Wisconsin OCI statement on local impact of Tropical Storm Cristobal
Thousands of folks were without power and some saw rain yesterday that seemed to come down in sheets. A flash flood watch was in effect until this morning.
If you have water damage, the Wisconsin Office of Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) has recommendations for steps in take and online resources to share. Please view their press release below.
And check your insurance policy. Most home insurance policies do not cover flooding or seepage through the foundation, which is usually covered under separate flood insurance policies. Give us a call at 1-800-279-4030 if you have any insurance questions.
New partnership for long-term care insurance
Experts say 70% of those who reach age 65 will need some type of long-term care (LTC) during their lifetimes. Long-term care insurance may minimize the impact of any LTC you may need in your retirement.
Policies can be tailored to cover varying circumstances. Consider what you can afford, how long you might need LTC services, and how much time will pass before you need to start receiving benefits from the policy.
Associates of Clifton Park is looking forward to sharing their years of insurance expertise with you to help you make informed decisions about your LTC options. Learn more by calling 1-800-893-1621 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring safety check
- Check cleaning supplies and dispose of those leaking or no longer used.
- Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Check fire extinguishers and the expiration date.
- Clean and inspect your dryer vent.
- Get a professional inspection of your air conditioning system.
- Check locks on windows and doors, secure valuables and outdoor equipment, and test/update your home alarm system if you have one.
- Review or create your family emergency plan. Visit ready.gov for guidance.
- Update your family first aid kit.
- Clean eavestroughs and inspect the roof—DIY or hire a professional.
- Check recreational equipment like swing sets, bikes, etc., for any needed repair or replacement.
- Before you start digging for that new yard project, call Diggers Hotline to get underground utility lines marked.
- Inspect your outdoor grill. On gas grills, make sure hoses are intact and the igniter works.
Get covered with umbrella insurance
Even careful people can find themselves liable for the injury of others. Catastrophic events don’t happen often, but they can happen to anyone at any time. For example:
- You cause a serious car crash that results in multiple injuries and property damage.
- A guest is injured at your house and they are out of work for over a month.
- You’re accused of verbally assaulting someone and they sue.
In the event that the costs associated with an accident or injury exceed your auto or home policy’s standard liability coverage, an umbrella (additional liability) policy can help cover the additional funds you may owe—and that amount can be significant.
What do you have to lose?
Umbrella insurance is considered essential to building financial security for you and your family. It helps protect your assets from the unexpected. You’ve worked hard for your home, car, and other assets; however, a large lawsuit can wipe out your current savings as well as what you stand to earn in the future. Imagine the impact on your family. Think about it—how much can you afford to lose?
Most people are surprised at how much exposure to risk they have as they lead their everyday lives. Examples include:
- Dog bites.
- Recreational vehicles.
- Swimming pools.
- Social media posts.
- Losing control of your vehicle on an icy road.
What does umbrella insurance cover?
Umbrella insurance provides extra coverage for medical bills or lawsuits that exceed the limits of your home insurance, as well as the damage you do to the personal property of others.
Besides the extra liability protection, a personal umbrella policy will pay your legal expenses if a liability claim is brought against you, whether the claim is legitimate or not. These costs are paid in addition to your policy limit.
A personal umbrella liability policy will also provide you with protection if you face liability for certain acts not usually covered by your home policy, including:
- False arrest.
- False imprisonment.
- Defamation of character.
- Invasion of privacy.
- Wrongful eviction.
What doesn’t umbrella insurance cover?
Umbrella insurance will not cover you for:
- Damage to your own personal property.
- Criminal acts you may commit.
- Flood damage to your own home or apartment.
- Contracted worker injuries (they should have their own insurance).
Protect your financial security
If you have auto and home/renters insurance with WEA Member Benefits, you may be eligible to participate in our umbrella insurance program. The great news is that you can buy $1 million of additional liability protection very economically—or choose from $500,000, $2 million, or $3 million coverage options.
Premiums are determined by circumstances. Provided you qualify, it is one of the most economical ways to protect your assets and future earnings.
As an additional option, we offer up to $1 million of uninsured and underinsured coverage. Some companies are no longer offering this coverage, but we feel it’s important as it helps protect our members, their family, and their passengers.
>Learn more: weabenefits.com/umbrella
>Request a quote: weabenefits.com/quickquote or 1-800-279-4030
Is it time to evaluate your auto insurance?
Too little insurance can leave you financially exposed, but too much may mean you’re paying more than you need to. Ensuring you have the most appropriate coverage to fit your needs is to your benefit—and your family’s.
Get an insurance review
If you have an auto policy with us and haven’t reviewed it for a while, call us—what may have made sense a year ago may not make sense now. For example, if you drive an older vehicle, maybe it makes sense to drop collision coverage. Or it may be time to choose a higher deductible. We can take a look at your needs and your existing coverage and give you recommendations.
Contact us to get an insurance quote
If you have a policy with another company and have never contacted us for a quote (or it’s been a while), it’s worth checking with us again. But keep this in mind: Deciding on insurance coverage is about much more than price. When you simplify the purchasing process for insurance by basing it mainly on price, it diminishes your investment and could put you at financial risk. Cheaper doesn’t always mean better, just like expensive doesn’t mean more value.
Price means very little without considering the value of proper coverage, great service, and knowing that you and your family are protected. Our Personal Insurance Consultants can help you gain a better understanding of your insurance needs and give you confidence to make the right decision for you and your family. Talk with us and you’ll become a better insurance consumer, whether you choose us or not.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when comparing insurers:
- Do my expectations for coverage match what’s in my policy?
- Is increasing my exposure to financial loss worth the money I may be saving on my premium?
- What is the company’s claim satisfaction rating?
- Do the company’s representatives take time to help me understand my policy?
We’re here to help you make the best insurance decisions for your personal needs. Give us a call at 1-800-279-4030.
Save money with our winter layup program for your summer toys
The layup program reduces premiums temporarily by reducing selected coverages—such as bodily injury and collision—while your summer toys are stored away for the season.
Your coverage will be scheduled to automatically increase to the original amounts on March 1 or April 1 based on your preference. A new declarations page will be sent for your records once we have returned all coverages to their original levels.
If you have coverage for your summer toys with Progressive and would like to enroll in the winter layup program, call Progressive at 1-800-888-7764.
Protect yourself from identity theft
Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information to commit fraud. Most people who experience it have to take several steps to recover their identity and clean up the mess that was made—by no fault of their own.
Criminals have many ways to obtain your personally identifiable information (PII). They may send e-mails or make calls posing as trusted associates or officials (known as “phishing”), utilize hardware/software or service systems, create fake social media accounts to impersonate you, or even steal your mail or garbage to get important account numbers—just to name a few.
Once they have your PII, they can use your name and address, credit card or bank account numbers, Social Security number, or medical insurance account numbers to commit fraud. This may include buying things with your credit card or opening new ones, opening utility accounts, stealing your tax refund, getting medical care, or pretending to be you if they’re arrested.
The frequency of identity theft has increased dramatically in recent years. According to a revised 2017 “Victims of Identity Theft” report from the U.S. Department of Justice:
- 17.6 million Americans, or 7% of those 16 years or older, were victims.
- 86% experienced misuse of an existing credit card or bank account.
- 7% experienced multiple types of identity theft.
- 14% of identity theft victims experienced an out of pocket loss. Of these, 49% suffered losses less than $100 and 14% lost $1,000 or more.
The three d’s
Unfortunately, if identity theft happens to you, you’re responsible for what the thief does with your PII. You may even have to pay for anything they buy. So it’s important to do what you can to minimize your risk of becoming an identity theft victim.
FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc.), an organization that plays a critical role in ensuring the integrity of America’s financial system, has outlined a simple practice that anyone can do: The Three D’s: Deter, Detect, Defend. Here are some tips you can follow using their easy-to-remember outline.
- Using preventive measures to help safeguard your important information can significantly reduce your risk.
- Protect user names, passwords, and PINs by keeping them private. Create complex passwords and change them often. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.
- Use two-factor authentication when available. It makes your account more secure by adding an extra step to your basic log-in procedure, such as a PIN, generated code, fingerprint, etc.
- Be sure your computer has security software and keep it up to date. Same goes for your mobile devices.
- Appliances, security systems, thermostats, and other consumer products that connect to the internet should only be purchased from reputable sources. Keep firmware up to date and use strong passwords. Be clear about their data privacy policies—devices become “smart” because they collect a lot of personal data.
- Use your own computer and secured internet connection when you access personal accounts, shop online, etc. Don’t use public Wi-Fi when accessing confidential information or using credit cards.
- Never buy anything from a Web site (or enter PII) that doesn’t start with HTTPS. It should also have a padlock icon in the address bar.
- Use care when downloading files from Web sites or clicking on links.
- Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet, and only give your number out when necessary (see end of article for more info).
- Shred anything that has personal information, account numbers, etc., before you dispose of it.
- Never leave paid bills in your mailbox for the mail carrier to pick up.
While most people understand the need to protect their Social Security number and PIN, other identifiers could help a thief access your PII. Many people actively publish data online about themselves through social media, organizational Web sites, and e-mail signature blocks, and don’t think much about it. But the more information a thief has (such as your name, address, e-mail, birthdate, maiden name, gender), the easier it can be to assume your identity. Be thoughtful about what you share and where.
- It’s important to keep a close eye on your finances and be wary of anything that seems a little off or too good to be true.
- Never respond to a call or e-mail that asks you to give personal information such as your Social Security number, account numbers, passwords, etc.
- Check your bank and credit card accounts regularly, and compare receipts with statements. Take time to read the statements from your health insurance plan as well.
- Check your credit report using annualcreditreport.com. You can check all of them annually, or stagger checks between Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax throughout the year.
- Watch for things you didn’t buy, withdrawals you didn’t make, a change of address you didn’t expect, and bills that stop coming.
As soon as you suspect a problem, it’s time to take action. Warning signs can include unfamiliar accounts on your credit report, strange withdrawals from your bank account, or bills or calls about debts that aren’t yours. If you’re a victim of identity theft:
- Report the identity theft by visiting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Web site, identitytheft.gov. The site will help you create an Identity Theft Report and a personal recovery plan based on your situation.
- File a report with your local police department.
- Call the companies where you know fraud occurred. You may have to close accounts opened in your name or report fraudulent charges to your credit card company as well.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
Wondering if you’re covered with your WEA Member Benefits’ home insurance policy? The answer is yes. Your policy reimburses up to $10,000 for expenses that occur from identity theft. Benefits include:
- $300 in coverage if you need to hire a theft recovery service to help you restore your identity.
- Lost salary or wages up to $200 per day, up to $5,000, resulting from time taken off work to restore your identity.
- Loan application fees.
- Reasonable attorney fees.
- Costs for notarizing documents.
Remember, even the most careful among us can fall victim to identity theft. So it’s more important than ever to protect all of your personal identifiable information, because this information is often a key ingredient in a scam.
When should I share my Social Security number?
While not every request for your Social Security number is an effort to steal your identity, not every request is mandatory either. In general, you may need to provide your Social Security number to:
- Financial institutions, such as banks or brokerage firms.
- Banks, credit card issuers, or other lenders.
- Landlords or utility providers (such as a power company).
- Government agencies to obtain services and to file your taxes.
- Credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion—or annualcreditreport.com to obtain your credit report or credit score.
Emergency Road Service Reimbursement
For just $1 per month per vehicle, you can get up to $100 of coverage per incident to reimburse you for towing or for labor to bring gas, change a tire, or open your vehicle. A $2 per month per vehicle for up to $250 of coverage per incident is also available.
Give us a call to add Emergency Road Service Reimbursement to your existing policy at 1-800-279-4030.*
*Vehicle must carry liability and comprehensive coverages to add Emergency Road Service Reimbursement. The costs of parts or materials such as gas or tires are not included in the coverage.
Protecting your LARGEST investment
Home. The word conjures up safety, security, and family. It likely includes everyone and everything that mean the most to you.
And for many people, their home is their greatest financial asset. With so much time, attention, and money invested, it’s crucial to make sure your home is properly protected.
But many people are putting this important investment, and their family, at more risk than they realize because they don’t understand their home insurance coverage and the factors that need to be considered.
Whether you’re a new home buyer or you’ve lived in your home for many years, it’s important to understand that your home and the people in it need proper protection.
Home insurance includes three types of coverage: structure, belongings, and liability. Each category has its own considerations.
Structure: Your home
It costs more to rebuild than you may think. Many people underestimate the cost to rebuild their home in case of loss. According to Marshall & Swift/Boeckh, two out of every three homes nationwide are underinsured by as much as 27%. Would you be prepared to foot the additional 27% of the cost to rebuild your home?
When insuring your home, it should be insured for 100% of its replacement cost. This is different from both the assessed value (the dollar amount placed on your home by your local government for taxation purposes) and the market value (how much you could expect to get for your home in the current real estate market if you were to sell). Replacement cost reflects how much it would cost to rebuild your house in the same spot, with materials of like-kind and quality.
“Rebuilding a home is almost always more expensive than building a comparable new one,” explains Steve Schofield, Personal Insurance Consultant at Member Benefits. “Demolition and removal of a destroyed home has to occur before rebuilding even begins. Local ordinances often place regulations on demolition, which can increase expenses. And when working on a single home, builders can’t buy materials at volume discounts. Plus, it generally takes longer due to the complexities of rebuilding.
“Think of it this way—housing prices rise and fall, but the cost of building materials and labor always continue to rise.”
For homes built during or after 1950, Member Benefits’ home policy pays the full cost to repair or replace your home with materials of like kind and quality without the limits imposed by most other insurers. For homes built prior to 1950, this coverage provides up to 125% of the dwelling limit on your policy.
Water damage isn’t automatically covered. While some types of water damage may be covered under your home policy, you need separate coverage for flooding. Flood coverage can only be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP. Member Benefits sells and services these flood policies, which must be in place for 30 days before coverage begins.
Water damage due to drain and sewer backup or sump pump overflow may be covered if you’ve added an endorsement to your policy.
Don’t set it and forget it. Many homeowners eventually find themselves without enough coverage because they buy their policy and never look at it again. “We recommend you review your insurance coverages at least every other year, but it’s especially important to adjust your policy when you make improvements like upgrading a kitchen with custom cabinets or adding sqaure footage to your home,” explains Steve. Some companies offer inflation guard protection that automatically adjusts your coverage limits by a certain percentage each year to help keep up with increases in material and personal property costs. “However, members shouldn’t rely solely on this to keep their coverage current. Periodic insurance reviews will help ensure your coverage is still appropriate, which can mean eliminating coverages you no longer need and adding new ones you do. We can help you with that.”
Belongings: Your stuff
Personal property coverage. Home insurance also covers your personal assets up to policy limits. At Member Benefits, if your personal property is destroyed or damaged, our policy provides coverage equal to 75% of your residence coverage limit.
If personal property is stolen or damaged by a covered peril while away from home, our policy pays up to 100% of your personal property limit. We pay up to 10% of your personal property limit for property that is with your student while away at college.
Schedule high value items. Items that are “lost” are not covered unless they are scheduled. Scheduled personal property coverage is an optional add-on to your home insurance policy that provides coverage for a greater number of risks and may increase the coverage limits on specific, high-value items. This gives you additional coverage as well as protection from certain types of accidental loss such as droppage or mysterious disappearance. When you schedule property such as jewelry or musical instruments, you receive coverage up to the amount you specify. “Protection for your boat, snowmobile, or recreational vehicle can also be obtained by scheduling them on your policy,” adds Steve. A deductible may apply to some items.
Liability: Your responsibility
Accidents happen. A visitor slips on the ice on your front walk. Your runaway grocery cart causes someone to fall and break a hip. Accidents yes, but the reality is that you could be held financially responsible in any one of these situations, and each could easily exceed $100,000.
Liability claims against homeowners are quite common. Most experts recommend at least $300,000 worth of home liability coverage. Others, like Member Benefits, recommend even more. “Our home policy includes $500,000 of liability coverage. We don’t even offer anything lower,” says Steve. “The additional coverage is a relatively inexpensive way for members to protect their assets.” Liability coverage offers protection for you and all family members who live with you, and it typically covers incidents on or away from your property.
Avoid attractive nuisances. Outdoor additions such as trampolines and pools increase your liability. You may not know it, but from an insurance perspective, they’re considered an attractive nuisance—something that is likely to entice children and could pose a risk of injury. Other examples include artificial ponds, discarded appliances, and abandoned cars.
You have the burden of taking adequate measures to protect children. Even if someone comes over and uses the trampoline or pool without your knowledge, you may be liable for any potential injury they may suffer from it.
Insurers may handle attractive nuisances in several ways, from no exclusions or coverage with precautions, to specific exclusions or refusal to insure the home. Be sure to talk to your insurance company so that you clearly understand your specific options, obligations, and coverages in your plan.
Pooch particulars. Dog ownership is also more popular than ever. In fact, almost 90 million dogs are owned by 60.2 million households in the United States (Insurance Information Institute). They also report that dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for nearly one-third of all homeowners liability claim dollars paid out in 2018, costing $675 million.
Generally, home insurance policies do not exclude “canine exposure” from coverage. However, each insurer may handle the risk differently, from charging a higher premium, denying coverage for breeds construed as dangerous, or requiring the owners to sign a liability waiver for dog bites. Be aware that you run the risk of nonrenewal following a dog bite incident.
Consider additional protection. You may want to take liability protection a step further. Additional liability insurance (umbrella insurance) protects you when the unexpected happens by providing protection above and beyond your existing home insurance policy. And the good news is you can buy $1 million of additional liability protection very economically.
If you have a trampoline, pool, or dog, you may want to seriously consider umbrella insurance. However, don’t assume that because you have this policy that you are covered. Under some circumstances, you may not be. Contact your insurer so you understand your policy guidelines.
Create a record of your stuff
If you experience a fire or other disaster at home, would you be able to remember EVERYTHING you possess? Having an up-to-date home inventory can help you get your claim settled faster, verify losses on your income tax return, and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance.
You can get a free home inventory eBook by visiting weabenefits.com/homeinventory. Not only does it offer you a checklist to follow, but we also share some tips for how to get started, make the process easier, and keep it safely stored. Remember, we’re here as a resource if you need help or have questions.
Home sweet home
Protecting your home is also protecting everything that’s important to you—including your family. Knowing that you have reviewed your coverages, understand your liability, and made a record of your possessions will only make living in your largest investment that much sweeter because you’re properly protected.
Personal Property Home Inventory eBook
Download our free home inventory eBook at weabenefits.com/homeinventory and pick up tips on how to get started, how to make the process a little less daunting, and when to consider insurance scheduling.
Buying a Home eBook
In the process of buying your first home, or thinking about purchasing one down the road? Our interactive Financial Guide: Buying a Home eBook is full of information on purchasing, evaluating, and protecting your new home, and includes tips on becoming a better insurance consumer. Find it, along with other helpful eBooks, at weabenefits.com/ebooks.
Free insurance review
Our personal insurance consultants can review your current insurance policy and help you understand the different types of home policy coverages and appropriate limits for the physical structure of your home, your personal belongings, and liability to others. Call 1-800-279-4030 or set up a personal phone consultation time at weabenefits.com/consults.
Take the risk out of Halloween with proper insurance coverage
As a homeowner, renter, and/or motorist, consider the important role your insurance plays in protecting you and your finances in the event the unexpected happens.
Tricks can be costly when they cause damage to your home or car. Standard home and renters policies generally provide coverage for vandalism, less your deductible. If your car gets damaged, there may be coverage under the optional comprehensive part of your auto policy (if you carry it).
Decorations can be more than scary! Fire damage from a Halloween candle or electrical decoration is generally covered by your home or renters policy. The amount and terms of coverage are stated in your policy.
Is your coverage limit enough to replace your home and personal belongings in the event of a total loss? Too often people under insure their largest investment for the sake of a few dollars each month and put their family’s financial security at risk.
Use extra caution while driving. Remember that kids out canvassing the neighborhood for treats on Halloween night may be distracted by all the costumes and candy. Dimly lit streets make it difficult to see children, so proceed with caution. Accidents that do not involve another driver or pedestrian are typically covered under the optional collision portion of an auto insurance policy, if you carry it. If another car or person is involved in the accident, the liability portion of your auto policy would kick in (up to your coverage limits).
If you have questions about your insurance coverage, call us at 1-800-279-4030.