A Republican-controlled Assembly committee has approved a bill that would repeal minimum automobile coverage levels, sending the bill to the full chamber for a vote. The GOP-authored proposal would wipe out minimum coverage levels for liability and uninsured motorists created in the state budget and replace them with lower standards.
The committee amended the measure to wipe out another budget provision that made underinsured motorist coverage mandatory. Anyone who opts to purchase it would have to get at least $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident in coverage.
The state Senate’s insurance committee is expected to vote on the bill in early February.
The Republican plan to scale back mandatory car insurance levels would make driving in Wisconsin riskier and leave injured motorists holding the bag, the proposal’s critics said.
But Republicans say the public didn’t get a chance to sound off on the mandates enacted in the 2009-2011 state budget. They also argue the minimums are too high and have driven insurers to raise premiums, forcing people to forego insurance.
Democrats and their allies complained at a hearing before the Senate and Assembly insurance committees reduced coverage levels would deprive injured drivers of money they need to recover and no hard evidence shows the budget mandates have contributed to higher premiums.
Democrats included provisions in the 2009-2011 budget that made car insurance mandatory in Wisconsin. It also laid out minimum coverage levels for liability and underinsured and uninsured motorists. State regulators and the insurance industry say the provisions have led to higher premiums.
Car insurance would remain mandatory under the bill. But minimum levels would drop, sometimes by tens of thousands of dollars in some categories. For example, current liability minimums of $50,000 for injuring or killing one person, $100,000 for injuring or killing two people and $15,000 for property damage would drop to $25,000, $50,000 and $10,000.