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Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist insurance coverage in Wisconsin is there to protect a driver or passenger from damage caused by an uninsured driver. Basically, if the negligent driver does not have insurance, your own policy, which has uninsured coverage, will cover your losses.

Every automobile liability policy issued in Wisconsin has uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. The Wisconsin legislature dealt with the problem of uninsured drivers causing injury by requiring action and made UM coverage mandatory. The UM coverage is for bodily injury only and does not apply to property damage.

UM coverage was developed in the 1950s as an option with car insurance. Starting in 1966, Wisconsin insurance companies were required to offer UM coverage and 1971 it became mandatory coverage.

Reducing clauses state that if you have $100,000 of UM coverage, but receive payments for your loss from another source such as a liability, worker's compensation or disability policy, then the $100,000 coverage is reduced by such payments, it is not in addition to such payments. Bottom line, the most you will collect is $100,000 from all sources.

In 1973, the legislature prohibited reducing clauses, and in 1975 it allowed reducing clauses. In 1987, the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to endorse reducing clauses because they were contrary to the purpose of UM coverage: placing the injured party in the same position had the uninsured motorist been insured. In 1995 legislation was enacted to overturn Wisconsin case law that had rejected reducing clauses. In 2009, laws were passed to again limit reducing clauses but it did not last long. In 2011, Gov. Walker had passed new laws that again allowed reducing clauses. The ability to stack UM or underinsured (UIM) coverage went through similar gyrations.

The applicability of UM coverage to an accident can be very complicated, legally and factually. The goal of the personal injury attorney is to find out the facts, apply the law and obtain the best result for the injured driver or passenger that the law allows. Many cases involving multiple parties result in UIM and liability insurance settlements for the same accident is there is available automobile insurance coverage. Issues of health insurance subrogation or reimbursement may affect the applicability of UM coverage, as will the receipt of workers compensation benefits if they arise out of the same accident.

If a person can afford it, higher the limits of UM or UIM coverage is advisable for the most protection a person can have. At McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin we review the insurance policies and applicable law to determine how much coverage is available to an injured driver or passenger in damages to cover medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering.

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