Wisconsin's Financial Responsibility Law

Is auto insurance mandatory in Wisconsin?

Effective June 1, 2010, all Wisconsin drivers are required to have an automobile insurance policy in force or, in limited situations, other security which could be a surety bond, personal funds, or certificate of self-insurance when operating a motor vehicle in the state. Details are available at the Department of Transportation, Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Hill Farms State Office Building, 4802 Sheboygan Ave., Madison, WI 53702

If I buy automobile insurance, what coverages are required in Wisconsin and what are the minimum limits I can purchase?

Under the provisions of 2011 Wisconsin Act 14 which applies to motor vehicle insurance policies that are newly issued or renewed on or after November 1, 2011, your automobile insurance policy must provide the following minimum liability coverage:

  • $25,000 for injury or death of one person;
  • $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people; and
  • $10,000 for property damage.

For policies issued or renewed prior to November 1, 2011, the minimum liability coverage is:

  • $50,000 for injury or death of one person;
  • $100,000 for injury or death of two or more people; and
  • $15,000 for property damage.

The law also requires uninsured motorist coverage with a minimum limit of $25,000/$50,000 for bodily injury coverage. (For policies newly issued or renewed prior to November 1, 2011, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages are mandatory with minimum limits of $100,000/$300,000 respectively.)

You may want to protect your assets by purchasing more coverage than what is provided in the minimum policy required in Wisconsin. Higher limits are usually available but you may have to pay additional premium.

What is covered under bodily injury liability coverage?

This coverage does not protect you or your car directly. If you cause an accident injuring other people, it protects you against their claims up to the stated amounts for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses. It will also usually pay if the accident was caused by a member of your family living with you or a person using your own auto with your consent. It does not pay for bodily injury you may sustain.

What is covered under property damage liability coverage?

Property damage liability coverage pays for any damage you cause to the property of others up to the stated amount provided by the policy (i.e., a crushed fender, broken glass, or a damaged wall or fence). Your insurance will pay for this damage if you were driving your auto or if it was being driven by another person with your consent. Property damage liability also pays if you damage government property like a light pole or signpost, up to the limit you choose.

What is uninsured motorist coverage?

Uninsured motorists (UM) coverage applies to bodily injury you, your family, and other occupants of your vehicle incur when hit by an uninsured motorist or hit-and-run driver. It also covers you and your family if injured as a pedestrian when struck by an uninsured motorist or hit-and-run driver. It protects you by making sure that money is available to pay for your losses that were caused by someone else. The minimum amount of coverage required by the law for policies newly issued or renewed on or after November 1, 2011, is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury only. (For policies newly issued or renewed prior to November 1, 2011, these minimum limits are $100,000/$300,000 respectively. The amount payable under UM is your UM coverage limit multiplied by up to three vehicles insured for UM on your policy.)

You may want to purchase more than the minimum coverage required by law if you feel the need for more protection. Uninsured motorist coverage does not cover property damage to your vehicle and does not protect the other driver. Your insurer may sue the other driver for any money the insurer pays you because of the other driver's negligence.

What is underinsured motorists coverage?

Underinsured motorists (UIM) coverage increases the bodily injury protection to you and the people in your car up to the amount of coverage you purchase if the at-fault party's bodily injury liability insurance limits are lower than your UIM coverage limits. The maximum amount payable is the difference between the two limits. (For policies newly issued or renewed prior to November 1, 2011, the maximum amount payable under UIM after the at-fault party's bodily injury liability limits are exhausted is your UIM coverage limit multiplied by up to three vehicles insured for UIM on your policy.)

Under 2011 Wisconsin Act 14, for policies newly issued or renewed on or after November 1, 2011, underinsured motorist coverage is no longer mandatory. Notice of coverage availability is required with the delivery of the policy. Coverage may be rejected. However, if requested, minimum coverage limits of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident are required.

For policies newly issued or renewed prior to November 1, 2011, UIM coverage is mandatory with minimum limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.