Severe weather WATCH vs WARNING

WATCH
A severe thunderstorm or tornado watch gives you advance notice that conditions are favorable for dangerous weather. When your area is in a watch, stay alert for changing weather. During a watch, there will be information about what type of weather you might see and the chance of it actually occurring. Risk levels can range from a few storms with hail and high winds to a particularly dangerous situation when deadly tornadoes can occur. Follow your local news for updates.

WARNING
A warning is issued when severe weather is about to strike in your area. For severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flash floods it means the weather event is happening now and you need to take action immediately.

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WEA Member Benefits vs. WEA Trust

Sometimes WEA Member Benefits (us) has been confused with WEA Trust (not us). Here is a simple table to help clarify what each of us does so you know where to go to find the help you need.

WEA Member BenefitsWEA Trust
Has never offered group health insurance.Offered group health insurance until January 1, 2023.
Offers individual retirement savings options, personal insurance policies, and financial planning services.Offers group life, long-term care, disability, and vision insurance to employers.
Explore this website for more information.Visit weatrust.org for more information.

Help keep your teens safe this summer

AAA is reminding parents and teens to be aware of the sharp increase in teen fatalities from auto accidents that happens each year during the “100 Deadliest Days” — the span of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Teen driver statistics

According to AAA, an average of 2,108 teens are involved in deadly crashes every year, and 660 (31%) of those occur during the 100 Deadliest Days. From 2011 to 2020 nationwide, nearly half of the total number of those killed in teen-driver crashes for the rest of the year were during the summertime. AAA noted that it’s not the fact that teens tend to drive more in the summer; instead, it’s the driving behavior that increases the risk of a crash.

Research also shows that the risk of a fatal crash increases in direct relation to the number of teenagers in a car (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). AAA’s research found when a teen driver has only teen passengers in their vehicle, the fatality rate for all people increases 51%, while there is a decrease of 8% when someone 35 or older was in the car.

Steps parents can take to increase safe teen driving behavior

Need guidance on drawing up a contract with your teen? Get started with a sample parent/teen driving agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Remember, teens’ inexperience behind the wheel makes them more likely to engage in risky behavior. It’s critical for parents to play an active role in guiding their teens to embrace safe driving behaviors.

Life happens

Here’s why it’s so important. The named beneficiaries on your retirement accounts supersede your will. This is not limited to accounts you have with us. It’s true for any retirement savings account, 403(b), 401k, IRA, and your WRS pension account, as well as your bank accounts, brokerage accounts, life insurance, and annuity policies.

The who’s who of beneficiaries

Primary beneficiary

…is entitled to the proceeds of the account upon death of the account owner. In Wisconsin you aren’t required to name your spouse as a beneficiary on your account. However, because of Wisconsin’s marital property law, your spouse could claim their right to 50% of your account even if he/she is not named as a beneficiary. A spouse is like the king or queen of beneficiaries—they have more rights than non-spouses and greater flexibility with an inherited retirement account, allowing them to liquidate the assets or roll them over to their own retirement plan or IRA.

Contingent beneficiary

…or secondary beneficiary receives benefits at the time benefits are to be paid only if the primary beneficiary has died.

Many people fail to change their beneficiary designations after a marriage or divorce. Be sure to review your designations annually to ensure they are current and in line with your intentions. You may want to consult your attorney to ensure that you understand all aspects of your decision.

Log into yourMONEY to review and update you beneficiaries, or give us a call at 1-800-279-4030.

Be alert for online scam tactics

The ways in which scams are perpetrated continually shift due to the rising use of technologies (such as social media), consumer behavior patterns, world events, and other factors. According to a report by the Institute for Marketplace Trust, a division of the Better Business Bureau, online scams rose 87% between 2015 and 2022, while phone scams dropped 42%. In 2022, online scams are most prevalent overall (55%), with a higher percentage of people losing money when targeted this way (75%). Nearly 83% of those targeted online said they paid via credit card, online payment system, or bank account debit.

The top two areas that people are targeted while online are while using social media (25%) or doing online shopping (24%).

However, not all scams begin online. Scammers use other means to push people online, such as sending a link in a text, a phone call, or in the mail. Text messages are especially risky, with an $800 median dollar loss across all scam types as of October 2022. But scams perpetrated directly online that included a monetary loss were reported more than all other methods.

Eighty-two percent of online scammers used impersonation as a tactic, and half of those pretended to be a trustworthy business (Amazon, Walmart, Apple, Microsoft, etc.). People who lost money to an impersonation scam were almost twice as likely to lose money as those exposed to other types of tactics.

How can you protect yourself from online scams?

Tips from the Better Business Bureau

Friends tell friends about Member Benefits

As you continue into the school year, we would love it if you would refer us to your colleagues.

Our products and services are built by educators, for educators. Let them know about our retirement savings, financial planning, and personal insurance programs and services.

Refer a colleague or a family member!* Fill out the quick form on our referral page and they will receive an email from us.

Explore our products and services:


*Family members, including your spouse or domestic partner, children and their spouses, parents, and parents-in-law, may also be eligible to participate in many of our programs.  Restrictions may apply. Certain state residency required.

Inflation got you down? Don’t panic

The price of stuff is going up, which may be the case for some time. Do you also know about these other components of inflation?

Shrinkflation. Companies reduce the size or quantity of their products while charging the same price or even more. One example is paying the same for less sheets of toilet paper (and smaller sheets!). Companies have been doing this for years because people are more sensitive to changes in price than to changes in quantity.

Skimpflation. Instead of simply raising prices, companies skimp on the goods and services they provide. Shoddier service is the result of a labor shortage and rising business costs. For example, it’s now taking longer for packages to be delivered.

The key to coping with inflation is to plan for it.

Help secure your account

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is required to access your retirement account through yourMONEY. If you receive a phone call or text message providing a verification code and you aren’t currently attempting to log into your account, please notify us as soon as possible and change your account password.

We also encourage you to add a verbal password to your account as an extra layer of protection. You will need to know this password if you call us to discuss specifics about your account. Simply complete and send in the Telephone Access authorization form from our retirement forms and brochures page or call us to request one.

A Trusted Contact is someone you deem trustworthy who may be contacted by Member Benefits if we are not able to reach you or if we have reasonable belief that you or your account may have been exposed to financial exploitation. The Trusted Contact does not have rights to make changes to your accounts.

Setting up a Trusted Contact is optional. If you are interested, please contact a Member Service Representative at 1-800-279-4030.