2011 Changes in Wisconsin Car Insurance Law
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UPDATED: Nov 23, 2020
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Major changes in Wisconsin car insurance went into effect November 1, 2011. Many of these changes seem like positive changes for Wisconsin drivers, but unpleasant surprises in the law are possible or even probable for middle-income drivers and people who are just retuning to work after layoffs. The new law reverses unpopular changes in insurance regulations that had been put in effect in 2009.
Prior Wisconsin auto insurance law had been seen as increasing the burdens of workers who had been laid off and the poor. The old insurance law had required drivers to carry liability coverage in the amounts of $50,000/$100,000 for death or injury to one or two persons and $15,000 for property damage.
The new insurance law only requires drivers to maintain $25,000/$50,000 for death or injury and $10,000 for property damage. The old law required policies to provide at least $300,000 of coverage beyond these minimums for accidents in which the policyholder is at fault. The new law only requires $100,000 of this coverage.
Lower coverage requirements mean lower minimum premiums. They make monthly payments more affordable. But these changes in Wisconsin auto insurance law also put Wisconsin drivers and their families at tremendous financial risk just as many people are on the road to financial recovery.
If you are at fault in a car crash in Wisconsin, your legal liability is not limited to your insurance coverage. If you are taken to court and found responsible for the accident and liable for damages, you can be forced to pay far more than the minimum coverage required for law. If you have assets of any kind, a house, an investment account, a farm, or a business, you might lose the results of years of hard work and saving if you lose your case. And if you don't have assets, losing a lawsuit can force you or your family into bankruptcy.
As a result of well-intentioned changes to Wisconsin law meant to make it easier for poor people to get to work, school, church, and stores, many Wisconsin residents are underinsured. They are at real risk of getting slapped into poverty when they or a family member are found culpable for a car wreck. Getting the coverage you need to prevent financial catastrophe Wisconsin, however, may only cost a few dollars more every month. Your lowest auto insurance rates only require a look at your driving history and your financial protection needs.