Hey Badger fans! Nominate an outstanding educator
WEA Member Benefits, together with the University of Wisconsin Athletics and WEAC, recognizes public educators throughout the Badger State. Thank you for your dedication to improving public education and the lives of our students!
Don’t miss this opportunity to nominate yourself or another deserving Wisconsin public educator to be recognized with an Outstanding Educator Award and a chance to win special prizes. Eight winners will be chosen throughout the campaign. The campaign nominations will be closing on February 1, 2021.
Enter at uwbadgers.com/outstandingeducator.
Proud Partner of Wisconsin Athletics!
Discover your financial chemistry
Download our free PDF to help you talk with your significant other about finances. Use our questions to measure your financial compatibility and discuss similarities and differences. Explore your financial style and personal choices, and get ideas for discussion topics. Then develop a financial strategy.
Come together and compromise—for some things you may end up saying, “I don’t like this, but I can live with it.” The key is to try and understand each other’s expectations and beliefs so you can make better financial decisions together.
Perception 2020 survey
Last year, Member Benefits conducted its first annual survey to members to learn how they felt about us and their views of the organization based on their experiences. This gave us a baseline for the level of member satisfaction, their affinity for our products and service, and how likely they would be to recommend Member Benefits to a colleague or family member, among other things. “We were pleased with last year’s results,” says David Kijek, President and CEO, “but saw room for improvement. So, we implemented changes throughout the year based on what we learned, and hoped the 2020 survey would reflect our efforts.”
Like last year, approximately 10,000 members (selected at random) received the survey, which included the same questions from 2019 in order to measure progress year over year.
Well, the 2020 results are in and while shifts in member responses were modest, all were toward the positive.
What first comes to mind when thinking about WEA Member Benefits is unchanged from 2019:
- Products/services 33%
- Customer service 30%
- Retirement/retirement planning 21%
Eighty-seven percent felt Member Benefits has a Very Good or Excellent reputation—a 2% increase over 2019.
When it comes to expectations, 63% of members feel Member Benefits Exceeds or Somewhat Exceeds expectations, a 3% improvement over 2019.
Lives up to brand promise
Member opinion of whether Member Benefits lives up to its brand promise was similar to 2019.
- Always 50% (51%)
- Often 41% (40%)
As in 2019, a vast majority of respondents Agree or Strongly Agree that providing excellent customer service is a top priority at Member Benefits.
Net Promoter Score
Probably the most significant change this year was in the Net Promoter Score, a measure of likelihood to recommend an organization. Member Benefits saw a 4% increase from 49% to 53%.
As in 2019, members anticipate the biggest financial challenges of 2020 will be preparing for the future (29%) and paying off bills and debt (19%). But the overall feeling of financial security improved.
Top advice from members
Member advice for President and CEO David Kijek in 2020 is consistent with that of 2019: Focus on service and outreach, specifically with in-person meetings, personalized service, and educational materials; improve products and the online account Web site; and invest in employees. Members also added positive notes:
- “Continue your dedication to educators who trust you to do the right thing for them.”
- “Good reputation and recommendations from friends who have retired from teaching and have used your services!”
“While the 2020 survey results were positive in our eyes, we know there is room to improve,” says David. “Until we have A+ performance across the board, there is work to do. We can always count on members to provide needed feedback—positive and negative—to keep us moving in the right direction.”
Messages to our members about Coronavirus (COVID-19): Updated June 17, 2020
For those who have auto insurance with Member Benefits and are waiting on their premium relief check
WEA Member Benefits remains committed to your financial well-being during this challenging time and is offering a one-time insurance premium reimbursement to our auto insurance members. If you did not elect to receive your reimbursement electronically, you can expect to see a paper check in your mailbox by the end of June.
If you have any questions, or if you don’t receive your check by June 30, 2020, please call us at 1-800-279-4030.
Auto premium relief email from Chase Payments Premium relief for auto insurance customers
**AS A REMINDER: Member Benefits WILL NOT call or contact you asking you for your banking information. Please follow the instructions from the email you received this week.
Auto premium relief payment Instructions were e-mailed to auto insureds on Monday, June 1, with information on how to accept the electronic payment from Chase Payments.
On Wednesday, June 3, you will be receiving an email on our behalf from Chase Payments donotreplyChasePayments@jpmorgan.com, with instructions on how to accept your one-time auto premium relief payment.
You must accept your payment within seven days. If you do not accept the electronic payment within seven days, we will issue a paper check and mail it to you at the address we have on file.
>> For instructions on how to accept your payment view this “Quick start guide” from Chase Payments.
Premium relief for auto insurance customers
WEA Member Benefits remains committed to your financial well-being during this time of uncertainty. As a result, we are temporarily revising some of our auto insurance guidelines to help our members who may need assistance during this time.
To that end, Member Benefits is offering a one-time auto insurance premium reimbursement. Auto insurance customers will be reimbursed 15% of premium received during April and May as a result of Governor Evers’ “safer at home” order due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More details will be provided to members via email and mail soon.
If you are an auto insurance customer, please make sure your contact information—including your email address—is up-to-date. Call us at 1-800-279-4030 or log into your account at weabenefits.com/yourinsurance to update your information.
An important message to our members from David Kijek, President/CEO of WEA Member Benefits
On March 24, 2020, Governor Evers announced a “safer at home” order due to the COVID-19 virus. We want you to know that during these uncertain times, WEA Member Benefits remains committed to your financial well-being.
WEA Member Benefits is considered an “essential” business because we provide insurance and financial services to our members. For the safety of our staff, a majority of our employees are working remotely. However, we are continuing our operations as usual without interruption. Please contact us at 1-800-279-4030 if you have questions or need assistance with your retirement savings or personal insurance accounts. Our team is available from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and remains dedicated to serving you. We thank you in advance for your patience as you may experience longer hold times due to increased call volume.
We encourage you to utilize our online account services to access important documents and make changes to your accounts. If you haven’t already done so, please consider setting up your online account access.
- Retirement: Visit yourMONEY. Find instructions on how to log in for the first time, information on funding your 403(b) or IRA account, get statements, change future allocations, request a trade, opt-in to electronic communications, and more.
- Insurance: Visit yourINSURANCE. Create a new login, make policy payments, view and print policy documents, file an insurance claim, change paperless preference, and more.
For over 45 years, WEA Member Benefits has been dedicated to serving our members. We continue to be here for you during these challenging times, and we look forward to serving you and your family for many years to come. Thank you for placing your trust in us.
Even during these uncertain times, we remain committed to your financial well-being. Our team is still available from 7:30am to 5:00pm weekdays and dedicated to serving you. Call us at 1-800-279-4030 if you have questions or need services regarding your retirement account, investments, or personal insurance.
For important updates, continue to visit weabenefits.com.
We recognize this is a challenging time for all, and we remain deeply committed to the safety of our members, their families, and our staff. Our staff is committed to do whatever we can to help keep all our communities healthy.
For your protection and the protection of our staff and their families, we are limiting access to our office to essential people only. For the time being we are not permitting visitors such as members, business partners, groups, guests, and family in the building. We apologize for any inconvenience, but our staff will be available over the phone, email, and in certain situations, video conferencing. You can still access your online accounts (yourMONEY, yourINSURANCE, etc.).
At this time, we are actively monitoring the situation and assessing risks, and will continue to update you in a timely and transparent manner. As a business, we will continue to follow the guidelines and recommendations of the CDC. If our business operations change and/or the office closes, any update(s) will be posted on weabenefits.com.
We appreciate your continued loyalty and support. Please continue to take care of yourselves, your families, and your school communities.
COVID-19 financial updates
Secondly, we want to hear from you if you need assistance with your retirement savings or personal insurance accounts, or if you simply have questions or concerns—it’s what we’re here for. Contact us at 1-800-279-4030 from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, or send an email to email@example.com. We appreciate your patience during this time and for placing your trust in us.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed on March 27, 2020. It is the largest stimulus package in American history. The CARES Act includes several provisions intended to loosen restrictions on, and reduce the tax consequences of, distributions and loans from retirement plans. Also included are rules waiving required minimum distributions from 403(b) plans for the 2020 calendar year and the suspension of student loan payments. In addition to these CARES Act provisions, the 2019 tax deadline was extended to July 15, 2020.
- Required minimum distributions waived for 2020. The CARES Act includes rules waiving required minimum distributions (RMDs) from 403(b) and IRA accounts for the calendar year 2020. If you would like more information about your 2020 RMD and what options are available to you, please contact our Member Service Representatives at 1-800-279-4030, Extension 8567.
- Coronavirus Related Distributions. Individuals can withdraw up to $100,000 penalty free from IRA and 403(b) retirement plans for coronavirus-related distributions (CRDs) even if they are not otherwise eligible for a distribution from their retirement account. If under age 59 ½, the 10% federal penalty for early withdrawal will be waived.
CRDs are defined as any distribution made from an eligible retirement plan on or after January 1, 2020, and before December 31, 2020, by a qualified individual described as:
- An individual who is, or whose spouse or dependents are, diagnosed with the coronavirus or with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by a test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- An individual who is financially harmed by the coronavirus or coronavirus disease as a result of (i) being laid off, furloughed, receiving reduced work hours, or quarantined, (ii) being unable to work because of a lack of child care, (iii) having to close or reduce the operation hours of a business owned or operated by the individual, or (iv) such other reasons as determined by the Secretary of the Treasury.
Individuals who have made a CRD in 2020 have the option to spread their income tax responsibility over a three year period or pay back their distribution in one or a series of payments within three years of the day after the date of distribution.
Not all 403(b) plans allow the CRD. Contact one of our Member Service Representatives to find out if your plan allows them.
However, for most people, withdrawing money from your 403(b) or IRA account shouldn’t be your first choice. As mentioned above, CRDs are subject to income tax. In addition, withdrawing assets now may make it more difficult for your account to recover from recent stock market losses. Lastly, while most retirement accounts are protected from bankruptcy, once you withdraw assets, that protection is lost.
- Student loan repayments postponed. The stimulus package gives those with federally-held student loans a six-month break from payments from April through September, with no interest or penalties. Borrowers who want to make payments can do so and pay down their balance more quickly without interest. This option does not apply to private student loans (although private lenders may be individually offering relief for borrowers).
For more information on coronavirus-related benefits and resources, visit benefits.gov.
Tax and IRA contribution deadlines extended
The deadline to file taxes and to make an IRA contribution for 2019 has been extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. If you wish to make an IRA contribution in 2020 and apply it to 2019, some stipulations apply. Call us for assistance at 1-800-279-4030.
Information current as of 04/09/20, continue to visit our website for updates. Content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal, financial, or tax advice. Certain recommendations or guidelines may not be appropriate for everyone. Consult your personal advisor or attorney for advice specific to your unique circumstances before taking action.
The Trustee Custodian for the WEA Member Benefits IRA accounts is Newport Trust Company. Certain state residency requirements may apply.
The 403(b) retirement program is offered by the WEA TSA Trust. TSA program registered representatives are licensed through WEA Investment Services, Inc., member FINRA.
If you choose to invest in the 403(b) or IRA programs, fees will apply. Consider all expenses before investing. Mutual fund management and redemption fees may apply. Securities offered through WEA Investment Services, Inc, member FINRA.
What to leave and what NOT to leave in your car in cold weather
Cold weather is always a good reminder to make sure you have needed emergency items in your car and that your spare tire is in good condition. Ready.gov recommends you keep the following in your vehicle:
- Shovel, scraper, and small broom.
- Flashlight and matches.
- Battery powered radio and extra batteries.
- Water and snack food.
- First aid kit with pocket knife.
- Extra hats, socks, mittens, boots, and blankets.
- Tow chain, rope, and booster cables.
- Road salt and sand.
- Emergency flares and fluorescent distress flag.
But when the temperatures plunge, have you ever thought about what NOT to have in your car? Certain items can break, explode, or otherwise suffer negative effects. Consider excluding these items from your car during chilly temperatures:
Medication: Some medications can lose their effectiveness if they freeze. Liquid medications, like insulin, can separate when they thaw, leading to incorrect or ineffective dosages.
Mobile phones/tablets: These items are susceptible to shutting down in cold weather, preventing the lithium-ion batteries from discharging electricity. They may work again when thawed, or there may be condensation inside the unit that short-circuits the battery. Apple and Samsung both recommend operating devices between about 32 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Drinks/food: Soda, beer, and wine will all expand when they freeze, risking an explosion and a sticky mess—or worse, an unwelcome distraction as you’re driving. Food in cans or glass jars react in a similar manner when left in a freezing car.
Musical instruments: Guitars and other wood instruments can suffer serious damage, which may be difficult or impossible to repair. Warm up instruments gradually if you forget them in a cold car.
Most of us care about what others think of us—we want to be liked, to be held in high regard, and to be spoken of in a positive manner. Member Benefits is no different. As the 2018 calendar year was about to end, Member Benefits surveyed its members to get an idea of how they felt about us and what their perceptions were of the organization based on their experiences.
This survey was different than the customer satisfaction surveys we send to those who call or stop in to transact business. For one, it was sent randomly to 10,000 members regardless of when we last engaged with them.
The survey covered things like first impressions of Member Benefits, the products and services that stand out, overall level of satisfaction, and how likely recipients would be to recommend Member Benefits to a colleague or family member.
Admittedly, we were a little anxious about what the study might reveal. Are we really doing as well as we think we are? Are we serving members in the best way possible? What are we missing?
What follows are some of the statistically significant results of the survey as well as a Q&A with Dave Kijek, President and CEO of WEA Member Benefits. We believe it’s good practice to let our members know how we’re doing and how we plan to use their feedback to better serve them.
When asked, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about WEA Member Benefits? Your responses indicated that what sets Member Benefits apart from other providers are the products offered, our customer service, and retirement planning. The customer service comments indicated that service, trust, quality, and value of the organization come to mind first.
“All inclusive. The most comprehensive offerings and benefits in the industry.”
“Quality service at a reasonable price…a unique and opportune benefit for Wisconsin public educators.”
“I am never concerned about calling and asking a question. I have always been given an answer to my question by a kind, gracious, and knowledgeable person.”
A brand simply tells the story of what an organization is all about. The perception of a brand is what others say about you when you’re not in the room.
For a brand to be effective, people need to believe it. Members were asked about Member Benefits’ reputation and their perceptions. They were also asked about the degree to which Member Benefits met or exceeded their expectations, as well as how our company lives up to its brand promise.
Respondents overwhelmingly agree that the reputation of Member Benefits is very good or excellent (85%).
“You have an outstanding reputation backed up by integrity and success through my many years in education. I wish everyone had access to such a responsible organization.”
60% agree that Member Benefits exceeds or somewhat exceeds their expectations.
“My parents were both educators and spoke highly of Member Benefits because of the help they received in planning for retirement.”
Ninety-one percent feel that Member Benefits lives up to their brand promise often or always.
“No matter how many times I call to ask a question or gain clarification on something, I ALWAYS feel valued and that I am a priority.”
Most members indicate they are very satisfied with Member Benefits (89%).
Member Benefits is committed to providing outstanding customer service. Our team makes members their priority and strives to provide a great experience.
Another method for measuring customer satisfaction is net promoter score (NPS), which uses a scale of 0–10 and assesses the likelihood members would recommend Member Benefits to others. It is worth pointing out that more than half of all respondents scored WEA Member Benefits a 10!
The average NPS in our industry is in the low 30’s, which is considered a very good score. In comparison, we scored 49.
The most important part of the NPS questioning is why someone gives the score they do. Overall, members said they selected their rating because of the good service and experiences they have had with Member Benefits (57%).
Responses that explain the rationale of likely detractors included:
- Not having enough information about Member Benefits to offer a recommendation.
- Lack of opportunity to recommend the organization.
- Dissatisfaction with earnings, service, or pricing.
“I call WEA now and then…and the phone is always answered promptly and in a friendly, interested manner. This means a lot to me.”
“When I was a new teacher, other teachers recommended it to me.”
Every Member Financially Secure is Member Benefits’ vision, so it was important to find out how we were doing on that front. We asked several questions around financial security, such as what members’ biggest financial issues were for the next year and how financially secure they feel. Members indicated their significant financial concerns included:
- Preparing for the future (34%).
- Paying off bills and debt (21%).
- Buying/selling a home (9%).
- The economy, tax reform, and current political climate (8%).
- Insurance (8%).
- Major life event like marriage or career change (5%).
- Purchasing a car (4%).
- Tuition (3%).
When it comes to financial security, most members feel like they are almost there or extremely secure (68%). Only 8% felt they need some work or are not secure at all.
Member Benefits is constantly looking for ways to do things better. Getting advice from our members is perfect, because that is who we are serving, and there’s no better source for advice and feedback than from those we serve.
We plan to conduct this survey annually to help us measure progress and shape our plans for the future.
Q: Why did Member Benefits decide to do a perception survey?
Dave: We wanted to get an idea of where members stand in their relationship with Member Benefits—how do they feel about us? For years, we have been surveying members after they transact business with us, such as after they call to make a change to an insurance policy or retirement account. But if they didn’t call us, we had no idea how they felt other than the fact that they still had an account with us. The perception survey gave us an opportunity to reach out to a broader demographic and to ask members questions that measure their perception of our organization.
Q. In the open ended questions, one common theme was the perception that Member Benefits doesn’t offer advice on investments. Can you address this?
Dave: We actually do provide advice on investments through our financial planning services, but that hasn’t always been the case. Historically, Member Benefits did not give advice on specific investments because of industry regulations and licensure requirements. What we offered (and still do) is financial education to empower members to make sound financial decisions. We were pioneers in this area, promoting financial literacy when no one else was doing it.
Today we have financial planners available to advise members through a whole host of services.
Q. There were also some comments regarding the recent 403(b) fee cap change. Can you explain the change?
Dave: The fee structure of our retirement accounts stayed the same for nine years, but the costs to operate the program have increased. Member Benefits is very conscious of the fees members pay for their retirement savings accounts, and we have taken many steps to decrease our costs. But it’s not realistic to think that fees will never change. We did an extensive analysis to find the most appropriate and fair way to distribute the increasing business costs, and we concluded that raising the fee cap was the fairest.
I think there is a misunderstanding that the fee cap is a fee. It’s not. The fee (0.35%), which remains the same, pays the program’s operating cost. The cap is the maximum cost a member may pay during a year.
Q. Another issue that surfaced was why insurance premiums are higher with a member organization. Shouldn’t they be less expensive?
Dave: Insurance premiums are unique to each individual situation, so it’s difficult to generalize about price. We may not always be the lowest price for everyone, but a lot of members say we’re the better deal. Our board members are active or retired educators and advocate for the membership. That has a substantial impact on how we set rates and how we treat members when they have a claim.
Q. Does Member Benefits have an identity problem? Some of the comments were about health insurance or union issues.
Dave: The history of organizations with the letters WEA in their name is complicated, and there is some confusion about who does what. WEA Inc., created all the WEA organizations to serve educators. We all come from the same place but we operate separately and do different things. WEA Member Benefits was set up to provide individual insurance and financial products and services. WEA Trust provides the group products like health and life insurance. Member awareness and understanding of Member Benefits has come a long way, but it takes time.
Q. The survey asked Members how financially secure they felt. Why did you ask this question, and how do you feel about the responses?
Dave: Every Member Financially Secure is our vision and ultimate goal of our organization, so it was important for us to know how our members are feeling and to establish a benchmark. Sixty-eight percent of our members feel they are heading in the right direction. It bodes well for what we do for members, but we can do better. Things measured are things improved, and now we have a benchmark that will help us measure our success.
Q. Members overwhelmingly want more face time with Member Benefits staff in schools around the state. Any plans for that?
Dave: Increasing opportunities for personal interaction with members is a priority for us. It would be wonderful to have representatives in every school district, but it’s cost prohibitive. Our financial planners meet with members throughout the state. We also continue to add Member Benefits Consultants, retired educators who work part-time serving specific school districts. They allow us to have greater reach and more personal contact with our members. In addition, we are exploring mobile technology and chat capabilities to offer even more options for members to connect with us.
Q. One thing that came through in the comments was the high level of trust members have in Member Benefits. What does that mean to you?
Dave: I love hearing that! The reason members trust us so much is because we deliver on our promises and were created to serve Wisconsin public school employees and their families. We were not created to serve just anybody. And as we have grown through the years, that has never changed. We are proud of that fact.
Q. Lots of companies struggle to maintain a high level of customer service. What’s your secret?
Dave: We hire exceptional people who believe in our mission—that’s most important. It’s also important to retain good employees. We are fortunate to have been voted one of the Best Places to Work in Madison on numerous occasions. We believe that if we treat our employees exceptionally well, they will serve our members exceptionally well.
Q. What’s the biggest take away from the survey results?
Dave: We would like to believe that people like us and trust us, but getting the reassurance that they do means a lot to me. The fact that members trust us with their financial security is an honor and one that we don’t take lightly.
Let’s be friends!
Follow us on social media and be part of Member Benefits’ inner circle! We’re more engaged than ever online and are eager to share the most up-to-date financial tips, member stories, resources, and more to help you improve your financial wellness
So let’s get social! We hope you’ll be part of the conversation. Won’t you join us?
Student art winners!
Students whose art was chosen each received a $50 Amazon gift card for allowing us to display their art, as did their art teacher.
Stop by our Madison office lobby for a dose of inspiration from the young people of our great public schools.
|Wren Elliott||K||Shorewood||Angela Hayes|
|Zeya Railand||1||Shorewood||Angela Hayes|
|Daniela Price||3||Shorewood||Angela Hayes|
|Hannah Yoo||5||Elmbrook||Jeanne Madson|
|Gage Mortimer||6||Westfield||Mary Wenzel|
|Laurel Miller||7||Berlin||Rachel Schuh|
|Catherine Booth||8||Belleville||Abby Ottenson|
|Allyson Carstensen||10||Tomahawk||Sarah Hinke|
|Anna Roby||10||Mondovi||Norene Schreiner|
|Abbey Freimark||11||Berlin||Angela Breunig|
|Emily Popp||11||Lodi||Whitney Robarge|
|Adeline Pumplun||11||Oconto Falls||Jan Wallrich|
|Leena Meyers||12||Whitnall||Jessica Tasev|
|Madeline Ouimet||12||River Valley||Kasey Maxwell|
|Amelia Roost||12||Berlin||Angela Breunig|
Congratulations to these MTEA members!
Mrs. Kargol, Manitoba School, Pre-K
Project: Mrs. Kargol wants to help her students learn the value of money by creating a classroom store so the children can have a hands-on experience of purchasing items with “pretend” dollars they earn during the school day for being respectful, responsible, and safe. $365
Ms. Arribas, Alba Elementary, PreK-2
Project: Ms. Arribas requested a versatile chart stand and math manipulatives to help her students review math skills together and work in base 10, fractions, measurement, data and geometry in a fun and visual way. $219
Mr. Koney, Trowbridge Street School of Great Lakes Studies PreK-2 (pictured above)
Project: When Mr. Koney brings his students together in a group, he wants to provide them with a place where they can be comfortable and learn. A carpet that has both letters and numbers will allow for active learning in his classroom. $257
Ms. Benner, Samuel Clemens School, PreK-2
Project: Ms. Benner wants to provide her students learn their grade level standards through alternative methods such as games. Creative learning techniques also help students learn to interact and play with others, how to problem solve and self-regulate their behavior. $300
WEA Member Benefits: We believe in education. We believe in our public schools. We believe in our teachers.