Driving without insurance in Wisconsin

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In Wisconsin, driving without insurance is considered a serious offense. Car insurance is not only a legal requirement for all drivers in the Badger State, but it can be an important protection for your finances. The penalty for driving without insurance in Wisconsin could depend on how many prior offenses you have had and whether or not you caused an accident. Despite the law and consequences, roughly 13% of drivers in Wisconsin are estimated to be uninsured. Knowing the state’s minimum car insurance limits and penalties for driving uninsured might help you choose car insurance coverage that is appropriate for your needs.

Minimum insurance required in Wisconsin

Wisconsin car insurance laws mandate that vehicle owners carry at least minimum amounts of certain car insurance coverages to drive legally. The minimum required car insurance coverage in Wisconsin is:

  • $25,000 bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury per accident
  • $10,000 property damage to others
  • $25,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident

Although the minimum levels of coverage are all you need to register your vehicle and drive legally, most car insurance agents advise that you purchase higher limits. If you cause an accident, you will have to pay for damages and injuries that are in excess of your insurance limits out of your own pocket. Higher limits provide a higher level of protection for your finances. Additionally, most financial institutions will require you to have full coverage insurance, which adds comprehensive and collision coverages, if you have a loan or lease on your vehicle.

Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage is designed to pay for your injuries and injuries for your passengers if you are hit by an uninsured driver. Considering that 13% of the state’s drivers are estimated to be uninsured, increasing the limits of this coverage could help provide a higher level of protection if you are the victim of an accident with an uninsured driver.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Wisconsin

The state of Wisconsin requires drivers and motor vehicle owners to provide proof of insurance when stopped by law enforcement or during an accident. While having an electronic copy on your phone is convenient, it might also be helpful to carry a paper copy of your car insurance card in your car. If you cannot provide proof of insurance at the scene, you could be fined up to $10.

When it comes to driving without insurance, Wisconsin takes the matter seriously. If you are caught without valid vehicle coverage at a traffic stop or at an accident, you could be fined up to $500. In addition, you may be required to file an SR-22 form as proof of insurance after getting a ticket for no insurance or being involved in an accident. SR-22s are certificates issued by your auto insurance company stating that you are properly covered to drive in the state.

Getting into an accident without insurance

Getting into an accident without car insurance is a serious issue that could lead to financial devastation. If you cause an accident and do not have insurance coverage, you are personally responsible for the damage and injuries that you cause. If you are unable to pay, you could be sued. A car insurance policy can protect your finances from this situation, saving you money, time and hassle.

Wisconsin’s Safety Responsibility (SR) Law addresses such issues. Uninsured motorists in Wisconsin can be reported to the DMV and face an immediate suspension of their driver’s license unless they meet one of the following conditions:

  • They can prove they had coverage at the time of the accident.
  • They agree to a payment installment plan for the cost of the claims.
  • They pay a secur​​ity dep​osit​ that covers the cost of the damages and injuries caused.
  • They provide a liability release showing the claim has been settled with the other party​.
  • They request a hearing​ to explain why they believe they were not at fault.

Frequently asked questions

What if you provide false insurance information?

If you are caught driving without insurance, falsely stating you have coverage or providing fraudulent information will very likely make matters worse. Providing fraudulent car insurance information can result in a fine of up to $5,000.

How much is car insurance in Wisconsin?

The average cost of car insurance in Wisconsin is $1,186 per year for full coverage, which is quite a bit lower than the national average of $1,674 annually for full coverage. There are numerous car insurance companies operating in Wisconsin. Getting quotes from several companies for the same coverage might help you find a lower rate.

What is the difference between minimum and full car insurance?

Minimum coverage refers to a state’s minimum required limits. This often includes bodily injury and property damage liability coverages, but can also include uninsured motorist coverage, personal injury protection coverage (PIP) or other coverages, depending on the state. Full coverage refers to adding both comprehensive and collision coverages to your policy, which provide coverage for damage to your car. It is important to note that full coverage is not a standardized insurance industry term; what constitutes full coverage will vary by company and by agency. For example, some companies and insurance agencies may take full coverage to mean having higher liability limits, comprehensive, collision and certain optional coverages like roadside assistance and car rental coverage.

Is Wisconsin a no-fault state for car insurance?

Wisconsin is not a no-fault state. Instead, Wisconsin is an at-fault state, also called a tort state. If you cause a crash in Wisconsin and you are held liable for the accident, you are responsible for the cost of the damages and injuries that you cause. Having a car insurance policy can help cushion that financial burden and protect you from financial stress.

Written by
Cynthia Paez Bowman
Personal Finance Contributor
Cynthia Paez Bowman is a finance and business journalist who has been featured in Bankrate, Business Jet Traveler, MSN, CheatSheet.com, Freshome.com and TheSimpleDollar.com. She regularly travels to Africa and the Middle East to consult with women’s NGOs about small business development and works with select startups and women-owned businesses to provide growth and visibility.
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