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Resources & FAQs

Consider Harms Insurance Group your local insurance resource, both in the greater Sun Prairie and Lake Mills, WI, communities. Below, we have compiled some of the most common questions we get asked. If you still have any questions, feel free to contact either of our locations, Sun Prairie or Lake Mills, and a member of our experienced team will be happy to answer them, assist you in reporting a claim, paying your bill, and much more.

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Personal Insurance

Coverage Terms
  • Coverage A – Dwelling
    • Dwelling on “residence premises” AND structures attached. Also, includes construction materials–to be used for this dwelling.
  • Coverage B – Other Structures
    • Covers other structures on the residence premises set apart from the dwelling by a clear space (i.e., detached garage, in-ground pool, etc.) This includes structures connected to the dwelling by only a fence, utility line, or similar connection.
  • Coverage C – Personal Property
    • Covers personal property owned or used by an insured individual anywhere in the world.
  • Coverage D – Loss of Use
    • If a covered loss makes the residence premises uninhabitable, we will pay for necessary increases in living expenses incurred so that your household can maintain its normal standard of living.
    • If the loss makes that part of the residence premises, rented to others or held by rental by you, uninhabitable, we will pay you for its fair rental value for the shortest time required to repair or replace that part of the premises.
    • If civil authority prohibits the use of your residence premises, we will pay you for any additional living expenses and fair rental value loss for a period not exceeding two weeks.
  • Coverage E – Personal Liability
    • Coverage for a claim made or suit is brought against any insured for damages because of bodily injury, personal injury, or property damage where the insured is legally liable.
  • Coverage F – Medical Payments to Others
    • Pays for the medical expenses incurred or medically ascertained within three years from the date of the accident causing bodily injury. Medical expenses mean reasonable charges for medical, surgical, x-ray, dental, ambulance, hospital, professional nursing, prosthetic devices, and funeral services.
What does a home policy cover?

About 900 insurance companies write home insurance policies in the United States. However, a majority of homeowners’ policies are based on a standard form, and all homeowners’ policies cover two important areas: property and liability. In addition, most policies cover you for additional living expenses should your home not be habitable for a period of time due to a loss by a covered peril.

What is my mortgage company going to need from me before the closing?

About 5-7 days before your closing, the mortgage company will need what is called a binder (proof of home insurance coverage) and a paid receipt.

What deductible should I choose?

To keep your premiums to a minimum, we recommend that you carry a minimum $1,000 deductible. Turning in a number of small claims may result in an increase in the premium or even a non-renewal. Your home insurance should be used for large catastrophic losses.

How is the value of the dwelling determined? Should the value of the lot be included?

The agent should complete what we call “A Replacement Cost Estimator.” This computer program takes into account the year your home was built, what type of home you have, how many square feet, how many bathrooms, etc. Once all the data is entered, the program will give us an approximate value that we should insure your home. Please keep in mind that what you purchased or what the home is assessed at has nothing to do with what it may cost to totally rebuild your home with today’s cost of construction.


Since that land will still be there at the time of the loss, the value of the lot is not included in the total value of the dwelling.


Since many companies now have a cap on Guaranteed Replacement Cost on the dwelling, it is very critical that both the agent and insured go over the replacement cost estimator.

Are floods covered under my home insurance policy?

Most catastrophic losses are covered. However, floods are not covered. A separate policy would be required to cover floods.

Will having a trampoline affect my rates?

Some companies will not even write a home insurance policy for a home that has a trampoline. If you do have a trampoline, please make sure your agent is aware of that exposure.

Will having a wood-burning stove affect my rates?

Most companies do have a surcharge for wood-burning stoves.

What exactly is a personal umbrella and how much does it cost?

A personal umbrella gives you additional liability coverage that goes over your underlying liability limits. The minimum umbrella is $1 million. The costs of an umbrella do vary, but the average cost is about $150 a year. Our agency highly recommends that every homeowner carry at least a one million dollar personal umbrella.

If I work out of my home, is my inventory and business property covered?

Yes, within certain limits. Both inventory and business property are covered as personal property used for business purposes. However, like all personal property, there are monetary limits on reimbursement. Also, keep in mind that personal liability protection in your homeowners’ policy does not extend to business liability. Check with your agent concerning your business insurance needs.

Our child is going to college. Are his contents covered while away at school?

Yes, to a percentage. Contents that are stored away from home in a temporary location normally have up to 10% of your personal property limit on your homeowners’ policy.

I own one half and rent the other half of my duplex. Are the tenant’s contents and liability also covered by my homeowners’ policy?

No. You should advise the tenant that he should have a renters policy.

I am going to temporarily store some of our contents in a storage shed that is not on our property. Are these contents still covered under my homeowners’ policy?

Yes. You have up to 10% of your personal property limit for contents that are stored off the premises. Be sure, though, to call your agent and let them know an address of where the contents are being stored along with more specifics about the building where the contents are being stored.

I have a lot of jewelry, a few guns, and some furs. Do these items need to be listed separately?

You most likely will have special limits on these items. You should talk to your agent about the advantages of adding a rider on your homeowners’ policy for these items.

Will making this claim affect my rates?

Making claims do affect your rates. Even more importantly, making two or three claims within a three-year period could possibly end up in a cancellation of your homeowners’ policy. A homeowners’ policy should be looked at for catastrophic losses. Having your deductible at least $1000 will eliminate you from filing small claims that could hurt you in the future.

Always talk to your agent before filing a claim to see if it is in your best interest to file a possible claim.

Life Insurance 

If you’re not sure how much life insurance you need, here are some important questions you should ask yourself.

How much life insurance do I need?
  • How much of the family income do I provide? If I were to die early, how would my survivors, especially my children, get by? Does anyone else depend on me financially, such as a parent, grandparent, brother, or sister?
  • Do I have children for whom I’d like to set aside money to finish their education in the event of my death?
  • How will my family pay final expenses and repay debts after my death?
  • Do I have family members or an organization to whom I would like to leave money?
  • Will there be estate taxes to pay after my death?


As you figure out what you have to do to meet these needs, count the life insurance you have now, including any group insurance where you work, or veteran’s insurance. Don’t forget Social Security and pension plan survivor’s benefits. You can add other assets you have: savings, investments, real estate, and personal property. Which assets would your family sell or cash in to pay expenses after your death? You can add those assets under your life insurance policy too.

What is the difference between Term Life Insurance and Cash Value Life Insurance?
  • Term Insurance generally has lower premiums in the early years but does not build up cash values that you can use in the future. Term Insurance covers you for a term of one or more years. It pays a death benefit only if you die in that term. Term Insurance generally offers the largest insurance protection for your money.

Cash Value Life Insurance is a type of insurance where the premiums charged are higher at the beginning than they would be for the same amount of term insurance. The part of the premium that is not used for the cost of insurance is invested by the company and builds up a cash value that may be used in a variety of ways. You may borrow against a policy’s cash value by taking a policy loan. If you don’t pay back the loan and the interest on it, the amount you owe will be subtracted from the benefits when you die or from the cash value if you stop paying premiums and take out the remaining cash value. Cash Value Life Insurance may be one of several types; whole life, universal life, and variable life are all types of cash value insurance.

Health Insurance

How do you get group health insurance?
  • Find out whether you are eligible
    • Many employers offer group health insurance as part of their employee benefits package. Other groups that may offer insurance coverage include churches, clubs, trade associations, chambers of commerce, and special-interest groups.
  • Apply for coverage
    • Although your individual health is generally not evaluated when you apply for group health insurance, you must apply during the specified eligibility period. For employer-sponsored health insurance, this is often the first 30 days of your employment or the first 30 days following your initial probationary period. For associational insurance, this may be the first 30 days of your membership in the group.
    • If you fail to enroll during this period, the insurance company has the right to treat you as though you were applying for individual insurance. This means you will probably have to answer extensive health questions and go through a physical examination. The insurance company can then decide whether or not to insure you.
    • The purpose of the eligibility period is to reduce insurance costs by preventing people from waiting until after they discover a health problem to sign up for coverage. Both employers and associations may also have an open enrollment period each year, during which you may sign up for coverage, modify your existing coverage, or add dependents to your coverage.
What are the benefits of group coverage?
  • You don’t need a physical exam
    • Under a group health insurance arrangement, the insurance company agrees to insure all members of the group, regardless of current physical condition or health history. The only condition is that the group members must apply for insurance within the specified eligibility period. Clearly, this is better for those with chronic health conditions who might be unable to get individual insurance.
  • It’s cheaper than individual insurance
    • Because only one policy is issued for the entire group, the initial cost of establishing group coverage is lower than the cost of issuing a separate policy to each person. Also, group insurance is somewhat less risky for insurers than individual insurance, since the risk is spread out among a larger number of people. Within a fairly large group, it is almost certain that the good insurance risks will equal or exceed the bad insurance risks. Since group insurance costs less for the insurance companies to establish and administer, it generally costs less to purchase.
  • You might get a break on premiums
    • In many cases, your employer or association will pick up some or all of the group insurance premium. This can make group insurance even more affordable.
What are the drawbacks to group coverage?

You can’t customize your policy. In a group insurance situation, the provisions of the policy are negotiated between the insurer and master policy owner (usually an employer or association). You may not have the freedom to have provisions included or excluded, and your deductible amount and co-payment percentage are determined in advance. In some situations, however, you may be able to choose between two or more insurance plans.

Commercial Lines Insurance

What is Hired & Non-Owned Auto?
This policy provides auto liability protection for personal, rented, and leased vehicles that a company uses for business purposes.
Do I need Cyber Liability coverage?
Cyber crime is, and has been, an emerging issue for policyholders in every industry and sector over the past few years. We would recommend all clients explore Cyber Liability coverage when discussing options with our agents.
What is an Additional Insured?
An additional insured is an entity such as a landlord, lessor of equipment, municipality, contractor, and others who require insureds extend additional liability coverage to them from the insured’s general liability, auto liability, umbrella liability or professional liability by endorsement. The endorsement affords the additional insured access to the insured’s liability limit for both defense and damages in a claim or suit.
How much Commercial Umbrella coverage is enough?
A commercial umbrella liability policy provides additional liability limits above and beyond underlying policies, including general liability, auto liability, professional liability and employers liability. The amount of coverage you need depends on a number of factors including business assets, size and type of projects, and contract requirements, to name a few. A full review with a licensed agent at Harms Insurance Group would help you determine the right amount of umbrella liability coverage for your business.
Do I need Workers Comp?
Workers compensation laws vary from state to state, and each state has their own guidelines. In Wisconsin, requirements for a workers comp policy are determined by the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), and can be found on their website. If you’d like to know about your specific business’s needs, contact our office for more information.
What is Directors & Officers Liability?
Directors & Officers Liability (D&O) policies are designed to protect board members from having their personal assets on the line due to their serving on a board of directors. Board members personal assets are protected from damages and defense costs in the event a board of directors or its members are sued.
How does Employment Practices Liability (EPL/EPLI) protect my business?
EPLI protects businesses from lawsuits filed by employees, including claims such as wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, and similar claims, even including failure to hire. Employment Practices Liability can be purchased either inside a standard policy or as a stand-alone policy. Underwriting guidelines usually recommend clear employment practices and handbooks, and procedures to try to prevent these type of losses for businesses.
What is Actual Loss Sustained Business Income coverage?
Business Income ALS, or Actual Loss Sustained, indicates that a carrier agrees to pay the actual losses of income for one year after a covered property loss. ALS differs from other Business Income coverage types as it does not specify limits or have any coinsurance requirements or deductibles (in most cases).
What is Sale & Disposal Legal Liability?
Sale and Disposal Legal Liability protects storage unit owners from lawsuits claiming wrongful removal after the sale or disposal of goods belonging to an evicted tenant. This coverage is specific to warehousing and mini-warehousing risks.
How does joining the Wisconsin Restaurant Association or Tavern League of Wisconsin change my coverages?
Association members in the tavern and restaurant industries can qualify for discounted and additional policy coverages, workers compensation dividend plans, and additional resources available through the Wisconsin Restaurant Association and Tavern League of Wisconsin. Often, the savings on insurance premiums, additional and increased coverages, and the addition of a work comp dividend significantly offset the cost to join these associations.
Will my policy cover riots, looting and vandalism?
All 3 ISO causes of loss forms (Basic, Broad and Special) include the perils fire, lightning, smoke, windstorm, hail, riot, civil commotion, aircraft, vehicles, vandalism, sprinkler leakage, sinkhole collapse and volcanic action as covered causes of loss. Damages caused by riots, looting and vandalism would then be considered covered causes of loss.
Why do I have to do an audit?
Exposures such as sales and payroll cannot accurately be forecast, so carriers must perform an audit after policy terms end. Workers compensation audits were made a requirement in the State of Wisconsin in 2017, and shortly after were given mandatory noncompliance penalties. Insurance companies should collect the correct amount of premium in relation to the exposure the insured has, so when the insured estimates larger amounts of sales or payroll than actual, the insurance carriers must return premium. In turn, if the insured estimated lower than the actual sales or payroll, they must pay additional premiums. It is important to discuss any changes that are anticipated with our agents and account managers to keep these figures as close as possible to the actual amounts before the audits are performed.
Are ransomware attacks covered?
Ransomware attacks are one form of cybercrime where hackers gain access to computer systems and encrypt all the data. Ransom notes appear at the affected computer(s) demanding a fee to regain access to the system. Ransomware attacks are common in a variety of industries, from municipalities to hospitals, dentists and insurance agencies, basically anywhere there is a security lapse the criminals can exploit. Depending on the policy coverage purchased, ransomware attacks can be covered; for the cost to pay the ransom, decrypt the computer system, restore files, verify that customer data was not breached, and importantly, to pay for lost income while there was a service outage. It is important to discuss these and other types of cyber-attacks and cyber coverages with qualified agents and account managers at Harms Insurance Group.
What is a BOP?
A BOP policy, also known as a Businessowners Policy, is one type of packaged insurance policy that includes both property coverage and liability coverage. BOP policies are typically used for small businesses, retail, office, and sometimes contractors. BOPs generally have a set of standard included additional coverages (including Business Interruption/Business Income ALS), that are tailored to the needs of small to medium-sized businesses. Contact our office to see whether a BOP policy is right for your business!
Can I hire an employee with a bad driving record?
Specifically, underwriters do not want insureds to allow employees with poor driving records to drive company vehicles or drive on the business’s behalf. An employee with a bad driving record puts the company at greater risk of claims and damages. Employees with significant issues on their MVR (Motor Vehicle Report) are encouraged to remain in non-driving roles only. It is our common suggestion employers require potential employees to remit current copies of their own MVR, which individuals may order at their own cost through the DMV. The employer may then choose to reimburse the individual for this report, either upon hire or as a general practice for all potential employees. All drivers, including new drivers, should be reported to the agency and added to business auto policies regularly.

Still have questions? Give either of our locations a call, and we will gladly help.

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