Have you planned for this financial risk?
The duration of paid care varies widely. However, according to LongTermCare.gov, about 69% of those who turned 65 in 2017 will need an average of three years of some kind of LTC during their lifetime. And that can be costly. For example, in Wisconsin, the median cost for a semiprivate room in a nursing home for just one month is $8,334 (Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2018).
Unfortunately, most people haven’t planned for this financial risk—only about 7.2 million Americans have LTC insurance (AARP). For many, this means losing their wealth in a short period of time, even for a relatively brief nursing home stay.
Because neither health insurance nor Medicare was designed to pay for LTC services, individuals who require these services as a result of an accident or illness may need to dip into their personal savings or use other assets to cover the costs…unless they have LTC insurance.
LTC insurance can be more affordable than you think. If you meet requirements, plans may include rate caps, limited-time pay options, or the ability to insure two people for a discounted premium.
To learn more, call 1-888-247-5905 or visit membersplan.org to register for a webinar. This program is available to all Wisconsin public school employees, retirees, and many family members.
Protect yourself from uninsured drivers
Despite a mandatory minimum car insurance requirement that includes uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, over 14% of drivers in Wisconsin do not have auto insurance (Uninsured Motorists, 2017 Edition, Insurance Research Council). Nationally, one out of every eight drivers does not carry auto insurance coverage.
Injuries to you or your family from an auto accident can create considerable financial hardship if the at-fault driver has insufficient insurance and/or has no other financial means to compensate you for your losses. However, if you find yourself in this situation, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries and other costs from your own UM/UIM coverage.
It’s not only important that you have UM/UIM coverage, but that you have the appropriate amount of coverage to avoid a potential financial catastrophe.
What is UM/UIM coverage?
UM coverage protects you and your family if you are injured by another driver in a hit-and-run accident or if the other driver has no auto insurance.
UIM coverage is triggered when you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver who has insufficient limits of liability insurance to cover your damages.
What does it cover?
UM/UIM coverage covers situations including:
- Bodily injury that you, your family, and other occupants of your vehicle incur when hit by an uninsured motorist or hit-and-run driver.
- You and your family if, as a pedestrian, you or they are injured when struck by an uninsured motorist or hit-and-run driver.
UM/UIM coverage also covers:
- Reimbursement for lost wages.
- Medical costs.
- Pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Future wages if your career is negatively impacted because of the accident.
How much coverage should I have?
While all Wisconsin drivers are required by law to have UM and UIM coverage on their auto policies, the amount of coverage you choose is an important consideration.
Having an adequate amount of UM/UIM coverage can help protect your finances. The Wisconsin state minimum for UM coverage is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. UIM coverage can be rejected, but if taken the minimum is $50,000/$100,000. However, Member Benefits typically recommends much higher minimum coverages.
When considering how much coverage you need, think about the real costs associated with injury, lost wages, and more if you’re in an accident with a UM or UIM motorist. However, every situation is different. Let one of our personal insurance consultants help determine the right amount of coverage for you.
The bottom line
Don’t risk your financial security if you’re in a situation where someone else is not covered. Make sure you’re properly insured—we can help you get the coverage that is best for you.
Questions about UM/UIM insurance coverage? We’ll help you become a more knowledgeable insurance consumer. Call 1-800-279-4030 or sign up for a phone consultation.
August in Wisconsin was wet. Severe storms with flash flooding, strong winds, and multiple tornadoes battered the state in the waning days of the month. The southwest, south central, and eastern areas of the state were especially hard hit—receiving between 10 and 15 inches of rain over a two-week period. Property damage exceeded $250 million. Bridges and roads washed out and thousands of Wisconsinites had property damage to homes and businesses from flooding.
It’s a common misunderstanding that standard home insurance policies will cover the damage from flooding, but in fact it never does. 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—but the policy must be in place for 30 days before coverage begins.
However, water damage due to drain and sewer backup or sump pump overflow may be covered if you’ve added an endorsement to your home policy.
Members Amy and Eric Brehm live in Endeavor just 10 miles north of Portage in the heart of the affected area. They were among the roles of homeowners who had property loss due to water damage and flooding.
The Brehms were more fortunate than most. The seven inches of water in their basement was due to a failed sump pump for which they had coverage on their home insurance policy with Member Benefits.
“When there is as much precipitation as we had during the last two weeks of August, the ground becomes saturated and the water table rises. Water comes up through the floor drains. Our sump pump had been taking care of it,” Amy says. But on August 28 a large storm system passed through, producing high winds, tornadoes, and more rain. It also knocked out the power.
“The power outage caused our back up system to fail,” she explains. “If the power hadn’t gone out, we would’ve been fine. Once the power came back on and the sump pump started, it took care of all the water. But the damage had already been done.”
The ten-year flood?
This is the second time in ten years the Brehm’s basement flooded. “So much for the 100-year flood,” Amy says.
The first time they had a flood issue was in 2008, just after the Brehms moved into their current home. Heavy and extended rains, similar to what we experienced in August, caused their basement drain to backup. “At the time, we only carried $1,500 worth of coverage for drain and sewer backup—not nearly enough to cover the damages. Thankfully, I guess, the county was declared a federal disaster area and we applied for relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and received some help.”
The Brehms spent the summer of 2008 dealing with the clean up and took steps to prevent future problems, like putting in drain tile, a sump pit, and a sump pump system with back up generators.
“We never thought it would happen again, but as an added precaution we decided to max out the coverage for water backup ($20,000),” explains Amy. “Boy, are we glad we did, because despite all that we had done to safeguard against future flooding, we got hit again this year. And it was worse this time.”
Not their first rodeo
Because of their previous experience, Eric and Amy knew what to do. They immediately started moving things out of the basement. “This wasn’t our first rodeo,” she says.
Then at 8:00 a.m. sharp the next morning, with policy in hand, Amy called Member Benefits and talked to Beth Gold, Claims Representative. “Everything was put into motion. Beth gave us the green light to do what we needed to do and told us to document everything. We called the remediation company right away to put in dehumidifiers and fans to dry it out. The adjustor, John, arrived at the house by 1:00 p.m. It went great from start to finish. John became our day-to-day contact and we didn’t need to talk with Beth for another week.”
The cost was just shy of $18,000, so Amy and Eric were happy they had decided on $20,000 worth of coverage.
Repair costs included flooring, paneling, and wallboard, and they hired a mitigation company to remove the sub-floor, carpeting, and wall trim, as well as dry out the basement with fans and dehumidifiers. They also lost personal property including a treadmill, furniture, a refrigerator and its contents, several collectible typewriters, and lots of small items.
“It took about five weeks to get everything resolved. That was fast but we were highly motivated, and having the coverage allowed us to push through. Without the sump pump backup insurance coverage, I would’ve been dealing with FEMA like many of my neighbors had to do,” Amy acknowledges.
Don’t bet on FEMA
In October, FEMA announced that federal disaster assistance would be made available to Wisconsin. It was welcome news for many.
But FEMA isn’t a sure thing, Amy adds. She knows from her previous experience and discussions with neighbors that the amounts distributed vary greatly and often depend on who comes in to inspect. “What you get isn’t commensurate with the cost of damage,” she says.
Amy and Eric feel empathy for neighbors, especially their elderly neighbors, who haven’t had to deal with this kind of damage before and the difficulty of navigating FEMA processes. “We’ve tried to help them as much as we can since we’ve been through it. Eric and I have both said many times how blessed we were and how good we had it compared to others. The amount we paid for the water backup coverage over ten years is a drop in the bucket compared to what we received in benefits.”
The Brehms are keeping the coverage but hope it won’t be needed again. “We have a new generator and a new battery back up system, so it should work even if the power goes out,” she says hopefully.
“We can’t recommend it enough. Whenever you call, there is someone available. And you work with local people. You feel a connection.”
Affordable peace of mind
Industrywide, homeowners insurance doesn’t cover damage due to flooding. However, water damage due to drain and sewer backup or sump pump overflow may be covered if you’ve added an endorsement to your policy. This coverage is economical.
But timing can be everything. If the coverage is included at the inception date of the policy, the coverage begins on that date. However, if it’s added to or increased on an existing policy, there is generally a 30-day waiting period.
So if you are considering adding this coverage, give us a call at 1-800-279-4030 before the snow starts to melt and spring rains begin.
Amy was an art teacher for many years but currently serves as a K–12 Instruction Coach in the Montello School District. As such, she partners with teachers to identify student learning targets and plan curriculum to meet their needs in the classroom.
This is her 19th year in education.
Eric teaches high school social studies in Wisconsin Dells. He is a fiction writer and typewriter collector. “Together we enjoy finding antiques and collectibles and selling them on eBay (think American Pickers), walking our dog, and being outdoors (in the summer!). We are both avid readers, and I’m very active in my local book club,” adds Amy.
Don’t let frozen water put you on thin ice
To help reduce the risk to your home:
- Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris.
- Keep the attic well-ventilated.
- Make sure the attic floor is well-insulated.
- After a heavy winter storm, remove a layer of snow at least three feet above the gutter line with a long-handled aluminum roof rake while you stay safely on the ground.
- Water damage from ice dams is generally covered on your home insurance policy, but exclusions may apply. Be sure to read your policy carefully and contact your insurance company right away if you have damage.
To help reduce the risk of falls:
- Clean your walks promptly after a snowfall to keep snow from bonding to the surface.
- Spread sand or gravel on icy patches to make your sidewalk safer for pedestrians. Spreading sand on a sidewalk before ice forms can also make future ice easier to remove. Free sand may be available in your community.
- Pile snow in a place where it will not run across your sidewalk when it melts, and aim your downspouts away from areas where people walk to keep your sidewalks clear during freeze-thaw cycles.
As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to keep your property safe. Removing snow and ice from your property as soon as possible will help prevent visitors from injuring themselves on slippery walkways, stairs, or entryways.
If someone is injured, you may be held liable for their medical expenses, lost wages, and even pain and suffering. Your home insurance offers protection against financial loss for claims, but preventing a claim in the first place is to your advantage. Many companies will raise rates or cancel policies depending on the situation.
To help reduce the risk to your home:
- Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping.
- Seal cracks and holes in outside walls.
- Keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.
- Let warm water drip overnight, especially from a faucet on an outside wall.
- Water damage from frozen pipes is generally covered, but several exclusions do apply.
If you have any questions about your home insurance with Member Benefits, please contact us at 1-800-279-4030.
Boat or RV in your future?
Based on the type of item you purchase and the way you intend to use it, we can help you understand the best way to insure it. Many of these “toys” have unique needs, and your policy should be written accordingly.
Examples of recreational toys we cover include:
- Boat, jet ski
- Camper, RV
- Motorcycle, moped
- ATV, UTV
- Travel trailer
- Golf cart
At risk: Are you taking a financial gamble with your current insurance coverage?
Risk and responsibility are part of our daily lives. We take a chance every time we get behind the wheel. Accidents happen in our homes. Sometimes people are sued for what they say or write.
And sometimes you are the one responsible. Are you confident your finances will be secure if the worst happens? You may be surprised at what your insurance actually covers—and doesn’t cover.
In the car
Auto liability insurance is required by law in most states. The two parts that are required are bodily injury and property damage liability coverage.
If you cause an accident that injures someone else, bodily injury liability protects you against claims up to the stated amounts for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
If you are at fault for damage to another person’s property, such as a car, its contents, or other property you damage in an accident, property damage liability coverage helps pay for their repairs.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, both the severity and the frequency of bodily injury as well as property damage claims have grown significantly in recent years. The increasing costs involved are affecting the price of auto insurance across the industry. In the two years ending in March 2016, for example, insurance claim costs rose 13%—more than 10 times the inflation rate.
Why so expensive? Several factors are at play. The cost of auto body work has risen nearly 40% more than prices overall since 2005. Repairs on newer cars are more complex and costly. People are driving more miles as unemployment rates are down. Medical costs continue to rise. While weather is variable, data shows there are rising claims in regions with more severe weather conditions. And finally—and what many consider to be a top danger on the road—the rise in distracted driving accidents, especially with cell phones, adds to the number of accidents and their seriousness.
Member Benefits recommends a minimum of $250,000/$500,000 (per person limit/per accident limit) for bodily injury and $100,000 for property damage. However, the costs you may owe in an at-fault accident can far exceed these limits.
If someone falls down the stairs in your home and is injured, you could be sued for damages. Personal liability coverage is part of your home or renters insurance policy. It can include coverage for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, legal fees, and even death benefits if a guest has a fatal accident on your property. It also provides coverage for accidental damage you may cause on someone else’s property.
If you have a pool or backyard trampoline, you could be at risk. Even if someone comes over and uses them without your knowledge, you may be liable for any potential injury they may suffer—and your home insurance may not cover it.
Keep in mind that your home or renters policy will only pay up to the policy limit, so if you are found responsible for paying any negotiated or court determined damages, that amount could easily exceed your policy limits—putting your future earnings at risk. In recent court cases, certain plaintiffs have been awarded damages of several million dollars.
Get proper protection
Because typical auto and home policies can still leave you financially vulnerable, we recommend you also have personal liability insurance (umbrella insurance) for additional protection.
Umbrella insurance provides you with significant additional coverage at a very low cost. It can also provide protection for certain acts not covered by your home policy, such as false arrest or imprisonment, libel or slander, defamation of character, invasion of privacy, or wrongful eviction.
No one expects to be responsible for catastrophic loss, but it does happen. And the risks are very real, even if you carry the highest liability limits on your auto and home insurance.
Protect yourself. Contact us to review your current insurance and answer your questions about umbrella insurance by calling 1-800-279-4030. Or sign up for a personal consultation at weabenefits.com/consults.
Clearing up claims confusion
We offer some clarity on the most common questions we receive—and where our coverage differs from other companies. Some of the answers may surprise you!
My car is a total loss. But I’ll get a brand new car, right?
The amount of coverage for your automobile is based on depreciation of the vehicle. So for example, if your 2005 Ford Escape is involved in a total loss accident, you will receive a settlement based on the value of a 2005 Ford Escape, not a brand new Ford Escape.
However, if you’re with Member Benefits and have a total loss of a new vehicle that is less than 180 days (6 months) old, are the original owner, and carry both collision and comprehensive coverages, we will pay the original purchase price of the vehicle.
Secondly, unless related to safety, auto parts are depreciable items. So, if your 2010 Honda Accord (or any car older than three model years) needs a bumper replaced due to an accident, insurance companies will typically pay for an aftermarket or reconditioned bumper, not a brand new one.
My friend borrowed my car and got in an at-fault accident. Why did my rates go up?
When you loan your car, you loan your insurance—so your rates could go up if someone has an accident with your car.
However, if you have been insured with Member Benefits five or more years with no accidents or tickets in the household, we will waive the accident surcharge even if someone borrowed your car with your permission.
I have Emergency Road Service, why can’t you help me?
Member Benefits’ Emergency Road Service is a reimbursement program, not an on-call program. While our program costs less, members are required to make their own towing arrangements.
If you become stranded on the road and have Emergency Road Service (towing and labor reimbursement coverage) on your Member Benefits auto policy, contact any local towing company and we will reimburse you for the cost up to the limit of your policy. The costs of parts or materials such as gas or tires are not included in the coverage.
I slid during a storm and hit a tree. Why is that my fault?
The difference between an at-fault and not-at-fault accident isn’t always clear cut. Sometimes even when a certain type of accident is considered not-at-fault, a surcharge may still apply. Contact us when you have questions about these situations. We’re happy to talk with you and give you answers.
Here are some examples of situations considered at-fault and not-at-fault.
- Rear-ending another driver even if the other driver stopped abruptly or for no apparent reason.
- Backing into a family member’s vehicle or backing into your own garage door.
- Hitting any object in the road, like a dead deer or construction barrel.
- Weather related accidents with no other vehicles involved. (The weather isn’t considered to be at-fault because the driver could have reduced risk by slowing down or not driving at all in bad weather conditions.)
- Opening a car door and hitting another vehicle.
- Slipping on the road and hitting the curb or a pothole.
- If two cars back up at the same time and hit each other in a parking lot, it’s generally 50/50 at-fault.
- If you hit a deer or another animal that is moving.
- Getting rear-ended, if the other driver was cited and their insurance company paid out the claim.
- Damage from fire, vandalism, theft, hail, and some other events.
I have water in the basement. Is it covered by my home policy?
However, water damage due to drain and sewer backup or sump pump overflow may be covered if you’ve added a Water Damage (Sewers and Drains) endorsement to your Member Benefits’ policy.
In addition, water coming in through the foundation is considered flooding. Many people think of flooding as “surface” flooding, such as what occurs near rivers and lakes. But ground water coming in is flooding. This is the case with ALL home policies in the United States.
Member Benefits consultants can help you evaluate your need for flood coverage and explain how an endorsement works.
The sewer line between my house and the street broke. Now what?
Sewer/water lines that break outside of the home are not covered by home insurance, and municipalities consider this the responsibility of the homeowner. However, you may be able to purchase “service line” coverage through your municipality. Check to see if it’s available in your area.
I have bats in my house and it’s not even Halloween! Am I covered?
If you have bats in your attic or some other type of animal, we know it’s upsetting. But home policies exclude “infestations” like squirrels, bats, or even termites.
However, if the infestation causes a sudden and accidental event—for example, squirrels or mice chew on wires causing a fire, or termites cause a wall to collapse—those types of situations are covered.
My couch is ruined. Why won’t you pay for it?
Covered events that happen to your house are different than covered events that happen to your personal property. Coverage on your house is not restricted to specific events (although it is subject to possible exclusions). Coverage on your personal property is restricted to 18 specific “named perils.” If you have our home policy, please see pages 8 and 9, “Risks Insured Against.” For example:
- You spill paint on your living room carpet and the couch. Since the carpet is attached and part of your house, coverage applies. Since “spilling” is not one of the 18 covered perils, there is no coverage for the couch.
- You are moving your TV and drop it on your hardwood floor, damaging both the TV and the hardwood floor. While your floor is covered, your TV is not because “dropping” is not a named personal property peril.
There goes our old tree. Will you help pay to remove it?
Tree removal coverage is for the removal of trees following a windstorm event. If a tree just falls down with no accompanying storm, there is no coverage.
Generally speaking, if a tree in your yard is downed by a windstorm and causes damage to your home or other insured outbuildings, your home insurance will pay for damages up to your policy limit, as long as it fell because of a covered loss. (If it falls on your car, it’s typically covered by your auto insurance policy’s comprehensive coverage.)
If a tree is downed in your yard but doesn’t damage your home, car, or other building, Member Benefits will cover the cost of removing the tree—up to $1,500—subject to your deductible. Most insurers provide only $250 to $500 in coverage in this situation.
Some people think that once they pay their deductible, they don’t have to pay it again if they have another accident in the same policy period. However, an auto or home insurance deductible is not like a health insurance deductible—it is charged per occurrence, not annually.
Our auto insurance benefits
If you are found at-fault for an auto accident, most companies remove your accident-free discount and add an accident surcharge for three years. With Member Benefits, the accident surcharge lasts for only two years.
We also appreciate your loyalty. If you are in an at-fault accident and you have been insured with us for five or more years with no accidents or tickets in the household, we will waive the accident surcharge.
Member Benefits does not surcharge for not-at-fault accidents or for a comprehensive claim such as hitting a moving animal.
How will I pay for long-term care?
“Three years ago my wife required long-term care. I am very grateful we have this insurance because it has enabled my wife to receive the quality care she needs. If you don’t have long-term care insurance protection, you owe it to yourself and your family to at least learn what your options are from Member Benefits.” —Don Holmen, Retired Librarian, Waunakee School District
Member Benefits’ long-term care (LTC) insurance program has been helping Wisconsin public school employees and retirees figure out how to pay for LTC since 1998. No matter what your circumstances, we have a variety of solutions from different insurers to meet your needs.
There are some new options available this year:
- Repositioning a small portion of your savings can usually protect a significant amount of your assets. In most cases, you or your estate gets most of your premium back even if you never need LTC. If you meet requirements, plans may include premium rate caps, limited-time pay options, or the ability to insure two people for a discounted premium.
- Our new AM Best A+ insurer uses a different logic for deciding who qualifies for coverage. This enables many more applicants to be approved, including those that have been turned down by one or more LTC insurers. Prescreening is available.
We are hosting weekly webinars so you can learn about our new program from the comfort of your own home. Visit our seminars page for schedules and registration information.
Or if you prefer, one-hour individual consultations are available. Sign up here for a consultation. Spouses are also welcome to participate.
One of the most important questions you’ll ever ask…
“We’re on a tight budget.”
Learn about current costs for home health care, assisted living, and nursing home facilities; how little health insurance and Medicare cover; and details on our most popular solution for couples and singles on a budget.
“I have health challenges.”
New in 2018! Our new AM Best A+ insurer uses a different logic for deciding who qualifies for coverage. This enables many more applicants to be approved, including those that have been turned down by one or more LTC insurers. Prescreening is available.
“I’m concerned about protecting our assets.”
New in 2018! Repositioning a small portion of your savings can usually protect a significant amount of your assets. In most cases, you or your estate gets most of your premium back even if you never need LTC. If you meet requirements, plans may include premium rate caps, limited-time pay options, or the ability to insure two people for a discounted premium.
There are numerous opportunities this summer to attend seminars and webinars on these topics and more. Register on our seminars page. This program is available to all Wisconsin public school employees, retirees, and many family members.
For more information our LTCi page. To register for any of these opportunities by phone, please call 888-247-5905.
Flooding is not covered by standard home insurance policies
It’s a common misunderstanding that standard homeowners insurance policies will cover the damage from flooding, but in fact it never does.
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. But your policy 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.
Again, timing can be everything. If the coverage is included at the inception date of the policy, the coverage begins on that date. However, if it’s added to or increased on an existing policy, there is generally a 30-day waiting period.
To learn more about the flood insurance or a sewer back up coverage offered through Member Benefits, or for questions about your current home policy, give us a call at 1-800-279-4030.