R.S. Semler & Associates Insurance Inc.
“Insurance of All Kinds”

R.S. Semler & Associates Insurance Inc.
870 W. Sumner Street (Hwy. 60), P.O. Box 270108, Hartford, WI 53027

Hours: Monday - Friday 8:15 am - 5:00 pm
P: 262-673-3160 F: 262-673-9466

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The professional independent agents at R.S. Semler & Associates Insurance Inc. are local, community members who see you as a neighbor, not just a policy number.

• We help friends and neighbors manage their risk.

• Provide personal support and service.

• Get to know you and your situation so we can better answer your questions and suggest the best coverages for you.

R.S. Semler & Associates Insurance, Inc.

We have been providing peace-of-mind to Hartford and its surrounding counties for over 45 years. We represent only the most reputable and financially stable insurance companies, which gives our clients the protection they deserve. Our specialty is tailoring policies specific to your personal or commercial needs.

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Home Insurance and 4th of July Fireworks

By Insurance.com

The Fourth of July is typically the busiest day of the year for fires, the National Fire Protection Association says, with two of every five structure fires blamed on fireworks.

Almost 20,000 fires annually are blamed on fireworks. Hospitals see about 10,500 fireworks-related injuries a year. About one in four fireworks-related fires are on the Fourth of July, according to the NFPA.

Will your home insurance cover fireworks injuries and damage?

It's both a simple question and a complicated one. Most home insurance policies provide many different types of protection, and these protections often have different payment limits. Also, there are different types of accidents. The answer, mostly, is yes.

That is, unless fireworks are illegal where you live, and unless you purposely caused injury or damage. Then you may be on your own. The most injured body parts, according to the NFPA, are:

  • 36%: Hand or finger
  • 19%: Head, face and ear
  • 19%: Eye
  • 11%: Trunk or other
  • 10%: Leg
  • 5%: Arm

More than half the injuries are burns.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the fireworks that cause the most injuries are:

  • 20%: Firecrackers
  • 19%: Sparklers

More than two-thirds of those injured are male; 47 percent are 19 or younger -- and 24 percent are younger than 10, said the CPSC.

Different accidents, different coverages. If fireworks set fire to leaves in your gutter, a section of your home insurance policy for fire incidents could cover the damage. Fireworks that malfunction and injure a friend on your property could be covered under a section for medical payments to others. Likewise, a section on liability payments could cover your fireworks accidentally shooting into your neighbor’s house and breaking a window. But if you get into a bottle-rocket war and injure a friend, you may not be covered because the incident was intentional.

If you injure yourself, you may not be covered because you can't file a liability claim against your own policy. Your health insurance would have to kick in.

If you're shooting off illegal fireworks and set fire to your house, you may not be covered. Most policies exclude damage resulting from illegal acts. (See what the laws are in your state in this American Pyrotechnics Association guide.)

Get an umbrella (policy). If you have lots of assets or need more protection, consider adding an umbrella policy. A personal umbrella liability policy can protect you after you reach the limits of your standard policy. It may also protect you in areas not covered on your other policies.

Each homeowners insurance policy is different, so if you have a question, ask your insurance company to point out and explain the sections of your policy that describe your coverage.

Practice safety. Even if you understand your home insurance policy and are sure you’re covered, the best way to avoid problems is to focus on safety by using proper pyrotechnic practices. Every year, thousands of people are injured by fireworks, and some are even killed.

Imagine how you would feel if you burned down a neighbor’s house or seriously injured someone while trying to celebrate. Insurance questions would probably be the last thing on your mind. Even if your insurance did cover the accident, the consequences could continue for the rest of your life.

Basic safety tips, from the American Pyrotechnics Association, National Council on Fireworks Safety and the Insurance Information Institute:

  • Don't use fireworks if illegal where you live. There's probably a good reason for it.
  • Keep fireworks away from children; they lose fingers, toes and eyes to fireworks accidents, and many are burned by even something as tame-seeming as sparkler -- which burns at up to 2,000 degrees.
  • Never point fireworks at others.
  • Use fireworks outdoors on a flat, hard surface in an open area. Keep kids at least 30 feet away.
  • Use a flat, hard surface like a driveway. Avoid lighting fireworks on grass or in containers.
  • Wear eye protection.
  • Have a way to put out a fire handy -- a fire extinguisher, hose, or bucket of water. Put used fireworks into a bucket of water.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a "designated shooter."

Basic Coverages Included in Homeowner’s Policies – Do you understand them?

State of WI, Office of the Commissioner of Insurance Consumer Guide to Homeowner’s Insurance

The homeowner’s insurance policy is a package policy that combines more than one type of insurance coverage in a single policy.  There are four types of coverages that are contained in the homeowner’s policy; dwelling and personal property, personal liability, medical payments and additional living expenses.

Property Damage Coverage

Property damage coverage helps pay for damage to your home and personal property.  Other structures such as a detached garage, a tool shed, or any other building on your property are usually covered for 10% of the amount of coverage on your house.

Personal property coverage will pay for personal property including household furniture, clothing, and other personal belongings.  The amount of insurance coverage is usually 50% of the policy limit on your dwelling.  The coverage is also limited by the types of loss listed in the policy.  The coverage only pays the current cash value of the item destroyed unless you purchased replacement cost coverage. 

Your homeowner’s policy also provides off-premises coverage.  This means that the policy covers your belongings against theft even when they are not inside your home.  Your insurer will reimburse you for the cost of replacing your suitcase and its contents if it were lost or stolen while you were on vacation, but only for replacing them with items of the like kind and quality.

Personal Property Floater

Your homeowner’s insurance policy may provide only for limited coverage for furs, jewelry, silver, and other valuables.  It may be necessary to insure these valuables with a special addition to your homeowner’s policy, such as a personal property floater.  A personal property floater itemizes each article, gives a description of the article insured, and lists excluded perils.  It often provides coverage that is broader than the coverage granted in the home insurance policy.  You should discuss this with your insurance agent to determine the availability and cost of this additional coverage.

Your homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover your pets, your car, and any aircraft.  Although your policy does not cover your pet or damage it does to your possessions, it will cover damage your pet does to others or their possessions.

Personal Liability Coverage

Homeowner’s policies provide personal liability coverage that applies to non-auto accidents on and off your property if the injury or damage is caused by you, a member of your family, or your pet.  The liability coverage in your policy pays both for the cost of defending you and paying for any damages the court rules you must pay.  And unlike the other coverage in your policy, liability insurance does not have a deductible that you must meet before the insurer begins to pay losses.  The basic limit for liability coverage is usually $100,000 for each occurrence.  You can request higher limits that are available at additional cost.

Medical Payments Coverage

Medical payments coverage pays if someone outside your family is injured at your home regardless of fault.  This includes payment for reasonable medical expenses incurred within one year from the date of loss for a person who is injured in an accident in your home.  The coverage does not apply to you and members of your household.  The medical payments portion of your homeowner’s policy will also pay if you are involved in the injury of another person away from your home in some limited circumstances.  Medical payments coverage limits are generally $1,000 for each person.  Higher limits of medical payments coverage are available at additional cost.

Additional Living Expenses

If it is necessary for you to move into a motel or apartment temporarily because of damage caused by a peril covered by your policy, your insurance company will pay reasonable and necessary additional living expenses.  The typical policy will pay an amount up to 20% of the policy limit on your dwelling for these expenses.  If you move in temporarily with a friend or relative and do not have any extra expenses, you will not be paid any additional living expenses by your insurance company.

Additional Coverages

Your homeowner’s policy generally provides the following additional coverages for expenses that go beyond the repair of the house:

Common Exclusions

Most homeowner’s policies do not provide coverage for loss of animals, birds, fish or damage to automobiles.  Water damage caused by flood, surface water, overflow of a body of water, or spray from any of these whether or not driven by wind are usually excluded.  Water damage due to sewers or drains that have backed up are also excluded.  Damage resulting from war, nuclear hazard, neglect, earth movement or power failure are not covered.

If you own a boat, you should ask your agent about whether or not it is covered under your policy.  Some policies cover small motorboats and sailboats, but not larger ones.

What is not covered by your insurance policy as well as what is varies from insurer to insurer.  Ask questions before you purchase a policy.  Here is a sample of commonly asked questions:

So You Don’t Have an Umbrella Insurance Policy . . . . May I Ask Why?

So you don’t have an umbrella insurance policy . . . . May I ask why?

More often than not, consumers have limited knowledge about what an umbrella policy is, or how much coverage is the right amount for them. Here are four easy questions to guide you to the right answer.

1. What is the amount of equity you have in your home? _________________________

2. What is the value of all your personal possessions? ____________________________

3. What is your lifetime earning potential? _____________________________________ (annual salary x remaining working years)

4. What is the total value of your savings accounts and other funds? ________________


This number is a good gauge in determining the right level of liability coverage your customer may need in the event of a lawsuit.

Tell me more . . . . . . .

- Umbrella insurance refers to liability insurance that is in excess of specified other policies and also potentially primary insurance for losses not covered by the other policies.

- When an insured is liable to someone, the insured's primary insurance policies pay up to their limits, and any additional amount is paid by the umbrella policy (up to the limit of the umbrella policy).

- Most personal umbrella losses are related to auto accidents, with a 2013 analysis finding that 78% of claims and 87% of losses related to autos.

- Personal umbrella policies are typically made excess of a person's homeowner's and automobile insurance. Coverage varies by the company, and detailed comparisons can be constructed showing the differences

- A commercial umbrella policy may be based on a commercial general liability (CGL) primary policy.


Call or stop in at R.S. Semler & Associates Insurance, Inc. for a free umbrella quote! 800-414-5875

3 Reasons You Think You Don’t Need Disability Insurance (But Actually Do)

Source: Life Happens

Most people, if asked, are hard pressed to explain what disability insurance really is. It’s actually pretty simple to define: Disability insurance protects your paycheck.

If you become injured or ill and can’t work, disability insurance pays you a portion of your salary until you can return to work. A Life Happens survey found that most people couldn’t make it a month without their paycheck before financial difficulties would set in. So, it’s easy to see how important disability insurance is.

“That’s all fine and well,” you say, “but here’s why I don’t need it.”

Reason #1: “I’m young and healthy. A disability will never happen to me.”

Truth: You actually have a three in 10 chance of suffering a disability that keeps you out of work for 90 days or more at some point during your career, according to a Life Happens survey. You just don’t know which side of that statistic you’ll be on.


Reason #2: “I could rely on government benefits.”

Truth: Most long-term disabilities are a result of an injury or illness that is not work-related, and so wouldn’t qualify for Workers Compensation. And if you’re counting on Social Security disability benefits, those pay an average of $1,100 a month, which would leave you living right around the poverty level.


Reason #3: “I have disability coverage through work.”

Truth: You may, but it’s more than likely you don’t. Most (70%) private employers don’t offer long-term disability insurance, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The bottom line is this: If you work and rely on your paycheck, you need disability insurance.


Next steps

What you need to do is:

1. Find out what disability insurance coverage you have at work (short-term, long-term, both or none at all). 

2. Make sure you know much coverage you actually need by using this easy online Disability Insurance Needs Calculator. http://www.lifehappens.org/insurance-overview/disability-insurance/calculate-your-needs/ (Keep in mind: Your employer may give you coverage as a benefit, but that doesn’t mean it’s enough!)

3. Get an individual disability insurance policy to fill in any gaps you might have to make sure you’re taken care of if something were to happen to you. We will sit down with you for free and help you find a policy that fits your needs and your budget.


Choose an Insurance Agent in 4 Steps

It’s Not Just a Quote, It’s a Relationship

Shopping for insurance? You may think you’re simply looking for an insurance policy. But, perhaps, what you’re really looking for isn’t a what but a who: Someone you can trust to guide you through the plethora of insurance choices, rather than trying to make sense of all the options yourself online.

That someone is an insurance agent, but there are countless agents out there – not to mention different types. So, how do you choose? Use these four steps to select the type of agent that’s right for you and find one you want to work with to purchase, review and manage your policies on an ongoing basis.


1. Know the Types of Insurance Agents

Some insurance agents represent only one insurance company. These are known as direct, or captive, agents, and they are direct employees of the company whose policies they sell. Any policy he or she sells will be from that company, and that company only.

An independent insurance agent, on the other hand, represents a number of different carriers, oftentimes as an employee of a local agency in your community. An independent agent isn’t restricted by what any one carrier offers, so he or she has more flexibility to help you explore a broader range of options.

And, what about commissions? Both direct and independent agents receive commissions from the companies they represent.


2. Get Recommendations

The best way to predict what kind of service you can expect from an agent is to find out what kind of service he or she has provided in the past. Ask for recommendations from family, friends and neighbors, and then ask for more details.

  • What does your friend or co-worker like about that agent?
  • Have there been any problems or complications?
  • Was the agent helpful, attentive and friendly?
  • Was the agent knowledgeable, answering all questions satisfactorily?
  • Most importantly, were the agent and the company he or she represents dependable, timely and supportive through the process of resolving a claim?


3. Research the Agency and Agent

Once you have a few recommendations in hand, it’s time to research your prospective agents, the agencies where they work and the companies they represent. Here are a few places to check:

  • The website of your state’s Department of Insurance. Here you can likely see any complaints, investigations or disciplinary actions against agents, as well as ensure they have an active license. You can likely look up information about various carriers, as well.
  • Local chambers of commerce or the Better Business Bureau.
  • The agency’s own website, which should outline their services, the types of insurance they offer and the carriers they represent.


4. Interview the Agent

Your research paid off, leading you to an agent in your area who seems like a good match for you. Now’s the time to ask some tough questions to be sure.

Tell the agent what you’d like to insure, and ask how he or she would be able to help. If you or a friend has gone through difficult insurance experiences before, ask how he or she would deal with a similar situation.

Ask if he or she gets involved in the claims process, or ask any of those other questions you’ve always wondered about insurance. Pay attention to whether the agent offers specific examples or speaks in generalities, as well as to whether he or she is talking about insurance in a way that makes sense to you. You can also ask for references.

A prospective agent may be able to give you a quote at this point. But, what you really want is a sense of how well you could work with this person. Is this someone with whom you can communicate easily and in whom you can place your trust?

Because, when you’re shopping for an insurance agent, you’re not just looking for an attractive quote. You’re looking for a good working relationship that can endure through new cars or homes, fender benders, storm damage and much more. R.S. Semler & Associates Insurance provides insurance of all kinds to you and your friends and relatives. Let us quote your insurance and help you protect what is important to you!