Published: March 24, 2022Updated: July 28, 2022

Wisconsin: Car Insurance in the Badger State

On average, Wisconsin drivers pay 40 percent less for car insurance than the rest of the U.S.

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Drivers in Wisconsin need not only liability coverage, which most states require, but also uninsured motorist coverage, which only 20 states require. Despite the increased minimum coverage, Wisconsin’s 4.3 million drivers pay 40 percent less for car insurance than the national average — only $755.97 a year on average. Perhaps a contributing factor is the state’s low motor vehicle theft and traffic fatality rates, which are 53 and 25 percent less than the rest of the country, respectively.

Keep reading for all the information you need on car insurance and driving laws in Wisconsin.

Minimum Car Insurance in Wisconsin

Driving on any of Wisconsin’s public roads will require this minimum car insurance coverage:

  • Bodily injury liability per person: $25,0001
  • Bodily injury liability per accident: $50,000
  • Property liability damage: $10,000
  • Uninsured motorist coverage per person: $25,000
  • Uninsured motorist coverage per accident: $50,000

Bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage make up liability coverage, which pays for other party’s injuries and damages in accidents you caused. Uninsured motorist coverage, on the other hand, pays for your injuries and damages in accidents that someone driving without insurance caused, including hit-and-runs. Not everyone follows the state’s insurance guidelines, whether by not having liability insurance at all or having insufficient coverage limits, and there may be consequences for that.

Is Minimum Insurance Enough?

Sure, Wisconsin has more auto insurance requirements than the average state. However, we prefer liability limits of $500,000 for both injuries and property damages, or as much as you can afford. We also recommend buying collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, and medical payments coverage. Here’s a little more about each auto insurance coverage type …

  • Collision coverage: Collision insurance pays for your property damages in collisions you’ve caused.
  • Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive coverage pays for your property damages from events other than collisions, such as car theft and vandalism.
  • Medical payments coverage: Medical payments coverage pays for your injuries in accidents you caused. We recommend a $500,000 liability limit.

NOTE

The limit on your collision and comprehensive coverage will be your car’s actual market value (AMV). Both types of coverage have an insurance deductible — which you’ll have to pay before you have a covered auto insurance claim.

Average Rates of Car Insurance in Wisconsin

The good news is that Wisconsin’s car insurance rates are well below the national average — 40 percent less, to be exact. In 2019, the last time the National Association of Insurance Commissioners released federal data, the average annual cost of car insurance in Wisconsin was only $755.97. The cost was $422.28 for liability coverage, and only $247.95 and $159.82 for collision and comprehensive coverage, respectively.

Of course, $755.97 is just an average. Annual rates could fall anywhere from $224 for an older driver with a clean driving history (which is very cheap for car insurance in Wisconsin) to $6,679.20 for high-risk teen drivers. Learn about other factors that affect car insurance costs.

Providers

Here are the car insurance companies you can choose from in Wisconsin:

  • Acuity
  • Allstate
  • American Family
  • Auto-Owners
  • Erie
  • GEICO
  • Nationwide
  • Partners Mutual
  • Progressive
  • Secura
  • State Farm
  • Travelers
  • USAA
  • West Bend Mutual

How to Lower Premiums

You can make the cheapest car insurance in Wisconsin even cheaper in a few steps:

  1. Take a defensive driving course. Not only can taking a defensive driving course remove points from your driving record, but some companies offer insurance discounts on their insurance if you take one. A win-win!
  2. Switch to an annual policy. You may also be able to get a discount by paying for your policy annually rather than every six months.
  3. Ask your agent for ways to save. Every insurance company has various discounts available, so ask your auto insurance agent directly which ones apply to you.
  4. Change your policy. You can reduce your premiums immediately by dropping coverages, lowering your limits, or raising your deductibles.

TIP

Before raising your deductible, make sure you could actually afford to pay it tomorrow if you had to; otherwise, your collision or comprehensive coverage won’t apply to your claim.

What Happens if You’re Caught Driving With No Insurance?

Wisconsin requires that you carry either digital or physical proof of your insurance, usually an insurance ID card. However, the penalties for not carrying insurance are largely at the discretion of the judge. For any offense, you could be fined a maximum of $5,000, according to the state’s legislature.2

Wisconsin State Driving Laws

If you’ve attained the state’s minimum coverage, it’s time to start driving. But wait — make sure you know the laws about driving in Wisconsin before you hit the road.

At-Fault State

Wisconsin’s at-fault system means the party at fault in an accident is responsible for the other party’s property damage and bodily injury costs. As long as the victim is less than 51 percent responsible for the accident, they can receive compensation due to the state’s modified comparative negligence laws.

Uninsured Motorists

As we stated previously, uninsured motorist coverage is a requirement in Wisconsin. But there’s good news for those with multiple cars: The state will let you stack coverage, so multiply your limit with your number of cars to get your new, higher limit. That’ll come in handy if you get into a car accident with any of the state’s estimated 571,454 uninsured drivers (according to the Insurance Research Council).

Driving Under the Influence

It’s no secret that driving under the influence (DUI) can be dangerous, but in Wisconsin, it’s also costly. You could lose your driving privileges, pay fines, or go to jail, among other penalties for a DUI conviction.

Offense Fine/forfeiture maximum Confinement sentence Revocation Interlock
1st $150-$300 None 6-9 months 1 year
2nd within 10 years of 1st offense $350-$1,100 5 days to 6 months 12-18 months 1 year to 18 months, plus confinement length
3rd $600-$2,000 45 days to 1 year 2-3 years added 1-3 years, plus confinement length
4th $600-$10,000 60 days to 6 years 2-3 years added 1-3 years, plus confinement length
5th or 6th $600-$25,000 1-10 years 2-3 years added 1-3 years, plus confinement length
7th, 8th, or 9th $25,000 3-12.5 years 2-3 years added 1-3 years, plus confinement length
10th or above $50,000 4-14 years 2-3 years added 1-3 years, plus confinement length

Penalties are even worse if you were driving with someone under the age of 16 or had a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.15 percent.

Wearing Seat Belts

Everyone 8 years old and above needs to wear seat belts in Wisconsin, no matter what seat they’re in.

Driving Distracted: Is It Legal?

While Wisconsin bans texting and driving for all drivers, only young drivers with learner’s permits and intermediate licenses are completely banned from using handheld devices while driving. For everyone else, handheld devices are banned only when they’re driving through highway construction areas. This ban is under primary enforcement, which means that violation alone is enough for the police to pull you over.

Break any of these distracted driving laws and you’ll face four points per violation, with a $20-$40 fine for the first offense and a $50-$100 fine for any subsequent offenses.

Teen Driver Laws

All young drivers, or anyone new to driving, will receive a probationary license that expires two years from their next birthday. For example, if you obtained the probationary license on Jan. 15, 2022, and your birthday is April 20, the probationary period would end on April 20, 2024.

Restrictions and laws are different for these probationary drivers:

  • If they receive 12 or more points within a year, their licenses will be suspended for six months.
  • After their first conviction of a moving traffic violation, the points double.

During the first nine months of their probationary licenses:

  • They can only have one passenger in the car, other than a qualified adult or immediate family member.
  • They can’t drive from midnight until 5 a.m. unless traveling to or from school, home, or work.
  • If they get a traffic ticket during this period, the restrictions can be extended.

How Long You Have to File Insurance Claims

To receive compensation from an auto insurer, you should file a claim as soon as you can, but definitely do it within the state’s statutes of limitations: six years for property damage claims and three years for personal injury claims. Beyond these limits, your coverage won’t apply.

Notification Laws: Cancellation vs. Non-Renewal

An insurance company may cancel your policy midterm if you lied on your application, made a fraudulent claim, had your license revoked or suspended, or didn’t pay your premiums. With cancellations, the company must notify you 10 days before your coverage ends.

However, if the company simply doesn’t want to renew your policy at the end of its term, it must notify you 60 days before the expiration date.3

Self-Insurance Option

If you have more than 25 vehicles and at least $110,000 for collateral, you can get a certificate of self-insurance from the secretary of the treasury. This option could work for large companies, organizations, or universities, but it most likely won’t apply to your everyday driver.

Emissions Testing

You’ll need an emissions test if you keep a car in any of the following counties:

  • Kenosha
  • Milwaukee
  • Ozaukee
  • Racine
  • Sheboygan
  • Washington
  • Waukesha

This is when you’ll need an emissions test in those counties:

  • Within 45 days of buying your car
  • Within 45 days of when you add or remove an owner on the car’s title
  • Every other year before plate renewal
  • Within 45 days of moving to Wisconsin from out of state

Bring the following documents with you:

  • Renewal statement/notice
  • Registration certificate
  • Emission letter from the DMV
  • Prior emission inspection report
  • Wisconsin title
  • Substitute Renewal Notice/Non-Operation Statement (MV2016): https://trust.dot.state.wi.us/pinq/PinqServlet?whoami=pinqp1

You can find a facility here: https://www.wisconsinvip.org/WivipPublic/Pages/TestFacilities.aspx.

For more information, email the DMV directly: https://trust.dot.state.wi.us/eif/emailInq.do?action=lookUpInquiry.

When Are SR-22s Required?

An SR-22 form proves you have minimum car insurance coverage. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will require it in these circumstances:

  • You’ve had to obtain an occupational license after yours was revoked or suspended.
  • You are under 18 and don’t have a sponsor.
  • You need to reinstate your driver’s license after your operating privileges or vehicle registration was revoked (for three years after the date you’re eligible to reinstate).
  • You had your license suspended for being uninsured or underinsured or for having a damage judgment (for three years after the date you’re eligible to reinstate).

Defensive Driving Courses

You can remove points on your driving record by taking a defensive driving course. In Wisconsin, you could remove three points per course! Find a course here: https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/dmv/license-drvs/susp-or-rvkd/traf-safety.aspx.

Are There Thresholds for Civil Suits?

Want to sue after a car accident? You’ll be pleased to know that you don’t have to meet any serious injury or monetary threshold for a civil suit in Wisconsin. No matter how small the losses were, you have the right to file a civil suit.

When You Must Report an Accident

You must report accidents with at least one of the following as quickly as possible:

  • Death, property damage, or injuries worth more than $1,000
  • Government property damage worth $200 or more

If you don’t report an accident like this, you could be fined $40 to $200.

Credit Scores and Gender: Is Discrimination Allowed?

Wisconsin doesn’t have laws banning car insurance providers from basing their prices on credit scores or gender, which is bad news for people with bad credit and for men. If you fall into these categories, you’ll probably pay more for car insurance than your counterparts who have good credit or are female. But the good news is you can get a no-credit-check car insurance quote from some companies.

Total Loss

In Wisconsin, the total loss threshold is 70 percent, so if your car’s repairs would cost more than 70 percent of its actual market value, your insurance will reimburse you for the AMV rather than the car’s repairs.

Wisconsin Contact Information for Drivers

Need to register your car, visit the DMV, get a duplicate car title, or contact the state’s insurance department? Find exactly the information you’re looking for below.

Registering Your Car

If you’re registering your car in Wisconsin for the first time, you’ll need to provide the following:

  • Filled-out application (print it from here: https://wisconsindot.gov/Documents/formdocs/mv1.pdf)
  • Wisconsin driver’s license or ID card
  • Last four digits of Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Vehicle title
  • Payment information — either a credit/debit card or checking/savings account (you can avoid a convenience fee by paying from a checking or savings account)

You can register your car online, by mail, or in person.

  • Online: https://trust.dot.state.wi.us/emvpublic/homePage.do
  • Mail: Write a check payable to the Registration Fee Trust and send it, along with your application, to this address:
    • ​Wisconsin Department of Transportation
      P.O. Box 7949
      Madison, WI 53707-7949

The fee will be $85, with a $75 surcharge for hybrid vehicles and a $100 surcharge for electric vehicles.

  • In person: Find a location at https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/dmv/vehicles/title-plates/walkin.aspx.

You can also renew your registration annually online or by mail.

  • Online: Renew on the web at https://trust.dot.state.wi.us/regRenewal/regRenewEntry.do?action=showRegRenewEntry.
  • Mail: Print out the form at https://wisconsindot.gov/Documents/formdocs/mv2016.pdf and send it to this address:
    • Wisconsin Department of Transportation
      P.O. Box 3279
      Milwaukee, WI 53201-3279

Annual registration renewals are free.

Surprisingly, given that insurance is a requirement in Wisconsin, you actually don’t need to have a policy before you register your vehicle unless it falls under one of these categories:

  • Buses
  • Driver education cars
  • For-hire carriers
  • For-hire cars
  • Human service vehicles
  • Rentals

DMV Contact Information

There are multiple ways to get in touch with the state’s DMV.

  • Location finder: https://trust.dot.state.wi.us/cscfinder/cscsearch.do
  • Phone: 608-264-7447
  • Email: https://trust.dot.state.wi.us/eif/emailInq.do?action=lookUpInquiry
  • Online: https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/online-srvcs/online.aspx

How to Get a Duplicate Car Title

Need a copy of your car title? Here’s how to get it in a few easy steps:

  1. Print and fill out the form. You can get it online at
    https://wisconsindot.gov/Documents/formdocs/mv2119.pdf. There’s no need to get the form notarized.
  2. Get $20. Your duplicate car title will require a $20 payment, which you should include with the filled-out application.
  3. Send the form. You must mail the form, as there’s no online option.
    • Wisconsin Department of Transportation
      P.O. Box 7949
      Madison, WI 53707
  4. Insurance Department Contact Information

    You can contact the state’s insurance department in three ways.

    • URL: https://oci.wi.gov/Pages/Homepage.aspx
    • Phone number: 608-266-3585
    • Mailing address:
      • 125 S. Webster St.
        Madison, WI 53703-3474

How Much Do Car Repairs Cost?

Car repairs impact the cost of car insurance, so it makes sense that Wisconsin’s average car repair costs are lower than most of the country’s. On average, people pay $249.08 for car repairs in Wisconsin, which is 10 percent less than the national average, according to CarMD.

Motor Vehicle Theft and Traffic Fatality Rates

Wisconsin has low rates for both motor vehicle theft and traffic fatalities, which also impact the cost of insurance.

Motor Vehicle Theft

There were only 161 motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 Wisconsin inhabitants in 2019, which was 53 percent below the national average, according to FBI data. Rates are higher in a few metropolitan areas, as you can see from the National Insurance Crime Bureau data below.

Metropolitan statistical area Number of motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 376
Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI 345
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 248
Duluth, MN-WI 202
Madison, WI 171

Traffic Fatalities

Wisconsin’s traffic fatality rates are a quarter lower than the national average at only 566 per 100 million miles traveled, according to the 2019 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety data.

Conclusion

Wisconsin is just one of 50 states, all of which have different laws surrounding car insurance and driving. To find out more about your state, read our state-by-state driving guide, or keep reading for answers to more FAQs about auto insurance in the Badger State.

Frequently Asked Questions

Driving in the Badger State? Read up on its auto insurance laws before taking the road.

How much is car insurance per month in Wisconsin?

Car insurance is $63 per month in Wisconsin, as of the most recent data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. This monthly cost is 40 percent lower than the national average.

What is the required auto insurance in Wisconsin?

This is the minimum required auto insurance in Wisconsin:

  • Bodily injury per person: $25,000
  • Bodily injury per accident: $50,000
  • Property damage: $10,000
  • Uninsured motorist coverage per person: $25,000
  • Uninsured motorist coverage per accident: $50,000

Is personal injury protection (PIP) required in Wisconsin?

Personal injury protection is not required in Wisconsin; only bodily injury, property damage, and uninsured motorist coverage are required. But since Wisconsin is an at-fault state, to cover your medical costs in at-fault accidents, you could buy medical coverage rather than PIP. Unlike PIP, medical coverage doesn’t cover lost wages or child care costs that result from an accident.

Is Wisconsin a no-fault state for auto insurance?

No, Wisconsin is not a no-fault state for auto insurance. It’s an at-fault state, so the party who’s at fault in an accident is responsible for property damage and bodily injury losses.

Citations

  1. Minimum insurance requirements. State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation. https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/dmv/license-drvs/rcd-crsh-rpt/Auto-insurance.aspx

  2. Violations. Wisconsin State Legislature. https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/344/VI/65

  3. Insurance Terminations, Denials, and Cancellations. Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. https://oci.wi.gov/Documents/Consumers/PI-024.pdf