The last legislative session brought some changes to auto insurance in Wisconsin. The new laws changed the minimums limits required for certain types of coverage, such as liability limits and medical payment limits. Most policies that we see in the cases we handle had policy limits above the minimal limits that were in effect before 2010, and I did not believe that was going to change policies for most people.
The positive change that we see in the new law involves uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Prior law allowed companies to include language in its policy that would reduce the limit of that coverage by other sources of insurance. A person who thought they had $100,000 in underinsured coverage could never receive that amount, as it would be reduced by any amounts the driver(s) who caused the accident had, or other sources such as workers compensation payments or disability coverage. In some cases that underinsured coverage was reduced to zero, much to the surprise of our clients who thought they had good coverage.
When the law changed to prohibit this type of clause in the policy, the insurers complained that rates would jump dramatically.
When I received a renewal packet from my auto insurer, I first checked to see if the new language on uninsured and underinsured coverage was in the policy. It was. I looked at the declarations page, and the premium seemed to be in the range I remember it before the accident. I did check renewal with the same company for the same coverage, for 2009. The premiums for uninsured motorist coverage went down by $6 for myself, and $4 for my wife and son.
The claims of a dramatic prince increase were completely unfounded in my case. I am relieved that insurers can no longer bury these exclusions in their policies. Now, when your insurance policy says you have $100,000 in coverage, you truly have $100,000 in coverage.