Vol. 84, No. 11, November 2011
Residents May Choose Their Level of Automobile Insurance Coverage
Mr. End’s article in the October Wisconsin Lawyer on Wisconsin automobile insurance law changes revealed more about his predilections than it did explaining these changes. And it is the height of irony that Mr. Brown’s column one page before began with the headline, “All It Takes Is Money.”
Indeed, the legislature wisely undid the expensive changes made by the 2009 legislature, saving Wisconsin consumers millions of dollars in what would be for many unnecessary insurance coverage. What Mr. End doesn’t reveal is that Wisconsin residents now may choose the amount and type of coverage they will have and how much it will cost, rather than be forced to purchase coverage they are unlikely to need much less want.
The article’s example of Mr. Plumb is illustrative. The at-fault driver purchased more than the legally required coverage and would likely still do so when the required coverage limit changes again. Mr. Plumb purchased more than the minimum required UM/UIM coverage and would likely continue to do so when the changes take effect. Under the new changes, he can still purchase UM/UIM coverage that will act exactly like his 2010 coverage acted, should he choose to do so. Form will change, but substance doesn’t have to, nor does ultimate premium paid. All it takes is money.
Meanwhile other Wisconsin residents, who don’t have the money, are no longer presented with the dilemma of either paying for more coverage than they need and can afford or driving illegally without insurance. I applaud the actions of the trial lawyers to educate consumers on these points but wonder how much of their pamphlet will be information and how much will be editorial.
Mr. End also doesn’t mention that our 1976-type minimum coverages are still higher and broader than those in many of our sister states, where no bodily injury coverage is required (Florida) or limits of $10,000 are sufficient (Mississippi).
Atty. Tom Werlein
Response: I wrote my article to help Wisconsin lawyers learn about changes in the automobile insurance law that could have catastrophic financial consequences for their clients. I doubt that many of our clients understand the potential impact of a reducing clause or of a definition of underinsured motorist coverage based on the other driver’s liability coverage. How many of our clients will know about the 72-hour requirement for reporting a phantom vehicle accident or the 30-day statement under oath relating to such an accident? We attorneys must do what we can to educate our clients about these potential traps.
J. Michael End
End, Hierseman & Crain LLC