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WEAC History Book Chp 3

The Trust's building in Madison is just down the hill from the WEAC building.

The Trust is a one-of-a-kind "experiment" reaping enormous benefits for WEAC members. Recognizing that financial security was a top priority for Wisconsin’s public school employees, WEAC created the Trust to provide insurance and benefit plans tailored to fit members’ needs.

The trustees held their first board meeting in 1970 and began operations with just one employee and $5,000 in seed money borrowed from WEAC. The Trust’s structure is unique among teachers’ unions that have their own insurance trusts, because WEAC can get no income from the Trust. While other unions have financial agreements that redirect money back into the union’s operations, WEAC created and designed the WEA Trust to be independent and free of the appearance of conflicts of interest, and it has always remained so.

The Trust was not formed with the intention of becoming an insurance company. Originally, the Trust agreed to endorse Washington National’s short-term disability and life insurance plans, and in 1972 did the same for the WPS health plan. These were agreements reached with insurers in which WEAC encouraged members to bargain these private insurance companies into their contracts in exchange for lower premiums. WEA and its Welfare Committee had endorsed companies and products since the 1940s, but the Trust provided a place for doing so under the organization’s own name and brand.

Bolstered by the confidence and financial success of its programs, by 1976 the Trust was offering its own long-term disability and group health insurance plans to members. The Trust’s first programs were health, life, and disability plans. The success of these programs inspired WEAC to expand the Trust’s offerings, and soon it also offered automobile, home, and other casualty insurance plans to members. Retirement investment opportunities followed in 1978 with the creation of a tax-sheltered annuity program.

By 1978, the Trust had become Wisconsin’s thirteenth largest health insurer. It grew from one employee to 65 and moved to a 26,000 square foot building that allowed it to get its work done.

WEAC created and designed the WEA Trust to be independent and free of the appearance of conflicts of interest, and it has always remained so.

The WEA Insurance Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Trust, was created in 1985 to underwrite the Trust’s group benefit plans. By that time the Trust had grown to 105 employees and 77,500 subscribers. Also by this time, the Trust was doing $54 million a year in business with health plans in more than 200 school districts and long-term disability plans in more than 250 districts.

By 1989, the Trust had grown to 140 employees. In 1993, the Trust formed the WEA Property & Casualty Insurance Company to underwrite homeowners’ and automobile policies. By 2001, the Trust was employing more than 300 people and serving more than 200,000 Wisconsin public school employees and their families in more than 300 school districts.