R.S. Semler & Associates Insurance Inc.
“Insurance of All Kinds”
1-800-414-5875

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

Click here to see where we are located.
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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What Is Auto Insurance?

What Is Auto Insurance?

Insurance, by definition, is a contract between you and the insurance company. The contract stipulates that as long as you pay the premium, the insurance company agrees to pay for your covered losses if you experience an accident, theft or vandalism, or your car is damaged by certain causes. The amount you receive in compensation is based on several factors, including your deductible and the limit you choose for your policy.

What Does Auto Insurance Cover?

There are several categories of auto insurance, each of which covers a different aspect of your risk as a driver. Here is a brief overview of these types of coverage:

  • Liability: If you are deemed at fault in a car accident, liability coverage will pay for repairs, medical costs for injuries suffered by others in the vehicle, plus other expenses related to the accident such as legal fees. Your liability limits are set at the time you purchase your policy. There are two parts to liability coverage: Bodily injury liability and property damage liability. The limits are the maximum amount the policy will pay out; anything above that would come out of your pocket unless you have other insurance.
  • Collision: If you hit another vehicle or an object (like a guardrail), your collision coverage will pay for damages or repairs to your vehicle after you pay a deductible (up-front amount). In other words, if you have collision coverage with a $500 deductible and you suffer damage that costs $1,500, your collision coverage will pay $1000 after you pay the first $500.
  • Comprehensive: Comprehensive coverage, which is also known as "other than collision," pays for losses to your vehicle if it suffers damage from something other than an accident. For example, if a tree falls on your car or you hit a deer while driving, some portion of that loss will be covered if you have comprehensive coverage. Like collision, comprehensive has a deductible attached to it.
  • Medical Expenses: This coverage pays for injuries that you, a family member or anyone else riding your vehicle may suffer in an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault. It also pays for injuries you or your family members may incur while riding in other vehicles.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist: This coverage pays for injuries and property damage you suffer in an accident when the driver at fault either is uninsured or does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries and damage. It will also cover you in the event that a hit-and-run driver flees the scene and you cannot file a claim against that driver’s insurance company.
  • Roadside Assistance: Many insurance companies offer this optional coverage. If you need a tow or service for a flat tire or dead battery, roadside assistance will provide that service for a nominal premium.
  • Rental Reimbursement: If your car is in the shop for several days and you need a vehicle, this coverage will provide that for you for a nominal premium.

How Does Car Insurance Work?

Car insurance helps you to recover from damage, injuries and expenses related to a collision or other incident. It is not designed for you to come out ahead financially, but it is designed to keep you from suffering major financial hardship due to an accident, whether it’s your fault or not.

Car insurance is about risk transfer. If you don’t have insurance, the financial risk is on you in the event of an accident. Buying auto insurance mitigates some of that risk. For the cost of your premium, the insurance company will take on much of that risk for you.

Why Is Auto Insurance Important?

When you get behind the wheel, you take a risk. You may attempt to be the best possible driver, but you also have to trust that everyone else on the road is driving well and paying attention, too. Auto insurance provides a safety net when drivers make mistakes.

In the event of an accident, you are at risk financially. If the accident is not your fault, and the other driver does not have adequate insurance, you have to pay for all damages to your own car plus pay for any medical bills if you are badly injured.

When you are at fault, you are typically liable for damages to the other person’s vehicle as well as the medical costs of injured victims. Additionally, you must cover the repairs to your own vehicle and the costs of legal fees if you are sued. All of your assets are at risk if you are uninsured or underinsured.

How Do I Get Car Insurance?

There are a number of ways to get car insurance. It is important to understand that there are well-established insurance companies that offer excellent car insurance coverage, and there are companies that were built solely to sell car insurance and make money. Some auto insurance companies gain customers through advertising and others through word-of-mouth and excellent service.

When you buy insurance through an independent agent, you can eliminate confusion and find the best policy for your budget and insurance needs. Independent insurance agents do not sell policies for one company; they shop from many different companies to find you the best rates and coverage for your situation. No matter where in the U.S. you are located, there is a local Trusted Choice member agent near you who can get the answers you need about auto insurance before you buy.

Is Auto Insurance Required?

Forty-seven states require vehicles to have some level of insurance coverage before they can be on the road. Failure to have insurance can mean a fine and/or jail time in these states, not to mention suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. In most of those states, the minimum required coverage is liability insurance to cover damage and injuries you may cause, though a handful of states require additional coverage, such as collision and comprehensive.

How Expensive Is Car Insurance?

Your vehicle just might be the most expensive possession you have other than your home. However, your auto insurance won't necessarily be costly.

While rates vary from state to state and take into account a variety of factors, car insurance is usually fairly affordable. The factors that affect your costs include whether your car is new or used, the overall safety rating of the car, your driving record, your age and gender, and even your ZIP code, as certain areas tend to have a higher occurrence of accidents and claims than others.

The discounts you may qualify for include:

  • Good student discount: May apply if the young driver in your family has good grades
  • Good driver discount: May apply if you’ve been accident-free for a period of time
  • Multi-car discount: May apply if you insure more than one of your vehicles with the same company
  • Multi-policy discount: May apply when you insure both your home and car with the same company

Your local agent can also talk with you about these discounts and determine the ones that would benefit you and save you the most money on your policy.

Is Auto Insurance Tax Deductible?

If you are self-employed and use your personal vehicle for business, you can take a tax deduction for your car insurance. For example, an independent sales professional who travels for work can take the deduction. However, only the actual mileage used for business travel is deductible. In other words, if you drive a vehicle 15,000 miles for business and 15,000 for personal use (a total of 30,000 miles annually) your deduction will cover half of your overall use.

Can Auto Insurance Companies Drop You?

Auto insurance is a contract, and as with many contracts, it can be canceled or voided by either party. You can drop the contract by changing to another company; the following are circumstances in which an insurance company can drop you:

  • If you fail to pay your premiums
  • If you present fraudulent information on your application for coverage
  • If your license is suspended or revoked for any reason, such as too many accidents, or driving under the influence

Can Auto Insurance Companies Deny Claims?

There are a few reasons that your claim can be denied, including:

  • Filing a fraudulent claim exaggerating or fabricating an accident or loss.
  • Filing a claim under coverage you don’t have.
  • Filing a claim for a loss that is not included in your policy - for example, if you suffer an accident while using your car as a business vehicle.
  • Making improvements to your vehicle, such as giving it a fancy paint job, without notifying your company. The company might deny the claim or compensate you based on the original value of the vehicle.
  • If you miss a premium payment, you may have your coverage suspended until you catch up your payments; if you file a claim while your insurance is suspended it will be denied.

Some states allow companies to deny claims for other reasons, so it is a good idea to understand the fine print in your policy.

Do Auto Insurance Companies Check Credit?

Credit scores and credit reports don’t always tell the full story about a person, but they do indicate your ability to pay your bills.

Car insurance companies do check credit as to determine your insurability. Your premium is a bill like any other, and a poor credit score can alert an insurer of financial trouble. If there is a chance that you may miss premium payments, an insurer may decide you are too risky to insure.

Do Auto Insurance Quotes Affect Credit?

Car insurance is not an application for credit, so while insurance companies check your credit to determine your responsibility and financial security, they are not extending credit.  A credit check for a car insurance quote is called a “soft pull” and it does not affect your credit rating.

Credit scores have become very important in recent years as lenders have tightened restrictions. Many families are focused on eliminating debt and getting caught up on payments so they can improve their credit scores and get better rates when getting a mortgage or a car loan. Every time you fill out an application for credit, your credit score can be affected because a good percentage of your score is based on how much total credit you have and the number of accounts you have.

Do Auto Insurance Companies Check Driving History?

An insurance company may check your driving record when you are looking for a new policy, renewing your existing policy or modifying the policy by adding a new driver or additional vehicle.

You may also wonder whether your driving record can prevent you from getting insurance. Your driving record check typically will not prevent you from getting coverage, but it does help the company determine the risk they will take when issuing a policy to you.

If you have a record that includes tickets, accidents or points on your license, these factors indicate to the insurance company that there is a higher risk of paying a claim. In order to compensate for that, the company may charge a higher premium than someone with a clean driving record.

Do Auto Insurance Companies Share Information?

When you make an insurance claim or begin the process to switch insurance companies, information about your claims history is placed into a national loss-underwriting database. That information can be accessed by all insurance companies that are considering insuring you.

However, insurance companies do not share your personal information directly with each other. The information included on the claims database is not shared, per se, but it is available for all companies to find. Keep in mind that since your driving record is on file with your state’s motor vehicle department, your information is public record – including tickets and accidents.

Does Auto Insurance Cover Rental Cars?

This is a common question. If you make sure you have your own vehicle covered, do you need to get the special coverage offered at the rental counter if you go on vacation and get a rental car?

You will have to double-check your particular policy, but most policies do provide the same coverage for a rental car that you have for your personal vehicle, unless the rental is being used for business purposes. It’s always a good idea to check your policy. If you are seeking a new policy, an independent agent in the Trusted Choice network can help you find one that does cover rentals.

Does Auto Insurance Cover Theft?

If your car is stolen, a number of things need to happen for you to be compensated for your loss. First, you will need to file a police report and wait while there is an attempt at recovery. If your car is not recovered, you can file a claim with your insurance company if you have comprehensive coverage.

Because of the risk insurance companies face with fraudulent claims, you will need to complete some paperwork to file your claim. But providing you have documentation for the stolen vehicle, your insurance will compensate you for the value of the vehicle up to the limit of your comprehensive coverage.

Can I Get Car Insurance with a Suspended License?

Most insurance companies will not issue or maintain insurance for someone who has a suspended or revoked driver’s license.  If you need to get from home to work while your license is suspended, you are not out of luck.

You can work with your local DMV to get a hardship license, or you can file an SR 22 form through your insurance agent who can file that with the DMV. If you are allowed behind the wheel due to a hardship license and/or an SR 22 form (which guarantees insurance coverage for a period of time), then you will be able to get car insurance.

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."

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.

 

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