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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

 12:46 PM 

Senate passes auto insurance changes

Legislation to roll back most of the reforms made to automobile insurance under the Doyle Administration passed the Senate on a bipartisan 25-7 vote.

The Senate approved amendments making mandatory minimum underinsured coverage optional in automobile insurance policies, and to allow policies to include "reducing clauses" which allow insurance companies to reduce coverage following an accident by subtracting the amount of the other driver's policy.

The bill does not eliminate the mandate that Wisconsin drivers carry insurance.

Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, said the bill improves choice for Wisconsin consumers by eliminating changes to auto insurance passed by Democrats in the 2009-11 budget.

"This gives people more choices. I think that's a good idea," Lasee said.

But Democrats like Sen. Tim Carpenter, who worked for years to get mandatory insurance passed, said the bill puts the state on a path to repeal mandatory auto insurance.

"People are going to get hurt," Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, said.

Carpenter said the insurance industry is pushing for the repeal of the changes passed last session.

"The only people in favor of it is the insurance industry and believe me they're not hurting," he said.

Lasee said Dems have their own interest group they're protecting.

"They want to put more money in trial lawyers pockets on the backs of citizens," Lasee said.

The legislation was passed last week by the Assembly, but was blocked from moving forward by a Dem procedural move. The Assembly will take a final vote when it next meets for regular session later this month.


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