2010 Wisconsin Code
Chapter 632. Insurance contracts in specific lines.
632.26 Notice provisions.

632.26

632.26 Notice provisions.

632.26(1)

(1) Required provisions. Every liability insurance policy shall provide:

632.26(1)(a)

(a) That notice given by or on behalf of the insured to any authorized agent of the insurer within this state, with particulars sufficient to identify the insured, is notice to the insurer.

632.26(1)(b)

(b) That failure to give any notice required by the policy within the time specified does not invalidate a claim made by the insured if the insured shows that it was not reasonably possible to give the notice within the prescribed time and that notice was given as soon as reasonably possible.

632.26(2)

(2) Effect of failure to give notice. Failure to give notice as required by the policy as modified by sub. (1) (b) does not bar liability under the policy if the insurer was not prejudiced by the failure, but the risk of nonpersuasion is upon the person claiming there was no prejudice.

632.26 - ANNOT.

History: 1979 c. 102.

632.26 - ANNOT.

Legislative Council Note, 1979: Subsection (1) is former s. 632.32 (1), altered in 2 ways: (1) to extend its coverage to all liability policies; and (2) to change "may" to "shall". The subsection is divided into 2 paragraphs for clarity.

632.26 - ANNOT.

The first change would strengthen the law. It is entirely new and seems a desirable extension.

632.26 - ANNOT.

The second change corrects an error. The word "shall" was used in the fourth draft of the bill that ultimately became ch. 375, laws of 1975, and was not changed in the addendum to the fourth draft, dated July 14, 1975. Those documents went to the insurance laws revision committee and then to the legislative council for action. Nothing appears in the minutes of the committee's meeting of July 14, 1975 to indicate that a change was made. But in LRB-6218/1 of 1975, "may" appears instead of "shall". That error, which was probably inadvertent and the source of which we have not been able to trace, was carried on into the final enactment.

632.26 - ANNOT.

Sub. (2) continues the second sentence of former s. 632.34 (4). Shifting it to s. 632.26, which is applicable to all liability insurance, broadens its application, but that seems desirable. The term "burden of proof" is changed to "risk of nonpersuasion" to tighten up the meaning. "Burden of proof" is a broad term that comprehends 2 separate concepts: (1) the burden of going forward with the evidence and (2) the burden of persuading the trier of fact, better termed the "risk of nonpersuasion". See McCormick, Evidence, (2nd ed.), at 784 n. 4 (1972). The statute is concerned with determining who wins when the totality of evidence is inconclusive, not with the burden of going forward, which ought to be settled on the basis of general principles. Indeed, since the insurer will have best (or the only) access to information about prejudice, it may be quite unfair to put the burden of going forward on the claimant.

632.26 - ANNOT.

Subs. (1) (b) and (2) are related. The first is a required provision in the policy. The 2nd is a rule of law. It is preferable not to go too far in inserting excuses into the policy. Sub. (1) (b) encourages the insured not to give up automatically if notice is not timely given, but insertion of sub. (2) into the policy would arguably encourage an unduly long delay that might prejudice both parties. [Bill 146-S]

632.26 - ANNOT.

When the insurer denied coverage within the time that the insured could have submitted her proofs in response to the insurer's request for more information, the insurer waived the defense of lack of notice. Ehlers v. Colonial Penn Insurance Co. 81 Wis. 2d 64, 259 N.W.2d 718 (1977).

632.26 - ANNOT.

The failure of policyholders to give notice to an underinsurer of a settlement between the insured and the tortfeasor does not bar underinsured motorist coverage in the absence of prejudice to the insurer. There is a rebuttable presumption of prejudice when there is a lack of notice, with the burden on the insured to prove by the greater weight of the evidence that the insurer was not prejudiced. Ranes v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co. 219 Wis. 2d 49, 580 N.W.2d 197 (1998), 97-0441.

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