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All drivers in Wisconsin must have an active auto insurance policy that meets state requirements. A valid policy includes $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person, $50,000 of bodily liability coverage per accident and $10,000 for property damage.
Make sure you carry proof of coverage anytime you're driving — law enforcement officers can ask for proof of coverage during traffic stops and at the scene of an accident. If you're required to have an SR-22 form on file, you may instead choose an alternative.
Wisconsin car insurance minimum requirements
Your Wisconsin car insurance policy will always include bodily injury, property damage and uninsured motorist coverage. Having a policy means your insurer will pay for certain expenses if you cause a car accident. Below is a list of the minimum requirements and their required coverage amounts (limits):
WI required car insurance coverage
WI required min. limits
Bodily injury (BI)
|$25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident|
Property damage (PD)
|$10,000 per accident|
Uninsured motorist BI (UMBI)
|$25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident|
Bodily injury (BI) coverage pays for the other driver's medical expenses if you're at fault in an accident. Minimum limits in Wisconsin are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. Any legal fees will also be covered under this portion of your policy.
Property damage (PD) coverage pays the other driver's car repair bills if you're at fault in an accident. It also covers other types of property that you damage. The minimum limit in Wisconsin is $10,000.
Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) covers you and your passengers — or anyone covered under your policy — if you're in an accident with a driver with no insurance. The minimum limit is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident — and you can't purchase limits that are higher than your BI coverage. As of 2015, 14.3% of Wisconsin drivers are uninsured.
Optional car insurance coverage in Wisconsin
Under state law, Wisconsin car insurance companies must offer you two types of optional coverages: underinsured motorist and medical payments coverage. You may reject them in writing — but before you do, understand what they do for you.
Underinsured motorist bodily injury (UIMBI) covers you and your passengers if you're hit by a driver who doesn't have enough insurance to cover your medical and car repair bills. In Wisconsin, you'd need to buy at least $50,000 in coverage per person and $100,000 per accident.
Medical payments (MedPay) reimburses you for medical costs and funeral expenses after an accident, whether or not you caused it. You can buy coverage for $1,000 per accident. While this portion of your policy may overlap with health insurance, MedPay can help you cover your health insurance plan's deductibles and copays.
Alternative proof of financial responsibility
"Proof of financial responsibility" shows you have an active car insurance policy that meets or exceeds state minimum limits. You'll need to show that proof if asked for it. While the most common form of proof is an insurance ID card, you may have to ask your insurer to file an SR-22 form on your behalf if the state requests it. If you don't have an insurance policy, here are the three acceptable alternatives that may prevent your license and vehicle registration from being suspended:
Surety bond: You can fulfill the liability requirements by having a licensed surety company issue you a surety bond good for at least $60,000 in payments. This bond needs to be good for the same payment limits as a minimum-coverage car insurance policy ($25,000/$50,000 bodily injury and $10,000 property damage). When you cannot fulfill the judgements against you, the surety company will cover the difference and bill you for the money later. Surety bonds only satisfy your liability obligation and do not protect your own risks.
Real estate bond: by finding two other individuals, both of whom own real estate in Wisconsin and a combined $120,000 in stocks, you may produce a real estate bond as your proof. A valid bond will have the real estates listed in lien of at least $60,000 in payments (how much an insurance company will pay under a minimum policy), and will be approved by a court judge of the county where the real estate is located. You will need the court clerk to record it and send a copy to the Secretary of State. In case you cannot fulfill the payments you are responsible for in an accident, the two individuals listed will pay in your place, or have their real estate taken to fulfill the debt.
Cash deposit: The final alternative is to make a cash deposit of at least $60,000 with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The state can use this money to satisfy a court judgement against you if you cause a car accident. If the deposit is insufficient, you may need to make additional deposits.
ValuePenguin's guide to SR-22 insurance in Wisconsin can help you to understand the requirements and compare options.