Auto Insurance Grace Period Ending in Wisconsin

Car with blurry backgroundLast month, Wisconsin joined the overwhelming majority of states requiring motorists to carry auto insurance. The state was one of the last two that do not require residents to have coverage when getting behind the wheel. (The other state, New Hampshire, still has yet to enact an auto-insurance mandate.)

Although the law was passed last year, some state law enforcement officials have been allowing residents time to get educated about the law; some have only been giving warnings to residents, reports ABC affiliate WBAY. Many departments, though, WBAY reports, will soon quit issuing warnings and will instead go straight to citations.

According to the office of the State of Wisconsin’s Insurance Commissioner, the law now requires drivers to have “a motor vehicle liability policy in place covering that vehicle that has minimum liability limits of $50,000 per person, and $100,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $15,000 for property damage.”

While the added cost of auto insurance may be startling to some motorists, a fine of up to a $500 fine will be issued to drivers caught behind the wheel without it; and if a driver is caught trying to provide fraudulent proof of coverage, the fine can reach $5,000.

The hefty fine was enough to serve a wake-up call to some people in the state. According to WBAY, local auto insurance agents are seeing a serious uptick in the number of Wisconsinites calling for quotes.

“It was crazy. Everyone started calling in because, I think, all of a sudden they knew there was a fine out there, and it could be $500 that they could be cited for,” Michelle Sorrell of Valley Insurance Associates told WBAY.

Just having the coverage won’t be enough. Drivers also must be able to show proof of auto insurance coverage if pulled over by an official. A $10 fine will be applied to motorists who cannot provide proof of insurance upon request.

The Insurance Research Council estimated in a report that, in 2007, 15 percent of motorists in Wisconsin lacked liability insurance.

About John Pirro
John Pirro is a licensed fire and casualty insurance agent specializing in various aspects of the auto insurance industry. He worked in the auto body repair industry before taking a reporting position at Online Auto Insurance News.

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