Legislators Aim to Roll Back Wis. Car Insurance Changes

A small group of state senators and representatives introduced legislation this week that aims to reverse some of the changes to Wisconsin auto insurance law that went into effect last January.

Rep. John Nygren, who is one of the bill’s authors, and others say the changes hurt consumers by raising the minimum amounts of coverage required and, consequently, pushing premiums higher in order to compensate for that extra coverage.

Person signing document

In a release announcing the legislation, Rep. Nygren called those changes “intrusive government policy that took choice away from the consumer and replaced it with larger settlements for trial attorneys.”

While preserving the compulsory car insurance mandate that went into effect this past summer, the recently introduced legislation would cut the state-required minimum coverage levels down to where they were in 2009.

At that time, policies purchased in Wisconsin had to provide for at least up to $25,000 in bodily injury liability protection for an accident in which one person was injured and $50,000 when more than one were injured, as well as $10,000 for property damage liability. This is commonly denoted as 25/50/10. Policies also had to provide for uninsured motorist coverage with $100,000 in bodily injury liability for one person injured in a crash caused by an uninsured driver and $300,000 for more than one person.

Except for the uninsured motorist provision, these limits were in line with the minimums in most other states.

As of Jan. 1, 2010, though, the minimum liability limits were raised to 50/100/15, placing the state in the top tier for minimum required amounts of liability coverage.

The only other states that require motorists to carry greater amounts of liability coverage are Alaska and Maine.

The effect on premiums brought by the change in requirements has been debated.

Rep. Nygren said in his release that premiums were forced 33 percent higher, but a group called Citizen Action of Wisconsin reported that insurers in the state raised premium by less than 1 percent in 2010.

The office of Wisconsin’s Commissioner of Insurance has not released any statistics on possible cost increases brought about by the upping of liability insurance limits.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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