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Schultz misleading on insurance coverage proposal
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State Sen. Dale Schultz's recent attack on state budget provisions ensuring that people receive the auto insurance protection they pay for is ill-informed and misleading.

The reforms allow you to stack your insurance coverage. If you have more than one car and more than one insurance policy and you get into an accident, you can add the policies' limits together and that's how much protection you have. If you think that's how it works now, think again. It's not.

Right now if you have $100,000 limits under separate policies on separate vehicles, your protection is $100,000 - you don't get to stack the policies. The reforms allow you to add those two policies together, so you have the protection you've been paying for all along: $200,000.

The reforms allow you to add your underinsured motorist protection on top of whatever liability insurance the negligent driver has. Right now if a negligent driver hits you and has only $75,000 of coverage and you have $75,000 in underinsured motorist coverage, you're only protected up to $75,000. Even though you've been paying your premiums all these years, you have no additional protection and the insurance company gets to keep the money. The reforms mean you'd be protected up to $150,000.

Apparently Sen. Schultz is against you getting the insurance protection you pay for.

Sen. Schultz fails to mention that Wisconsin is one of only two states that do not require people to carry automobile liability insurance. He claims there are "relatively few" uninsured drivers in Wisconsin. Over 15 percent of drivers on Wisconsin roads are uninsured. That number is increasing. In 2006 nearly 8,000 uninsured drivers in Wisconsin were involved in accidents that killed 78 people and caused $3.5 million in unpaid damages.

Often people find out how bad it is when it's too late. They've been in an accident, caused by an uninsured or underinsured drivers' negligence. They learn they can't stack their insurance policies. They've learned their underinsured coverage is illusory and they don't have as much protection as they paid for. They learn this as they cope with their own or a loved one's severe injuries, hospital bills and permanent disability.

Sen. Schultz doesn't talk about these issues. He doesn't talk about how insurance companies regularly deny people protection they've paid for. He doesn't talk about how the insurance companies send their own army of lawyers to go after accident victims in case after case, even when liability is clear and the victims' injuries are severe.

The insurance industry has averaged $30 billion a year in profits over the past 10 years. Its $3.8 trillion in assets are greater than the Gross Domestic Product of all but two countries in the world. The CEOs of the top 10 property and casualty insurance companies earned an average of $8.9 million in 2007.

Sen. Schultz, without citing any authority or proof, claims these reforms will make your insurance premiums go up. The fact is they won't. If premiums go up, it's because the insurance companies' stock market investments went bad or their CEOs decided they needed even more money in their pockets.

When Sen. Schultz makes his claims about this legislation, he doesn't talk about the tens of thousands of dollars that he's received from the insurance industry for his campaign. I checked the Democracy Campaign Web site and Sen. Schultz received more than $26,000 in insurance industry money for his campaign just between 2003 and 2006.

Sen. Schultz is just another longtime politician who has and will continue taking his marching orders from the insurance industry. You should not believe him when he suggests long needed insurance reforms should be defeated.

- Terry Polich resides in Sen. Dale Schultz's district. He is a resident of the Town of Franklin, near Plain. Mr. Polich is a partner at Clifford & Raihala, S.C., and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Association for Justice.