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Wisconsin Car Insurance - Upgrading Standard Requirements

Like drivers all across the country, Wisconsin drivers are usually conscious of every dollar they spend on their car insurance coverage, which is why recent changes in laws governing minimum car insurance coverage for motorists are especially important. The changes went into effect as part of the state's overall budget bill, so they could not be considered separately on their own merit, but were voted in as part of the overall bill. These upgraded car insurance standards increased minimum coverage requirements for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, and for property damage liability coverage.

New Wisconsin Minimums for Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

The new laws were passed by the Wisconsin legislature in June of 2009, and some of them have already gone into effect. The new regulations regarding minimum coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorists are enforceable as of November 1, meaning car insurance companies sending out new policies and renewals of current policies after that date have to include them in their coverage. Thus, many car insurance policy holders have already seen these changes take effect, along with the price increases they bring.

The minimums for uninsured motorist coverage in Wisconsin previously stood at $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. As a result of changes approved by legislators and voted into law, the minimum limits are now $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. Uninsured motorist coverage pays the medical bills of a driver or passenger injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. In other words, if you are hit by an uninsured driver, this coverage gives you a source of insurance protection to pay for your expenses related to the accident.

Like the uninsured motorist coverage level, the underinsured motorist coverage minimums in Wisconsin were also set at $100,000 and $300,000 as a result of the legislation. Prior to the budget being approved and these changes going into effect, there was no state mandated minimum on underinsured motorist coverage, although it was available from state car insurance providers previous to the law change. Underinsured motorist coverage pays the medical bills of a driver or passenger injured in an accident caused by a driver without sufficient insurance to cover the financial cost of the injuries sustained.

Higher Liability Limits Take Effect in Wisconsin Jan. 1, 2010

The new budget legislation also contained provisions for higher minimum liability limits on state car insurance policies, which pay for property damage and other liability when the policy holder is at fault. Prior to the new legislation being written, the minimum state mandated coverage stipulated by law was $25,000 for the injury or death of one person, $50,000 for the injury or death of two people, and $10,000 for property damage liability insurance. As a result of the new laws, the minimums have been increased as follows: drivers now have to carry a minimum of $50,000 for the injury or death of one person, $100,000 for the injury or death of two or more people, and $15,000 for property damage liability coverage [1].

As the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage requirements took effect and the date for the new liability minimums approached, legislators were divided on party lines about possibly revisiting the issue and revising new requirements. Some were concerned that the new car insurance laws would make car insurance too much of a financial burden for drivers already feeling the weight of nationwide economic troubles. Another aspect of the law made car insurance mandatory in the state, meaning drivers who previously had no coverage at all would be faced with having to find and pay for a policy for the first time.

The new minimum limits state-wide are expected to raise average insurance rates, although some industry experts do not expect those increases to be dramatic. Still, every dollar counts, and it can be disheartening to have to face rising prices even in situations where your driving record does not merit them. You can have a perfect driving record and a spotless claim history and still be looking at an increase, simply because Wisconsin insurance providers will see an increased cost in coverage themselves. The full extent of the economic effects of these new laws will remain uncertain as long as legislators are still contemplating making revisions to the laws or repealing them altogether. In the meantime, the best drivers in Wisconsin can do is work to reduce the effects of the changes in their own policies.

New Law Brings Substantial Changes to Wisconsin Car Insurance

The new state budget bill, which included the changes in state car insurance rules, was signed into law on June 29, 2009 by Governor Jim Doyle. Although some critics have pointed out the increased costs of car insurance that will accompany the increases in minimum coverage for Wisconsin drivers, at the heart of the law is a concern for drivers and an effort to protect them. Governor Doyle called the new package his "Truth in Auto Insurance" law.

A few significant points of the new auto insurance law in Wisconsin were specifically designed to protect Wisconsin drivers and hold car insurance companies accountable for the coverage they contracted. For example, reducing clauses are outlawed in the new law, which means that the proceeds from an underinsured driver who was at fault in an accident cannot be subtracted from the innocent driver's underinsured motorist coverage [2]. The intent of this legal change was to force insurance companies to provide the full amount of coverage their policies advertise.

Anti-stacking provisions in insurance policy language are also abolished by the new law. Anti-stacking provisions have in the past prevented drivers paying for multiple insurance policies from drawing on more than one of them when needed. This change gives people the chance to take advantage of multiple policies they have been paying for at times they need the coverage most.

Another change was in the language of the law governing claims on hit and run accidents. Prior to the passage of the new law, drivers could not make a claim against their uninsured motorist liability coverage unless they had physically been struck by another vehicle which had fled the scene. The new law improves hit and run coverage by allowing you to make a claim without physical contact having been made if another vehicle forces you off the road, leading to damage to your car [2]. It does require independent eyewitnesses to verify that another car was involved and fled the scene.

The "Truth in Auto Insurance" law makes auto insurance compulsory in the state of Wisconsin, making Wisconsin the 49th state (along with the District of Columbia) to require mandatory auto insurance for all drivers. The hope behind this requirement is that the rate of uninsured and underinsured drivers will diminish, reducing the cost of uninsured and underinsured motorist liability coverage. As a whole, although the cost of auto insurance may increase a little on average for Wisconsin drivers to pay for the increased minimums in coverage, the new law seems to favor drivers over car insurance companies. This is very good news if you are a car insurance policy holder in the state of Wisconsin.

[1]http://www.wisconsinrapidstribune.com/article/20091129/CWS0101/911290723/1982/WRT04/New-law-forces-some-to-pay-more-for-auto-insurance Retrieved 2009-11-29.
[2] http://www.24-7pressrelease.com/press-release/budget-bill-changes-wisconsin-car-insurance-landscape-113595.php Retrieved 2009-12-2.

 

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