to corporate America,” says Derek Valdo, AMERIND Risk’s CEO. As a leader on the Pueblo Acoma Tribal Council, he’s a firm believer in keeping tribal dollars within Indian country as a path to self-sufficiency and cultural preservation. Valdo champions the popular motto: “Let’s put Indian people in charge of Indian business.”
In that vein, AMERIND exclusively serves Indian country, offering cost-conscious coverage tailored to a Tribe’s specific needs. Its 10-member board of directors reflects the diversity of the Nations it represents across 36 states.
AMERIND is a federally chartered Section 17 tribally-owned company, meaning it’s sovereign and tax-exempt. When a tribe elects to buy statutory workers’ compensation coverage through a non-tribal provider, its sovereignty may be compromised. AMERIND Risk’s Tribal Workers’ Compensation program provides high levels of coverage while maintaining tribal immunity and utilizing tribal court systems. “It’s a more informal process. It removes the need for costly litigation, that’s rampant in state workers’ compensation systems, allowing us to save the Tribe considerable money in premiums,” said Robert Dahl, AMERIND’s program manager.
First and foremost, AMERIND is dedicated to cultivating a culture of workplace safety. In the event of employee injury, AMERIND’s return-to-work program caters to both employer and employee, reducing the likelihood of litigation. A trusted, designated medical provider eases the employee’s recovery process. A framework for regular communication between an appointed supervisor and the Tribal worker improves employee morale.
Clarified employee duties create flexibility to adapt job roles to an employee’s current capabilities and ultimately expedite a return to the workplace.
AMERIND’s vision is deeply rooted in the universal Native virtue of generosity. The firm’s board of directors budgets half a million dollars annually for outreach to nonprofit organizations that benefit Indian Country. “We’re more than just an insurance company,” Valdo says.
AMERIND will host its 13th Annual Protecting Tribal Families Golf Fundraiser on April 27 at Twin Warriors Golf Club at Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico, which benefits the AMERIND Risk Protecting Tribal Families Emergency Fund for uninsured tribal homeowners after a fire, flood or other catastrophic event. Also benefitting will be two Native nonprofits: the American Indian Cancer Foundation, and the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women.
For the third consecutive year, AMERIND will co-host a convention and tradeshow with the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC) that promotes proactive, preventative safety measures for homeowners and Tribal businesses. The 2017 AMERIND Risk NAIHC Conference & Tradeshow will take place June 27-29, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Since day one, AMERIND Risk has focused on growing while staying true to traditional values and supporting its mission: “Tribes Protecting Tribes.” In addition to protecting tribal governments, businesses and communities, AMERIND launched AMERIND Benefits in 2015 for employee benefit solutions. In 2016, AMERIND debuted AMERIND Critical Infrastructure, which helps Tribal Nations develop and deploy high-speed, broadband Internet. “Broadband is essential to the Nation building of Tribal governments and institutions,” said Geoffrey Blackwell, AMERIND’s Chief Strategy Officer and General Counsel, a former senior official at the Federal Communications Commission.
To learn more about the flexible, cost-effective and culturally sensitive services that AMERIND Risk offers Tribal governments, businesses and communities or for a quote, call 800-352-3496 or visit AMERINDRisk.org.