June 23, 2016

Four Tips to Keep Your Teen Driver Safe (and Your Insurance Costs Low)



Your child has finally reached the age of 16 and can now legally drive. However, the freedom of having a driver’s license comes with an immense sense of responsibility. While it’s up to your teen to make good decisions behind the wheel, you can help keep him or her safe (and your insurance costs low) using these four tips.

  1. Discuss safe driving practices.
    Educate your teen on the dangers of the road and how to stay safe. Knowing distracted or impaired driving is a major cause of car accidents, explain the seriousness of drinking, texting and talking on the phone while driving.

    Even the most cautious drivers – adults and teens alike – are not immune to car accidents. To ensure safety continues after an accident, teach your teen these six steps.

  2. Partner with your teen to create driving rules.
    Help make safe driving a reality by creating an agreement that outlines the rules, restrictions and penalties that accompany your teen’s driving privileges.

    This example from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a great foundation here. Make sure the agreement you develop includes curfew times, passenger limits and expectations for remaining focused while driving.

  3. Purchase (or offer) a safe car for your teenager to drive.
    If you ask teens to describe the ideal car, they'll likely say new, small, sporty and fast. Unfortunately, this answer is often the opposite of a safe car.

    If you plan to purchase or offer a car for your teen to use,  consider the following:

    • Safety: For a list of the safest vehicles for teenage drivers, check out this one from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which includes cars of all different sizes, price ranges and model years. Also, make electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and front and side airbags a priority.

    • Age and reliability: Brand new cars are typically equipped with the latest technology and safety features, but these can come at a premium. Older cars often have outdated safety features, are less reliable and can be more likely to breakdown.

    • Size: Stay away from compact cars and minicars, which are light and generally less safe. Likewise, larger vehicles, such as trucks and SUVs, can sometimes be difficult for a new driver to manage. Mid-sized sedans are usually a safe bet.

  4. Encourage good grades.

    Commonly, younger drivers have higher auto insurance premiums because they're more likely to have an accident (presenting a higher statistical risk). The good news is many insurance providers offer discounts for good grades. So, encourage your teen to do well in school, and your insurance provider may reward you financially.

If you're looking for other ways to save, don't forget about evaluating providers. For example, switching to the TruStage Auto & Home Insurance Program could save you up to $519.52* on auto insurance.

How ready are you to see your teenager behind the wheel?

*Average annual savings based on countrywide survey of new customers from 01/27/2014 to 01/16/2015 who reported their prior insurers' premiums when they switched to Liberty Mutual’s group auto and home program. Savings do not apply in MA.

TruStage® Auto & Home Insurance Program is made available by TruStage Insurance Agency, LLC and issued by leading insurance companies, including Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and affiliates, 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA. To the extent permitted by law, applicants are individually underwritten; not all applicants may qualify. Discounts are not available in all states and discounts vary by state. A consumer report from a consumer reporting agency and/or motor vehicle report will be obtained on all drivers listed on your policy where state laws and regulations allow. Please consult your policy for specific coverage and limitations. The insurance offered is not a deposit, and is not federally insured, sold or guaranteed by your credit union.

June 20, 2016

Drive Long-Term Success With Lending (and Training)

By Laura Janisch

Competition in the lending landscape is fierce. Today’s consumers are shopping for great rates. But, long-term success is about more than price points. It’s about staying focused on the people you serve.

Credit unions have made this a reality since the beginning. But, a 2015 study from Accenture suggests just how critical it is to provide experiences that run deeper than the lending event.

The study showed:

  • Nearly 80 percent of consumers consider their banking relationship transactional, not advice-driven.
  • Millennials are twice as likely to switch financial institutions as other consumer groups.
  • Taking action to know consumers better, re-imagine your financial experience and deepen/sustain relationships can make a difference in your success, now and in the future. 

One solution addressing these realities is the series of webinars we offer for enhancing and strengthening the lending experience.

These performance- targeted sessions include training loan officers can use to improve member relationships, grow and close more profitable loans and more. Managers can also leverage them for leadership and coaching strategies to help staff maximize lending performance.

A few upcoming examples include:
The training series cascades through the year and includes nearly 20 more training sessions through the end of September, alone. They’re available, at no charge, to credit unions who use our lending solutions.

You can see the complete schedule of the 2016 webinar series here. Or, if you can’t join a live session, you can find them, on-demand, through our Training and Education page.

To connect and reserve your spot with the training series, you can register here.

How are driving long-term success with your lending relationships?

June 8, 2016

Integrate Your Lending Tech to Drive Member Value

By John Cassidy

It's no secret that credit unions offer better lending rates and a customer experience that's focused on members first. This may be why credit union loan growth is approaching its fastest pace in almost two decades. 

Today, this reality benefits millions of credit union members and drives loan officers to technology tools that can simplify and streamline lending events.

Considering this, what if your credit union loan officers could provide even more focused interactions with members at the time of the loan? What if they could save time and reduce data-entry errors? Multiply the improved productivity by monthly loan volume, and imagine the boost to your bottom line... That’s real revenue.

This doesn't have to be imaginary thanks to new integration between lending technologies that can protect credit union loans and support members’ financial security.

We've integrated our Protection Advisor solution with CU Direct’s Lending 360™ loan origination system. This means loan officers who use CU Direct's platform can connect seamlessly with our Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) and Mechanical Repair Coverage (MRC) point-of-sale system, among others.  

The integration supports loan officers in two key ways: They can (1) show members their cost and coverage options more clearly, and (2) illustrate the full value of protecting their loans.


 CU Direct’s Lending360 is the latest of a number of industry-leading lending platforms to integrate with Protection Advisor. Others include Fiserv’s Velocity, Symitar, MeridianLink’s LoansPQ, Temenos, CRIF’s ACTion and Fiserv’s Lending Navigator.

The enhancement is also timely: According to our Credit Union Trends Report, the lending season is now in full swing, and strong credit union loan growth is expected from April through September.

Are you ready to connect your loan origination system with Protection Advisor? 

If so, please connect with us here.

June 7, 2016

CBSI Earns Top Ten Ranking from Investment News

By Elisa Weiss

The financial advisors of our broker/dealer arm, CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), have been serving credit unions and members for over 30 years.

Today, this branch of our company serves the credit union industry, exclusively, through nearly 400 advisors in 275 credit unions, nationwide. We support people and families in various financial life stages with insights and financial planning that makes a difference in the near and long term.

So, we're proud that Investment News rankS CBSI among the Top 10 Independent Broker/Dealers* today.


This means a lot to us because our advisors' collective experience, ethical standards and digital savvy adds value for credit unions and the members they serve. But, you don't have to take our word for it. You can see for yourself in these two videos:



We salute our CBSI colleagues on another year of excellence in serving the not-for-profits, people and families who matter most to us: credit unions and members.

*Ranked in percentage of total advisors producing $500K or more per year in Gross Dealer Concession (GDC) in 2015.

June 6, 2016

Credit Unions Support Members with Mortgage Payment Protection

By Eric Nelson

There's no place like home. That's true whether you save for a rainy day or live paycheck-to-paycheck. But, you risk losing your dream home if you don't have some kind of back-up plan.

Today, unexpected life events like losing a job or experiencing a disability or death in the household are top reasons for mortgage default, but they don't have to be.

That's because of services like Mortgage Payment Protection (MPP). It helps credit union members make their mortgage payments for a critical period of time following serious life events like these. And, it helps credit unions guard against mortgage defaults and expensive foreclosures.

So, as home buying season heats up, it's the perfect time to keep these services in focus. According to Penny Pascolini, Mortgage Originator at Educators Credit Union, the benefits deliver on its promise.



“MPP is a win-win for both Educators Credit Union and our members." she says. "We know that the mortgage payment is covered, and that alone causes fewer foreclosures by giving members time to restructure their loan, get a better paying job, sell the property, or downsize. At the same time, our members don’t have to worry that they may be out on the street because they can’t afford their payments. It gives them time to adapt to their situation.”

Members can select MPP when they apply for a mortgage or refinancing for their homes by answering a few quick questions. It's designed to fit most family budgets.

For more information on MPP, click here.

May 25, 2016

Three Cyber Risks That Should Be on Every Credit Union's Radar


Virtually every aspect of a credit union’s business poses some type of risk. But, we continue to see significant losses and growing, changing risks related to cyber.

Credit unions that stay current on risk trends and integrate risk management into their day-to-day business plans and operations are more likely to minimize their losses. In light of this, here are three cyber risk management insights all credit unions should have on their radars.

  1. Ever-changing malware forms make detection by antivirus software nearly impossible.
    Credential-stealing malware distributed in spear phishing attacks is a frequent cause of data breaches. Innovative attack strategies, such as Advanced Persistent Threat-related attacks, have created significant concern for IT professionals across the globe.
  2. Cyber criminals can also steal and encrypt your data assets and use ransomware to obtain their demands.
    Cyber thieves’ use of malware goes beyond theft of sensitive data; some sophisticated malware forms have been used to steal funds directly from financial institutions and extort money by threatening destruction or release of sensitive data.
  3. Develop, practice and test your data breach response plans.
    Regulators strongly encourage credit unions to be prepared with a data breach response plan. Additionally, place an increased emphasis on information sharing and FFIEC’s Cybersecurity Assessment Tool.

To learn more about these risks and key mitigation insights, view our webinar recording on the top risks in 2016.

Looking for even more ways to protect your credit union? Stay tuned for more risk management insights on our blog, or tune into our Credit Union Protection webinars, provided exclusively to our Bond policyholders.

May 19, 2016

Millennial Matters: Three Strategies to Help You Save for Your Next Vacation



If you’re like me, you have a warm beach vacation on your mind the instant the weather gets colder. While winter is (fortunately) months away, now’s the time to start saving if you want to escape the cold when it arrives.

Here are three strategies to utilize as you save up for your next getaway.

  1. Have a no-spend month.
    Make a commitment to spend money only on necessities like groceries, rent, gas, utilities, insurance, etc. for one month – or more. This means no new clothes, no Starbucks and no dining out. Put all of the money you save from cutting the extras into your travel fund. It’s amazing how quickly the savings on a happy hour here and a pair of jeans there can add up.

    Bonus! Recruit a friend or significant other to do a no-spend month with you. Partnering with someone with a similar goal will help hold you accountable to your savings pledge.

  2. Try a 52-week savings challenge.
    To accomplish this challenge, save the dollar amount that corresponds with the current week of the year. For example, the first week of the year, save $1, save $2 the second week and $3 the third week; keep going until you reach the last week of the year, saving $52 for week 52. If you use this method, your savings will add up to $1,378 by the end of the year. That could more than cover a vacation.

    Didn’t start this challenge on January 1? Don’t fret – if you start today by putting $20 away for the 20th week of the year, your tally will still reach $1,188!

  3. Factor traveling directly into your budget.
    Once you have a savings goal and timeline established, determine what’s reasonable for you to save each week or month. Then, factor that amount into your weekly or monthly budget, right alongside your rent, groceries, insurance and other set expenses. This will ensure you're dedicating money to your vacation first, before factoring in dining out or other extras.

    To help with this, consider using a budgeting app, setting up automatic transfers on payroll or creating weekly or monthly calendar events to remind you it’s time to make a transfer.

Happy saving and Bon Voyage!

May 5, 2016

In a (Minor) Car Accident, Follow These Six Steps



Even the most cautious drivers aren’t immune to car accidents. With inclement weather, animal crossings and distracted or aggressive drivers noted among the top accident causes, you must be prepared if you’re involved in one.

In the event of a fender bender or other minor bumps or scrapes, follow these six steps to ensure your safety and help accelerate the claims process following an accident.

  1. Pull over somewhere safe. If the accident is minor, move your car to a safe place out of traffic and turn on your hazard lights.
  2. Even if no one is injured, call the police. Calling the police will allow for documentation of the accident, which will be important if there is doubt about who is at fault, or if false information is provided by the other party.
  3. Trade information with the other driver. The most important pieces of information to gather from the other driver are: their insurance carrier and policy number, name and phone number. Also, consider collecting names and contact information from any witnesses of the accident; your insurance provider may find value in speaking with them if fault is in question.
  4. Take pictures. Don’t forget to document the accident through pictures, paying special attention to the vehicles with damage, injuries and the scene as a whole. Take pictures from multiple angles, so the damage and scene are thoroughly captured.
  5. Report to your insurance. You should notify your insurance company immediately, and provide them with the information gathered from the other driver and the pictures taken at the scene.
  6. Obtain an estimate. After speaking with your insurance carrier, take your car to an auto body shop for an estimate, giving preference to your insurer’s preferred repair shop.
While there is no sure way to avoid an accident, the steps taken immediately after will ensure your safety and the collection of all necessary information. Completion of these six steps will provide your insurer with a solid foundation to help determine fault and ultimately, issue a timely payment.

Thinking about switching your insurance? Switching to the TruStage Auto & Home Insurance Program could save you (or your members) up to $519.52* on car insurance. 


*Average annual savings based on countrywide survey of new customers from 01/27/2014 to 01/16/2015 who reported their prior insurers' premiums when they switched to Liberty Mutual’s group auto and home program. Savings do not apply in MA.
TruStage® Auto & Home Insurance Program is made available by TruStage Insurance Agency, LLC and issued by leading insurance companies, including Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and affiliates, 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA. To the extent permitted by law, applicants are individually underwritten; not all applicants may qualify. Discounts are not available in all states and discounts vary by state. A consumer report from a consumer reporting agency and/or motor vehicle report will be obtained on all drivers listed on your policy where state laws and regulations allow. Please consult your policy for specific coverage and limitations. The insurance offered is not a deposit, and is not federally insured, sold or guaranteed by your credit union.

April 27, 2016

Card Forum 2016: Payment Industry Insights



By: Robert Jarosinski, Sr. Consultant, Risk Management, CUNA Mutual Group

Los Angeles in mid-April may be most remembered for Kobe Bryant’s famous last games. But, celebrities weren’t the only ones filling the streets.

Payment industry experts also came together for Card Forum 2016, a premier event that unites the brightest minds in finance and technology. Julie Walser, Loss Manager and Bank Secrecy Act Officer, UW Credit Union. I had the privilege to attend, speak and emcee at the Credit Union Summit portion of the event.

I gained these insights from the event:

EMV is changing the fraud landscape – in a great way.

There‘s been a lot of curiosity on how EMV implementation would play out on the chargeback liability shift front.

One credit union has seen some dramatic results so far: Since implementing EMV, Leanne Phelps, SVP, Card Services, State Employees Credit Union, reported a 48% decrease in fraud and recovery of 70% of fraud they've had through chargebacks.

Stephanie Ericksen, VP of Risk Products, Visa Inc., also shared some good news. “Of the top 25 merchants who've turned on EMV, they've seen an 18% decrease in fraud compared to an 11% increase for those who haven't."

Innovation is the key to success.

In order to remain relevant to consumers, we must innovate – as an industry and  a country.

As an example, Brian Ziff-Levine, Director of Cards and Payments, First Tech FCU, shared how they’re innovating by becoming one of the first to pilot selfie pay for CNP transactions.

Adapting new technology through innovation also applies on a national level. Today, the United States payment industry is highly regulated and utilizes many outdated systems out of dependency, which limits its adoption of new payment systems.

In contrast, Kim Norland, CEO, Design Success, and creator of Money Amigo, cited the Netherlands as a country that recently adopted a dramatic plan to move to payment innovation.

“Almost 90% of transactions are digital in the Netherlands,” said Norland. “This was made possible by the government converting all notes to coins. Honestly, who wants to carry $20 worth of coins? You don’t need much more motivation than that.”

But, innovation isn’t necessarily tied only to the creation of products and adoption of new technologies; it also means evaluating outcomes of past changes and seeking answers and means of improvement.

For example, mobile wallet solutions are facing low adoption and use rates – but why? According to Margaret Weichert, Principal Financial Services Performance Improvement, EY, a lack of opportunities for women in strategic payment innovation roles could be the culprit. Women make 80% of today’s retail purchases, but how many women were at the table in developing the strategy for the mobile wallet in the marketplace today?

Clearly, the payment industry – including credit unions – needs to reevaluate opportunities for innovation when it comes to future development.

We look forward to continuing to report on updates within the payment industry, participating in future forums like PayThink 2016 and Card Forum 2017 and helping credit unions mitigate payment risks. Stay tuned for future insights.

CUNA Mutual Group Bond policyholders receive exclusive, complimentary access to more detailed information about risks and mitigation tips regularly as part of our RISK Alerts, the Protection Resource Center and our individualized credit union consultations. To ensure you’re receiving the latest resources, register for Protection Resource Center access within our My Services webpage or contact a Risk Management Consultant at 800.637.2676.

April 14, 2016

Millennial Matters: Buying Your First House? Five Tips From a Recent Millennial Homebuyer


This past summer, my fiancé and I became proud first-time homeowners. As a fan of almost all HGTV programs in existence, I couldn't wait to start looking at homes. But, the process wasn't nearly as smooth as it often appears on TV.

Knowing what I know now, here are five considerations to make before and during your house hunt.

  1. Attend a homebuying seminar. Many credit unions offer these seminars to help first-time homebuyers understand the process, clarify loan types and answer other questions related to homebuying. These seminars are a great place to start, as they can shed light on questions you didn’t know you had, and set realistic expectations before you begin looking.

  2. Live within your means. Before looking at any houses – virtually or in-person – meet with a mortgage loan officer to help you crunch the numbers and determine which type of loan will work best for you. It's easy to fall in love with a house, only to find out that between principal, interest, taxes, private mortgage insurance, and other payments, it's out of budget. Don’t make this mistake.

  3. Distinguish between wants and needs. Sure, a finished basement with a theater room and bar might be nice – but is it a necessity? Make a short list of non-negotiables – like having a good school district or a garage – and recognize that anything extra is an added bonus.

  4. Don’t tackle the process alone. Enlist a financially savvy friend or family member who has purchased a home to be your mentor. The process is much smoother when you have an ally outside of a realtor who is familiar with the steps.

  5. Remember no decision is the last decision. If you’re like the majority of Americans, your first house will not be your last house. So, don’t strain yourself financially to purchase your dream house immediately.

    This also extends to cosmetics. Ugly green shag carpet from 1979 or a bathroom with bright orange paint shouldn’t deter you from buying a house. Try to disassociate yourself from the current appearance and imagine what the house could be given time and some TLC.

Happy house hunting, my millennial friends!