Make sure you’re properly covered
Don’t be surprised to see continued increases in your home and auto insurance premiums—it’s a trend affecting the entire insurance industry. Mike Godby, Insurance Services Operations Manager at Member Benefits, explains, “While many hoped prices would stabilize by now, it is unfortunately not the case. So as costs continue to rise, it’s important to make sure your insurance coverages are still appropriate.”
What is causing these ongoing premium increases? It’s a perfect storm of many ongoing factors. Inflation is one reason, along with supply chain and labor shortages, damage from more extreme weather, and increasing fuel costs, just to name a few. As a result, claims are becoming more frequent and more expensive, which in turn makes it more costly for insurance companies.
The demand for housing continues to be high and supply low, causing skyrocketing home prices. Many people who are renovating, repairing, or rebuilding their home are being affected by longer waits for qualified contractors, delayed supplies, and the rising costs of materials. “The majority of home premium increases are due to the higher coverage amounts necessary, as well as the increased costs required to rebuild homes in the event of a loss,” says Mike. “Those who are experiencing longer waits to get back into their home are claiming more living expenses from their policies as well.”
A May 2022 Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I)/Milliman report found that overall miles driven are largely back to 2019 levels, but that riskier driving behaviors have led to increased insured losses and fatality rates—distracted driving is being blamed in part. And in recent years, medical and auto body repair costs have increased at a rate much faster than inflation (Triple-I). Vehicles have more sensors and technology than ever before, and they cost more to repair/replace when damaged. Diesel prices, which affect trucks that carry supplies, are up $2.43 from a year ago (U.S. Energy Information Administration, June 13, 2022). Consumer gas prices are up as well, making it more expensive to drive—and even Uber added a consumer fuel surcharge in March to help their drivers and couriers with costs (Uber Newsroom).
What you can do
Wondering what to do? Mike says, “Talk to us. Make sure you’re getting all of the discounts to which you’re entitled. If you raise your deductible, you may save some money on premium—just make sure you can afford it. On older cars, you might consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverages. And maintain a good credit rating, which can also cut your insurance costs. We can help you sort through the options.”
Call us: 1-800-279-4030
Schedule a personal consultation: weabenefits.com/consults
Summertime activities bring with them a certain amount of risk. Enjoy the fun with less worry by making sure you’re properly insured for all the things you want to do this season.
Renting a car
Planning to rent a car for an upcoming trip? Summer months are the most dangerous time of the year for driving due to higher numbers of vehicles on the road (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), so it’s important to understand your insurance options before you head out.
The coverage and deductibles you have on your personal auto policy may apply to a rented vehicle, but don’t assume so. Make two calls first: First, call your insurance company to clarify your coverage and deductibles. If you’ve dropped comprehensive or collision on your own car, you may not be covered if your rental is stolen or damaged. The second call goes to your credit card company. They may also offer some level of insurance protection for rental vehicles.
Your pool should have a four-foot or taller fence with self-closing and self-latching gates. For an inground pool, the yard should be fenced in.
As a pool owner, you have the burden of taking adequate measures to protect children. Even if someone comes over and uses the pool without your knowledge, you may be liable for any potential injury they may suffer from it.
You may want to increase your liability coverage through a personal umbrella policy. Be sure to talk to your insurance company so that you clearly understand the specific options, obligations, and coverages in your plan.
Renting out your home or vacation home
Many people rent out their homes as a source of extra income, but those using your home can cause damage. Some home insurance companies may provide coverage for an occasional short-term rental, but whether you rent once in a while or rent out your home regularly, be sure to contact your insurance company beforehand as you may need a rider or an entirely different kind of insurance policy to protect yourself and your property.
Member Benefits does not offer coverage for homes that are rented out to others, but we do offer coverage for vacation homes that you use yourself and do not rent out.
While they may seem appealing as a fun summer activity, be sure to understand the safety risks as well as the legal and financial risks that come with owning a trampoline. From an insurance perspective, they’re considered an attractive nuisance—something that is likely to entice children and could pose a risk of injury. If you have a trampoline or are considering purchasing one, talk to your insurer about your home policy coverage.
Like many insurers, Member Benefits does not insure homes with trampolines. However, we may be able to offer coverage through a partner provider. Ultimately, the decision to purchase or keep a trampoline comes down to evaluating risk versus reward.
Boats and recreational vehicles
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 4,439 recreational boating accidents in 2021 in the U.S. Small boats such as kayaks and canoes may be covered under your home or renters insurance policy, but larger craft and items such as jet skis require a separate policy.
Talk to Member Benefits about our recreational vehicle and toy insurance options. Based on the type of item you have and the way you intend to use it, we can help you understand the best way to insure it.
Between 2014-2018, grills, hibachis, or barbecues were involved in an average of 10,600 home fires per year (National Fire Protection Association(NFPA)). July is the peak month for grill fires.
Your home policy provides financial protection, as fire is a covered peril. Be sure to maintain your grill, practice safe habits, and know what to do in case of an accident. Visit nfpa.org for grilling safety tips.
Make sure you’re properly covered! Schedule a free insurance consultation.
Or call us at 1-800-279-4030 or get an insurance quote.
Sources: Insurance Information Institute, Consumer Reports.
Life insurance fast facts
According to a LIMRA study:
- In 2020, 41 million people said they need life coverage, but do not have it.
- Half of the U.S. population estimates the cost of life insurance at more than three-times the actual cost.
Get the facts
Life insurance offers a variety of policy options to fit your financial needs. Visit our life insurance section for a no-obligation quote.
Source: Insurance Information Institute.
Are you wisely protected?
While nearly everyone THINKS they are wisely protected, few actually are. Don’t risk leaving yourself (and your family) exposed to financial loss or purchase coverages you don’t need. Here are some tips on how to get wise with insurance.
Wise idea #1: Buy value, not price
When you think about buying auto insurance, do you only think about price? If so, you may risk not being appropriately covered for your needs.
For example, when you’re in the market to buy a car, you don’t just think about price—you consider safety ratings, technical features, gas mileage, and so much more. You make a decision based on value. The same should go for your insurance.
Say you find a company online that could save you $400 a year. That looks good at first glance, but it’s important to consider the value of the policy, just like you do for a car. Ask questions: Does it have enough liability coverage to protect my assets? Will a low liability limit make me ineligible for umbrella insurance? As your car is a significant financial investment, would it have enough collision and comprehensive coverage to protect you from financial hardship if your car is seriously damaged? Once you have the answers, you may decide that saving $33 per month wouldn’t really be any savings at all.
To find the right balance between cost and protection, we recommend buying auto insurance using three general principles:
- Buy the right amount of protection for your situation.
- Buy more liability protection rather than less.
- Choose the highest deductible amount that you can comfortably afford.
In a recent survey, 68% said they have purchased insurance policies not fully understanding what they are paying for.* Let our Personal Insurance Consultants help you evaluate your insurance needs.
Your insurance needs are not the same throughout your life nor are they the same as your neighbors’, which is why we recommend doing an annual insurance review. Member Benefits’ Personal Insurance Consultants can help you evaluate your options.
For example, if you’ve gotten married, you may qualify for a discount on your auto insurance and also need to update your home insurance. If you have a baby, you may need more coverage to keep your family secure and explore your life insurance needs as well. And if you’ve made major improvements to your home, such as a bathroom or kitchen remodel, you risk being underinsured if you don’t report the changes to your insurance company. Don’t forget to count new furniture, appliances, etc., into your new coverage needs.
Wise idea #2: Maximize your insurance dollar
If you’re going to spend money on insurance, get the most you can get for your dollar.
Let’s say you have $130 to spend on insurance. You have two choices:
- Use the $130 to cover the possible loss of $150–$400, or;
- Use the $130 to cover a possible loss of $150,000.
Obviously B is the better value. But in reality, most people do A. Why? People tend to think about risks they have experience with or can conceive of, like the fender bender or losing your mobile phone. The risk of catastrophic events is often dismissed because they happen less frequently. However, they can be far more financially devastating.
The wisely protected…
- Purchases insurance coverage based on needs and value rather than simply the lowest price.
- Maximizes their insurance dollar by optimizing coverage and deductible options to create a good balance between protection and cost.
- Regularly re-evaluates their situation and policy to ensure appropriate protection for all they’ve worked hard for.
Wise idea #3: Insure for the catastrophic
It’s the real reason we have insurance.
Umbrella insurance is overlooked by a lot of people, yet most financial planners consider it a must-have. Many people think it’s only for the wealthy and that it’s expensive insurance to carry, but it’s actually very affordable.
Do you have a car? Teenage driver? Watercraft? Use the Internet? These are four of the biggest causes of liability losses. You don’t have to do crazy things to be at risk—and you don’t have to be a millionaire to be sued like one. And keep in mind, scheduling items like electronics, collectibles, and jewelry isn’t a bad thing, but if you are doing that at the expense of coverage for the catastrophic loss, it isn’t the best use of your insurance dollar.
In a recent survey, 76% agreed that the experience of living through the COVID-19 pandemic has made them more concerned with protecting the things that are important to them.* Part of being financially secure is making sure you have the right protection for yourself and for your family.
Many people don’t include insurance in their financial planning, but in fact, having the right insurance protection is an important part of your overall financial health and well-being.
Not sure if you’re wisely protected?
Let us take a look at your needs and your existing coverage. If you’re already wisely protected, we’ll tell you! If not, we’ll recommend changes and coach you to be a better insurance consumer.
*Survey from The Company We Keep: 2021 Insurance Purchasing & Buying Trends (bindable.com) | Source: Insurance Information Institute.
Don’t forget about flood insurance
In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help provide a means for property owners to financially protect themselves. The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP.
It doesn’t take a major body of water or even a major storm to cause a flood. You can live miles away from water and still be a victim of flooding. In fact, nearly 20% of all flood insurance claims come from areas with moderate-to-low flood risk.
Member Benefits’ personal insurance consultants can help you evaluate your need for flood insurance and give you a quote. But plan ahead! There is a 30-day waiting period.
Call us today at 1-800-279-4030.
Determining the value of your home for insurance coverage
When determining the current value of your home for insurance purposes, it is important to differentiate between assessment value, market value, and replacement cost. These values usually are not the same and serve different purposes.
The assessment value is the dollar amount placed on your home by your local government for taxation purposes (i.e., property taxes). Factors considered when calculating your home’s assessed value may include the selling price for similar properties in your area, the replacement cost, and the land value, depending on where you live. The higher the assessed value, the more you pay in taxes.
The market value is how much you could expect to get for your home in the current real estate market if you were to sell. The listing and selling price of comparable homes in the local area, square footage of the house, value of the land, location, amenities, condition of the property, etc., are used to determine the market value.
When insuring your home, it should be insured for 100% of its replacement cost. This is different from both the assessed value and the market value. The replacement cost reflects how much it would cost to rebuild your house in the same spot with materials of like kind and quality.
Because the cost of materials and labor fluctuates (especially in recent times), it is important to evaluate your coverage periodically to make sure you have adequate protection.
Make sure you’re properly insured
Have you reviewed your home insurance coverage recently? Gaps in your insurance coverage may leave you financially exposed. Ask us about our Guaranteed Replacement Cost coverage—if you have a home insurance policy with Member Benefits and your home was built during or after 1950, we will pay the full cost to repair or replace your home with materials of like kind and quality without the limits imposed by other insurers.
We can assess your current home insurance coverage to make sure it is appropriate for your situation. Contact one of our personal insurance consultants for assistance.
1-800-279-4030 | weabenefits.com/consults
Long-term care at home is a family affair
Eileen Dunn, Geriatric Care expert from our partner Associates of Clifton Park, answers, “In my experience, probably not many. Over the years I’ve had many adult children paying for their parent’s care without their knowledge.
“I currently have a client in an assisted living facility. Each of her two children are paying $1,500 per month toward the cost of care since her Social Security and pension won’t cover all the costs and her savings ran out about a year ago. Her son told me he is happy to do it, but now it’s less that he can contribute to his own retirement.”
This is just one example that stresses the need to protect against the cost of home care. According to Genworth and OneAmerica, nearly three quarters of long-term care claims are for home care, not nursing home care. Eileen adds, “The main reason I’ve ever had to place someone in a nursing home is because they have run out of savings to pay for care at home.”
It’s clear that long-term care is not an event that happens to an individual, but an experience that happens to a family. And the financial and mental health consequences can have significant repercussions for caregivers if their loved one doesn’t have appropriate long-term care insurance coverage.
Home and car cold weather safety
If you haven’t done so this year, it’s time to do a little preventive work—it’ll keep you safer, warmer, and maybe even help you save some $$.
Inside the house
Prep the plumbing
Turn off the water supply to outdoor spigots and sprinkler systems to avoid burst pipes. Install pipe insulation in unheated areas of your home.
Check the chimney
Have your fireplace chimney cleaned and inspected yearly to ensure it’s not a fire hazard and that there are no critters making it their home.
Stay on alert
If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, get one right away. Make sure to test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and change the batteries. The U.S. Fire Administration states that smoke detector batteries should be replaced at least once or twice a year. If you don’t use the annual time changes to help you check every year, try making January a new year/fresh start reminder.
Give your furnace a checkup
Start out by changing your filter—it will help your furnace run more efficiently. If you haven’t had it professionally checked in the last two or three years, make an appointment.
Protect entryway flooring
Between the tracked-in snow, ice, road salt, and sand, entryway floors can really take a beating in the winter. Increase the longevity of your flooring and prevent slipping by using floor mats both inside and outside of each entrance to your home. A boot scraper or brush outside can help remove excess snow, and a waterproof tray inside is great for placing wet shoes and boots.
Check your emergency supplies
With winter storms comes more potential for power outages. Be prepared with fresh bottled water, shelf-stable foods, flashlights, batteries, first-aid supplies, and a hand-crank radio.
Boost your home’s energy efficiency and save money by checking and repairing caulking around doors, windows, and anywhere something penetrates a wall. Check weatherstripping on doors and windows and seal cracks in foundation walls.
Outside the house
Ice is great for skating, fishing, and cooling a beverage, but icicles hanging along the eaves of your house may be a sign of trouble. Icicles and ice dams are a sign that you have insulation and/or ventilation issues in your home.
Simply knocking down icicles won’t solve the problem. Ice dams can loosen shingles, rip off gutters, and allow water to infiltrate your home. If that happens, you’ll likely have damage to your walls, ceiling, floors, and attic insulation.
Here are a few ways to help prevent icicles and ice dams:
- Keep your attic cold. Properly insulate your attic floor and be sure your attic is adequately ventilated. Install roof vents, gable vents, and/or soffit vents to ensure a well-ventilated space. An added bonus—insulating can help lower energy bills.
- Clear your gutters of leaves and debris so melting snow can drain out. If you didn’t take care of this before winter, be sure to do it in the spring and again in the fall. Consider gutter guards or hiring a service to prevent build-up and to help you avoid getting up on the roof.
- After a heavy winter storm, remove a layer of snow at least three feet above the gutter line with a long-handled aluminum roof rake while you stay safely on the ground. A rake with wheels will help prevent roof damage.
Don’t chip at ice dams with a hammer, ice pick, or shovel. It’s dangerous and can often do more harm than good. And never use salt to melt the ice. This may damage your plantings and roofing material.
Beth Gold, Claims Representative, explains, “Water damage from ice dams is generally covered on your home insurance policy but exclusions may apply. Be sure to read your policy carefully and contact your insurance company right away if you have damage.”
Driveways are an often overlooked area of your home—until there’s a problem. Keeping it maintained can help you avoid repairs and save money. Here are a few things you can do to take care of your driveway during the winter.
- Minimize water on the driveway by clearing a two to three-inch strip of snow around the edges to provide a runoff area for snow and water. This can help reduce the chances of water penetrating the surface.
- Ensure downspouts empty into the yard rather than onto the driveway.
- For both sidewalks and driveways, don’t use cement salt or chemical de-icers, as they can penetrate surfaces and cause cracks. Instead, use a snowblower or shovel to remove snow, then use alternatives like sand, coffee grounds, alfalfa meal, or kitty litter to make surfaces less slippery.
- Raise the blade of your snow plow enough so it doesn’t scrape and damage the driveway surface. If shoveling, use a plastic shovel for uneven surfaces to reduce the risk of it catching on the driveway.
Beth adds, “A lawsuit can be very costly if you don’t prevent people from tripping on cracks and uneven surfaces, especially if you don’t have umbrella insurance. It’s inexpensive and the added protection can be well worth it.”
If you do experience home damage this winter and have your home policy with us, give us a call.
Prep for safe winter driving
Be ready for the snow before you go. Every vehicle should have an emergency supply kit in the trunk. Check your kit twice a year and replace items as needed.
- Water and snacks
- First aid kit
- Jumper cables or portable jump starter
- Road flares
- Warm clothes, mittens, boots, blanket
- Snow brush
- Ice scraper
- Full tank of gas
- Cell phone charger
- Sand/cat litter and shovel
511wi.gov is a free website that provides information to help you make smart traveling decisions, check traffic speeds, or plan a trip. Stay informed about road conditions before you leave the house and while you are on the road.
We’re here to help
Lastly, make sure you’re properly insured. Not all policies are the same so be sure you understand what you have or what you are purchasing so you won’t find yourself short on coverage when you need it.
Get a free insurance consultation and comparison quote
weabenefits.com/consults | 1-800-279-4030
Determining appropriate life insurance coverage
Here’s a simple formula:
- SURVIVORS’ FINANCIAL NEEDS
Final expenses + debts + income needs
- SURVIVORS’ FINANCIAL RESOURCES
Survivor benefits + your assets + your resources + group life insurance
- DO THE MATH
Financial needs — Financial resources = How large a policy to buy
Try out our free life insurance comparison quote. No personal or contact information is ever required.
Many people are underinsured because they skip these simple steps. It’s also important to consider the timing of when your financial resources will be available to your family.
Speak with the experts at Associates of Clifton Park. They offer a variety of policies and can go through all of the factors you may want to consider. Give them a call at 1-800-893-1621.
Source: Insurance Information Institute.
Avoid home insurance claim surprises
Read your policy
Ok, most people don’t actually read their home insurance policy—it’s complicated. But make sure you do understand what coverages you do and do not have and what they mean. Misunderstanding your policy can have negative financial consequences you weren’t expecting.
The consultants at Member Benefits are happy to go through your policy with you and answer your coverage questions.
Maintain your property
Home insurance covers sudden and accidental damage, not damage from wear and tear over time. Neglecting to maintain your home won’t be covered by insurance.
Have appropriate coverage
Without the right coverage, you may find yourself owing more than you expected. Insurance is an important part of your financial security. Don’t leave yourself (and your family) exposed to financial loss or purchase coverages you don’t need.
Talk to a Personal Insurance Consultant at Member Benefits. We can help you create a policy that meets your needs.
Don’t clean up too fast
When you experience damage to your home, you may feel in a rush to clean up the mess. Don’t—it can be a financial mistake. You may end up throwing away damaged items before the total damage is documented or lose receipts you need to file a claim. Keep important documentation such as photos and repair estimates, and leave yourself a clear paper trail.
Document, document, document
One common mistake people make when filing a claim is not documenting the damage. Take photos as soon as you discover the damage. If you have some before and after photos, that’s even better.
In the event of a covered loss, you’ll need to provide a list of all of your personal property that was damaged or stolen, along with its estimated value and age at the time of loss. If you’re like most people, it would be hard to remember all of your possessions. This is where a home inventory can come in handy. An accurate inventory and proof of ownership can make the claim settlement process easier and faster.
Download and print your free Personal Property Home Inventory eBook. It has helpful tips as well as fill-in-the-blank listings room by room.
Don’t file too many claims
Insurers look at claims history when setting rates. The more you have, the higher your premiums will be because insurers correlate the number of claims to a higher risk of filing more claims in the future. Consider carefully before claiming smaller repairs you could take care of yourself.
Not realizing your house could be underinsured
Did you know Member Benefits offers Guaranteed Replacement Cost for homes built during or after 1950? This coverage is rarely offered by insurance companies today. With Guaranteed Replacement Cost, we will pay the full cost to repair or replace your home with materials of like kind and quality without the limits imposed by most other insurers.
Contact us—we can help you discover what kind of coverage your current policy offers.
Avoid unwelcome surprises…talk to us!
Set up a free consultation with one of our Personal Insurance Consultants. They can help you learn to be a better insurance consumer, review your policy thoroughly, and offer help and advice. Or get a home insurance quote.
weabenefits.com/consults • weabenefits.com/homequote • 1-800-279-4030
Source: Forbes Advisor.