History Shows Wisconsin Will Continue to be a Low-Cost State for Insurance
Competition and Common Sense Ethics of WI Consumers Help Keep Insurance Rates Low
Why does Wisconsin enjoy some of the lowest insurance rates in the country? The Wisconsin Insurance Alliance (WIA) and the business community would have us believe it is all due to changes to the law in 1995. Yet history shows a different reality.
A 1991 Milwaukee Sentinel article, reviewing low insurance rates in Wisconsin, quotes Robert Haase, then state Commissioner of Insurance, for the reason, “I think it is due to the lawyers, and juries, and people of Wisconsin. There is a different ethic here, people don’t go rushing off to sue all the time.” This was at a time before the anti-consumer provisions of joint and several liability and automobile insurance were passed in 1995.
Despite the hype from the WIA, state consumers will continue to benefit from low insurance rates because over 115 companies compete to provide property and casualty insurance in our state. This, combined with good regulation and the non-litigious nature of state residents, make it a profitable place for insurance companies to do business.
“WIA’s claims of higher rates as a result of Truth in Auto Insurance and Joint and Several Liability provisions in Gov. Doyle’s budget ring hollow in Wisconsin’s competitive environment,” says Mark Thomsen, President of the Wisconsin Association for Justice. “If Wisconsin had low insurance rates before the 1995 insurance company-friendly laws were enacted, why is the sky suddenly falling?” asks Thomsen. “Rates didn’t go down in 1996. Why should they go up now?”
“If one company raises rates there are plenty of other companies ready to compete for that business at lower rates,” stated Thomsen. “In addition, if the rate increases are unreasonable, the Commissioner of Insurance can ask for a review of the rates to disapprove them.”
A 1991 article also quotes former WIA President Eric Englund who credited the strict but fair regulatory climate as a reason for the low rates. The current proposals in the state budget largely return the law to the way it worked prior to 1995.
Click here to view the 1991 article that shows the insurance industry offered consumers a good value, even under the rules they claim will lead to large rate increases now.