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

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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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Is Having Liability Only Car Insurance Ever a Good Idea?

By: Trusted Choice

Car insurance comes in a variety of coverages. You can choose from comprehensive, collision, and liability, and then add a variety of options like accident forgiveness, vanishing deductible, and even roadside assistance. But if you are looking for a bare-bones policy that will keep your premium low, liability only insurance may be what you are looking for.

Liability coverage is required in all 50 states, but it is generally the only legally required coverage, so a liability only policy not only keeps money in your pocket, but also ensures that you are legal out on the road.

While a liability only car insurance policy sounds great, it’s not ideal, or even an option for everyone (if you have a loan on your car it’s probably not an option). If you are in an accident, or your car is stolen or vandalized, you will have to shoulder the costs to repair or replace it.

Liability Insurance Can Be a Financial Lifesaver in an Accident

The main benefit of carrying a liability only coverage is savings. The cost savings will vary depending on the state and your personal factors, but you may be able to shave 50% off the full coverage rate.

When it comes to car insurance, liability covers the cost of other people’s injuries or the cost to repair or replace their vehicles, but it offers zero protection for your own medical bills and your own vehicle.

What this means is that if you cause a car accident and manage to total both your vehicle and the other person’s, your liability insurance will step up and cover the cost to repair or replace the other person’s car. Your policy will also pay any resulting medical bills for the other person, the cost to defend a lawsuit if you are sued, and any settlements resulting from the lawsuit. It is important to remember that your policy will only pay out up to your policy limits, so carrying low limits can leave you exposed.

A liability only insurance policy will not cover your medical bills or the cost to repair or replace your own vehicle.

Liability Insurance Comes in Two Flavors

Liability insurance is pretty straightforward, but there are two types, both of which are included in a liability only car insurance policy. Here is a quick overview of what each cover:

  • Bodily injury liability: This covers the harm that you do to another person. It will pay any medical expenses, such as hospital bills, surgery costs and even physical therapy if necessary. If the person you injured chooses to sue, bodily injury liability will pay for your legal defense, as well as any resulting settlements or judgments, including claims for “pain and suffering.”

Bodily injury liability is written with two limits. The first is for each person who is injured in the accident, and the second is for total injury costs for the accident. As an example, a bodily injury policy with 100/300 limits means your insurer will pay up to $100,000 for one person’s bodily injury costs and up to $300,000 for all bodily injury claims in the accident.

  • Property Damage Liability: If you are responsible for damage to another person’s vehicle or other property, this will cover those costs. It pays to repair or replace not only a vehicle, but also other property such as a hedge, fence, garage doors or even landscaping. This coverage comes with a single limit, and a common policy limit is $50,000.

Liability Insurance Is Required in Every State

Liability is the only car insurance that is required in every state, and each state sets its own liability requirements.

If you are caught driving without the state-required minimums, you will be issued a ticket for driving without insurance, your license will most likely be suspended until you have proof of insurance, and in some states, your vehicle will be impounded.

How Much Liability Only Coverage Should I Buy?

Legally you are only required to carry the state minimums, but most industry experts recommend carrying much higher limits, especially if you own a home or have other assets that could be at risk if you are responsible for a serious accident.

While your personal circumstances will dictate your coverage levels, most experts recommend carrying 100/300/50 or higher when it comes to liability coverage.

Carrying the state-required minimums is never recommended, because they are often too low and will leave you exposed, especially if you are in a major accident.

As an example, the state of Colorado requires drivers to carry liability limits of 25/50/15, which translates into $25,000 per person, $50,000 for the entire accident and $15,000 for property damage.

In an accident, these limits would quickly be eaten up by medical bills, not to mention the cost of defending a lawsuit. Once your coverage limits are reached, the rest of the bills fall directly to you.

Let’s run the numbers on a hypothetical accident:

If you are responsible for a car accident that involves injuries and also totals the other person’s car, here is how the numbers could break down if you were carrying the state of CO minimums of 25/50/15.

Assuming two people were seriously injured in the crash and ran up $75,000 in hospital bills (which is quite easy these days), and their totaled vehicle was a 2014 Toyota Avalon, which KBB.com values at $22,533, you would be looking at the following bills coming your way:

Your bodily injury liability coverage would top out at $50,000, leaving you responsible for $25,000 in hospital bills. Property damage would be capped at $15,000 so you would be on the hook for $7,533 for the vehicle.

Your total out-of-pocket expenses would be $32,533 and if they decided to sue, the cost to defend a lawsuit would be also your responsibility.

This makes it pretty clear why buying the state minimums can often be a mistake. A trusted Independent Insurance Agent has the know-how to help you understand these situations and offer you the best insurance solutions specific to your situation. R.S. Semler & Associates Insurance, Inc. has been in business in Washington County, WI for over 50 years by providing our customers peace-of-mind when it comes to protecting what is important to them.

When Should I Switch to Liability Only?

In certain circumstances, liability only coverage makes sense. For instance, if you are driving an old car. If your vehicle is so old that you would not repair it if it broke down or you were in an accident, it’s time to dump full coverage and stick with liability only.

Liability only coverage isn’t always the best choice though. You must keep in mind that you will be paying to repair or replace your own vehicle, and that can be a major expense. You are also on your own if your car is stolen or vandalized.

Liability only car insurance does not offer some of the other benefits that may come standard with a full coverage policy, such as rental car coverage, towing and roadside assistance. So you will need to evaluate your situation carefully and decide if this is the right option for you.

Consider an Umbrella Policy

An umbrella policy provides additional liability coverage on top of the liability coverage offered by your car insurance policy. Umbrella coverage kicks in when you reach your coverage limits.

As an example, if you are carrying 100/300/50 in liability on your vehicle and are involved in a major accident, and owe $450,000 in damages, the umbrella policy kicks in after the $300,000 on your liability policy is used up. It pays out the additional $150,000.

The great thing about umbrella policies is that they are fairly cheap. They are sold in $1 million increments, and you can usually purchase $1 million for $150 to $300 per year.

Let the licensed agents at R.S. Semler & Associates Insurance, Inc. help you determine what is best for your specific situation. We are here to help you understand the risks that are out there, what the laws require and you decide what you feel is the right budget for you. Call us at 800-414-5875 or look us up on the web at www.rssemler.com and we can provide a free no-hassle quote today.

What Happens When You Stop Paying your Car Insurance Bill?

By: Ryan Hanley, Trusted Choice

Car insurance can be expensive and forking over that premium can hurt. You may feel that you are paying for something you never use. Maybe money is tight, or you simply forgot to send in your payment. Whatever the reason, not paying your car insurance bills is a huge and ultimately expensive mistake.

In the world of car insurance, when you don’t pay your car insurance bill, your policy lapses. All this means is that you are no longer insured, so if you get into an accident you are completely on your own.

You will have to pay to repair or replace your own car. If the accident was your fault, you will have to pay for the other person’s car, their medical bills if they are hurt, and the cost of a lawyer if they decide to sue you. If they win the lawsuit, a hefty judgment will also fall to you.

In the end, saving a few hundred dollars could end up costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars and quite possibly all of your assets, if you seriously injure someone.

In addition, you will probably lose your license. Almost every state in the country requires at least a minimum level of car insurance. If you are caught out on the road or are in an accident without it, say goodbye to your driver’s license for a while.

The pain doesn’t stop there. Insurers hate a lapse in coverage and they will penalize you when you decide to start shopping for car insurance again. While a week-long lapse probably won’t have much of an effect, a car insurance lapse that last months or years will have a significant impact.

What Happens If Your Car Insurance Lapses?

If you borrowed money from a bank or finance company to purchase your car, they have a legal right to make sure their asset is protected, which is why they will require the car to be fully insured.

In almost all cases, you will be required to carry full coverage on a financed vehicle. This includes not only state required coverages like bodily injury and property damage, but comprehensive and collision as well.

Somewhere in your loan paperwork there will be a clause that spells out exactly what can happen if you let your insurance lapse. While repossession of the vehicle is always on the table, a lender’s first option will probably be imposing force-placed insurance.

Forced-placed insurance simply means that if you let your policy lapse, the lender will purchase a policy to cover the vehicle and bill you for it. If you fail to pay for the policy, your car will almost certainly be repossessed.

Forced-placed car insurance tends to be dramatically more expensive and offers reduced coverage levels. It doesn’t include liability coverage or property damage, so if you injure someone, or damage their property, you are not covered. Liability insurance is required in almost every state, so technically you will be breaking the law if you are out driving with just a forced-placed policy.

The Penalty for a Lapse in Car Insurance:

Now for the big surprise, the cost. It will vary by your circumstances and the state you live in, but it is not uncommon for forced-placed insurance to cost three to five times more than a normal policy. Insurers claim that their risk goes up because they are insuring a driver without their usual screening, so the price must go up.

Despite the sticker shock, you will have to pay up if you want to keep your car. Lenders will quickly repossess the vehicle if it is left completely uninsured.

The good news is that it’s fairly easy to get rid of a forced-placed policy; you just need to get your insurance. Once you can prove to your lender that you have your own policy, they must remove their forced-placed insurance. Most states only allow insurers to collect forced-placed premiums for the exact number of days you are uninsured, so if you are only uninsured for five days, that is all you should be billed.

What to Do after a Car Insurance Lapse?

If you find yourself with a lapsed policy, the first thing to do is not drive the car under any circumstances. An accident or ticket for driving without insurance will greatly complicate the situation. The next step is to end the lapse as quickly as possible. The longer the lapse, the more you will pay when you jump back into the insurance pool.

If you simply forgot to pay your bill and your policy has been lapsed for three days or less, call your insurer and ask if they will reinstate your policy. In many cases they may be willing to help you out. Once your lapse has gone past a week, you will most likely be looking at a higher premium, even if your current insurer is willing to reinstate your policy.

If you have been without insurance for months, expect to pay a significantly higher rate, and some insurers may not be willing to insure you at all. In the end, you will eventually find an insurance company that will write a policy for you. If you keep your nose clean for six months to a year, your rates will start to fall.

Here are a few tips for finding an affordable policy after a coverage lapse:

  • Explain the lapse: There are legitimate reasons for a lapse, such as a move out of the country, a long trip, or military deployment. Many insurers will forgive lapsed insurance due to military deployment, as long as your vehicle was kept in storage and not driven. Explain the reason for your lapsed insurance and see if your insurer will help you find a better rate.
  • Shop around: This is probably the best way to find an affordable policy after a lengthy lapse. Insurers rate risk differently. While some insurance companies will turn you away, others will be happy to offer your coverage, at a price. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when it comes to coverage levels and deductibles when shopping.
  • Discounts: In order to lower your premium, ask for any and all discounts that you qualify for. Bundling coverages, paying your annual premium in full, passing a defensive driving course, and even going paperless on your policy can result in discounts, which can all add up to a more affordable policy.
  • Reevaluate: Insurers will not keep you in the doghouse forever. Once you have gone 6 to 12 months without incident, ask your insurer to recalculate your rates or shop your coverage.

R.S. Semler & Associates Insurance, Inc. is Washington County’s insurance expert. With 50 years of insurance experience, we provide peace-of-mind to our customers who want to protect what they have worked so hard to attain. Our expertise is in personal, commercial and life insurance. Call us today at 800-414-5875 or check us out on the web at www.rssemler.com and take advantage of receiving a free quote for any of your insurance needs.

Does Your Home Insurance Need a Checkup?

 AAA Living

 

It’s a good idea to review your home insurance policy each year to make sure you have the coverage you need, particularly if you’ve made any recent changes to your home.  Here are some key questions to discuss with your insurance agent.

 

What Home Improvements Have I Made?

 

The situation:  You finally finished your kitchen remodel this fall, and it looks great.  In the event your kitchen is damaged, you’ll want to be able to repair or rebuild a kitchen that’s just as beautiful.

 

The conversation:  Talk with your agent to see if all of your home improvements or additions are adequately covered.  You may need to update your policy.

 

What Major Purchases Have I Made?

 

The situation:  Home insurance covers quite a lot, but not everything.  Often costly items such as jewelry, art, musical instruments, furs and collectibles are not covered under your base policy.

 

The conversation:  You’ll likely need to add a Scheduled Personal Property rider to your policy to ensure that you receive the full value if you ever have to make an insurance claim.  And, make sure that you and your agent update your policy to include any new purchases of this type.

 

Did I Increase My Liability Risk?

 

The situation:  Did you invest in a swimming pool last year?  Or get a pet?  If someone slips on your pool deck or your new poodle bites a passerby, you could be held responsible for the victim’s medical bills, lost wages and more.

 

The conversation:  The liability coverage on your home insurance policy can protect you from paying out of pocket.  But it will only pay up to a set dollar limit.  Talk to you agent to make sure you’ve got enough liability coverage.

 

Did My Salary Increase?

 

The situation:  You’re making significantly more money than when you first purchased your home.

 

The conversation:  Discuss an umbrella policy with your agent.  It provides liability coverage beyond your home policy’s maximum limits protecting assets, such as your home, and future income that could be targeted in a liability lawsuit.  And by adding an umbrella policy, you may be able to reduce the coverage levels in your auto and home policies.

 

The bottom line is to call your insurance agent at R.S. Semler & Associates Insurance, Inc., Hartford, WI today to discuss your risks and how we can help offer you peace-of-mind protection for all of your hard- earned assets.  We are proud to be a part of the Washington County, WI community helping residents understand their personal insurance policies.  For more information go to www.rssemler.com to see what R.S. Semler & Associates Insurance, Inc. can do for you or call us at 800-414-5875.

What To Do When You Are In A Car Accident

By:  Cincinnati Insurance Company

Nobody likes to think about getting into a car accident, but it can happen to any driver at any time. Taking time in advance to think through the steps to follow after an accident can help keep you and your passengers safe and simplify the process of filing an insurance claim. R. S. Semler & Associates in Hartford, WI are here to help you through difficulty moments like this.

Here’s what to do if you are in an accident:

  1. Activate your hazard lights, and place warning signs or flares to help other motorists see you.
  2. Contact the police, or ask someone else to do this if you cannot.
  3. Summon medical assistance if anyone is injured.  Repeat the call after five minutes if no help arrives.
  4. Do not administer first aid unless you are qualified to do so.
  5. Make note of injuries you observe.
  6. Keep calm.  Don’t argue.  Make no statement concerning the accident to anyone except a police officer.  Get the officer’s name, department and badger number.
  7. Be courteous, but do not accept responsibility or apologize for the accident.
  8. Use extreme caution when out of your vehicle at an accident scene and be mindful of traffic.
  9. Take scene and vehicle photos if you have a camera and can do so safely.  Note and record the weather and lighting conditions.
  10. If another vehicle is involved, note whether the headlamps or taillights are on, turn signals were in use, brake lights were working, or if there are any obvious mechanical deficiencies with the other vehicle.  
  11. Note any problems with the accident scene, for example, a vision obstruction, a poorly placed stop sign, or a malfunctioning traffic signal.
  12. Exchange insurance and vehicle information with the other driver.  While you may need to disclose personal information to a police officer, be cautious about providing your address and phone number to the other driver.  Many insurance companies no longer print the home address on the insurance ID card unless required by the state.  Scammers have been known to exploit fender-bender accidents to obtain personal information for identity theft.  NEVER give your Social Security number.
  13. If witnesses are present or approach you, ask for a name and telephone number.  Encourage them to stay until the police arrive.
  14. If you are driving a company-owned vehicle, report the accident to your supervisor as soon as possible.  If the other driver was using his or her vehicle for business, record the employer’s name.
  15. Before leaving the accident scene, check to see that you have all the facts.  For prompt claims help, call your agent.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners provides a WreckCheck app for iPhone and Android phones that allows you to take a photo of the accident, fill out basic information and email a copy to your agent or yourself. Find out more here: http://www.insureuonline.org/auto_wreckcheck_guide.pdf

You can also go to wwww.rssemler.com to find important contact information for filing a claim if you need us after hours. www.rssemler.com/claims

Tree Removal vs. Debris Removal - The West Bend Mutual Way

By: Tom Hawkins – West Bend Mutual Insurance

When it comes to insurance coverage for wind-blown trees in Washington County, WI, it’s important to know how a policy responds when Mother Nature’s fierce winds take their toll. Windstorms are the leading cause of property losses in the Midwest. Tree canopies provide a sail for wind to easily take them down in one gust. When it comes to insurance coverage for trees, it depends on where, and more particularly on what the tree lands. This article references The West Bend Mutual Insurance Company’s underwriting guidelines. Each company may handle each situation differently with different limits etc.

Each policy sold by R.S. Semler & Associates Insurance, Inc. an independent insurance agency in Hartford, WI responds differently to wind-blown trees. Let’s start with the most common homeowner’s policy, the HO3. The HO3 specifically identifies debris removal associated with wind-blown trees by providing coverage to remove debris. This coverage addresses trees that are simply blown down and not on top of a structure or building. In this situation, there’s a limit of $500 for the removal of one tree and $1,000 of coverage for multiple felled trees (any number more than one). The homeowner’s deductible applies. The policy states:

b. We will also pay your reasonable expense, up to $1,000 for the removal from the “residence premises” of:

  1. Your tree(s) felled by the peril of Windstorm or Hail or Weight of Ice, Snow or Sleet; or
  2. A neighbor’s tree(s) felled by a Peril Insured Against under Coverage C.

The $1,000 limit is the most we will pay in any one loss regardless of the number of fallen trees. No more than $500 of this limit will be paid for the removal of any one tree.

What’s included in tree debris removal?

  • Cost to cut up the felled tree
  • Cost to remove the tree debris off your property
  • Cost for stump grinding (unique to West Bend)

Now if a tree is blown down onto some type of covered property (e.g. fences, patios, decks, home, driveway, grills, other personal property), the policy would cover the reasonable cost to remove the tree off that property up to the policy limit (e.g. cut up a tree and get it off a roof). After it’s removed from the property, the cost to cut up and remove the tree debris from the property is limited to the limits of insurance explained above.

Sometimes tree damage isn’t as clear-cut as you may think. It’s common for tree branches to break in the wind, but still hang from the tree. Wind can also cause a tree to fall, but not completely, so it’s left leaning. In these instances, West Bend’s approach is to determine if the tree was displaced from the state it was in before the storm. If it is, we’ll provide coverage up to the debris removal limit ($500 for one tree and $1,000 for multiple trees).

It’s also important to note that the homeowner’s deductible applies to these types of claims. The deductible is applied first to every loss, but when these limits are exceeded, the deductible is absorbed in the amount over the limit.

R. S. Semler & Associates Insurance, Inc. are proud to represent West Bend Mutual Insurance Company who are also located in Washington County Wisconsin. Both of us are known for our elite customer service and excellence in claims handling. Call R.S. Semler & Associates Insurance, Inc. today to receive a free quote on your home and auto insurance needs. We take the time to explain insurance coverages in plain English so you understand what you are purchasing. Let us insure all the things that are important to you and your family today. www.rssemler.com