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Auto Insurance Rate Hikes on the Way for Wisconsin Drivers

Written By: Rep. Mike Huebsch, 94th Assembly District  |  Posted: Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Your automobile insurance premiums are going up. It doesn't matter that you have a spotless driving record, excellent credit, automatic seat belts, anti-lock breaks and airbags, that you shunned a sports car in favor of your father's sedan, and that you haven't submitted any claims. They are still going up.
If you've already heard the bad news from your insurance company, you also likely heard that the state legislature is to blame. While there's truth in that statement, it doesn't tell the full story.
At the root of these premium hikes are laws Governor Doyle proposed in his 2009 state budget. Democrat majorities in the state Assembly and state Senate revised and expanded the governor's proposals before he signed them into law at the end of June.
In its customary review of governor's budget, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) identified the insurance proposals as non-fiscal policy unrelated to state finances. I and many of my Republican colleagues warned that these changes would raise automobile insurance rates and urged their removal from the budget. We introduced an amendment to strip them from the bill, but Democrats voted it down. Secure in the knowledge that they didn't need a single Republican vote to pass the budget, Governor Doyle and Democrat lawmakers plowed ahead with plans to force car owners to buy insurance and up their coverage.
In Wisconsin, automobile owners can purchase "uninsured motorist coverage" to cover bodily injuries that are caused by a driver without insurance or that are sustained in a hit and run accident. The minimum uninsured motorist coverage available used to be $25, 000 per person and $50, 000 per accident. In November, the new state law increased these minimums by 300% to $100, 000 per person and by 500% to $300, 000 per accident.
Car owners could have also purchased underinsured motorist coverage to supplement another driver's coverage for bodily injuries. Beginning November 1st, you are now required to purchase it and purchase more of it. The minimum coverage increases from $50, 000 to $100, 000 per person and from $100, 000 to $300, 000 per accident.
Insurance policies also provide coverage of medical bills for injuries sustained in a car accident. The required minimum coverage is increased from $1, 000 to $10, 000 per person. Motorcyclists could see their premiums increase up to 550% due to this change.
The new law also allows the stacking of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, which means personal injury lawyers can tap into insurance policies on cars that weren't involved in an accident. In other words, if you have two cars with $500, 000 of insurance on each, but only one is involved in an accident, you could still be liable for $1 million in damages.

January 1, 2010
On January 1, 2010 automobile owners were required to purchase double the current amount of coverage for bodily injury and 50% more for property damage sustained in accidents with other insured drivers. Minimum coverage increased from $25, 000 to $50, 000 per person and $50, 000 to $100, 000 per accident for bodily injury. Property damage coverage rose from $10, 000 to $15, 000. After 2016, the minimums will increase every five years based on the consumer price index.

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