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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

 3:40 PM 

Amendments targeting reducing clause tabled

Democrats were unsuccessful in trying to get two amendments to the auto insurance bill that would have changed the use of reducing clauses in insurance policies.

An amendment to eliminate reducing clauses from auto policies was tabled on a 58-34 vote. Dems said the clauses give consumers a false idea of how much their policy will cover in case of an accident. Republicans said consumers are free to shop around to find a policy that doesn't use reducing clauses.

Also tabled was an amendment to require agents to disclose to consumers that their policy contains a reducing clause. Dems said it's only right to notify the consumer about what's in their policy, while Republicans said if Dems felt so strongly they could have proposed the change in prior sessions.

Rep. Kevin Petersen, R-Waupaca, said the intent of this bill is to roll back changes to the required minimum amount of car insurance coverage the Dem-controlled Legislature and Gov. Doyle made in the last session. The changes, passed in the last state budget, also made auto insurance mandatory in Wisconsin. The mandate is not repealed in the new legislation.

Petersen claimed the changes caused his car insurance rates to increase by $400.

Democrats said the Office of the Commissioner Insurance conducted a study that showed the changes last session did not effect rates. Rep. Any Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, asked Petersen if, after the new bill is enacted, insurance rates will drop correspondingly, and said the bill does nothing to create jobs, which Republicans say is their top priority in this session.

Petersen bristled at the suggestion rolling back the minimum coverage mandates would have no economic impact.

"Tell that to the waitress who doesn't get a tip because my insurance went up $400," he said.


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