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distracted driving leading to higher premiums

Posted on June 27, 2017 in insurance 101 - 0 comments -

stop texting and drivingDistracted Driving is now leading to higher premiums in Auto Insurance


Distracted driving, we’ve all seen it.  Sitting at a stop light or driving down the highway people cannot stand to be out of the loop for  even a minute.  Distracted driving isnt a new phenomenon but it has increased with the emergence of smartphones.  Messing with the radio or eating and drinking while driving have been problems for years.  We could blame drive-thrus or musicians but we could probably just use common sense and avoid the whole problem entirely.

The Law

Wisconsin Law is clear when it comes to distracted driving.  Texting is always prohibited for any wisconsin driver.  Using a hand-held device while driving through a work zone is prohibited for any wisconsin driver.  Using any hand-held device is prohibited for ALL probationary licensed driver.  The penalties for violating these laws are very steep!  It could lead to large fines or loss of license.  Is sending that text really worth the risk?  Not just the risk of fine but loss of life or injury to you or others?  We would all say no but we need to remind ourselves more often because the accidents keep occuring and the tickets keep going out.

The Stats

According to the Zero in Wisconsin website,  “If a driver is going 55 miles per hour and gets distracted for less than 5 seconds, they’ve traveled the length of an entire football field without paying attention.”  How long does it take Aaron Rodgers to drive the entire field?  Longer.  According to available statistics, In 2015, there were 24,089 car crashes related to distracted driving in Wisconsin.  That is one in five crashes!

Helpful Tips

Simply Turn off your phone or run silent while driving.  You may even think about doing this as a passenger.  Distractions come from all around the vehicle.  We have so many more obsticles on Wisconsin roadways like Deer and Other Drivers, lets take phones out of that equation!  Pull over and stop in a safe area if you must use your cell phone.  Its actually pretty easy to do this, if the message is that important give your recipient you full and undivided attention from a rest stop or parkinglot and let them know you did this, they will appreciate it!

Insurance Carriers and Claims Personelle see these horrible situations far to often which is why many of them are not even answering their phone wierelessly as they drive.  They even have vopicemail indicating why they did not answer.  Its a great concept.  Lets all keep our eyes on the road and keep each other safe!

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Shawano Wisconsin Storm Warning System for Severe Weather

Posted on May 19, 2017 in insurance 101, Shawano - 0 comments -

Shawano Wisconsin Storm Warning System

For Severe Weather

Photo By: Lee Pulaski

Spring Storms and Severe Weather are upon us in the Shawano area.  The bad news is that property damage will occur.  The good news is that we have technology to help us be prepared as ever.  With apps on our phones and 24/7 media we can get ahead of storms and take measures to secure our property while staying safe.

Shawano County has implimented the CodeRED Weather Warning system.  As outlines by the Shawano Leader you can sign up on this website to get alerts about Severe weather.  This could give you and your family extra time to protect your property and get to safety.

If you have any questions as to how your home is covered in the event severe weather damages your property you can read about it here or give us a call locally at 715-526-2156.  We insure property all over the state and around Shawano County so we see more storm damage than most.  Wind has been a major contributing factor to some home rates increasing.  Over the last five years we generally have more wind losses than neighboring states.

We would be happy to help put your mind at ease so you can enjoy your Spring when the sun is out.

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What factors go into an auto insurance premium

Posted on June 19, 2015 in insurance 101 - 0 comments -

The main factors in an auto insurance premium

One of the most misunderstood facets of insurance are how an auto policy is rated.  There are many insurance mysteries but not everyone needs to take out a Workmans Comp policy or get a personal disability policy – everyone who drives is required to carry auto insurance.  I get questions all the time like, “if my car is a year older why did its premium increase?” or, “why did my insurance premium go way up just because I moved to Milwaukee?”.  These are all great questions and stem from the fact that Vehicle make and model are only a tiny part of how your auto insurance premium is determined.

There was a time when an insurance agent took out a slide rule to rate your policy and it had vehicle type and date of birth.  Then we added sex, zip code, coverage options, claim experience, driving record and even credit to the equation.  It gets complicated which is why commercials flat out telling you you “COULD” save 15% is just purely a slogan – there is no way to know.  One great reason to have an indie-agent like us is that we inherently understand all these factors as they apply to your situation and have several companies that we can shop in order to get you the best rate.  We also understand that some insurance companies prefer younger drivers, some prefer older drivers and some specialize in classic cars.  Its in our heads already, why not put that to work for you.

Your garaging location

Your garaging location is one of the main base factors in how your auto insurance premium is determined.  This is where the insurance company adds in all their claim experience data.  If there are more theft claims in a specific city you will see your comprehensive rate increase.  But, if you live in the city you may also drive less, so you may also see your liability rate is less then if you live in a suburb like Howard or Grand Chute.  In our county, Shawano, we see more deer claims than any other county so we pay more for comprehensive coverage.  Garaging location is a big factor in auto insurance.

Your driving record

Your driving record is an obvious factor.  Why should someone with no tickets pay the same for insurance as a person who has three speeding tickets.  Insurance companies typically charge for accident and violations for three years.  We also have companies that are offering accident and violation forgiveness.  This is a coverage you pay a premium for, up front, and if you are involved in an incident it will be overlooked.  I typically recommend this coverage for someone about to add a new driver to their policy.

Your Vehicle Type

Your vehicle type is another big rating factor for auto insurance.  Items like horsepower and vehicle type as well as statistics like how many Dodge Caravans get into accidents all play into this rate.  Safety features, speed and the ability to easily buy repair parts are also things insurance companies consider when rating your car.  They also know how likely a medical bill will creep up if you are involved in an accident.  If you are in a large pickup truck you might be less likely to sustain certain injuries than if you were driving say a tiny sports car.

Your credit level (insurance score)

Insurance companies call it an insurance score but lets be real, its your credit rating.  While a few states have banned this rating factor insurance companies are convinced year after year that they can better determine what type of driver you are based on that credit score.  When you look at your policy you will likely see a discount for “good credit”.  Some companies offer a 0-50% discount based on your credit score.  You can always check your credit score online but its important to understand that this doesn’t easily correlate to your insurance rate.  Your score gets matched to a discount or credit level and usually the agent or company employee has no clue what your actual FICO score is.  This enhances privacy but often further mystifies the credit factor in your Insurance Premium.

Your age

Your age is a large rating factor.  Younger people often pay more for auto insurance then around your mid twenties rates level out.  What people don’t anticipate is that rate creeping back up after the age of 50 or 60.  This isn’t because the company feels older individuals drive horribly – or younger individuals for that matter…  It is all based on the company’s statistics with how many claim they see from drivers in that age group.  They adjust the rate accordingly.

New Factors

With all of the above factors you may be asking yourself – why isn’t my actual driving the main factor.  The answer is, up until recently we haven’t been able to plop an agent or company rep in your vehicle for enough time to understand how you operate your conveyance.  Now we have telematic devices that determine how you drive and give you a discount (or surcharge) accordingly.  Wish granted =) Of course, this too adds complexity and further mystifies your auto insurance rate.

I hope we have described some of the biggest rating factors.  We encourage you to give us a call or stop in.  Let us explain all this and put our knowledge to work for you.

Demystify Car Insurance

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wisconsin insurance law changes

Posted on April 9, 2015 in insurance 101 - 0 comments -

gavel gavelWisconsin Insurance Law Changes

updated June 27, 2017

There have been a couple law changes in Wisconsin this past decade which dramatically impacted insurance coverages and rates. We include a very brief summary of the two most pivotal law changes impacting Wisconsin Auto Insurance Consumers.

2015 Ride-sharing Law

The legislature signed into law requirements for companies like Uber and Lyft to be held to statewide standards.  A minimum liability limit of $1,000,000 must be retained by the company on any of their drivers.  It is important to remember this insurance only covers the driver as they are transporting a customer.  That driver’s personal liability will cover them under normal operations for personal use.  A coverage gap will exist for that driver between the time they are “on the clock” but riderless and the time they pick up a rider.  They must obtain a gap coverage endorsement which is avaialble through many companies OR a commercial policy which would be prudent.

2011 Act 14

This Assembly bill essentially rolled back many of the changes from 2009’s Act 28 but left in place mandatory insurance coverage.  The entire summary of that bill is here.

For other Wisconsin insurance law changes please visit the OCI site’s laws, rules and bulletins.

2009 Act 28

  • Wisconsin Drivers must have active Auto insurance coverage when operating a vehicle.
  • Wisconsin Drivers must carry valid proof of that active coverage
  • The minimum liability limits for insurance companies issuing policies in Wisconsin shall be $100,000 per person bodily injury, $300,000 per accident bodily injury and $100,000 property damage.
  • Minimum uninsured and underinsured liability limits for insurance companies issuing policies in Wisconsin shall be $100,000 per person bodily injury, $300,000.
  • Medical payments coverage has increased to the amount of at least $10,000

There are additional changes including the stacking provision.  The entire summary of that bill is here.

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hometown insurance expert

Posted on February 18, 2015 in insurance 101 - 0 comments -

Hometown of Shawano WI

We Love our hometown of Shawano Wisconsin

From our main street festivals like Holiday Stroll and Octoberfest to our Shawano County Fair we feel very lucky to have a business in Shawano.

As your Hometown insurance leader we are always searching for better products to bring you.  With the vast amount of insurance products on TV and, well, everywhere – you might ask yourself why buying insurance in shawano is the best option.  The answer is simple.  Because we live here we understand which companies will value your business and which companies are simply targeting our area.  We dont want to sell you a car insurance policy for instance and have the rate double in the course of 2 or 3 years.  That doesnt make sense to us.  We also don’t want to sell you a homeowners insurance policy just to watch the company leave the state.  We chose stable companies who will value your business.

Many times you will see a car with an insurance company logo painted on it.  They do this because you see their presence in your hometown.  That doesn’t mean they have invested anything in the community or are sponsoring any local events – theyre just driving through.  We are here with you and so we want to represent companies that are here too, that is why we represent some great Wisconsin insurance companies like Secura and Germantown.

From the Wolf River to Shawano lake we understand our hometown insurance market and strive to protect it with great insurance.

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never fear the protectionist is here

Posted on November 21, 2014 in insurance 101 - 0 comments -

The Protectionist

Can he alone save the day

Life and Limb

A windstorm struck the area and branches are everywhere! Cleanup is always a problem but the damage caused can be more troublesome. Can the Protectionist use his powers to move massive branches like some kind of large beaver all hopped up on Mt Dew?

All you need to do is call us. Windstorm is one of the basic perils on your homeowners policy. The Wallrich Agency can make sure your claim is processed quickly and the damage is repaired.

Hail Mary

Mary is in trouble. Hail is coming down hard and her car is taking the brunt of the damaging forces. Can the Protectionist save her vehicle from malicious hail?

Fortunately Mary carries auto insurance with Comprehensive coverage. Among other things this coverage will allow her to repair the damage from Wind and hail. Comprehensive coverage also protects her in the case of theft or vandalism. If a building collapses on her vehicle or she strikes an animal while driving she will be protected.


Fender Benders will ruin your day. Take these two drivers for instance. Tempers are running high, can the Protectionist save the day with his custom app?

Fortunately they wont have to rely on an app or a superhero if they carry insurance with the Wallrich Agency. Questions can be answered and a claim can be filed with a phone call.

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Winter driving is coming soon

Posted on October 13, 2014 in insurance 101 - 0 comments -

Winter Driving Tips

Winter Driving is Coming Soon

It always seems like the first snow of the season brings the most number of cars-in-ditch.  We live in a part of the country where seasons change drastically.  We’re masters of the roadway until the flurries start.  Its like we forget that snow is as slippery as it is beautiful.  After that first snow we are once again masters of the roadway but we need to feel that slip of the breaks to relearn each Winter.  Here are some tips to get you back in the swing of things.

Make certain your tires are properly inflated.  You should check your tires regularly but if were being honest we might not even know where we put the tire-guage.  Just as its smart to wear our shoes on the right foot lets make sure our tires are ready to touch the snow.

Avoid driving while tired.  Your reaction time will be critical in slippery or wet conditions.  Driving while tired or fatigued will decrease your reaction time.

Take extra time stopping at an intersection.  Better safe than sorry.  Better to be in control when approaching an intersection than having to apply the breaks heavily…you may find stopping suddenly to be impossible.

Practical Non-Driving Tips

Make sure your mobile phone has a full charge especially while on a long trip.  If your car stops running you may need that extra battery time to call for help.  It is also a good idea to keep an extra blanket in your vehicle.  if you car stops running your heater stops running.  We have all jumped into a warm car for a short trip and maybe didn’t dress for a day at the ski hill.  Staying warm is critical.

Finally, stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.  Its fun!

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The impact of deer on insurance in shawano wisconsin

Posted on September 18, 2014 in insurance 101 - 0 comments -

The impact of deer on insurance rates is great.The impact of deer on insurance rates is great.  If you drive in Wisconsin for any amount of time you will often spot deer just off the road and it will be immediately apparent why deer have such a large impact on insurance.  If you drive through beautiful Northern Wisconsin you will feel like your on Bambi Safari.  With the ever-present reminder to stay alert laying right on the road distractions like cell phones are just not safe.  I myself have had several close calls.

As an insurance agent in Northeast Wisconsin we see real impact on our “comprehensive” insurance premiums especially when people move to other parts of the state.  The top three counties for car-deer accident reports were Waukesha with 809, Dane with 786 and Shawano with 748 reports. In Green Lake, Taylor and Shawano counties, more than half of all reported crashes in 2013 involved deer.  Animal collisions are covered by comprehensive coverage along with windshield damage, hail, theft and vandalism.  When more than half of all vehicle collisions are attributed to deer in Shawano county you can see why that particular premium is higher than in other counties.  Deer accidents, or near misses,  also tend to cause multiple vehicle collisions as well so those premiums are also affected.

Reasons for increased deer activity

Part of the reason we see a large volume of deer accidents in Shawano county is due to the agricultural areas next to our two major highways.  The long grass makes it hard to see a deer attempting to make its move.  As a result reaction time is reduced.  Two other components that increase the likelihood of deer on the roads is time of day and mating season.  Deer tend to run more during mating season and have more erratic judgement when crossing busy roads.  More deer – more chances for collision.

Stay safe out there and remember to keep a weather eye on the ditch-line.

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The hidden benefits of Renters Insurance

Posted on September 16, 2014 in insurance 101, Uncategorized - 0 comments -

For RentersFor some, insurance is required.  Whether your state requires you to carry auto insurance, like Wisconsin, or your landlord requires you to have renters insurance in your lease it may seem like just a hassle.  You may even think that your landlord carries fire insurance for you but if the unthinkable happens you may be let down.

Common Coverages in a Renters Insurance Policy

Unlike a landlord’s policy YOUR renters policy covers your personal belongings in the case of a loss.  If your possessions are stolen during a break-in or damaged by a fire or severe weather your renters insurance policy can help you recover their value.  Your renters policy also covers your liability in the event someone is hurt in your home and you are found liable for their injury.  Another coverage that is more common in Wisconsin and other Northern states is frozen pipes.  Sometimes pipes are located in a non heated area.  If water suddenly finds itself in your apartment or rented home you may be a phone call away from getting them replaced for their replacement value.

Common Myths about Renters Insurance

You may think it is just another extra expense but a renters insurance policy can be taken out for 10-20 dollars per month on average.  You may think you don’t own very much but if you sit down and really itemize what you own including your clothes, appliances and furniture you may be surprised how high that number gets.

The Hidden Benefits of Renters Insurance

You see all the ads talking about bundling right?  Chances are if you bundle your Auto Insurance with your Renters Insurance this discount alone may pay for the Renters Insurance Premium. You also hear about Identity Theft all the times these days. You may even know someone who had their identity stolen. In many cases you could add ID Theft coverage on your Renters Insurance policy.  Give your agent or us a call and we can give you a quote in less than 5 minutes.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Preparing Your Home for Cold Weather

Posted on September 3, 2014 in insurance 101 - 0 comments -

Winter is Coming. We often prepare for cold weather by making sure we have a good winter coat and boots or maybe we get our furnace looked at to ensure it runs properly when it is needed. One thing we dont often worry about is our home itself.  Regardless of the age of your home make sure you prepare it to better shelter you in the winter months.

1. Inspect your windows and the flashing around the windows. Are there any exposed areas? Not only can heat escape from these areas but moisture can seep in and wreak havoc when it freezes and expands.

2. Protect your roof from Ice Dams. If your roof is too shallow or perhaps more heat reaches a certain part of it you may start to see ice forming which is a problem. Ice can melt and get beneath your shingles which will eventually melt and cause water damage. Here is a handy article on preventing ice dams.

3. Protect your pipes.  If your pipes freeze and break releasing water into your home it wont just be a bad day….it will be a bad month.  Know where your pipes are and protect them from cold temperatures.  You may find that pipes were laid in some odd places like your unheated attic or a closet.  A very important tip is to know where your main shutoff is.  If you do have a problem you will not be searching for the solution as water invades your home.  The below info-graphic can help.

Find out how to keep water pipes from freezing with this frozen pipes infographic.

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