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Financial Fitness Blog

The best kept secret we’re not trying to keep

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Steve SchofieldMany people think about home and auto insurance this way: I’ve got both so now I’m covered.

What they don’t realize is that, unless they also have umbrella (personal liability) insurance, they may not be covered for as much as they think.

Umbrella insurance is one of the best kept secrets because many people assume their auto and home insurance offer them adequate protection. However, you may be surprised at the situations in which you may need umbrella insurance as well. Here are a few examples:

  • A car accident occurs with multiple people who are seriously injured, and you are found responsible for the medical bills. If there is a court judgement against you for $800,000 but your auto bodily injury per accident policy limit is $500,000, you are responsible for the amount above your auto policy limit.
  • If your accident involves a semi-truck carrying cargo and that cargo is damaged, you may need to pay for it.
  • Striking a power pole or building can result in a significant liability.
  • Being a chaperone on a school field trip opens you up to financial risk if one or more of the children get hurt.
  • If you ever face charges of slander, libel, or defamation of character, you’re not likely covered unless you have an umbrella policy.

The other big surprise about umbrella insurance is how affordable it is for so much protection. Depending on your circumstances, the usual cost of a $1 million personal umbrella policy is between $175 and $225 per year.

Insurance is about more than just covering your home and car. And now you’re in on the secret, we can help you make a decision about umbrella insurance based on what’s best for you. Give us a call at 1-800-279-4010 to learn more about umbrella insurance or get a quote. Or, set up a phone consultation that works best for your schedule.

Steve Schofield, Personal Insurance Consultant

Spring floods: Protect your home and yourself

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Tim GanoungIt’s mid-March and already areas in central and northern Wisconsin are being hit with floods. You don’t need to live in a high-risk area to be the victim of a flood. In fact, 25–30% of flood insurance claims come from low-to-moderate risk areas.

When it comes to your home, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from flooding is to purchase flood insurance. Home insurance doesn’t cover flood damage. If you’re unsure about your need for flood insurance, our insurance consultants can help you make an informed decision and give you a quote.

But don’t wait long to make a decision! There is typically a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before a new flood policy goes into effect.*

When it comes to your personal safety, take some advice from ReadyWisconsin: Turn Around Don't Drown®. The Centers for Disease Control report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. The second highest cause is due to walking into or near flood waters. If you find yourself in a flooded area, know that it's easy to underestimate the force and power of water. Just two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, and a mere six inches of fast moving water can knock over an adult. To avoid tragedy, don't try to go through it—turn around.

To learn more about the flood insurance offered through Member Benefits, or for questions about your current home policy, give us a call at 1-800-279-4010.

Tim Ganoung, Personal Insurance Consultant  

*Some exceptions apply, call us for details.

Flood insurance offered through the National Flood Insurance Program and underwritten by Bankers Insurance Company.


Take the match: It's the easiest money you'll ever make

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Eric SchwartzIf your employer (or your spouse’s employer) offers a match in your 403(b) or 401k plan, take it. It’s free money.

While matching contributions have been popular in the private sector for years, it is a rather new trend in benefits offered by Wisconsin public schools. More and more districts are now offering a match to incent staff to save for retirement and also to make their employee benefit package more attractive to potential recruits and veteran staff.

How it works

The match will vary from employer to employer. It might be 50 cents to a dollar for every dollar you contribute, up to a set maximum—perhaps 3% to 6% of your salary, or in some cases a dollar limit.

Matching funds usually vest over time—meaning the matched funds aren’t all yours until you’ve completed the vesting period—typically 3 to 5 years. Once you’re fully vested, you can take the entire employer match with you should you part ways. However, if you leave before you’re fully vested, you may get to keep only a portion of the match or maybe none at all. It depends on the employer plan. But, all the money you contributed is still yours.

Take the money

Ironically, this benefit is underutilized and many employees are leaving money on the table.With continued changes to post-employment benefit packages in both the private and public sectors, employees will need to rely more on personal savings to fund retirement. Do it the easy way. Never pass up the opportunity to get free money from a match.

An added bonus: The match effectively increases your income without increasing your tax bill, since you pay no taxes on matching contributions until you withdraw them in retirement.

Surprising statistics

  • $1,336: The average amount of employer match employees missed out on in 2014.
  • $42,855: The average amount of employer match an employee will miss out on over the span of 20 years.
  • $1.4B: The total amount of unclaimed employer matching contributions, according to the survey of over 1 million employees.
  • $24B: The annual amount of lost employer matching contributions due to employees not saving enough.

Source: Financial Engines™

Eric Schwartz, Financial Planning Specialist

Uber issues

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Mark DannehlFamiliar with the new age taxi/ride sharing services like Uber or Lyft? They are part of a Transportation Network Company (TNC) that uses a digital network to connect passengers to participating drivers for a fee. Anyone who wants to use their own vehicle can tap into the network and start making money by driving people to their destination. While the ride-sharing model has legions of fans, it has come under scrutiny for issues related to passenger and driver safety, not the least of which is related to inadequate insurance.

Here’s the problem

While Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services bumped up their liability insurance this summer in response to new laws going into effect in many states, coverage is limited to liability—damage to others. So, drivers may still be uncovered for collision or damages to their car. Also, drivers themselves may not be protected if they are hurt in an accident that they cause.

Don’t be surprised

Don’t mistakenly think that your personal auto policy will fill in the gaps because most policies contain standard exclusions to limit exposures related to the commercial use of a vehicle. So, if you decide to make extra cash as a driver for Uber or the like, make sure to review your current policy to avoid any surprises in the event of an incident.

If you have a personal auto policy with Member Benefits note that your policy does not extend to commercial use. Your liability, medical payments, and uninsured and underinsured motorists coverages will not apply during any time you are logged into a TNC like Uber.

Give us a call at 1-800-279-4010 for more information and help getting appropriate coverage.

Mark Dannehl, Personal Insurance Consultant

Property and casualty insurance programs are underwritten by WEA Property & Casualty Insurance Company. The terms and conditions of your coverage are exclusively controlled by your written policy. Please refer to your policy for details.