If you are a high risk driver who has been denied coverage or had trouble obtaining a policy in the voluntary market, your “insurer of last resort” is the Wisconsin Automobile Insurance Plan. In the Badger state, all drivers are required by law to carry at least the minimum Wisconsin auto insurance coverage: Bodily Injury of $25,000/$50,000, Property Damage of $10,000 and Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury of $25,000/$50,000. You need to show proof of insurance if you are in an accident or pulled over by the police, and can be fined if you don’t have it.
While your premiums through WAIP will be higher than what safer drivers pay, you will be covered. And you should focus on building a better driving record – without violations or accidents – in order to qualify for better rates in Wisconsin's voluntary market.
What is the Wisconsin Automobile Insurance Plan (WAIP)?
The Wisconsin Automobile Insurance Plan has been around since 1949. Its purpose is to provide automobile insurance to drivers who are considered high risk and could not find insurance coverage on their own. WAIP is not an insurance provider, but rather is an entity that assigns drivers to existing Wisconsin auto insurers licensed in the state. Indeed if your auto insurance policy is cancelled or non-renewed, your insurance agent must tell you about WAIP per Wisconsin state statutes.
Individual high risk drivers are assigned to insurers based on the market share of the insurance company. So for example, if Progressive Insurance has 6% of the total auto insurance market in Wisconsin, then they will cover 6% of the high risk drivers in Wisconsin. In this way, losses from high risk drivers are shared more equitably across all insurers.
The same types of coverages offered in the voluntary market are available to Wisconsin high risk drivers through the WAIP. However, policies obtained through the WAIP often have higher premiums than if you have gotten the same coverage on your own.
Wisconsin Automobile Insurance Plan Eligibility
You are eligible to apply to the WAIP as long as you have a valid driver’s license and a car that is registered in Wisconsin. When you apply, you must attest in your insurance application that you have tried and failed to find auto insurance at any price in the last 60 days.
You won’t be eligible for coverage – even through the WAIP – if you have failed to pay an auto insurance premium in the last 12 months. If you pay your back insurance premiums, you can re-apply to the WAIP at any time. Be sure to complete the application accurately. If your insurer decides you have provided false information on the application, they can deny you coverage and make you wait 12 months to reapply.
Wisconsin Automobile Insurance Plan Coverage
Once you are assigned an insurer through the WAIP, you will be covered for four years, or until you are able to find more affordable auto insurance on your own, whichever is sooner. If you do use that time to improve your driving record, you may choose to leave the WAIP program earlier for lower premiums. This may mean your WAIP insurer agrees to renew your policy voluntarily, or that you have found another insurer at a better price. If you are still considered high risk at the end of 4 years, you may reapply to the WAIP, and be assigned to another insurer. Either way, you will receive a notice at least 60 days in advance of your policy’s end date, reminding you that your insurance coverage is either ending or renewing.
The mandatory coverages are shown below. Again, the same types of coverages offered in the voluntary market are available to Wisconsin high risk drivers through the WAIP. You may request a higher level of coverage – up to the limits shown – to protect your assets. The higher the level of coverage you choose, the higher your premium will be.
|Mandatory Coverage||Wisconsin Min. Required Limits||WAIP Max. Limits|
|Bodily Injury (BI)||$25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident||$100.000/$300,000|
|Property Damage (PD)||$10,000 per accident||$50,000 per accident|
|Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI)||$25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident||Up to as high as your BI limits but no higher|
In addition, your insurer may provide the optional coverages shown below. Note that both Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury and Medical Payments coverage must be offered by your insurer, but you don’t have to buy either of them.
For both coverage of physical damage insurance, WAIP provide you with deductible choices – the amount you must pay out-of-pocket - of $100, $250, and $500. The deductible you choose will affect your coverage premium. Note that you won’t be able to get physical damage coverage for your car if (1) it’s an antique or (2) its actual cash value exceeds $45,000.
|Optional Coverage||WAIP Min. Limits||WAIP Max. Limits|
|Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UIMBI)||$50,000 per person / $100,000 per accident||Up to as high as your BI limits but no higher|
|Medical Payments (MED)||$1,000 per person per accident||$5,000 per person per accident|
|Physical Damage (collision and comprehensive)||$100 deductible*||No more than $45,000|
WAIP Premiums and Payments
Generally speaking, the Plan’s rates are often higher than standard or high risk companies. Auto insurance premiums are set based on many different factors, and together the factors determine your risk. It’s useful to know what those factors are and how you may take actions over time to qualify for lower rates as a lower-risk driver.
Wisconsin auto insurers offer 3 ways to pay for your insurance:
- Pay 100% of the premium up front.
- Pay 40% of the premium up front and the entire balance of the premium within 30 days of the date your policy becomes effective.
- Pay 40% of the premium up front and the remainder of the premium in 2 installments. The first installment is due 3 months after the policy becomes effective and the second (and final) installment is due 6 months after your policy’s effective date.
How Do I Get Insurance through the WAIP?
Every licensed auto insurer in the state of Wisconsin is required to know about the WAIP. Ask your agent for the option if you have been turned down by other insurers in WI.
For more information about the WAIP, call the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance at 800-236-8517.