As of June 1st, 2010, the law in Wisconsin requires all automobile owners to purchase automobile insurance. There are no exceptions. Wisconsin is the 49th state to pass a mandatory automobile insurance law. Auto owners are required to carry proof of insurance in their vehicles, and must produce proof of insurance upon request by a police officer. Drivers who fail to produce proof of insurance will face significant fines.
Wisconsin's new auto insurance law requires vehicle owners to obtain a liability insurance policy that provides at least $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per person and at least $100,000 per accident, as well as $15,000 for property damage. Additionally, each vehicle owner must obtain both uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. All of the minimum levels of coverage have been increased by the new law. By increasing the minimum coverage limits, the legislature has provided greater protection for everyone in Wisconsin.
Importantly, no driver may be stopped by law enforcement for the exclusive purpose of inquiring as to whether the driver carries insurance. All insurance inquiries are to be made subsequent to a traffic stop, auto accident or other encounter with law enforcement. Also of note is that local municipalities are free to decide fine amounts for the insurance violation, but indications are that many municipalities will follow the $200.50 fine which will be imposed by state patrol officers.
Some advocates for low-income individuals have argued that this law makes it difficult for those people who are struggling economically to obtain and keep reasonably priced auto insurance.
However, supporters of the law are quick to point out that the benefits far outweigh the burdens. For example:
- If you are involved in a traffic accident, you, your passengers and your car are covered financially;
- If you are at fault in the accident, your legal costs are covered, as are the repairs and medical expenses of the other driver. (Up to the limit of your coverage);
- If you have to miss work due to an accident, your lost wages and household expenses are covered;
- There is car rental reimbursement and tow truck coverage for your vehicle;
- You are provided with roadside assistance if your vehicle breaks down or has a flat tire;
- You are covered for any theft or vandalism of your vehicle.
Through these legislative changes, Wisconsin lawmakers have taken an affirmative step towards protecting all individuals in the state. These additional protections are critically important and will prove to be invaluable when people's lives are impacted by an auto accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact the personal injury attorneys who can evaluate the details of your case and advise you of how best to proceed to protect your rights and interests. Contact: Domnitz & Skemp, S.C. at 414-395-5832 or by visiting www.DomnitzLaw.com.