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Understanding Auto Insurance in Wisconsin

Why Buy Auto Insurance?

You buy auto insurance to protect yourself, your family
and your assets. Changes in the law regulating auto
insurance were adopted by the Legislature in 2009.
These changes, advocated by the Wisconsin Association
for Justice, will increase the benefits available to
policyholders and help ensure that you are able to
access the coverage you pay for. This brochure explains
the different types of insurance available and answers
some common questions. We encourage you to
educate yourself as a consumer, shop around and ask
questions before making an insurance decision, as all
insurance companies are not the same.

Must You Buy Auto Insurance?

Beginning June 1, 2010, Wisconsin will join 48 other
states and require all automobile owners to carry
insurance on each of their vehicles.

What Happens If I Don’t Buy Auto Insurance?

You could face a fine of up to $500. If you have an
accident without insurance, your license can be suspended
and you could be required to pay for damages
and buy insurance before your license is reinstated.

Getting The “Right” Amount of Insurance:
What is Required?

Beginning January 1, 2010 drivers will be required to
carry minimum insurance coverage of $50,000 for the
injury or death of one person, $100,000 for injury or
death to two or more persons, and $15,000 for property
damage. Drivers will also be required to purchase
uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist
coverage in the amounts of $100,000 per person and
$300,000 per accident.

Are the minimum amounts of
coverage sufficient?

The minimum amount of coverage may not be
sufficient to cover damages caused in an accident or
to protect your assets. The “right” amount of insurance
depends on the level of your personal assets which
require protection. In most cases, you should buy the
highest level of coverage you can comfortably afford.
Compare premiums for different levels of coverage.
Rates for higher levels are not that much greater than
lower levels of coverage (the premium for $100,000 of
coverage is not double the premium for $50,000).

We strongly recommend all persons carry liability
insurance coverage at least in the amount of
$100,000/ $300,000/ $50,000.

This means your liability insurance pays up to $100,000 for injuries to
one person, $300,000 for all persons, and $50,000 for
property damage. Because serious injuries can result in
high medical bills and other costs, you need adequate
coverage. You could be held personally responsible for
expenses in excess of your liability insurance coverage.

Types of Auto Insurance Coverages Defined

Required Insurance:

Liability Insurance: This coverage protects you for damages
you cause to other persons through the use of your
automobile. The other persons include both passengers
in your car or persons in another vehicle involved in an
accident with you. The insurance company promises to pay
up to the amount stated in the policy for the other person’s
medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other
losses. This is a fault-based coverage, that is, the coverage
only applies if you are determined to be more at fault than
the person who suffers the injury. Beginning January 1, 2010
the minimum amount of coverage required will be $50,000
per person or $100,000 per accident.

Property Damage Liability Insurance: This coverage
operates on the same basis as the bodily injury liability
insurance, but pays for damages to the other car or other
property if you cause an accident. The insurance company
promises to pay up to the amount stated in the policy for
any damages to the property of others including cars,
houses, or other physical property. It does not cover
damage to your automobile and in most cases will not
cover damages to someone else’s car you are driving.
Beginning on January 1, 2010 the minimum amount of
coverage you must purchase will be $15,000.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM): This coverage is
personal and portable and protects you or others riding in
your car or as a pedestrian for any bodily injury caused by a
person who has insurance but not enough to cover all your
medical bills and other expenses. UIM coverage is defined
by comparing the negligent driver’s liability insurance limit
with the amount of damages (or injuries) actually sustained
by the person injured. Beginning on November 1, 2009, the
coverage will be mandatory in the amount of $100,000 per
person and $300,000 per accident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage: This coverage, included on
all automobile liability policies sold in Wisconsin, provides
coverage for you or others who are riding in your car for any
bodily injury caused by a person who does not have insurance.
This coverage is personal, which means it continues
to cover you even if you are riding in someone else’s car,
riding a bike or walking. Beginning on November 1, 2009
the amount of coverage you must purchase is $100,000 per
person or $300,000 per accident.
If you have substantial assets, you should consider
purchasing an umbrella policy to protect these assets.

Optional Insurance Coverages
(Some of these coverages may be required by lending
institutions if a loan is secured to pay for the vehicle)

Collision Insurance: This is an optional coverage that
pays for damage to your car from an accident, no matter
who caused the accident.

Comprehensive Insurance: This is an optional coverage
that pays for damage to your car caused by fire, theft,
vandalism, or other dangers.

Medical Payments Coverage: This is an optional coverage
that pays you or others who are riding in your car for medical
or funeral expenses, no matter who caused the accident.
The minimum amount of coverage will rise to $10,000
on November 1, 2009.

Umbrella Or Excess Insurance Policy: This provides
additional insurance protection above the limits of your first
level of insurance coverage. Beginning after November 1,
2009, insurance companies must offer to sell you additional
uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. If you do
not want the coverage, you must reject the offer of
coverage in writing.