Wisconsin Legislature approves changes
to auto insurance coverage requirements
Wisconsin laws regarding auto insurance coverage are changing.
Here's a summary of legislation recently approved by state government.
Effective Nov. 1, 2009:
- The minimum limits for both Uninsured Motorist coverage and Underinsured Motorist coverage will increase to 100/300 – that is, a $100,000 maximum paid to any one injured person, and a $300,000 maximum paid to all injured persons in a single accident. Both coverages are mandatory.
- The minimum limit for medical payments will increase to $10,000, although policyholders may decline such coverage. Limits below $10,000 will not be available.
Effective Jan. 1, 2010:
- The minimum limits for liability coverage will increase to 50/100/15 – that is, maximums of $50,000 paid to any one injured person, $100,000 paid to all injured persons in a single accident and $15,000 paid for damaged property. Policies requiring an SR22 form (a document providing proof of liability insurance) will be required to carry 50/100/15 coverage.
Effective June 1, 2010:
- Auto insurance becomes mandatory for all Wisconsin drivers. The minimum limit is 50/100/15. Failure to comply will be subject to penalty, regardless of whether a driver was in an accident.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions, as provided by the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance of the State of Wisconsin.
How will the new laws be enforced?
Enforcement of mandatory auto insurance will be under the jurisdiction of local law enforcement personnel at the time of a traffic stop or a car accident. Drivers who have insurance but are unable to provide proof of insurance at the scene will be able to provide proof later and be subject to a $10 fine. Drivers with no insurance are subject to a fine up to $500. Drivers who provide fraudulent proof of insurance will be subject to a fine up to $5,000.
Will it be difficult to obtain auto insurance if I have been driving without it until now?
Effective Nov. 1, 2009, insurance companies may not consider the prior lack of car insurance as a risk factor. Other factors such as your driving record will still be used to rate your policy.
Are there other changes to Wisconsin auto insurance that will affect me?
Yes. In addition to the changes previously outlined, other changes will affect the way in which auto accident claims are settled. One such change is called "stacking." Stacking may allow Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist coverages to be combined from multiple policies if the insured insures more than one vehicle. Medical payment limits may also be stacked if the injured person or persons were not occupying a vehicle when injured. Stacking under the new laws will be limited to the combined coverage of three household vehicles.
Will my auto insurance premium go up?
Auto insurance premiums are based on factors that include age, experience, claims history, type of vehicle and many other variables. The amount of coverage provided by an auto insurance policy is one of those factors. Some insured drivers may experience a rate increase. If your current coverage limits are below the new mandates, it is possible that your insurance premium will go up when the higher coverage limits go into effect.
Ask your insurance agent to review your policy or policies to make sure you are receiving the proper rate and that all possible discounts are being applied.
For more information:
Additional FAQs are available from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) of the State of Wisconsin. The phone number for OCI is 1-800-236-8517.