Will Changes to the Wisconsin Auto Insurance Law Affect My Coverage?

Wisconsin stateIn April 2011, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gave final approval on changes to how much coverage drivers in the state are legally required to carry and to some of the ways in which policyholders can use that financial protection in certain circumstances. The law officially goes into effect on Nov. 1, 2011, but the changes apply only to policies that are first issued or renewed after that date.

Minimum Coverage Requirements Get Sliced

The biggest change to Wisconsin car insurance law will be the amounts and types of protection that are required of policies.

Policies issued before Nov. 1 are required to cover at least up to $100,000 of bodily injury damages caused by the policyholder in an accident ($50,000 per person) and $15,000 per accident for property damages caused by the policyholder. But policies written after the changes take effect will be required to provide only half as much for bodily injury damages, and the minimum amount provided to cover property damages will be reduced to $10,000.

Minimum protections for uninsured motorist (UM), underinsured motorist (UIM) and medical payments (med-pay) insurance will also be changed. These will be affected in the following ways:
  • UM - The minimum amount will go from $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident down to $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
  • UIM - This type of protection will no longer be mandatory, and the minimum amount of UIM will be reduced from $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident to $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident
  • Med-pay - This will remain optional, but minimum amounts of protection will decrease from $10,000 to $1,000.

Insurance Is Still Mandatory for Wisconsin Drivers

Most of the changes enacted by the legislation simply bring parts of the state's auto insurance law back to their pre-2009 status. But one major change that was initiated in 2009 will remain: all drivers in Wisconsin will still be required to maintain a policy in order to drive legally.
Motorists will continue to be fined if they cannot provide proof of a policy.

Changes Will Affect Price and Application of Some Coverages

As for changes to the application of financial protection, policyholders will no longer be guaranteed the option of "stacking" coverage. Stacking allows motorists to transfer protection from one car covered under a policy to another when the first car's protection has been exhausted. So if three cars are on the same policy, and each has $100,000 in UM protection, each car essentially has access to $300,000 worth of UM coverage through stacking. Stacking only applies to UM/UIM and med-pay.

Insurers may still permit stacking after Nov. 1, but they will not be required to.

Another change may affect prices for new or uninsured drivers. It allows insurers to place applicants who did not previously have a policy in the high-risk category. Drivers who are considered high risks typically get charged more for a policy.