The minimum insurance laws in most states require varying limits of
liability coverageand sometimes uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. In Wisconsin, you need both.
Here's everything you need to know about it.
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Do you need uninsured motorist coverage in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin's car insurance laws
requires all non-commercial drivers to carry uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in addition to liability coverage.
Imagine you're looking for the bare minimum car insurance in Wisconsin with Jerry, your trusted, licensed broker. The first thing you need is liability coverage, which covers any damage you cause to someone else's person or property in a car accident. The minimum liability coverage limits in Wisconsin are 25/50/10.
That means you’ll need at least:
The minimum UM coverage limits are as follows:
- $25,000 of bodily injury UM coverage per person
- $50,000 of bodily injury UM coverage per accident
Adding another $50,000 of coverage might seem a bit much, but UM coverage only costs an average of $50-$75 a year. And ultimately, this modest sum can save you a lot of money in the long run.
How uninsured motorist (UM) coverage works in Wisconsin
It’s estimated that
13.3% of Wisconsin drivers don't have insurance, making it the 19th state to most likely get into an accident with an uninsured driver. Basically, if you're struck by a car in Wisconsin, there's a little over a 1-in-10 chance you'll be stuck with the bill.
At least, that's what would happen if you didn't have UM coverage. If you follow Wisconsin’s car insurance laws, here’s what that entails:
What does UM coverage cover?
UM coverage applies when the driver at fault in an accident isn’t carrying any car insurance. You can't
file a car insurance claimwith the other driver’s insurance company as per usual since they don't have one. Instead, you'll ask your own insurance company to cover you, your family, and your passengers’ medical expenses.
Said medical expenses might include:
- Ongoing treatment
- Long-term therapy, rehabilitation, or nursing care
- Medical devices such as crutches or wheelchairs
- Renovations to your home or car to accommodate disabilities
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral expenses
UM coverage applies regardless of whether you were riding in a car or walking down the street when you were hit. It also applies if the at-fault driver flees the scene and can't be found.
If you’re involved in a hit-and-run, neither
Wisconsin hit-and-runlaws nor your liability insurance will give you a way to escape a mountain of medical bills. UM coverage, however, treats a hit-and-run driver the same as an uninsured driver. For this reason (plus its affordability), UM coverage makes a smart buy.
What kind of UM coverage is available?
There’s only one type of UM coverage available in Wisconsin, and it only applies to drivers who aren’t carrying any insurance at all. If the driver who hit you was carrying low liability coverage limits, you’d need underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage to pay your bills.
For example, let's say you have the legal minimum limit of $50,000 of underinsured motorist coverage per person and $100,000 per accident. Your car is hit by a driver who causes $62,000 in injuries to you and your passengers, but their liability coverage only extends to $50,000.
First, you’d file a claim with the other driver's insurance company for $50,000. Then you’d file a claim with your own insurance company for the leftover $12,000. The maximum amount of damages you could claim is the difference between the two limits (ie. $50,000) and more than enough to cover these particular hypothetical bills.
Insurance companies must let you know if UIM is available when you buy a policy. They must also offer medical payments coverage with a minimum limit of $1,000. It pays for expenses that don’t normally fall under health insurance, like copays and deductibles, no matter how much blame you hold for the crash. If you don’t want this coverage, you can reject it.
Lastly, UM coverage also excludes property damage. You're responsible for paying for any material damages, whether they’re to your car, your lawnmower, or a decorative lawn flamingo. Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) coverage isn't available in Wisconsin, so you should look into
collision coverageinstead. It pays for repairs or replacements regardless of fault, so you can use it to fix your own mistakes too!
How do you make a UM coverage claim?
Wisconsin is an at-fault state with
modified comparative negligence laws. This means drivers can share fault, which reduces the damages they can claim. For example, if you were 40% at fault, you could only claim 60% of your damages. The other driver couldn't claim anything since they were more than 50% at fault.
Another one of the
main reasons a car accident insurance claim is deniedis a lack of documentation. That's why you should gather as much information as possible every step of the way!
car accident laws in Wisconsingenerally require you to file a report. After making sure everyone is safe after a car accident, make sure to get the contact information of every driver involved.
- Write down names, phone numbers, addresses, and especially insurance informationYou’ll need the name of the insurance company and policy number of any at-fault driver(s) to make a claimSend along every detail and document you can think of (including any written notes or photos of the accident) and don’t forget to keep a copy for yourself
You'll also need to report the accident to your insurance company. It’s part of the insurance agreement you signed and you could be denied coverage if you wait too long. You should also reach out to them if you’re ever offered a settlement.
Maybe one of the drivers admits to the officer at the scene that they don’t have insurance, or maybe the police contact you to say they can’t find the hit-and-run driver who struck your bike. In that case, it’s time to file a UM claim.
Get in touch with your insurance company and request UM benefits. Again, you'll only strengthen your case if you give every detail and document related to the accident. These could include police crash reports, medical records, bills, and more. You'll have better odds of getting paid if you leave no room for imagination (or doubt)!
What happens if you go without UM coverage
Police catch uninsured driversby checking for
proof of insuranceat traffic stops, accidents, or the side of the road if they pull you over. If you don't have a legally-compliant car insurance policy at hand, you could be fined up to $10—or $500 if you don't have any insurance at all.
Using fake proof of insuranceis a serious crime and is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.
How to save on uninsured motorist coverage in Wisconsin
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