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Some motorists blindsided by soaring insurance premium notices

Wisconsin motorists who don't follow politics were blindsided when they got notices about their insurance premiums going up next week.

The new state budget passed by the governor and Legislature requires vehicles owners to buy insurance starting next Monday, and minimum coverage levels are going up.

Assembly Democratic Majority Leader Tom Nelson made waves earlier this month when he told an angry constituent it's not the Legislature's fault that premiums are rising.

And he later blamed the insurers' desire for profits.

Andy Franken of the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance says Nelson is flat out wrong and it's simple economics that when a person has to buy more of something, it will cost more.

American Family Insurance of Madison says many drivers already met the new coverage standards, or were close to it. And they won't see an increase in their premiums.

The state insurance commissioner's office wouldn't guess how much the average premium will rise.

Spokesman Jim Guidry says there are just too many variables. One person said he was shocked to see his premiums go up $231 for three vehicles.

But the impending increase was publicized quite often during the budget process this spring, especially by Republicans who criticized it.

When Gov. Doyle proposed the higher insurance levels in February, he said legal disputes involved more money than they should in car injuries and deaths.

That's because the current minimum insurance levels had not been changed in almost three decades.