Car Insurance Done the SMARTWAY™


Wisconsin may be known as “America’s Dairyland” and famous for its cheese, but it also deserves recognition for its really low average car insurance premiums! That’s right: The Badger State typically ranks in the bottom two or three states in the nation on lists for lowest auto insurance rates.

While that’s great news for residents, don’t let it stop you from doing what you can to further minimize your monthly payments. For example, a variety of discounts and incentives may be available to you. We’ll go over many of them—and other ways to save—throughout this page.

But the single most effective way to cut your car insurance costs is to thoroughly comparison shop for the lowest quotes from leading Wisconsin carriers. And it just so happens that that’s what we’re here for. Take a couple of minutes to answer a few questions, and SmartFinancial connects you with competing quotes in a carrier-neutral way. It’s incredibly fast and simple, and it’s all available to you for free!

Wow! Let’s get to it!

Wisconsin Auto Insurance Rates

Sure, things would be so simple if one carrier always provided the lowest car insurance rates. But, it doesn’t work that way. Lots of personal factors go into determining your premium, and each company has its own way of figuring out your offer. Still, J.D. Power’s top three auto insurers for the North Central region of the U.S., including Wisconsin, might be a good place to start (see the full list).

  1. Auto-Owners Insurance
  2. COUNTRY Financial
  3. The Hartford

These companies scored the best in the area in a study that looked at things like rates, policy and payment options, and customer satisfaction ratings. All good things to look at when comparing carriers.

Then again, we can save you lots of time and trouble by providing you with competing quotes from the state’s leading car insurance companies. Try it for free by choosing your location in the list below. Or, if it isn’t showing up, just click here instead.

 

Legalities 101

Carrying a current car insurance policy from a provider licensed in Wisconsin that meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements is a must. We’ll get into these minimum limits a little further down on the page.

It’s important to realize that this mandatory coverage isn’t just some imposition or attempt to make money for car insurance companies. It’s an investment in your financial well being, and it’s an essential protection for all motorists. Mandated insurance is about making sure everyone can be held responsible for damage or injuries they cause, and in fact helps to keep costs down for everybody on the road.

Because the unfortunate reality is that most drivers eventually get into an accident.

Wisconsin Driving Safety

To the points above, traffic accidents are unfortunately part of driving for most motorists sooner or later. Wisconsin has a relatively low crash fatality rate, but crashes are just as common here as most other places in the U.S.

Distracted and impaired driving, speeding, driving too fast for the conditions, failure to yield the right-of-way, and following the vehicle ahead too closely are all common contributors to accidents. Fatalities and serious injuries are far more likely if you’re not wearing your seat belt, so please remember to buckle up!

Wisconsin Driving Safety Stats

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566
Total number of crash fatalities in 2015
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77
Number of motorcyclist fatalities in 2015
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190
Number of deaths in alcohol-related crashes in 2015

Driving Green

Wisconsin offers several incentives to those who purchase and operate eco-friendly vehicles. Residents may qualify for other savings, too, such as federal tax breaks, special grants and loans, and more. Keep up with state and federal laws to stay on top of green driver incentives. You don’t want to miss out.

  • Vehicle Emissions Testing

    In Wisconsin, the DOT determines when vehicles must undergo smog and emissions checks, but you’ll always need to undergo testing before registering your vehicle. However, if you drive a motorcycle or moped, an electric-powered vehicle, a non-motorized vehicle, or a diesel-powered vehicle from certain model years, you’re exempt from vehicle emissions testing. Hybrid vehicles do not qualify for this exception because they use both electricity and gasoline.

  • Green Driver Insurance Discounts

    One of the biggest ways to save when going green is through discounts on your auto insurance premium. Some insurers offer discounts as high as 30% for purchasing an eco-friendly car, limiting driving to pleasure only, and keeping up with vehicle maintenance. To determine what discounts are available and how much you can save, speak with your agent.

  • Alternative Fuel Tax Refunds and Exemptions

    A variety of tax refunds and exemptions exist for green drivers in the state of Wisconsin. Residents who use an alternative fuel to power a taxi for the purpose of transporting passengers may qualify for a reimbursement for the amount paid in state fuel tax. Plus, certain taxes, including excise, privilege, license, and occupational taxes, cannot be charged on alternative fuel by any county, town, village, city, or subdivision. Idle reduction weight exemptions and biodiesel fuel use incentives are also available.

Car Insurance Laws

Being a Minimalist

All Wisconsin drivers must have an auto insurance policy providing liability coverage in the minimum amounts of $25,000 bodily injury per person, $50,000 bodily injury per accident, and $10,000 property damage per accident.

The State also mandates uninsured motorist coverage of at least $25,000 bodily injury per person and $50,000 bodily injury per accident. This is a protection against hit-and-run drivers and uninsured drivers who cause an accident.

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$ 25,000
Bodily injury coverage per person

Maximum payment for serious or permanent injury or death to a single person

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$ 50,000
Bodily injury coverage per accident

Coverage for multiple people injured in a single accident

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$ 10,000
Property damage per accident

Maximum payment for all damaged property in an accident caused by you

Maximizing Your Return on Investment

While minimum coverage squares you with the law and the Wisconsin DMV, it’s not always enough to pay for everything following a serious accident. It’s advisable to buy a policy with higher-than-minimum limits if it’s possible for you. Also, optional insurance add-ons like those discussed below are important for being covered for an array of repairs and services that aren’t included under liability coverage.

Optional coverage in Wisconsin

  • Auto Loan/Lease (or "gap")
  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Customized Parts and Equipment
  • Emergency Road Service
  • Excess Electronic Equipment
  • Medical Payments
  • Rental Coverage
  • Towing and Labor
  • Travel Expenses
  • Underinsured Motorist

Some exclusions may apply.

Bear in mind that lenders who provide vehicle financing usually require you to take out comprehensive and collision coverage. Don’t overlook this when shopping for a new policy or calculating your monthly insurance and loan costs.

12 Things You can do to Lower Your Auto Insurance Premium has some good ideas for offsetting the cost of optional coverages by reducing your premium.

Wisconsin car insurance companies

Auto-Owners Insurance
COUNTRY Financial
The Hartford
State Farm
Erie Insurance
American Family
Grange Insurance
Farmers
Nationwide
Allstate
Liberty Mutual
ACG (AAA)
GEICO
Progressive
MetLife
The Hanover
Safeco
Esurance

*The above list is based on consumer ratings for the North Central Region in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Auto Insurance Study. Ratings are derived from five key service areas: interaction, price, policy offerings, claims, and billing. USAA is a military-only insurance option and is therefore not including in the rankings.

Car Safety for Wisconsin Kids

Wisconsin Car Seat Regulations

Wisconsin has specific child car safety laws designed to keep kids safe, as proper restraint is so important to preventing serious injuries and death in the event of an accident.

Children under 4 years old and 40 pounds must be in an appropriate car seat. Up to 1 year old and 20 pounds, it should be a rear-facing seat; for the remainder of this window, it should be a front-facing car seat. From over 4 years and 40 pounds up to age 8 and 80 pounds or 4′ 9” tall, children must be secured in an appropriate booster seat. After that, kids must use the vehicle’s seat belts.

Assuming there’s an available back seat, children should always ride there. Front passenger seats are only safe if there isn’t an enabled airbag, as deployment can cause serious injury to kids under 13.

Transporting an improperly restrained child passenger under the age of 4 can result in a fine of $175.30. A first-time violation involving a child age 4 to 8 comes with a penalty of $150.10, and fines increase with subsequent infractions.

Leaving Children Unattended in a Vehicle

So far, Wisconsin lawmakers haven’t passed any legislation to address the situation of young kids being left alone in vehicles. Still, parents and other caregivers need to be aware that this is a dangerous practice. Children can hurt themselves playing around without supervision, and even set the vehicle in motion if they’re left with the keys. Strangers passing by may pose a threat, as well.

Additionally, temperatures inside a car, truck, van, or SUV can reach dangerous extremes in fairly little time. Hypothermia and hyperthermia are real risks that can cause permanent damage and even death in kids (and pets).

Car Insurance FAQ

Is my credit score a factor when obtaining car insurance in Wisconsin?

Carriers licensed in Wisconsin do make it a regular practice to reference consumer credit reports in determining premiums. Many believe that lower credit scores equate to higher risk of filing claims.

Does Wisconsin offer a good-driver discount?

It’s common practice for car insurance providers to give out good-driver discounts. Each one has its own qualifying criteria, but it’s usually something like 3 years without an accident or a ticket for a moving violation. Ask your agent for details, and about other discounts that may be available to you, such as:

  • Claims-Free
  • Credit Score
  • Anti-Lock Brakes, Air Bags, or Daytime Running Lights
  • Good Student Grades
  • Continued Policy Renewals
  • Accident-Free
  • Anti-Lock Brake
  • Anti-Theft Device
  • Home Ownership
  • Multi-Car
  • Multiple Line
  • Passive Restraint

Does Wisconsin allow the use of digital insurance cards?

It sure does! Don’t worry about digging through the mess in your glove box anymore. Just request official digital proof of coverage from your carrier and show it on your mobile device next time you need it. Of course, it’s a good idea to keep a printed card in your vehicle as backup anyway, just in case your phone is dead when you get pulled over.

What happens if my coverage lapses?

No matter the reason, driving without coverage in Wisconsin is against the law and subject to up to $500 in fines. You will also be required to promptly obtain a policy to retain your driving privileges.

What are Wisconsin's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) percentage limits under the state's driving under the influence (DUI) laws?

It’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle in Wisconsin with the following BAC percentages:s:

.08%+ at 21 years old or older
.04%+ for commercial vehicle drivers
.02%+ at under 21 years old

In Wisconsin, driving a car under the influence of alcohol or drugs is known as OWI, or Operating While Intoxicated. Although first, second, and third offenses require a BAC of 0.08%, fourth and subsequent offenses require a BAC of only 0.02%. Also, you can be charged and convicted of OWI due to use of marijuana, cocaine, other illegal drugs, prescription medications, and over-the-counter drugs while driving.

What are the chemical test refusal penalties in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin’s implied consent law means you agreed to take a blood, urine, or blood test to determine your BAC when you acquired a driver’s license. Refusal to submit to a chemical test will result in immediate revocation of your license for 1 year if this is your first refusal. A second refusal within 10 years of the first results in license revocation for 2 years, and a third offense within 10 years triggers a loss of driving privileges for 3 years.

What are the consequences of being convicted of a DUI?

Penalties for OWI range in severity depending on the number and type of offenses. At the very least, you face fines, court costs, suspension of your driver’s license for at least 6 months, and potential jail time. Transporting a minor while intoxicated or causing bodily harm to another person will result in considerably harsher punishments. A BAC of 0.15% results in mandatory participation in a sobriety program.

Find extensive detailed information in this PDF from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Does Wisconsin offer driver improvement courses to reduce my insurance premium?

It’s standard practice at many car insurance companies to give a discount to customers who voluntarily take a qualifying defensive driving course. Inquire about whether this is something you’re eligible for, and which driver improvement courses are approved for this purpose.

Is there any way I can reduce the cost of my Wisconsin car insurance?

Of course there are! We’ve already addressed a number of discounts and incentives on this page. On top of those, you can pay upfront for a full term of coverage rather than monthly, and choose a higher deductible for a lower premium. In the long run, it definitely pays to get and keep your credit score up, and to do your best to maintain a clean driving record. However, there’s no better way to reduce what you pay than taking just a few minutes with SmartFinancial to comparison shop for the lowest quotes on coverage in Wisconsin when it’s time for a new policy!

What is uninsured motorist coverage and is it required in Wisconsin?

This is an optional coverage in some states, but yes, it’s mandatory in Wisconsin. It provides payments for injuries sustained by you or any of your passengers if you’re in an accident caused by an uninsured driver or one who flees the crash site. All policies in the state must have at least $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person and $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident.

11%
Uninsured drivers in Wisconsin
12%
Uninsured drivers Nationwide

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