When driving a State of Wisconsin registered vehicle, insurance is required at all times.
Wisconsin minimum car insurance requirements are:
- Wisconsin’s current laws require an auto insurance policy issued or renewed prior to Nov. 1, 2011 to have limits of at least 50/100/15, which means:
- Liability coverage of $55,000 of bodily injury to one person
- Liability coverage of $100,000 of bodily injuries to more than one person
- Liability coverage of $15,000 of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident
- For policies issued or renewed after Nov. 1, 2011, the minimum coverage standards lower to 25/50/10.
- For policies issued or renewed prior to Nov. 1, 2011, the law also requires uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage of $100,000 for injury to one person and $300,000 for additional injuries for bodily injury only.
- For policies issued or renewed after that date, coverage minimums for uninsured drivers drop to $25,000 and $50,000, respectively. After Nov. 1, 2011, there is no longer a requirement for drivers to purchase underinsured motorist insurance.
Alternative Options to Insurance:
Self Insurance Certificates are available in Wisconsin if the following requirements are met:
- You or your company must have at least 26 registered vehicles
- You must qualify by application. For more information, contact:
- Department of Transportation, Division of Motor Vehicles
- Hill Farms State Office Building
- 4802 Sheboygan Ave.
- Madison, WI., 53702
- (608) 266-2261
- Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance
- 125 South Webster St.
- Madison, WI 53703-3474
- (608) 266-3585 in Madison
- 1(800) 236-8517 statewide
In Wisconsin, a bond from an insurance company or a $60,000 cash deposit placed with the Department of Transportation can be used in lieu of an active insurance policy in limited situations.
Required Proof of Insurance in Wisconsin
Certification of Insurance, which includes the following information:
- Effective coverage date
- Name(s) of covered driver(s)
Self Insurance certificates are issued by the state and must include the following:
- Certificate Number issued by Department of Licensing
- Effective Date of Certificate
- Accurate description of year, make/model of registered vehicle
- Name of driver covered by certificate
- Certificate of Deposit
- Certificate number issued by State Treasurer
- Name of driver covered by certificate of deposit
- Liability Bond
- Name of company issuing bond
- Bond number
- Name of driver covered by bond
Obtaining a Driver’s License
Wisconsin has a Graduated Driver Licensing program, or a GDL, for drivers up to 18 years old. It has three levels: the “temp” or instruction permit, the probationary license and the regular license.
To get an Instruction Permit, several qualifications must be met:
- Enrollment or completion of a driver education program.
- An adult must sponsor the new driver.
- A student driver must be at least 15-and-a-half years old.
Once an Instruction Permit is obtained, drivers must follow several rules:
- Drivers under 18 can only drive with a front seat passenger who has had at least two years of driving experience, who is at least 19 years old, and who holds a valid driver’s license.
- If the driver is at least 16, he or she may drive with an additional passenger in the back seat, as long as that passenger is a licensed driver at least 25 years old and with at least two years of driving experience.
Once you meet the requirements, visit your local DMV and apply for a probationary driver license. If you are under 18 or completed Wisconsin’s GDL program, you must:
- Prove that you’ve passed a traffic safety education course.
- Have an adult sponsor.
- Complete application form MV-3001, including a social security number.
- Bring proof of U.S. citizenship, permanent resident status, conditional resident status or temporary visitor status.
- Bring proof of name and date of birth.
- Bring proof of identity.
- Have held an Instruction Permit for at least six months.
- Have been violation free for at least six months.
- Be enrolled in a school program or high school equivalency program with no history of habitual truancy, or be a graduate of high school or an equivalency program.
- Pass the driving skills test.
- Pay all necessary fees.
Once a Probationary License is obtained, restrictions apply to drivers within the first nine months:
- Drivers may not drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless driving between home and work or home and school or unless accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, licensed driver 19 or older, or adult 21 or older.
- Only one non-family member passenger may ride with the driver.
- With any moving traffic violation conviction or violation of any of the Probationary License restrictions, or with any suspension or revocation, six months will be added to the restriction period.
- Drivers must maintain sobriety through their 21st birthday and while operating a vehicle.
A Probationary License is a legal, full license applicable in all states. Probationary licenses expire two years from an applicant’s next birthday. So if a driver gets a Probationary License when he or she is 16, it expires on their 19th birthday.
If you are over 18 and would like to obtain a Wisconsin driver license, go to your local DMV and:
- Complete a driver license application, including your social security number.
- Provide proof of U.S. citizenship, permanent resident status, conditional resident status or temporary visitor status.
- Bring proof of name and date of birth.
- Bring proof of identity.
- Provide proof of Wisconsin residency.
- Pass the driving skills test.
- Pay all necessary fees.
- Have held an instruction permit for at least seven days unless you hold a valid driver license from another state.
Completing Driver Education
There are several driving schools available for students to complete a driver education program in Wisconsin. To be eligible, students will need to be:
- At least 15 ½ years old.
- Enrolled in high school, a home-based high school program, or a high school equivalency program, and have no history of habitual truancy.
It is recommended that you research any driver education program that you enroll in. You want to make sure they meet the following standards:
- Instructors are licensed and have certificates from the State of Wisconsin.
- They meet the state curriculum requirements
You can also check if your student’s school offers any driver training programs. These programs meet the state requirements and have licensed instructors.
Knowing the Rules of the Road
Wisconsin’s Division of Motor Vehicles provides the legislature’s rules of the road in downloadable .pdf format on its website. Wisconsin’s laws cover topics including alcohol use, the ban on texting while driving, when passing a vehicle is permitted, and the penalties for failing to use safety restraints. Adhering to state laws is one great way to lower your insurance rates. Understanding and abiding by traffic laws can help you qualify for the best car insurance rates in Wisconsin.
- Preferred: Preferred drivers are those who are considered to be the safest drivers, or the ones with the lowest risk of filing a claim. Typically these drivers have clean driving records over the past three to five years. Preferred drivers will get the lowest auto insurance rates in Wisconsin.
- Standard: Standard drivers are considered moderate-risk drivers. They will have higher rates than preferred drivers, though it will still be affordable auto insurance in Wisconsin, and are typically driving family vehicles and have a reasonably clean record.
- Nonstandard: Nonstandard drivers are considered to be high-risk drivers and will usually more than the average cost of car insurance in Wisconsin. These can be newer drivers, typically under age 25, drivers with a history of tickets or accidents, drivers with a history of making premium payments, and drivers with a history of reckless or drunk driving.
Know Your Rates
Auto insurance rates are calculated by carefully considering all of the licensed drivers in the household, even if they are not related to you by blood, such as permanent roommates and spouses. The base rate that is used to evaluate all drivers is then adjusted, according to several factors, including:
- Age. On average, teenage drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident than any other age group, so their rates are typically higher.
- Gender. Statistical evidence suggests that men under the age of 25 are involved in more accidents than women in the same age group, so young, male drivers are likely to pay higher rates than their female counterparts.
- Driving record and claims history. If you have previously had your insurance coverage canceled for nonpayment, you are more of a risk to a new insurance provider. If you have a history of accidents, you are also more of a risk.
- Marital status. Statistics prove that married couples tend to have far fewer accidents single drivers.
- Geographical area. Wisconsin is divided into several territories for rating purposes. People in metropolitan areas will typically pay higher rates than people who live in less crowded areas.
- Make, model, and year of the vehicle. The less it costs to repair or replace your vehicle, the lower your insurance rates will be. Additionally, drivers of sports cars or high-performance vehicles are likely to pay higher rates.
- Credit information. Credit can be an indicator of the frequency and severity of future claims. The better your credit score, the more likely you will be to get low cost car insurance in Wisconsin.
Lower Your Rates
Speak with an insurance agent and find out exactly what your insurance plan will cover so you know you are getting the coverage that best fits your needs. Compare auto insurance rates in Wisconsin by talking to different companies and remembering to make sure that the company is permitted to do business in Wisconsin. If you are suspicious about any insurance company, call the State of Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance at (608) 266-3585 in Madison or 1(800) 236-8517 statewide to verify if any actions have been taken against that company.
The Wisconsin OIC recommends drivers also take advantage of discounts that may be offered:
- Package discounts may save consumers up to 15% who get home and auto insurance through the same company.
- Multiple automobile discounts may be available for policy holders who insure more than one vehicle.
- Good student discounts of up to 20% may be available for students who maintain an average of B or better in high school or college.
- Non-smoker discounts may be available to some drivers.
- Vehicle safety features such as driver and/or passenger airbags, automatic seat belts and anti-lock brake systems can sometimes provide discounts on medical payment coverage.
- Accident-free records can also be a source of insurance discounts, usually with record examinations going back three years.
Monthly rates can also be lowered by increasing deductibles. Deductibles are only paid out-of-pocket when claims are filed. Paying a higher deductible will typically decrease a monthly payment. But one thing to consider is your ability to financially bear a large deductible at any time — you never know when an accident will happen and when you’ll need to have cash available. Doing the proper legwork and research can ensure that you’re getting the best car insurance rates in Wisconsin.
Picking an Insurance Agent/Broker
Insurance is typically sold either directly through an insurance company or indirectly through an agent or broker. Independent agents may represent more than one insurance providers while an exclusive agent only works for one company. Both can help you determine what the best car insurance in Wisconsin may be for your particular home and situation.
Make sure that whoever you call regarding insurance is willing and able to explain different policies and able to answer other insurance-related questions.
Whether you use an agent or broker, make sure that they are licensed with the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. To find out if a particular insurer is licensed in Wisconsin, call 1(800) 236-8517 or check the OCI’s homepage. In addition, you can request information from the OCI about how many complaints have been filed against a particular agent or broker. The Office can also tell you how many times they have faced disciplinary actions.
If you have had issues with an insurance company, contact the OCI. You can request information on why your claim has been denied, why your insurer canceled your policy, or even if you simply have a question about your policy.
After an Accident
Accidents are never fun, but they can be made much easier on all parties involved by following the laws and rules set in place. Wisconsin’s Safety Responsibility Law requires that anyone in an accident that injures or kills someone or does at least $1,000 in damage to property must file a report as soon as possible. Unless a police agency investigates the accident, you must file a Driver’s Report of Accident with the DMV within 10 days of the accident.
Wisconsin’s Comparative Negligence law is based on the premise that responsibility is often shared, or not a single driver’s fault. If a driver’s negligence is not greater than that of the other drivers involved, his damages can be reduced by the percent of negligence attributed.
Once an accident happens, you should immediately call the police to file a report. A copy of the report will be sent to your insurance provider. Always exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver(s) involved in an accident, even if he or she has no car insurance in Wisconsin. Call your insurance agent to file a claim and cooperate fully with their questions and investigation. It’s a good idea to take notes and keep any kind of documentation they give you during the claims process.
Insurance for High-Risk Drivers
If you can’t find anyone willing to provide you with auto insurance due to a poor driving record, a last resort plan is the Wisconsin Automobile Insurance Plan, or WAIP. Application to WAIP will provide you with an insurer who will issue you a policy. Because it is a last resort plan for high-risk drivers, rates will be higher than rates offered through voluntary market providers. After four years in WAIP, the company insuring you is required to accept you for regular coverage if you’ve had a clean driving record.
You may apply for WAIP through any licensed property and casualty insurance agent . For general information about WAIP, call (262) 796-4599.
The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance offers assistance to anyone shopping for insurance. They will answer inquiries related to insurance, look into complaints with specific agencies, agents, or brokers, educate consumers on insurance law and procedures, and enforce insurance law on the consumer’s behalf if needed. You can contact them at (608) 266-3585 in Madison or 1(800) 236-8517 statewide.