Dodge distracted driving habits
When you’re driving down a highway, can you think of any circumstance where it is safe to close your eyes for five seconds? Of course not. But it takes about five seconds to read or send a text. At 55 miles per hour, you can travel the length of a football field in just those few seconds. And in that instant, over that distance, a life can be taken—maybe even your own.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2020. Just one car accident, even a minor one, can have a profound impact on your life and the lives of others.
It’s important to stay focused on the road at all times. Avoiding texting or talking on the phone is obvious. But you can also be distracted by fiddling with the radio or A/C, eating and drinking, pets, and other people in the car.
Minimizing your chance of an accident avoids the stress of dealing with repairs, keeps your insurance costs down, and helps keep you, your family, and others safe.
Recommit yourself to safe driving by not giving in to distraction and by focusing solely on the road.
Why you should care about long-term care
Who should care about long-term care?
Everyone! People are living longer lives. When you live a long life, the likelihood you’ll need long-term health care is increased. But younger people may also need long-term care due to an accident, illness, or injury, which can change your needs—sometimes suddenly. The best time to think about long-term care is before you need it.
What is long-term care?
Long-term care involves a variety of services designed to meet a person’s health or personal care needs. They help people live as independently and safely as possible when they can no longer perform everyday activities on their own. Care may be needed for a short or long period of time.
Where can I receive care?
Most long-term care is provided at home by unpaid family members and friends, but is also provided in facilities such as a nursing home or adult day care center. It can be provided in different places by different caregivers, and may also include services such as meals and transportation services.
Why should I have a long-term care plan?
Everyone has a long-term care plan. The question is, “Have I defined my long-term care plan?”
If you have not looked into the options available, then you are on the default plan. That means when something happens, you’ll have no choice but to spend down your own assets.
In contrast, having a defined plan keeps you in control of where you get your care and who provides it to you. It also allows you to protect and preserve the assets you’ve worked so hard for over the years. And with a Wisconsin Partnership plan, you have the added benefit of guaranteed asset protection.
How can I pay for long-term care insurance?
It may seem obvious, but many people don’t think about it clearly—one way or another, when you need care, it has to be paid for. Resources to pay for care include Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance, personal savings, and long-term care insurance (LTCi).
Medicare does not cover long-term care but may cover some costs of short-term care in a nursing home after a hospital stay. Medicaid requires you to spend down your assets to meet federal and state requirements to become eligible. Most health insurance policies do not cover most long-term care costs. And paying out of your own pocket risks depleting a lifetime of savings.
If you ever need any type of long-term care, LTCi may help cover the cost. One big advantage is that policies can be tailored to suit your personal situation. When deciding which coverage you’ll need, consider:
- How much you can afford to contribute toward the expense of your care.
- How long you might need long-term care services.
- How much will time pass before you need to start receiving benefits from the policy.
- Anticipated costs.
When should I consider purchasing insurance?
There is no “right” age to purchase LTCi, but most people typically start long-term care planning between the ages of 48 and 64. The younger you are, the less expensive it is—and the better chance you have of securing a preferred health rating for the life of the policy for an even lower rate.
It pays to speak to a long-term care insurance professional such as our partners at Associates of Clifton Park (AoCP). That’s because costs and discounts can vary among insurers, acceptable health conditions can vary, and covered care and long-term care policy benefits can vary. LTCi company ratings are also an important factor in your decision. AoCP has years of expertise and can help you make informed decisions about your LTCi options.
Request a quote or get more information
Sources: National Institute of Aging, American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, Associates of Clifton Park.
Home insurance basics
Review some basics about home insurance to help you make informed decisions about your options and coverages.
What does home insurance cover?
Coverage for the structure of your home is based on current market costs for materials and labor to rebuild your home in the event of a total loss. Don’t confuse this amount with assessment values, new home prices, appraised value, or current real estate prices for comparable homes.
Coverage for personal belongings includes everything inside your home. Use a home inventory checklist like the one in our free Personal Property Home Inventory eBook, take pictures or video to help you keep track, and verify the make and condition of items.
Liability coverage protects you from claims resulting from injuries and damage you cause to other people. This coverage is intended to protect you on and off your premises. For example, someone steps in a hole in your yard and breaks an ankle or your runaway grocery cart knocks someone down, causing injury.
Additional living expenses pays for costs you might incur if you are forced out of your home because of a covered loss such as fire.
Schedule high value items
Scheduled personal property coverage is an optional endorsement you can add to your home insurance that provides coverage for a greater number of risks, and may increase the coverage limits on specific high-value items. This also provides protection from certain types of accidental loss such as droppage or mysterious disappearance. A deductible may apply to some items.
Review your coverages periodically
Make sure your home insurance coverage is keeping up with costs for rebuilding—don’t try to save on premium costs by shortchanging your coverage. This is the primary reason homeowners find themselves without enough coverage when they need it. Increasing your deductible is a better way to manage your premium costs.
Why choose Member Benefits for your home insurance?
While many companies offer home insurance, ours is the only one created exclusively for Wisconsin public school employees like you.
Member Benefits' home policy highlights
|Guaranteed Replacement Cost||For homes built during or after 1950|
|Extended Replacement Cost||For homes built before 1950|
|Loss on School Premises||Up to $2000 for loss of personal property at school. All peril, no deductible!|
|Loss of Prep Materials||Up to $500. No deductible!|
Not all policies are the same. We can help you understand the protection available and strike the right balance between coverage and price.
1-800-279-4030 • weabenefits.com/consults
The fire and the fund
It can happen to anyone. This is what Amy and Spence Wagner learned on April 15, 2020, as they watched their home go up in flames.
For two hours they stood outside in the cold with nothing but the clothes on their back, watching as 27 years of memories were destroyed.
The evening of the fire, Amy and Spence were enjoying the company of their son Jake, daughter-in-law Kirby, and Mac, their 3-week-old grandson. Jake and his family were living with them short-term while he awaited the beginning of his medical residency.
“We had just finished dinner. The kids were putting Mac to bed. Spence and I had settled in to watch TV. It was a cold April night, so Spence lit a fire in our fireplace. I recall talking about how fortunate we were that even though the pandemic had closed us in at home, we had Jake and his family with us,” says Amy.
Not far into their TV program, Amy noticed light reflecting in their stained-glass front door, but thought it was from the fire. At that very moment, she said, the smoke detectors started blaring.
“I realized then the flames were in the window of our attached garage. Spence ran to the door that leads to the garage to find smoke billowing from the top of the door and began shouting, “Everyone out! Everyone out!’”
Watching it burn
They left with only the clothes on their backs and their cell phones. “We didn’t even have shoes on. Kirby had Mac wrapped in a blanket and Jake leashed the dog. Thankfully, everyone got out safely,” Amy recounts.
It was 8:11 p.m. when the call was made to the fire department. The Wagners stood across the street in their neighbors’ front yard as a window exploded and flames rose into the air.
“Spence was going to try to move the cars away from the house, but by the time he got to the edge of our driveway, the garage doors collapsed and engulfed our cars. It happened so fast.”
In a few moments, deputy sheriffs and numerous fire departments arrived, and several hours later the fire was out and the investigative team entered the house to search for the cause. The conclusion was that faulty wiring in the inner wall of the garage likely started the fire.
Feeling the love
With no home to go back to, neighbors took in Spence and Amy. Jake and his family stayed with his brother Luke. Although they had someplace to stay, they didn’t have any essentials like shoes, coats, toothbrushes, combs, etc. “There is nothing in my experience more humbling than to have everything you need one moment and then gone the next,” Amy recalls.
The Wagners were fortunate to have an outpouring of support from their neighbors and community, making the next few weeks easier. Their generosity gave them shelter, transportation, meals, clothing, and other basic necessities.
“We recognized how lucky we were. When you are devastated in this way, it is difficult to even know what you need. You’re a little numb from the experience, but people rallied to help us get on our feet.”
The aftermath: Picking up the pieces
The Wagners have their home insurance with Member Benefits. Bob Manor, Senior Claims Specialist, handled their claim. (Bob retired in August 2022 after 25 years with Member Benefits.) “Bob met with us within a day or two of the fire. He was always just a phone call away to answer any of our questions. He worked with us and the claims adjuster to put our home and lives back together. When there were bumps in the road, Bob was on it to get things resolved as quickly as possible. He was great to work with,” says Amy.
“All fire claims are so hard. People don’t realize the emotional toll an event like this takes,” Bob said. “It’s really not just about putting your house back together, it’s dealing with the grief of all that’s lost, the lack of normalcy, and the stress of working through it all. As a claims adjuster, my job is not just paperwork. It’s also about understanding the trauma the member has experienced and providing emotional support while trying to restore their lives as quickly as possible.”
The home was considered a total loss and the Wagners had to rebuild. They were officially with no fixed abode. They stayed with their neighbors for a week but needed more permanent housing while their home was demolished and then rebuilt. This proved difficult because of the pandemic shutdown.
Amy adds, “We finally found an Airbnb in the community adjacent to our hometown. We were in this location from Memorial Day 2020 until we moved into our new home in March of 2021.”
Out of the ashes comes something good
The Wagners knew their lives would never be the same and felt they couldn’t just move back into their home and let things end there. Amy explains, “We both really believe in paying it forward. We learned so much from our experience that we really believed we were in a good position to help others who go through the same thing. “
The idea of paying it forward materialized into the creation of the Wagner Family Fire Fund (The Fund). Its sole purpose is to provide immediate assistance to families in Kenosha County who lose their home to a fire.
“There’s no guide book telling you what to expect when you lose your home to fire,” Amy states. “Through The Fund, we can offer relief the day of the disaster, assistance throughout the rebuilding process, and that sense of community that we were so lucky to have.”
With the help of fire departments in their area, they distribute “go bags” to individuals or families who are displaced by a house fire. The go bags contain all the things the Wagners needed immediately after the fire: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, comb, brush, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, gift cards to area restaurants for meals, a two night stay at Country Inn & Suites, gift cards for clothing and other essentials, socks, a mental health kit, coloring books and crayons, and a guidebook they created, which is set up like a step-by-step workbook.
“When our fire fund kicked off on August 28th of 2021, we raised enough money to provide go bags to the fire houses in western Kenosha County. Within a week of our kick off, we had a bag go out to a family,” Amy says. “We recently held our first anniversary fundraiser in Bristol featuring food, beer and wine, a silent auction, kids’ games, and more.”
Other fundraising efforts came from a Safe Quarters campaign in area schools where students collected quarters for their fund, and from Antioch Pizza in Paddock Lake where they received 10% of proceeds from a day’s sales. Texas Roadhouse in Kenosha is hosting another fundraiser on October 20th.
Amy and her family are looking to do more good in the future. “The Wagner Family Fire Fund now covers all of Kenosha County. Eventually, we hope to get to a point where we can provide help to renters who are displaced by fire. We are working our way there.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in a short time with The Fund, and with such a supportive community, we are confident we will be able to help more people through the trauma of a fire.”
Members Amy and Spence Wagner have been married for 36 years. They have five grown children and five grandchildren. “We are a very close-knit family,” Amy says. A recently retired teacher, she taught reading and language arts at Bristol school for 18 years. Amy also taught speech communications, was involved with the gifted and talented program, coached the speech team, directed the school play, headed up the English Festival, and served as a union rep. Spence works in wholesale produce sales.
College student Q&A
Q. Does having a child away at college affect my auto insurance?
A. Yes. If your dependent child is at a school 100 miles or more away from home without a car, we may be able to adjust your rate for that driver and reduce your premium. If they take a vehicle with them, give us a call to update your policy.
Q. Are my child’s belongings covered under my home insurance while they’re at college?
A. Yes. With your WEA Property & Casualty Insurance Company’s home policy, your child is covered up to 10% of the personal property limit on your policy (subject to deductibles and coverages in your policy).
Q. My insured college student left his laptop at the library and it was stolen. Is it covered?
A. Your child’s belongings are covered up to 10% of the personal property limit while temporarily away at school, assuming they come home during the summer. Students who enter into apartment leases, stay full time at campus, or are attempting to change state residency to save on tuition should consult our service team to discuss options.
For more answers to your insurance questions, call us at 1-800-279-4030.
Tips for talking to your parents about long-term care
Chances are you’ve heard something like this if you’ve talked to your parents about long-term care insurance (LTCi). It may be a challenging conversation, but today’s LTCi could help your parents maintain their independence. Here are a few ways to approach it.
- Focus on independence, quality of life, and peace of mind.
- Help them understand what LTCi covers. Most policies are designed to pay for home health care as well as nursing homes. Some policies will pay cash to relatives and friends who assist with informal care.
- Express the hope that they remain in their home the rest of their lives. Most people prefer the familiarity and comfort of their own homes. LTCi may help them stay at home for a longer period of time.
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.