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.

If you haven’t checked your auto insurance policy coverage lately, we can help.

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:

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:

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.

Deter

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.

Detect

Defend

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:

Your insurance

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:

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:


Sources: FINRA, FTC, usa.gov, nsa.gov

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.

Coverage considerations

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.

Replacement cost is different from both assessed value and market value. Make sure you know the difference when insuring your home.

“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 common. Having more liability coverage is a relatively inexpensive way to protect your assets.

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.

A home inventory can make the claims process go much easier if you ever need it.

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.


RESOURCES

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.

Kids off to college? A parent’s guide to insurance

Home/renters insurance

Auto insurance

Pick up safety tips during Fire Prevention Week

Fire Prevention Week (FPW) is observed each year during the week of October 9th in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8, 1871, and caused devastating damage. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed Fire Prevention Week a national observance, making it the longest-running public health observance in our country.

During Fire Prevention Week, children, adults, and teachers learn how to stay safe in case of a fire. Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires.

This year’s FPW campaign is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Escape planning and practice can help you make the most of the time you have, giving everyone enough time to get out.

Teachers, pick up some lessons and activities for your classroom at the NFPA website!

Here are a few other simple tips to help prevent a fire in your home.

To avoid financial hardship if you do have a major fire, be sure you have enough home insurance coverage to rebuild the home and replace personal possessions. If you’re unsure about your coverage, give us a call at 1-800-279-4030. We can help you evaluate your policy to make sure you have the right coverage for your situation.

Dodge distracted driving habits

When you’re driving down a highway, can you think of any circumstance where it is safe to close your eyes for five seconds? Of course not. But it takes about five seconds to read or send a text. At 55 miles per hour, you can travel the length of a football field in just those few seconds. And in that instant, over that distance, a life can be taken—maybe even your own.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in 2017. Just one car accident, even a minor one, can have a profound impact on your life and the lives of others.

It’s important to stay focused on the road at all times. Avoiding texting or talking on the phone is obvious. But you can also be distracted by fiddling with the radio or A/C, eating and drinking, pets, and other people in the car.

Minimizing your chance of an accident avoids the stress of dealing with repairs, keeps your insurance costs down, and helps keep you, your family, and others safe.

Recommit yourself to safe driving by not giving in to distraction and by focusing solely on the road.

Sources: CDC.gov, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The surprising co$t of car safety

If you’re thinking that it’s more expensive today than in the past to own a car, you’re right. In fact, the cost of an average auto insurance claim in just the past few years is trending upward and far exceeding inflation. And it doesn’t look like this trend is going away anytime soon.

As safety features become more common, more vehicles will come with higher costs. For example, by 2022, nearly every vehicle sold in the U.S. will come standard with automatic emergency braking. But the price for this improvement also means even a small accident could require thousands of dollars to repair.

So it’s more important than ever to understand the new costs that come with your car and do what you can to keep your costs down.

Minor car damage can be a major expense

As auto manufacturers move toward increased safety and autonomous driving capabilities, more safety and navigation sensors have been added to our cars. Most of the sensors are located near the outer surface of cars in order to work. Unfortunately, this is also the most vulnerable spot in an accident—even in a seemingly minor fender bender. And sometimes, even if the sensors are not damaged, the presence of sensors elsewhere in the car can be costly.

For example, front collision sensors may be mounted on the car’s rearview mirror stand just inside the windshield. These sensors look through the windshield and for them to work properly, the windshield glass has to meet very specific requirements for clarity and lack of distortion. Because of this, even if your windshield has minor damage, it often means you’ll need to replace it with an original equipment manufacturer windshield, not the less expensive aftermarket glass. This can more than double the average cost of windshield replacement. Adding to the cost is the technician who must recalibrate the front collision sensors for the new glass, potentially adding hundreds to the repair bill.

Backup cameras, touch screen controls, and blind-spot monitoring are other examples that may make us feel safer but come at a price. Sensors on bumpers and side mirrors in particular are easily hit—and with the added technology, are more expensive to repair and replace.

It’s estimated that the complexity of new vehicle electronics is ten times what it was just seven years ago, making it more akin to computer repair. Further, each car manufacturer has its own proprietary system of software, hardware, and processes to determine potential problems with the sensors, which can take more time and involve more steps than ever before. Computerized scans need to continue until everything is working per the manufacturer’s specifications. In addition, car dealers or third-party consultants often have to be involved to interpret the codes the scanners produce. And it’s extremely important to get it right—the system is very exact and if not calibrated correctly, it could literally mean a matter of life or death for the occupants of the vehicle.

Rising claims costs

These safety features that were once uncommon are quickly becoming standard on many vehicles. The increased costs for repair, manufacturer-approved parts, and labor costs also mean more expensive insurance claims.

Other factors contributing to higher insurance claims include:

Practice prevention

The importance of defensive driving can’t be stressed enough. While you can’t avoid every mishap, you can lower your chances of one—which may help keep your costs down.

Make the most of your insurance

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of living rose 2.4 percent in 2018, but the cost of motor vehicle insurance and hospital services rose faster (7.4 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively). So it’s more important than ever to go with the right insurance coverage for your needs so you don’t risk leaving yourself (and your family) exposed to financial loss or purchasing coverages you don’t need.

People tend to think about risks they have experience with or can conceive of—like the fender bender. The risk of catastrophic events is often dismissed because they happen less frequently, yet they can be far more financially devastating. 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.

Unfortunately, the costs you may owe in an at-fault accident can far exceed these limits. 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.

Some ways you may be able to lower your insurance costs include:

Get the right protection for your circumstances. Contact us to review your current insurance policy and answer your questions about auto insurance by calling 1-800-279-4030.

Sources: Property & Liability Resource Bureau, MARKETPLACE®, Insurance Information Institute, Edmunds.