The insurance landscape in the state of Wisconsin is set to change significantly next year with the passage of a historic new budget bill sponsored by Governor Jim Doyle. A new piece of legislation, called the “Truth in Auto Insurance” law, was introduced by the governor to state legislators, who promptly supported him. The new law would offer more protection to motorists in the state of Wisconsin by raising minimum liability amounts by requiring all car owners to have proof of insurance.
Wisconsin’s $62 billion, two-year budget bill now includes provision for an increase in the state’s minimum liability coverage for car insurance. Previously, the minimum amount required for injury or death of one person was $25,000. This has since been doubled to $50,000. For two or more injured or killed persons, the minimum liability coverage has been raised to $100,000 from a previous $50,000. Lastly, minimum property damage coverage has been increased to $15,000, up from $10,000.
State officials say that there is a real need to increase minimum liability coverage especially since the previously required amounts have not been changed for more than two decades. With rising medical costs, the minimum coverage would simply not be enough. The new insurance provisions would take effect on January 1 of next year.
Other sweeping changes were also incorporated into the state’s budget bill to further protect consumers from common insurance industry practices considered unfair to policyholders.
For instance, the minimum liability coverage for uninsured and underinsured drivers has been increased to $100,000 per person or $300,000 per accident. In addition to the raised minimum coverage, the state also outlawed reducing clauses usually implemented by insurance providers. These clauses usually take out a portion of the payouts for uninsured and underinsured motorist claims. With the new insurance law, however, insurers have to pay policyholders in full if they are in an accident involving uninsured drivers.
Victims or car accidents can now gain access to their multiple car insurance policies if their primary insurance coverage is unable to pay for medical or repair expenses. In the past, insurers often prohibited policyholders from using multiple insurance policies.
Governor Doyle said that while the new changes would undoubtedly change the car insurance industry in Wisconsin, he vetoed proposals for additional changes in 2011 and 2012. The law, however, allows increases in minimum liability coverage every five years starting in 2017. Consumer advocacy groups are pushing for the inclusion of more changes after the law’s first year implementation.