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Wisconsin Car Insurance Guide

Here's what you need to know...
  • Wisconsin requires all drivers to carry at least a minimum amount of auto insurance
  • All drivers have the option to purchase additional coverage
  • Shopping online for auto insurance will help you save money
  • Most auto insurance companies offer discounts for a variety of reasons

Just as is in other states, drivers who live in the state of Wisconsin are required to meet the insurance standards set by the state. Not doing so can lead to many financial and legal consequences.

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Financial Responsibility Law

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Any driver who is involved in an accident that is reportable in Wisconsin is legally required to carry liability insurance or to otherwise financially satisfy the damages they have caused.

If you fail to meet this requirement and appear to be at fault for an accident, your driver’s license will be suspended until you meet certain requirements such as posting a security deposit or entering into an installment agreement to pay for any claims that arise from the accident.

In Wisconsin, drivers are legally required to have a minimum coverage of:

  • $10,000 property damage liability
  • $25,000 bodily injury liability for the injury or death of one person
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability for the injury or death of more than one person

If you are in an accident or pulled over by law enforcement, you will be required to show proof of insurance. Drivers who cannot provide such proof are subject to fines up to $500.

However, if they can later show proof of current vehicle insurance, the fine will only be $10. If you provide fraudulent proof of insurance you could face a fine of up to $5,000. No proof of insurance is required in order to get a driver’s license or to register a vehicle.

Getting a First-Time Driver’s License in Wisconsin

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For people who will be getting a driver’s license for the first time, Wisconsin has specific rules and standards that must be followed. If you are at least 15 years of age, you are eligible to apply for a Wisconsin learner’s driving permit.

You will need to provide proof of your:

  • U.S. citizenship, legal permanent resident status, or temporary visitor status
  • Name and date of birth
  • Identity
  • Wisconsin residency
  • Social Security number

In addition, you are required to be enrolled in a certified driver education program. Your instructor must sign your license application in the designated area and you must have your first hands-on lesson within 60 days of obtaining your permit.

All applicants are also required to be enrolled in high school, homeschooled, or have already obtained a high school diploma or GED certificate.

Applicants will need to pass a knowledge test, as well as sign and vision tests.

You must either have a parent or adult sponsor sign your license application, or you must file proof of insurance. A $35 fee is also required when you apply for your permit. Once you are 16 years of age, you are eligible to apply for a regular Wisconsin driver’s license.

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Licensing Process in Wisconsin

If you have recently moved to Wisconsin but held a driver’s license in another state, you are required to get a Wisconsin driver’s license within 60 days of establishing residency.

To do so, you will need to:

  • Provide proof of U.S. citizenship, lawful permanent resident status, or temporary visitor status
  • Provide proof of name and date of birth
  • Provide proof of name and date of birth
  • Provide proof of Wisconsin residency
  • Provide your Social Security number
  • Provide proof of identity

Driver’s license applicants, whether new to the state or otherwise, must be at least 16 years of age. You must complete form MV3001 and apply for your Wisconsin license at a DMV Customer Service Center.

Requirements for applicants under 18 years old include:

  • Having held an instruction permit or license for at least six months
  • Being violation-free for the 6 months prior to application for a WI license
  • Completing an approved driver education course which includes classroom and behind-the-wheel training

Requirements for everyone include:

  • Passing a vision screening
  • Surrendering your out-of-state license and/or identification card, if you are from out of state
  • Paying a $34 licensing fee

In some circumstances, drivers may be required to take a written or a behind-the-wheel exam.

Do I need additional insurance coverage in Wisconsin?

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While all drivers must meet the minimum coverages listed above, many drivers choose to add additional coverages to their policy.

It is important to keep in mind that property liability and bodily injury liability only cover damages to other people or their property. These do not cover damages to you or your property.

While not adding other coverages is one way to keep your auto insurance premium low, you will likely find yourself financially strapped if you are in an accident. To better protect yourself and your financial interests, consider adding these coverages to your policy:

– Med Pay

Medical payments coverage, also commonly known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), provides coverage for medical expenses incurred in an accident.

It can also be used for lost wages and in some cases for hired help around the house, such as childcare or housekeeping services, that you need because you have been rendered physically incapable due to the accident.

– Collision

If you are in an accident with another vehicle, collision coverage is for your expenses. With collision coverage, you can select your deductible and choose your dollar amount of coverage.

– Comprehensive

Comprehensive coverage covers damages that happen outside of a collision such as vandalism or theft. It can also be used in the event of a fire, flood, or other natural disasters.

Just like collision, this coverage type can be purchased in different limits and will have a deductible that you can choose. Having a comprehensive policy can protect you against other circumstances that could damage your vehicle.

– Uninsured/Underinsured

Even though Wisconsin requires all drivers to have auto insurance, many still don’t. Uninsured coverage protects you if you are in an accident with one of these drivers or are a hit-and-run victim. Underinsured coverage will kick in once the policy limits of other driver’s liability insurance have been exhausted.

Shopping for an Insurance Policy in Wisconsin

Finding an auto insurance policy that fits all of your needs in Wisconsin can sometimes be challenging.

Many drivers in this state have had excellent results using an online price comparison tool. These tools allow drivers to compare auto insurance companies, policies, and individualized quotes all in one convenient place. This step can help drivers make an informed decision and save time.

However, be sure when you are shopping around and comparing policies and prices that you are comparing the same things.

What to Look for in an Auto Insurance Company

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You will also want to make sure you are looking at other factors besides price when you decide on an insurance company and policy.

Do your research on the companies you are considering. Find out how long they have been in business, if they are financially stable, and if there have been any complaints filed against them with Wisconsin’s insurance commissioner.

You may also want to read reviews and find out what kinds of experiences other consumers have had with each company. You can find company reviews through the websites of A.M. Best and the Better Business Bureau.

Insurance Scoring and the Price of Your Policy

Wisconsin drivers should be aware that most car insurance companies will access their credit score and use it to help determine their policy quote.

A credit-based insurance score is used by many auto insurance company underwriters to aid in determining how much of a risk you will be for them. This will factor heavily into your premium costs.

Do you need an insurance agent?

You do not need an insurance agent to purchase auto insurance.

However, some consumers may feel more comfortable and happier with the personalized service an agent can provide them. For many drivers, rates and customer service are more important than having an agent.

Auto Insurance Discounts

When getting a quote for auto insurance, be sure to inquire about the following discounts that may significantly reduce your premium:

  • Experienced driver – If you’ve been driving for a while and have gained experience on the road, many companies will offer you a discount
  • Good student – Some car insurance companies will reward their drivers who are in school and getting good grades. This discount generally applies to high school students and sometimes college students.
  • Safe driver – Drivers who are accident-free and without tickets in the last several years may also be eligible for a discount.
  • Multi-policy – If you have or need other types of insurance products, such as life or homeowners insurance, consider purchasing your policies through the same company. Often, you will get a discount for having more than one policy with the same carrier.
  • Multi-vehicle policy – Similar to the multi-policy, having an insurance policy that covers multiple vehicles will usually also bring you a rate reduction.
  • Safe driver/driver training courses – If you have recently taken a safe driving course or a driver’s ed course, your insurance company may also grant you a discount. This is because, more often than not, it lowers your risk to the company and increases the chances that you will be a safe driver.

How Car Insurance Carriers Calculate Your Premium

While most car insurance companies do not release the specific formulas they use to determine their premiums, most use these factors influence the cost of your policy:

  • Where you live
  • The make, model, and year of your vehicle
  • Your driving history, including any accidents, tickets, or DUIs

While ideal drivers — individuals without blemishes on their driving records — typically earn the lowest premiums, you can usually find competitive prices even with a less-that-perfect record by shopping around for auto insurance coverage.

If you are searching for car insurance that won’t break the bank, enter your zip code below to compare multiple Wisconsin car insurance companies at once!

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