Republicans Once Again Stand With Insurance Companies and Against Consumers
MADISON – Wisconsin insurance companies and their Republican puppets have once again aligned themselves with powerful insurance industry lobbying groups in an attempt to misrepresent the auto insurance provisions that will take effect in November. While blaming Democratic lawmakers for increasing premiums, they have failed to explain how they can afford to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to defeat increased minimum coverage levels.
Under the budget signed into law by Governor Doyle, minimum liability coverage limits will equal $50,000 (injury to one person); $100,000 (injury to more than one person); and $15,000 (property damage). Interestingly, the majority of the consumer protection provisions in the state budget relating to auto insurance are firmly rooted in Wisconsin law prior to 1995, when the industry successfully lobbied for their repeal, which led to increased industry profits and did nothing to reduce premiums.
“These are necessary increases in protection that bring our insurance standards into the 21st century, while protecting drivers across Wisconsin,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate, “while Republicans and insurance companies have been busy lobbying the legislature and sending disingenuous letters to their policyholders blaming Democrats for increasing premiums, they have conveniently glossed over the true facts.”
Last week a spokesman for American Family Insurance told the Associated Press that those at or above the new minimum levels will not be affected. What he didn’t mention is that at least 80 percent of Wisconsinites already carry coverage that meets or exceeds the new minimums and will not be affected. Second, they have neglected to mention that insurance rates have increased 21% in Wisconsin from September 2008 through July 2009, showing that significant increases were already taking place before the budget was even signed. Lastly, while failing to admit that increasing premiums is a business practice and not a result of new standards, they have made the business decision to spend hundreds of thousand this year already lobbying against this legislation, an amount of money that will be made up for as they nickel and dime Wisconsin families.
“Arguments against this vital increase in coverage levels have lacked any basis in reality,” said Tate, “the truth is insurance companies have found a convenient way to continue raising premiums while blaming those working to protect consumers.”