Date: May 26, 2010
For more information contact: Jim Guidry, (608) 264-6239 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Insurance Commissioner: Mandatory Auto Insurance Begins June 1
Madison, WIWisconsin Insurance Commissioner Sean Dilweg today reminded consumers that beginning on June 1, 2010, all Wisconsin drivers will be required to carry auto insurance liability coverage on their vehicles in order to comply with Wisconsin's financial responsibility law.
"This upcoming change in the law means that people who are currently uninsured need to act now to get the required auto liability coverage in place," said Dilweg.
Effective June 1, no one may operate a motor vehicle in Wisconsin unless the owner or operator has a motor vehicle liability policy in place covering that vehicle that has minimum liability limits of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident for bodily injury and $15,000 for property damage. Drivers are also required to have proof of the vehicle's liability coverage in their possession if they are asked to produce evidence of coverage by law enforcement officials. The law provides for a number of limited exceptions to the insurance requirement. Commissioner Dilweg encourages consumers to contact the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to get more information on these exceptions.
Consumers who are unable to find auto insurance coverage in the private market will be able to obtain coverage from the Wisconsin Auto Insurance Plan (WAIP). Information on WAIP is available at the plan's website at https://www.wcrb.org/WAIP/WAIP_Home_Page.htm or by telephone at (262) 796-4599.
Insurers generally will provide proof of coverage cards when they send out premium notices to consumers. This card should be kept in the vehicle at all times and kept up to date.
Drivers may be asked to produce evidence of liability coverage if they are pulled over for a traffic violation or if they are involved in an accident. The law prohibits law enforcement officers from stopping a motorist to only verify insurance coverage. Verification of coverage may only be requested if a motorist is stopped for another reason, such as a traffic violation.
Drivers who are unable to produce evidence of coverage can face a fine of $10, which will be waived if they can provide proof of coverage to law enforcement at a later time. Motorists who do not have coverage can be fined up to $500. Anyone who produces fraudulent proof of coverage or represents that they have the coverage when they do not have coverage can be fined up to $5,000.
The Wisconsin state legislature passed and the governor signed into law a series of auto insurance changes last year, including the auto insurance liability coverage requirement. Wisconsin was one of only two states that did not require auto insurance coverage, the other state being New Hampshire. Dilweg encouraged consumers in need of insurance to contact an insurance agent or get an online quote.
"Fortunately Wisconsin has a very competitive auto insurance marketplace with over 200 insurance companies doing business here," said Dilweg. "Someone looking for coverage should be able to find the insurance they need and get covered almost immediately."
OCI publications such as "Consumer's Guide to Auto Insurance" and "Tips for Saving on Auto Insurance," can be ordered free from the agency by writing to OCI Publications, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53707-7873, calling 800-236-8517, or visiting the OCI Web site at oci.wi.gov.
Created by the Legislature in 1871, Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) was vested with broad powers to ensure that the insurance industry responsibly and adequately met the insurance needs of Wisconsin citizens. Today, OCI's mission is to lead the way in informing and protecting the public and responding to its insurance needs.