Graded premium disability? Yes, you can!

Tom Strangstalien

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

I recently worked with a young physician to set him up with personal disability protection to provide some financial security if life throws him and his family a curve ball. Prompting our planning was that one of his peers in the general surgery specialty sustained a serious hand injury, ending his ability to perform hands-on surgery.

He didn’t have personal disability protection, and although his group benefits offered some benefits, it fell well short of what he envisioned for himself and his family of four. Though he had looked into coverage in the past, he thought that it was too expensive at this point in his career. Why not wait until his income was more substantial and coverage was more affordable? Unfortunately, waiting changed his financial world forever.

Perhaps if our physician member had explored graded premium disability insurance, he would have elected to purchase the protection at a very affordable price, thereby protecting his income throughout his lifetime.

So, what is graded premium disability insurance? The premise is that as your income increases, your premium increases. Premiums start out at a much lower price early in your career, compared to traditional level premium coverage. Each year, premiums will increase slightly. When you’re on a tighter budget, it enables you to put the amount of coverage needed in place, and it can never be taken away. Making graded premium disability coverage more beneficial is that you can elect to lock in your premiums at any time you choose! In other words, you can convert to a level premium policy when your income and budget allows you to do so.

When I work with our residents, fellows and young physicians, we always look at graded premium plans as an option. We almost always package this with a future insurability option, so you are guaranteed to increase your benefits in the future, with no medical underwriting, as your income increases. You are able to put disability protection in place by using a graded premium plan, where you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do so. You always want to acquire the most coverage you can, and as early in your career as possible!

As a young member in the medical profession, don’t make the mistake of assuming your budget does not allow you to purchase disability protection. Yes, you can! Life happens and it truly throws us curveballs. Reach out to me and my team at WisMed Assure at, complete this quick online form or call 866.442.3810, and let’s determine if a graded premium disability plan can protect your financial world!

Don’t forget to call your mom, and your insurance agent

By WisMed Assure Service Team

With the intention of easing administrative burden for WisMed Assure client physicians, several of our Medical Professional Liability (MPL) carriers have significantly reduced or suspended asking for renewal applications over the past few years. While this does save time, renewal applications were an opportunity to touch base, review and discuss any changes to your practice that could impact your premium or coverage.

Please contact WisMed Assure if any of the following changes have occurred or are anticipated in your practice:

  • Have any health care professionals changed practice procedures, such as added or reduced surgical procedures?
  • Have you contracted with any independent health care professionals to provide services?
  • Are any physicians changing their practice hours? How many hours per week are they working now? 
  • Have you added or changed your use of telemedicine? 
  • If you are a Wisconsin Medical Society Member with Medical Professional Liability coverage through ProAssurance, you can earn premium credit on your renewal by completing their online risk management coursework. If you are not a member and would like to become one, please let us know.

Contact your agent or 608.442.3810 with any questions or changes to your practice.

WisMed Assure is the Wisconsin Medical Society’s insurance agency – profits earned support the mission of the Medical Society.

Affordability Testing

By Chris Noffke, GBDS, CSFS, Vice President of Employee Benefits

Chris Noffke

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought a lot of extra work to employers and insurance companies. Whether you are pro-health care reform or against it, per the Health Affairs article, the ACA has not made insurance more affordable. Many health insurance carriers have stated the ACA, Summaries of Benefits and Coverage, machine readable files and other changes imposed added costs to insurance companies, which simply passed these costs on to employers and employees in premiums.

Insurance premium affordability is very important because it allows for more money to employers and employees and is a requirement for groups with 50 or more employees. As you may know, health care reform requires employers with 50 or more employees to offer a group health insurance option that is affordable and meets the minimal essential coverages or the employer can face a potential monetary fine (the 2022 fine was $4,120 annually per subsidized employee). Additionally, the employer should be testing to confirm the affordability requirement is being met for their employees’ premium charges. Based on health care reform’s 2023 rules, to be considered affordable in 2023, an employee cannot be charged more than 9.12% of the employee’s household income.

Do you need to test your affordability? Are you offering a plan similar to other health care companies in your areas? WisMed Assure is the only insurance agency in Wisconsin focused on health care clients and we would love to tell you more about what we can do! Please call me at 608.442.3734 or email

Workers Compensation rate changes & good news for health care professionals

By Brian Fowler, WisMed Assure Account Director

Starting October 1, 2022, Workers’ Compensation rates in Wisconsin will drop for the seventh year in a row. Unlike many other states, Work Comp rates in Wisconsin are set by the state and are the same for every insurance carrier. The decrease is 8.47% over all employee classifications. Physician rates are relatively low, though higher when hospital employees, but still much lower than hospital employees other than professional employees (see the chart below).  

The following chart shows the current and new rates for the listed class codes (rates are per $100 of payroll):

CodeDescriptionCurrent RatesNew Rates 10/1/2022Change
8832Physician & Clerical0.310.28– 9.7%
8833Hospital Professional Employees0.860.82– 4.7%
9040Hospital All Other Than Professional5.084.24– 16.5%

Slight changes were also made to minimum premiums for experience rating, increases in annual remuneration to calculate premiums for sole proprietors and partners and increases in the maximum remuneration for executive officers.

Another difference in how Workers’ Compensation is governed in Wisconsin is there is not a set fee schedule for medical services provided. The Wisconsin Medical Society has long advocated to keep Wisconsin from adopting a Work Comp fee schedule.

Mark Grapentine, Wisconsin Medical Society Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer and a medical liaison to the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council, told Wisconsin Health News that the current system gets workers back on the job faster and more satisfied with their health care than in other states.

“The news of yet another significant decrease in rates is good news across the board,” he said.

He called the state’s current workers’ compensation system a “national model” that provides injured workers easy access to high quality care. Though he noted that Wisconsin can do better when it comes to its workplace injury rate, and getting that below the national average would be a win-win for everyone.

If you have questions about Workers’ Compensation coverage rates and dividend programs for your practice, please contact Brian Fowler, WisMed Assure Account Director, at 608.442.3718.

Do you have the old or the new life insurance?

Tom Strangstalien

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month and is the time when I urge all our members to take a moment to reflect on the life insurance protection they have in place. Not too long ago, life insurance (especially term life), was generally viewed as a commodity. All policies were generally the same, so you simply bought the desired amount of coverage for the least expensive cost. Today’s New Life Insurance contains several bells and whistles well worth consideration and begs the question whether you should keep your old life insurance or upgrade to the new and improved model.

So, what are these new improvements that may benefit you and your family or your overall estate and financial plan? The major upgrades include protection for a critical illness, long term care protection and a living benefits or accelerated death benefit rider to the policy. All provide security that goes well beyond a payment to beneficiaries upon death.

If you elect a critical illness rider on your policy, the policy will pay either a lump sum payment or periodic payments upon sustaining a serious illness among a list of health conditions. These can include things like heart attack, coronary bypass events, cancer, kidney disease, stroke and various other neurological disorders. In other words, the life insurance proceeds can potentially be paid out while you’re living.

Another critical consideration when purchasing a life policy today is inclusion of long-term care protection. A long-term care event can devastate a financial plan. The premise is that since the life insurance amount will be paid out in the future (if the policy remains in force), and the amount of the proceeds is known, so why not allow the proceeds to also be paid for long-term care? It’s never too early to purchase long-term care protection! Placing a long-term care policy while young dramatically lowers the cost. So why not incorporate it into your life insurance policies? If you’re unable to perform a respective number of “activities of daily living,” you’re qualified to receive the life insurance benefits for payment of long-term care expenses. The life insurance amount will be paid out in the form of a payment to your beneficiaries or for costs associated with long-term care. It’s a win-win!

Lastly, many policies today include an accelerated death benefit provision, where if you would be unfortunately diagnosed by a physician to have a designated timeframe to live or are unable to perform activities of daily living, you qualify to receive benefits while you are living. How fortunate to be able to direct the life insurance proceeds as you see fit while you are alive! Many times, the cost of this benefit rider is zero.

As you can see, there are substantial benefits to upgrading to a policy containing the new available options. Please reach out to me and my team at WisMed Assure at, complete this online form or call 866.442.3810 to explore upgrading your life insurance to the New Life Insurance.

How to prevent floods from damaging your business

By Society Insurance Team, reposted with permission from Society Insurance

The continued impact of extreme weather events isn’t lost on businesses: according to one report, businesses can expect to see roughly $13 billion in flood damage in 2022. Tornados, derechos, and severe thunderstorms all threaten billions in damage, but with spring just ahead, let’s focus on how you can protect your business from the threat of flooding.

Businesses everywhere are susceptible to flood damage—so how can they prepare? Below, we’ll cover five flood-readiness essentials that your business should consider.

Use Natural Landscaping Techniques Around Your Business

Large paved areas such as surface parking lots collect water, and only have limited areas for drainage. Plus, if your community is flooding, these drains in your parking lot may be overwhelmed to a point where they aren’t helpful. Surrounding your building with a variety of shrubs, natural grass or bushes can help absorb excess water during floods.

Rain gardens, for example, are a type of landscaping that collects runoff rainwater. They can divide parking lots, flank walkways or be embedded into grassy areas. Additionally, incorporating an appropriate mulch into landscaping around your business can help protect your business’ foundation and exterior by slowing and absorbing water.

A rain garden divides a street and a walkway. Photo via EPA


Make Sure Your Gutters Are Clear

You should clean your gutters twice a year, and spring is one of the best times to do so. Cleaning your gutters ensures they’re clear of debris that could prevent proper drainage. If your gutters aren’t clear, water can collect on your roof or in the gutters themselves, weighing them down and potentially causing costly damage to your building. 

Don’t forget that directing your downspouts and drains away from your business’ foundation is just as important as clearing your gutters of debris. When high volumes of storm water is draining from your gutters, it should be diverted away from your building. If it pools at the base of your building, it can cause significant damage to your building’s foundation. 

Flood-Proof Your Building’s Most Susceptible Areas

The lowest point of elevation in your building should ideally be above the highest point expected in a flood. By learning your building’s base flood elevation (BFE), you can identify the areas of your business that are most vulnerable to floods. From there, you can determine what flood-proofing techniques will be most beneficial depending on your property’s level of risk.

If there are important areas below your BFE, dry floodproofing techniques can involve impenetrable barriers, plates or coatings that prevent flood water from entering your property. On the other hand, wet floodproofing is a technique where highly-durable areas are designed to allow water through, in effect creating a path of least resistance in order to protect your property. 

Dry floodproofing (top) and wet floodproofing (bottom) shown in a residential setting. Illustrations courtesy of FEMA. 

Shore Up Your Foundation

Floods or torrential rainfalls can cause significant damage to your foundation. Water is incredibly powerful; when it seeps into your building, it can expand existing cracks and displace walls. Overall, when a building is subjected to flowing or standing water, the structural integrity can be damaged, leading to burdensome repair or rebuild costs.

Use caulk and other sealants to ensure the locations where pipes enter your building are sealed. Consider hiring a contractor to assess and restore existing damage in your basement or foundation before spring thaws or floods. 

Use Water Detection Devices

Water detection devices can monitor moisture levels around your building. If there’s flooding, they can alert you to areas where water is seeping in so you can triage these places and protect anything that could be damaged before it’s too late.

Be Prepared to Weather the Storms

Spring is a time of new beginnings but it’s also a time of risk: melting snow unable to be absorbed by the still-frozen ground, heavy seasonal rains, and other environmental factors can lead to Spring floods. Being prepared for these risks can be the difference between a profitable spring and a summer spent recovering from it.

Contact Brian Fowler, WisMed Assure Account Director, at 608.442.3718 for a quote or with any questions.

Reposted with permission from Society Insurance

What is Inflation Guard?

By Society Insurance Team in 2021, reposted with permission from Society Insurance

In 2021, we’re seeing a unique economic environment. Supply chains have been affected by the pandemic and a few industries experienced weather-related setbacks. This, along with the new challenge of a labor shortage, is not allowing supply to keep up with demand, which leads to inflation.

Lumber is a relevant example and a commodity that has a significant impact on the cost of claims. The cost of claims in 2021 is significantly more than the cost of claims in recent years. This increase may subside quickly, however, economists believe inflation will persist.

What is Inflation Guard?

Inflation Guard is the automatic annual increase in property values on an insurance policy to keep up with rising costs of construction. It provides carriers with adequate premium to pay for losses and provides policyholders with protection against coinsurance penalties if a coinsurance requirement exists. Many insurance carriers apply an annual 4% Inflation Guard increase. If values don’t keep up with the pace of inflation, insurance premiums will eventually have to take a steeper spike upward.

What is Coinsurance?

Coinsurance language in a policy gives an insurance company the right to reduce the amount of a claim payment if the amount of insurance purchased was inadequate.

What Does This Mean for Policyholders & Insurance Agents? 

Policyholders could be underinsured at the time of total loss and find themselves with significant out-of-pocket costs in order to return to normal operations. If a partial loss occurs and the carrier imposes a coinsurance or underinsured penalty, the policyholder would also experience out-of-pocket costs. If the above occurs, there may be errors and omissions lawsuits against the insurance agent.

Does Society Insurance Include Inflation Guard in Policies?

Society Insurance does include Inflation Guard and does not include coinsurance or underinsured penalties in their policies. This provides protection for both policyholders and agents from some of the challenges in managing property values. Maintaining adequate values on insurance policies is critical. Inflation Guard – and annual conversations between insurance agents and policyholders – can fend off trouble.

Contact Brian Fowler, WisMed Assure Account Director, at 608.442.3718 for a quote or with any questions.

Reposted with permission from Society Insurance

Is your group disability insurance good enough?

Tom Strangstalien

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month. This is the perfect time to evaluate your disability protection, determining if you’re adequately covered and address any potential holes or gaps in your coverage. A common theme I hear when talking with our members is, “I have disability insurance coverage as part of my employee benefits, so do I really need personal disability protection?” For physicians and medical professionals, the answer is almost always yes!

Typical limitations of group coverage

First, there is a cap on the amount of benefits that will be paid out for a claim. If the maximum benefit amount is $10,000 per month and as a physician you’re earning $300,000 per year, you’re not even covering half of your income. Are you willing to roll the dice for a potentially devasting and dramatic lifestyle change?

Second, group disability coverage contains “offset provisions.” This means that if you are drawing payments from other sources upon incurring a disability, the benefits paid by the group policy will be reduced pro-rata. These sources could include things like social security, liability settlements, workers compensation payments, employer provided retirement plan replacement benefits and other accident or short-term disability plans. A properly designed personal disability plan will not contain such provisions.

Next, group disability plans are not portable. In other words, if you change your place of employment or go into practice on your own or as an independent contractor, you will lose the disability protection. If you have incurred some health issues, coverage then can be very expensive or not available to you at all. This is why it’s so important to get a personal disability plan in place as early in life as possible.

Benefits of personal disability insurance

With a personal disability insurance plan, there are many optional benefits available to you. It’s not a one size fits all plan like a group plan tends to be. You can elect additional coverages such as:

  • student loan payment coverage
  • inflation protection
  • catastrophic coverage
  • partial and residual disability coverage levels
  • future increase benefits (you can increase the amount of benefits as your income increases with no additional medical underwriting)

What I want you to take away from this article during Disability Awareness Month is this: take a few minutes and review your current disability protection. If you do not yet have a personal disability plan, get one as soon as possible. Don’t roll the dice with your biggest asset – your ability to earn a substantial income! As the independent insurance agency of the Wisconsin Medical Society, we can shop all of the major insurers, review your current group plan and design a plan that will fully protect you and your family for your lifetime.

As your financial partner, your WisMed Assure team is here to take care of your personal financial security so that you can take the best possible care of yourself, your family and your patients.

For additional information regarding disability insurance, contact WisMed Assure at, complete this online form or call 866.442.3810.