On November 1, 2009, Wisconsin changed its insurance law to more fairly compensate injury victims in vehicle crash cases. Known as Truth in Auto Insurance, the new minimum limits of coverage were raised from $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident with $10,000 for property damage to $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident and $15,000 for property damage.
Also, uninsured motorists (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage was raised and stacking of additional insurance policies, up to three separate policies, was allowed.
All that went away just two years later when a change in the makeup of power in the state legislature shifted and Truth in Auto was repealed, pushing the liability minimum coverage amounts back to what they were when enacted in 1982 and the property damage minimum amounts back to what they were when first enacted in 1978.
Our law firm joined many other firms in Wisconsin in opposing this draconian, anti-consumer legislation and we testified against AB4 and SB7 at a joint hearing before the Assembly and Senate Insurance Committees on January 19, 2011. Nevertheless, the legislation passed and became effective on November 1, 2011.
Former Wisconsin state senator Dave Zien became an unwitting beneficiary of the positive insurance changes of 2009. Because the crash in which he lost his leg occurred in March, 2011, before the repeal of Truth in Auto took effect, he was covered under the provisions prior to the repeal.
Because he had an identical insurance policy on a car he owned, Attorney Todd Korb argued that he should be allowed to "stack" the policies and collect from both UIM coverages since the negligent car driver had minimal liability insurance. Even so, Zien's insurance company cited the "drive other vehicle" exclusion in refusing to honor the stacked policies and the circuit court agreed. The appellate court reversed that decision and allowed the stacking. That meant an additional $300,000 that Zien would not have received under current law which disallows stacking.
This is why we fought so hard against the repeal of Truth in Auto Insurance. ABATE of Wisconsin agreed with us after we explained the consequences this change would mean for the injured. ABATE Legislative Director Dave Dwyer testified on behalf of ABATE in opposition of the proposed law change and later, the Club for Growth accused ABATE of being a pawn for the trial lawyers. In reality, ABATE understood the ramifications of the proposed insurance law changes and today, Dave Zien understands it even more.