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February 2007

Need Insurance?

The State of Wisconsin provides a high-quality and affordable life insurance plan for Wisconsin citizens through the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. This plan is not well known because state law prohibits it from being advertised. Furthermore, you are limited to a maximum of $10,000 in insurance under the plan. However, if you are in the market for life insurance, you may want to consider this possibility after comparing it with other life insurance offerings.

The State of Wisconsin Life Insurance Fund is a nonprofit organization and receives no state subsidies. In addition, the fund is not allowed to use commissioned agents and is exempt from federal income taxes.

You may purchase either term life to age 65 or whole life insurance. The whole life insurance plan has several options. You may choose an Ordinary Life Policy where you pay premiums your entire lifetime, a Life Paid up at Age 65 plan where you pay premiums only to age 65 with coverage beyond that date, or a 20-Payment Life plan where you pay premiums for 20 years.

The application process is relatively simple. However, if you are 45 or older, a medical exam, paid for by the fund, will be required. The fund is not required to issue insurance to those risks who are substandard. If applicants are considered substandard, they are only eligible to purchase an Ordinary Life policy where they pay premiums throughout their lifetimes.

You can find the premium rates and insurance application at: http://oci.wi.gov/slif.htm. The State Life insurance Fund’s telephone number is 1-800-562-5558.

Consumer Protection Continues to
Find Stores with Incorrect Retail Scanners

Somewhat overlooked in the regular media is the continuing Wisconsin Division of Trade and Consumer Protection’s effort to police retail store scanners. In early January of this year, Consumer Protection Administrator Janet Jenkins reported that Sherwin-Williams and Mautz Paint stores statewide paid more than $15,000 to settle charges of checkout scanner overcharges. Incredibly, the scanners had an error rate of 16 percent, of which 6 percent were overcharges. Late last fall, the division reported that Elder Beerman Department Stores paid more than $13,000 for scanner errors. Elder Beerman scanners had a more than 18-percent error rate.

The message from these recent investigations is that you need to carefully monitor the prices coming up on the store’s checkout scanner. If possible, try to remember what the shelf price was for the items in your shopping cart. I sometimes write the prices next to the item on my shopping list so that I can compare later. Then, at checkout, watch the price display for pricing errors and ask the clerk to immediately correct any errors and to notify management so that others are not harmed.

Finally, if you later discover an error on your receipt, call the store’s manager and ask for a refund. I recently did this twice at Copps Grocery Store and fortunately the store managers took care of the problem right away. Perhaps they did so because Copps and Pick ’n Save paid the state $44,576 in penalties due to scanner overcharges in early 2006. Of course, if the store is uncooperative, you may also file a complaint with Consumer Protection at 1-800-422-7128.

Copyright ©2006 Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News
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