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Changes to auto insurance laws are complex and have deadlines

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
October 23, 2009
— Requirements for Wisconsin automobile insurance change Nov. 1, and by June 2010 every Wisconsin driver will be required to have liability insurance.

The new mandates were approved by the Legislature and signed into law in June by Gov. Jim Doyle as part of the state budget.


Andrew J. Franken, president of the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, answered questions about the changes:


Q: What changes take effect Nov. 1?


A: Several things.


-- Underinsured motorist coverage becomes mandatory. Motorists must carry coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. This covers you if you are hurt by another motorist who doesn't have enough insurance.


-- Minimum uninsured motorist coverage increases to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. The minimums now are $25,000 and $50,000.


-- Minimum medical coverage increases to $10,000 from $1,000. Consumers must provide a written rejection for this higher level of coverage if they don't want it or cannot afford it.


-- For umbrella liability policies, insurers will be required to provide written offers of uninsured and underinsured coverage. Previously, no written offer was required.


An umbrella policy provides broad coverage for liability above and beyond the liability limits covered by an underlying auto insurance policy.


For umbrella policies already in effect that do not include uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, insurers must provide the written offer at the time of first renewal.


Q: How do people know if these changes affect them?


A: I encourage people to contact an insurance agent to review their own needs and be prepared before the new laws take effect.


Q: What other auto insurance consumer changes are taking place and when?


A: Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, the liability insurance minimum increases to $50,000 for bodily injury or death of one person, $100,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people and $15,000 for property damage. The minimum now is $25,000/$50,000.


Beginning June 1, 2010, minimum liability coverage will be mandatory and drivers will need to have proof of this insurance with them when driving.


Q: What will be the impact of these new regulations?


A: Higher auto insurance costs for everyone. The increases will vary from person to person. Some people who already have the coverage they need to comply with the new laws may be affected less. Those who are not insured or who have the minimum limits of insurance today will see a more significant impact on the cost for their auto insurance.



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