UPDATED 03/26: A message to our members about Coronavirus (COVID-19)
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.
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. We recently added the WEA FA Managed Account Solution, which allows us to help you manage your Member Benefits’ 403(b) and/or IRA account. Members have been asking for this because they trust us—and we’re excited to be able to give them this option.
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. $300
WEA Member Benefits: We believe in education. We believe in our public schools. We believe in our teachers.
Check this off your spring break to-do list
It’s also a great time to get a comparison quote for auto and home insurance.
Here are five reasons to contact us:
- Our consultants will evaluate your current policies to make sure you have the right coverage. No high-pressure sales.
- Learn how to become a better insurance consumer. Are you wisely protected?
- Get a comparison quote and maybe save some money.
- If you haven’t received a quote from us in more than one year, it’s worth checking us out again.
- This is your program. We were created by Wisconsin public school employees for Wisconsin public school employees.
We have three easy ways to get a quote!
Pay it forward…share the benefits!
Here are some ways you can help them out:
- Encourage early saving in our low-cost 403(b) or IRA program.
- Point out our personal insurance discounts for young educators and WEAC members.
- Tell them about our free consultations and financial seminars available.
- Let the know that their family members may be eligible for our programs, even if they don’t participate.
- Share the link to your$ magazine, which is full of great financial tips and resources.