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Storm damage: Stay alert and stay safe

Looking forward to the promises of spring and summer? Remember that warmer weather also means the potential for severe weather. The Weilers share their story of just how quickly the weather can turn bad and cause substantial damage and the importance of having insurance with a company you can count on when the storm hits.

your$ spring 2014On August 6, 2013, Rick and Joanne Weiler were sitting in the family room watching the Brewers game with Ben and Matt, two visiting college students from Germany. A severe weather watch had been issued. Rick was flipping to the local channel to check for weather updates between innings.

“Ben and Matt didn’t really know what the weather alerts meant. We didn’t want them to worry so we down played it,” Joanne says. “I said, ‘Yeah, this happens a lot in the summer, but we never have issues here. Don’t worry. It will pass.’” But about five minutes later, Rick knew it was serious when the lead weather man was on with a live weather update. “We might be in for something here,” Rick said to the boys.

From watch to warning

It started to rain a little bit and Rick got up to close the patio door. “Suddenly, just like a switch was turned on, it started coming down fast and the winds picked up. I got to the patio door in time to see one of our big pines crash down through our gazebo and take out part of our deck. It got a little intense,” Rick admits.

Meanwhile, Joanne had gone upstairs to close windows. “As I was reaching out my hand toward the window sash,” she explains, “I heard glass breaking and I could smell pine pitch. In my mind I immediately thought, ‘There’s a tree in my house. We need to get to the basement.’” She didn’t even shut the windows. She just ran down the hall yelling, “Get to the basement, get to the basement.” Joanne and the two students took cover downstairs. Their personal safety was the priority.

A tree had crashed through the living room window, and while Joanne and the boys were in the basement, Rick went out to the garage to find a tarp to put over the broken window to keep the rain out. Like many severe storms, it moved through fast. “The damage was done in just a minute’s time,” says Rick.

After ten minutes in the basement, Joanne and their guests got the all clear. “Matt and Ben were wide eyed from the experience,” Joanne notes.

Because it was nighttime, the Weilers were not able to see the extent of the damage. They had lost power but did their best to clean up and mitigate the damage before calling it a night. 

The day after

Storm damageThe next morning, the Weilers inspected their property and found the damage was more extensive than they thought. “The roof was damaged and covered with tree branches. A neighbor’s tree was struck by lightening and was shot about 30 yards. It landed on our roof. It was a mess,” Rick says. He called Member Benefits and talked with claims manager Bob Manor to report the incident. Bob sent an adjuster out promptly to inspect the damage and help the Weilers begin the repair process.

“The adjuster plays a crucial role in the claims process. Though independent, they represent our company, and we expect them to understand our mission and uphold our high standards for excellent customer service,” says Bob.

“The adjusters were very knowledgeable,” adds Rick. “They pointed out things that we might not have noticed.” 

The major repair list included a new roof, repairs to the deck, siding, windows, and carpet cleaning. But, the first order of business was tree removal and cleaning up the area.

Rick was happy to hear that Member Benefits’ home policy covers up to $1,500 for tree removal. They spent the better part of the day cleaning up as much as they could and let the tree service do the rest. “I was glad to have two strong young men like Ben and Matt on hand to help out. I don’t think they knew what they were in for,” Rick chuckles.

Surprises happen

“Some things aren’t obvious right away, even for the adjusters,” acknowledges Bob. “Sometimes there are surprises, but Member Benefits is there for the member until all the repairs are complete.” For example, the living room carpet needed to be replaced after the carpet cleaning service was unable to get out glass shards that were embedded in the thick carpet. “The window just exploded from the pressure. There was glass everywhere,” Rick says. “They tell you to stay away from windows during a storm and I always took that with a grain of salt. But if someone would’ve been in that room when that tree came through the window, they could’ve been impaled by the glass very easily.”

Then, exactly two months later, the Weilers were winterizing their home and found their AC unit didn’t work. They hadn’t used it since the storm, and other than some scratches it didn’t appear to have any damage, but the AC service man found it had been struck by lightening. “Joanne was concerned that it wouldn’t be covered at this point, but when we called Member Benefits, Bob took care of it.”

It’s never fun dealing with storm damage and the hassle of repairs, but having an insurance company that stands by your side through the entire process can make it less painful. “Our claims process is very member-centric,” says Bob. “It’s one thing that sets us apart from other insurers.” The Member Benefits claims department earned 100% customer satisfaction eight of 12 months in 2013 and 98.9% claims customer satisfaction overall for the year.

Appreciation call

Rick and Joanne were extremely happy with their claims experience and Rick called Bob after all was done to let him know how pleased they were. “When you get good service from someone, I think it’s important to tell them. We were treated really well and the service was very good,” says Rick. “I’d say incredible,” agrees Joanne. “I’ve shared our positive experience with people at work. We like the competitive rates and excellent service. They are always there to help. It’s good to know we can count on that.”

For more information, call 1-800-279-4010 or visit our insurance pages.


Weiler familyRick and Joanne Weiler live just outside of Wisconsin Rapids. Joanne has worked in the Technical College system for the past 26 years. Currently, she is working at Mid-State Technical College assisting students working toward their GED. She also taught for 11 years in K-12. Rick has worked in the paper industry for 36 years in the environmental area. “We are outdoorsy,” says Joanne. “We like hiking, fishing, boating, and skiing.” They have three children ages 28, 26, and 22. Their auto and home insurance has been with Member Benefits for over 20 years. “With three kids, there was a time when we had five cars on our policy,” says Rick. It’s family friendly insurance.” Joanne is also a participant in the WEA TSA Trust 403(b) retirement savings program.