Republican state lawmakers want to repeal higher minimum coverage limits for auto insurance. State Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) says the increased minimums included in the 2009 state budget resulted in higher auto insurance premiums for drivers across the state. He says the higher limits, combined with a mandate that all drivers have insurance, lead to the increases.
Legislation from Nygren and state Senator Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) would return minimum coverage limits to pre-2009 levels. Lasee says a similar reform passed in 1995 caused rates to drop, and he expects the same to happen this time around.
In most cases, the proposed changes would greatly reduce coverage levels to almost half of the current minimums.
The bill would not remove a requirement that all drivers carry auto insurance. However, Nygren expects more drivers would be able to afford insurance, if they don’t have to purchase the higher level of coverage required under current law.
Critics of the bill argue it would do very little to reduce the prices consumers are paying for auto insurance. Citizen Action of Wisconsin points to a study it released last fall, which showed insurance rates increased at a rate of only about one-percent since the higher minimums were put in place. That was compared to an average yearly increase of about 3.3-percent since 1989.
Citizen Action Director Robert Kraig says Wisconsin’s rates are actually the fourth lowest in the nation. He says the insurance companies have used the increased minimums as an excuse to continue collecting record profits, when they could be returning those to consumers.