|Wisconsin Statistics Summary||Details|
|Road Miles||Total in State: 115,372
Vehicle Miles Driven: 620.73 billion
|Most Popular Vehicle||Silverado 1500|
State Rank: 15
|Total Driving Fatalities||2008-2017 Speeding: 1900
Drunk Driving: 1928
|Annual Average Premiums||Collision: $209.93
|Cheapest Providers||American Family Insurance
Wisconsin, known as America’s Dairyland, is full of dramatic scenery, mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, caverns, and forests. It’s also home to the Green Bay Packers and the Waterpark Capital of the World, Wisconsin Dells.
You can plan adventures from hiking and kayaking to skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling across the state.
No matter where you choose to go throughout the state, you should know what coverage you need to protect yourself financially and ensure that you’re legal when driving on the road. We know this kind of information can be difficult and time-consuming to find, so we’ve done the work for you.
Read on to find out more information to help you make an educated, informed decision when choosing your car insurance coverage. Why don’t you get started right now by using your ZIP code to get a free quote on car insurance?
- 1 Wisconsin Car Insurance Coverage and Rates
- 2 Best Wisconsin Car Insurance Companies
- 2.1 The Largest Companies’ Financial Rating
- 2.2 Companies with Best Ratings
- 2.3 Companies with Most Complaints in Wisconsin
- 2.4 Cheapest Companies in Wisconsin
- 2.5 Commute Rates by Companies
- 2.6 Coverage Level Rates by Companies
- 2.7 Credit History Rates by Companies
- 2.8 Driving Record Rates by Companies
- 2.9 Largest Car Insurance Companies in Wisconsin
- 2.10 Number of Insurers by State
- 3 Free Car Insurance Comparison
- 4 Wisconsin Laws
- 5 Driving Safely in Wisconsin
Wisconsin Car Insurance Coverage and Rates
When you’re ready to start shopping for car insurance, you need to know what questions to ask, what kind of coverage is required by the state, and what kind of coverage you personally need.
But with so many options, how do you know where to start? How do you know how much coverage you need? What type of coverage? What’s a fair price? How are those prices generated?
We know these are only a few of the questions you may be asking as you look for the right car insurance coverage for your lifestyle.
To help you get some clarity in the confusion and abundance of available information, we’ve collected data from various sources on insurance requirements, rates, how rates are developed, the types of available coverage, and more.
We’ll start with price, since that can be a limiting factor in your insurance coverage decision. In this table, we look at average rates for insurance in Wisconsin compared to the national average.
|Wisconsin||National Average||Percent Difference|
The rates in this table are based on averaging all coverage types. As you can see, Wisconsin drivers pay an average of 26 percent less for car insurance coverage than the national average, which is good news for residents of the state.
Wisconsin’s Car Culture
Wisconsin residents can claim a rich history in the automobile industry. Manufacturing of automobiles began in the state in the early 1900s, and before that, some of the early prototypes for vehicles were also developed.
Short-track racing is also popular in the state, and according to the Southeast Wisconsin Short Track Hall of Fame, many nationally successful racers started their careers in short track in Wisconsin.
In addition to cars, perhaps the vehicle Wisconsin is most famous for is the Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Many residents in the state own motorcycles, which is something you should be aware of when driving your own vehicle. Keeping an eye out for motorcyclists is important in staying safe on the road.
Wisconsin Minimum Coverage
Most of the states across the country require any driver on the road to buy and maintain a minimum level of car insurance coverage to legally drive on the road.
Wisconsin is no exception, despite the fact that 14.3 percent of Wisconsin residents are driving uninsured.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation provides drivers with the minimum liability insurance coverage requirements, which we’ve listed in the below table.
|Required Insurance||Minimum Limits|
|Bodily Injury||$25,000 per person
$50,000 per accident
|Property Damage Liability||$10,000|
Knowing the minimum liability coverage requirements in Wisconsin is important so you know your legal requirements. You also neeed to be aware of what other drivers on the road should be carrying and how this can affect you if an accident occurs (particularly regarding who is financially responsible).
Forms of Financial Responsibility
If you’re in an accident or stopped by law enforcement, you’ll likely be asked for proof of insurance or proof of financial responsibility. You have a few options for providing proof of financial responsibility in Wisconsin. These include:
- Proof of insurance
- A bond from an insurance company
- A certificate of deposit for either money or securities in the amount of $60,000
- A certificate of self-insurance
Wisconsin law states that electronic insurance cards can be used as valid proof of insurance.
Premiums as a Percentage of Income
Now that you know what your minimum requirements for insurance coverage are, how much of your income can you plan to allocate to insurance? Knowing this can help you plan financially for this expense.
Take a look at this table to see what percent of disposable income Wisconsin residents typically spend on insurance, compared to the national average of the same.
Fortunately for residents of America’s Dairyland, the percentage of income spent on car insurance in the state is about 25 percent less than the national average.
However, the national average takes the overall country’s population into account, which doesn’t necessarily represent the region in which Wisconsin residents reside.
We’ve compared the percentage of income spent on car insurance in Wisconsin to the percentage of income spent on car insurance in nearby states and listed the information in the below table.
As you can see, Wisconsin is on the lower end for percent of income spent on car insurance. In fact, the only state with less of a percentage allocation is Iowa. This is good news for your spending habits if you live in Wisconsin.
Though minimum liability coverage will ensure you meet the state legal requirements, it doesn’t provide the kind of coverage you may need if you’re in a car accident.
Essentially, minimum liability insurance only covers the damages experienced by the other party involved in an accident, and only up to the dollar amount of the minimum liability coverage.
If you want financial protection that helps cover the cost of damages that you may experience, you’ll need more than just liability coverage. This additional coverage is referred to as core coverage.
To learn more about what this insurance covers, and the kinds of options you have, take a few minutes to watch this video.
How much might this core coverage cost you in Wisconsin? In this table, we’ve listed the coverage types and average costs in the state.
|Coverage Type||2011–2015 Average Cost in Wisconsin|
These numbers can be used as a baseline for you to start considering whether core coverage is for you, and if so, which one may be the right fit.
However, please keep in mind that these National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) rates are based on Wisconsin’s minimum insurance coverage requirements.
With core coverage, you have financial protection for a number of the major issues you may experience, including auto accidents, vandalism, and weather damage. However, there are still situations that core coverage can’t protect you against.
For example, you know that 14 percent of drivers in Wisconsin are uninsured. What happens if you’re in a car accident with one of those drivers? If you only have core coverage, unfortunately, you may be responsible for the cost of damages and injuries.
If you’re concerned about this happening to you, you can buy uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage will help provide additional protection in case you’re in an accident with one of those uninsured drivers.
There are two other forms of additional liability coverage you can buy that offer additional protection if you’re in an accident:
- Personal injury protection (PIP) – provides additional coverage for medical costs (this includes everyone involved in an accident, regardless of who is at fault)
- Medical payments (MedPay) – provides additional coverage for medical costs (this is only for you and anyone else listed on your policy)
While these additional liability coverage options offer additional financial protection, they are only good if your insurance company is willing and able to pay out on a reasonable number of claims, should you ever need to file one.
The NAIC offers one way for policyholders to find out whether companies in their area typically pay on a fair amount of claims. This method is referred to as loss ratio, which indicates the percentage of claims an insurance company pays on compared to the total number of premiums written.
In this table, we’ve collected the NAIC loss ratio data for MedPay and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (the NAIC doesn’t offer data on personal injury protection).
What does the information in this table mean?
When looking at loss ratio, a healthy range is considered to be between 60 and 80 percent. If the numbers are lower than 60 percent, it indicates that companies are not paying out on enough claims. However, if the numbers are higher than 80 percent, companies are likely paying out on too many claims, which can have a negative effect on their overall financial stability.
With this in mind and based on this loss ratio data, Wisconsin residents can be confident that insurance companies in the state typically payout on a fair number of claims filed for additional liability coverage.
Add-ons, Endorsements, and Riders
When you’re looking at car insurance, you have even more options beyond liability, additional liability, and core coverage. You have other add-ons, endorsements, and riders.
We suggest you speak to your insurance agent if you’re interested in learning more about these options or feel you need additional protection. These options include:
- Guaranteed auto protection (GAP) – covers the gap between what your car is worth and what you still owe on your loan
- Personal umbrella policy (PUP) – provides protection if you’re ever faced with a lawsuit because of your part in a car accident
- Rental reimbursement – provides coverage if you have to rent a car if yours is damaged in a car accident and is unavailable to drive while it’s being repaired
- Emergency roadside assistance – provides coverage for various roadside needs, such as a flat tire or towing
- Mechanical breakdown insurance – provides repair coverage, often beyond what’s covered by your vehicle’s warranty
- Non-owner car insurance – provides insurance coverage when you don’t own a car
- Modified car insurance coverage – provides coverage for vehicles with special modifications (wheels/tires, specialty paint jobs, spoilers)
- Classic car insurance – provides coverage for vehicles that are considered collector’s items
- Pay-as-you-drive or usage-based insurance – insurance coverage that’s specifically focused on individual driving habits
Male vs. Female Rates
We’ve talked a little about price, but not about how rates can vary based on who you are, where you live, and how responsible you are.
These and other factors all affect your insurance rates. Probably the most commonly discussed factors are age and gender.
Men pay more for insurance than women, and the younger you are, the higher your insurance rates will be.
Adjusting rates based on some factors is still acceptable, while in other cases it is becoming a problematic practice. Using gender as a reason to adjust rates is controversial and becoming less common as states have begun to prohibit this policy. However, it’s still legal in Wisconsin.
To see if age and gender really do have an effect on your rates in America’s Dairyland, take a look at this table, where we list average rates for both men and women at varying ages and for differing marital statuses.
|Company||Single 17-year-old female||Single 17-year-old male||Single 25-year-old female||Single 25-year-old male||Married 35-year-old female||Married 35-year-old male||Married 60-year-old female||Married 60-year-old male|
|American Family Ins||$2,844.04||$3,134.61||$1,135.28||$1,209.31||$958.90||$1,002.57||$907.25||$914.15|
|Artisan and Truckers Casualty||$6,692.88||$7,551.66||$2,112.73||$2,290.54||$1,760.63||$1,676.02||$1,442.61||$1,504.23|
|Mid-Century Ins Co||$9,058.32||$9,384.83||$2,174.00||$2,277.36||$1,914.63||$1,915.25||$1,697.53||$1,797.98|
|SAFECO Ins Co of IL||$5,989.99||$6,720.07||$1,882.36||$2,040.80||$1,770.81||$1,933.28||$1,431.26||$1,626.57|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||$3,833.87||$4,845.21||$1,516.77||$1,732.41||$1,345.30||$1,345.30||$1,195.81||$1,195.81|
In looking at this table, you can see that younger males do pay the most for car insurance. For example, if you’re a 17-year-old male insured by AMCO Insurance, you’ll pay 53.38 percent more on average than if you’re a 17-year-old female.
However, if you’re insured by Mid-Century Insurance Company, the difference between rates for males and females at 17 is only 3.6 percent.
The average difference between male and female rates across all the companies listed is 18.94 percent at age 17.
However, as you get older, the gap between male and female drivers shrinks. At 25, the difference between rates for males and females is cut in half, for an overall average of 9.13 percent (compared to the 18.94 percent average at 17).
At 35, the average difference between male and female drivers is 3.3 percent, with companies such as State Farm keeping their rates the same for both male and female drivers.
In the case of other companies such as Artisan and Truckers, males actually pay less for insurance for females by 4.81 percent.
All this data, which we obtained from Quadrant, is collected from actual coverage purchased by drivers in Wisconsin, including high-risk drivers, drivers who buy more than the state minimum coverage, and drivers who buy only liability coverage. This way, the data is more representative of the state’s residents.
Cheapest Rates by ZIP Code
Where you live is another factor that insurance companies use to adjust your rates. Insurance companies use these factors to adjust your rates based on the risk associated with them.
For example, in the previous section, we talked about age and gender. Younger people typically pay higher insurance rates because insurance companies consider them higher-risk drivers.
These factors determine the likelihood of your needing to file or claim or having a claim filed against you.
With that in mind, where you live is a risk factor they consider from the perspective of crime and accident statistics. Companies look at these statistics by ZIP code, which means your rates can be adjusted based on which ZIP code you live in.
To see what this looks like in Wisconsin, we’ve listed the average rate for the top ZIP codes in the state in the below tables. You can search for your ZIP code to see what average rates look like in your area.
|Most Expensive ZIP Codes in Wisconsin||City||Average by Zip Code||Most Expensive Company||Most Expensive Rate||2nd Most Expensive Company||2nd Most Expensive Rate||Cheapest Company||Cheapest Rate||2nd Cheapest Company||2nd Cheapest Rate|
|54434||JUMP RIVER||$3,572.87||Progressive||$7,590.37||Nationwide||$5,797.61||American Family||$1,557.59||State Farm||$2,072.49|
|54532||HEAFFORD JUNCTION||$3,569.38||Progressive||$7,590.37||Nationwide||$5,797.61||American Family||$1,442.50||State Farm||$2,072.49|
|54439||HANNIBAL||$3,561.28||Progressive||$7,590.37||Nationwide||$5,797.61||American Family||$1,453.20||State Farm||$2,072.49|
The most expensive ZIP code in the state for car insurance is 53206, with an average rate of $5,102.46. Even within the same city, the rates can vary significantly. For example, in Milwaukee, the most expensive average rate for insurance (ZIP code 53206) is $5,102.60.
This is also the most expensive ZIP code in the entire state. The most affordable average insurance rate in Milwaukee (ZIP code 53228) is $3,217.78. The difference between these two rates is 58.57 percent.
|Least Expensive ZIP Codes in Wisconsin||City||Average by Zip Codes||Most Expensive Company||Most Expensive Rate||2nd Most Expensive Company||2nd Most Expensive Rate||Cheapest Company||Cheapest Rate||2nd Cheapest Company||2nd Cheapest Rate|
|54311||GREEN BAY||$2,510.86||Nationwide||$4,176.89||Farmers||$3,349.88||American Family||$1,428.76||GEICO||$1,670.01|
|53085||SHEBOYGAN FALLS||$2,513.86||Nationwide||$3,861.19||Farmers||$3,570.64||American Family||$1,300.22||USAA||$1,633.42|
|54113||COMBINED LOCKS||$2,518.18||Nationwide||$4,220.90||Farmers||$3,392.03||American Family||$1,320.94||GEICO||$1,652.89|
|54301||GREEN BAY||$2,519.58||Nationwide||$4,176.89||Farmers||$3,474.80||American Family||$1,312.84||GEICO||$1,683.22|
|54115||DE PERE||$2,521.59||Nationwide||$4,176.89||Allstate||$3,373.77||American Family||$1,356.11||GEICO||$1,670.01|
|54304||GREEN BAY||$2,526.11||Nationwide||$4,176.89||Farmers||$3,474.80||American Family||$1,399.48||GEICO||$1,683.22|
|54123||FOREST JUNCTION||$2,540.14||Nationwide||$4,174.98||Farmers||$3,399.89||American Family||$1,289.92||USAA||$1,751.92|
|54302||GREEN BAY||$2,540.45||Nationwide||$4,176.89||Farmers||$3,474.80||American Family||$1,544.78||GEICO||$1,683.22|
|54303||GREEN BAY||$2,541.33||Nationwide||$4,176.89||Farmers||$3,474.80||American Family||$1,385.56||GEICO||$1,683.22|
|54313||GREEN BAY||$2,545.82||Nationwide||$4,176.89||Farmers||$3,349.88||American Family||$1,325.38||GEICO||$1,670.01|
|54140||LITTLE CHUTE||$2,561.22||Nationwide||$4,220.90||Allstate||$3,683.58||American Family||$1,323.76||GEICO||$1,652.89|
|53020||ELKHART LAKE||$2,564.46||Nationwide||$4,174.98||Farmers||$3,469.07||American Family||$1,343.88||USAA||$1,633.42|
By contrast, the cheapest average car insurance rates are found in ZIP code 54130, with an average rate of $2,491.30. Taking it a step further, the rates in ZIP code 53260 are 104.81 percent higher than the rates in ZIP code 54130.
Cheapest Rates by City
We can frame this a different way by looking at the average rates by city instead of by ZIP code. In the below tables, we’ve listed the cities in Wisconsin, ranking them by most to least expensive average rates. We’ve also compared the rates of companies.
|Most Expensive Cities in Wisconsin||Average by City||Most Expensive Company||Most Expensive Rate||2nd Most Expensive Company||2nd Most Expensive Rate||Cheapest Company||Cheapest Rate||2nd Cheapest Company||2nd Cheapest Rate|
|Brown Deer||$4,178.79||Allstate||$6,485.52||Nationwide||$6,015.52||American Family||$1,890.47||USAA||$2,264.43|
|Jump River||$3,572.87||Progressive||$7,590.37||Nationwide||$5,797.61||American Family||$1,557.59||State Farm||$2,072.49|
|Heafford Junction||$3,569.38||Progressive||$7,590.37||Nationwide||$5,797.61||American Family||$1,442.50||State Farm||$2,072.49|
|Hannibal||$3,561.27||Progressive||$7,590.37||Nationwide||$5,797.61||American Family||$1,453.20||State Farm||$2,072.49|
|St. Francis||$3,461.08||Nationwide||$6,195.71||Farmers||$4,649.36||American Family||$1,759.85||USAA||$2,049.94|
|Elmwood Park||$3,363.02||Nationwide||$5,481.23||Allstate||$4,580.92||American Family||$1,795.49||USAA||$2,140.26|
|Hertel||$3,344.17||Nationwide||$5,946.74||Farmers||$4,574.93||American Family||$1,595.78||State Farm||$2,116.33|
|Stone Lake||$3,252.68||Nationwide||$5,946.74||Farmers||$4,176.65||American Family||$1,595.06||USAA||$2,133.57|
|Shell Lake||$3,246.88||Nationwide||$5,946.74||Farmers||$4,014.10||American Family||$1,568.99||USAA||$2,133.57|
|Maplewood||$3,246.07||Progressive||$7,590.37||Nationwide||$4,497.68||American Family||$1,344.11||State Farm||$1,778.65|
Now that you know what the most expensive cities are for car insurance, take a look at the cheapest cities below.
|Least Expensive Cities in Wisconsin||Average by City||Most Expensive Company||Most Expensive Rate||2nd Most Expensive Company||2nd Most Expensive Rate||Cheapest Company||Cheapest Rate||2nd Cheapest Company||2nd Cheapest Rate|
|Sheboygan Falls||$2,513.86||Nationwide||$3,861.19||Farmers||$3,570.64||American Family||$1,300.22||USAA||$1,633.42|
|Combined Locks||$2,518.18||Nationwide||$4,220.90||Farmers||$3,392.03||American Family||$1,320.94||GEICO||$1,652.89|
|Howards Grove||$2,521.05||Nationwide||$3,861.19||Farmers||$3,499.01||American Family||$1,261.88||USAA||$1,631.12|
|De Pere||$2,521.59||Nationwide||$4,176.89||Allstate||$3,373.77||American Family||$1,356.11||GEICO||$1,670.01|
|Forest Junction||$2,540.14||Nationwide||$4,174.98||Farmers||$3,399.89||American Family||$1,289.92||USAA||$1,751.92|
|Green Bay||$2,541.34||Nationwide||$4,176.89||Farmers||$3,474.80||American Family||$1,385.56||GEICO||$1,683.22|
|Little Chute||$2,561.22||Nationwide||$4,220.90||Allstate||$3,683.58||American Family||$1,323.76||GEICO||$1,652.89|
|Elkhart Lake||$2,564.46||Nationwide||$4,174.98||Farmers||$3,469.07||American Family||$1,343.88||USAA||$1,633.42|
Best Wisconsin Car Insurance Companies
We’ve spent some time discussing price because we know this is a key piece of information for most people when shopping for insurance — and we’ll return to the question of price later in this section. But for a few moments, we’re turning our attention to factors other than price.
When you’re shopping for car insurance, you should know the state of the companies you’re considering. Specifically, you need to know the financial status and customer service ratings of any company from which you consider purchasing a policy.
We know this can seem like just one more time sink as you try to find reputable information on insurance companies in the Wisconsin area. To help you out, we’ve collected financial and customer service ratings for the companies in your area.
Once we’ve examined this information, we’ll then turn back to price, taking a look at some of the other major factors that can affect your rates, beyond what we’ve already covered. So keep on reading.
The Largest Companies’ Financial Rating
When determining the financial status of an insurance company, finding a high-level indicator of that status can be difficult. Many companies publish their earnings statements (Liberty Mutual, for example).
But unless you’re an accountant or have some financial background, this information won’t help you understand the overall financial status of a company and financial outlook for the future.
This is where companies such as A.M. Best come into play. A.M. Best is a global credit firm that focuses specifically on the insurance market. They provide financial ratings focused on companies’ stability and financial outlook.
In this table, we’ve listed A.M. Best’s ratings for the 10 largest companies in Wisconsin.
|American Family Insurance Group||A||Stable|
|State Farm Group||A++||Stable|
|Allstate Insurance Group||A+||Stable|
|Acuity a Mutual Insurance Co||A+||Stable|
|Erie Insurance Group||A+||Stable|
|West Bend Mutual Insurance Co||A||Stable|
|Liberty Mutual Group||A||Stable|
A.M. Best’s rating structure is quite simple. Any company with an A- or better is considered financially stable.
With this in mind, residents of America’s Dairyland can be confident in the financial stability of the insurance companies available in the area.
Companies with Best Ratings
Now that we know the companies you may be purchasing insurance from are financially stable, let’s take a look at their customer service. You should know whether a company will be responsive to you when you need help, have questions, or are making changes to your policy.
J.D. Power recently published a report stating that customer satisfaction with insurance companies is higher than ever before. But what does this mean in your area? In the below table we’ve compiled the J.D. Power customer satisfaction ratings for the companies in the North Central region (where Wisconsin is).
USAA has the highest rating, with a customer satisfaction index rating of 891 (out of 1,000) and a J.D. Power Circle Rating™ of five, which means among the best.
However, USAA is only available to members of the military and their families. The highest-ranked company available to all consumers is Westfield, whose customer satisfaction index rating is 855 and also has a J.D. Power Circle Rating™ of five.
Of the companies included in the top 10 largest in Wisconsin (recall we listed these in the previous section), the highest-ranked company (aside from USAA) is Erie Insurance Group, which has a customer satisfaction index rating of 852 and a J.D. Power Circle Rating™ of five.
By contrast, the company with the lowest J.D. Power rating from the list of 10 largest companies is Liberty Mutual, with a customer satisfaction index rating of 802 and a J.D. Power Circle Rating™ of two, which puts them among the rest.
Companies with Most Complaints in Wisconsin
Another way to look at customer service is by considering the number of complaints a company receives compared to their direct premiums written.
Does a company have an unusually high number of complaints? Have they received a below-average number of complaints? How does this compare with their J.D. Power customer service rating?
The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance doesn’t offer complaint data for the insurance companies in the state. However, we can use complaint ratios (the correct term for this form of complaint data) provided by the NAIC instead.
The NAIC complaint ratio numbers are derived by dividing the number of complaints by the total direct premiums written for a given company.
When looking at a complaint ratio, remember that the number 1 represents average. So anything above 1.00 means the company receives more than the average number of complaints, while anything below 1 indicates companies receive less than the average number of complaints.
In this table, we list the top 10 insurance companies in Wisconsin, along with their direct premiums written, market share, and NAIC complaint ratio.
|Insurance Company||Direct Premiums Written||Market Share||Complaint Ratio|
|Acuity a Mutual Insurance Co||$111,548||3.58%||0.26|
|Allstate Insurance Group||$146,726||4.71%||0.5|
|American Family Insurance Group||$583,243||18.73%||0.79|
|Erie Insurance Group||$97,480||3.13%||0.7|
|Liberty Mutual Group||$78,174||2.51%||5.95|
|State Farm Group||$468,020||15.03%||0.44|
|West Bend Mutual Insurance Co||$92,535||2.97%||0.33|
With the exception of Liberty Mutual, the largest companies in Wisconsin typically receive fewer complaints than average.
Recall that the Erie Insurance Group received one of the highest J.D. Power ratings for the region. This makes sense when we compare this to their complaint ratio of 0.7, which is well below average.
By contrast, Liberty Mutual has a complaint ratio of 5.95. This is by far the highest complaint ratio, and is the only one in the list that is above the average for the number of complaints received.
However, this should not come as too much of a surprise when we remember that the company received one of the lower J.D. Power scores.
If you need to file a complaint, you have questions about filing a complaint, or you’d like to learn the status of a previously filed complaint, you can call the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance at 1-800-236-8517 or 608-266-0103. They can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d prefer an alternative method of submitting your complaint, you can print the complaint form, fill it out, and send it via fax, mail, or FedEx, UPS, or other shipping services. The fax number is 608-264-8115.
If you send your complaint through standard mail, it should be addressed to the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53707-7873.
When sending your complaint form through FedEx, UPS, or overnight mail, address your envelope to Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, 125 South Webster Street, Madison, WI 53703-3474.
Cheapest Companies in Wisconsin
We turn back to pricing again at this point and start by looking at the average rates of the largest car insurance companies in Wisconsin, compared to the state average.
|Company||Average||+/- Compared to State Average ($)||+/- Compared to State Average (%)|
|American Family Ins||$1,513||-$1,444.68||-95.47%|
|Artisan and Truckers Casualty||$3,129||$170.97||5.46%|
|Mid-Century Ins Co||$3,777||$819.55||21.70%|
|SAFECO Ins Co of IL||$2,924||-$33.55||-1.15%|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||$2,126||-$831.63||-39.11%|
The average rate across all these companies is $2,957.94. You can see that five of the nine companies listed have rates below the average (some, like American Family, quite significantly), while the remaining four are above the average.
But what makes up the rates? You already know how factors such as age, gender, and ZIP code can affect your rates. But did you know there are a number of other factors companies use when adjusting their rates? These include commute, driving record, and credit score.
To see how much these factors may affect you in Wisconsin, keep reading.
Commute Rates by Companies
Let’s start with commute. When you’re driving to and from work each day, insurance companies often consider just how likely you are to end up in an accident. They want to know how likely it is that a claim will be filed (either by you or by someone else against you).
The longer your commute, the higher your odds of getting in a car accident — simply because the more time you spend on the road, the more chances there are for something to happen. Some companies increase their rates for people with higher commutes.
Check out this table to see what commute distance in Wisconsin may mean for your insurance rates.
|Insurance Company||10-mile commute (6000 annual mileage)||25-mile commute (12000 annual mileage)||Percent Chance|
Fortunately for Wisconsin drivers, most insurance companies don’t make dramatic rate increases for higher commutes. In fact, out of the nine companies listed, four don’t increase their rates at all, and the remaining five only increase their rates by between 2–5 percent.
Coverage Level Rates by Companies
We’ve discussed the different coverage options you can speak to your insurance agent about from liability coverage to core coverage, as well as the numerous add-ons you can purchase. But how much coverage is right for you?
Only you can determine the amount of insurance coverage that fits your needs based on your lifestyle, the risks you face, and what you can afford. In addition to the options we previously provided you with, we’re also going to provide you average rates based on varying levels of coverage.
As you might expect, in general, the more coverage you have, the more you pay. But what does this mean in Wisconsin? Take a look at this table to find out.
|Insurance Company||Low Coverage||Medium Coverage||High Coverage|
For the most part, companies do have higher rates based on increasing levels of coverage. The only exception to this is American Family. Their rates actually decrease slightly (by about half of a percent) between medium and high coverage.
For low to medium coverage, the highest rate increase is from Liberty Mutual, at just under 10 percent, while the lowest rate increase is American Family with 2.23 percent.
From medium to high coverage, the highest rate increase is 9.42 percent by Farmers insurance and the lowest rate increase (other than American Family, which we already mentioned), is Nationwide, with about 3 percent.
Credit History Rates by Companies
Yet another factor insurance companies look at is credit score. Right or wrong, the better your credit score is, the better your rates will be. Insurance companies see your credit score as a sign of living responsibly (or irresponsibly, as the case may be).
The assumption is that if you have a high credit score, you’ll drive responsibly, which means you’re less likely to cost your insurer money.
In Wisconsin, the average credit score is 696, according to Experian. With good credit typically considered to be a score of 670 or above, Wisconsin residents are in good shape.
In this table, we list the average rates for insurance in Wisconsin based on good, fair, and poor credit so you can see for yourself how your credit score can affect you.
|Insurance Company||Good Credit||Fair Credit||Poor Credit|
Another way to quantify these numbers is to look at average rate increases by percent per credit ranking, which we’ve done here:
- Good credit (670+) = average annual premiums – $2,400.69
- Fair credit (580–669) = 0–31 percent increase – $2,697.98
- Poor credit (300–579) = 24–136 percent increase – $3,775.15
Driving Record Rates by Companies
Probably the most self-evident factor car insurance companies use when adjusting your rates is your driving record. Someone who has a clean driving record will have lower rates than someone with a poor driving record.
If you already have a track record for poor driving decisions, which means losses for your insurer, your insurance company is going to charge you higher rates to compensate for future potential claims.
Check out this table to see how one speeding violation, one DUI, and one accident can affect your insurance rates, as compared to a clean driving record in Wisconsin.
|Insurance Company||Clean Record||One Speeding Violation||One DUI||One Car Accident|
In looking at this data, it immediately becomes clear that all of the violations listed result in an increase in your car insurance. But how significant are these increases?
To better explain the effects speeding, DUI, and car accidents can have on your driving record, we’ve also calculated the percent increase in rates for each in the below table.
|Insurance Company||Percent Increase – Speeding Ticket||Percent Increase – DUI||Percent Increase – Accident|
American Family may be worth considering if you have any of the above-listed violations on your record, as they have the lowest rate increases across the board, and their rate increase is the same for all three.
It is interesting to see how different companies handle rate increases for DUIs. For the most part, the increases are significantly higher if you get a DUI than if you get in a car accident or are ticketed for speeding.
Geico is one example of this, with an 85.63 percent increase for DUI over a clean driving record, compared to a 30 percent increase for speeding and a 62 percent increase for an accident.
The exceptions to this pattern are State Farm and Progressive. State Farm’s rate increases for speeding and DUI remain the same at 8.72 percent.
However, Progressive actually has a lower increase for DUIs than they do for speeding, with an 11.92 percent increase for speeding and a 3.81 percent increase for DUIs.
Largest Car Insurance Companies in Wisconsin
Company size is another data point to consider when shopping for insurance. In this case, we define company size as market share.
Combining market share with loss ratio, complaint data, and financial stability can help you form a full picture of a company’s ability to pay out on claims, should you ever need to file one.
This table outlines the largest insurance companies in Wisconsin by market share and direct premiums written.
|Insurance Company||Market Share||Direct Premiums Written|
|American Family Insurance Group||18.73%||$583,243|
|State Farm Group||15.03%||$468,020|
|Allstate Insurance Group||4.71%||$146,726|
|Acuity a Mutual Insurance Co||3.58%||$111,548|
|Erie Insurance Group||3.13%||$97,480|
|West Bend Mutual Insurance Co||2.97%||$92,535|
|Liberty Mutual Group||2.51%||$78,174|
Number of Insurers by State
The insurance companies in any state, including Wisconsin, can be broken into two categories:
- Domestic – insurance companies that are incorporated in the state of Wisconsin
- Foreign – insurance companies that are incorporated somewhere outside the state of Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, there are a total of 987 insurance companies, 174 of which are domestic and 813 of which are foreign.
All the insurance companies in Wisconsin, whether they are domestic or foreign, are required to follow all the laws imposed by the state to be permitted to operate in the state.
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We’ve now spent quite a bit of time talking about pricing for insurance rates, what you can expect in Wisconsin depending on your age, ZIP code, credit score, and more. We’re now shifting our focus to the legal aspects of car insurance.
We’ve already briefly discussed car insurance laws from the perspective of what coverage is required for you to keep in order to legally drive on the road.
Making sure you’re following the laws required of you as a driver in the state of Wisconsin will keep you safe, keep your driving record clean, and ensure that you keep your driver’s license and privileges, don’t pay fines, and stay out of jail.
Knowing the laws car insurance companies are expected to follow to operate legally in the state is also key in ensuring that you can be your own advocate and ask the questions that need to be asked.
We know researching and understanding legal jargon can be frustrating and feel like a waste of time. But not to worry. We’ve done the research for you and compiled the laws you need to know here, so you can be prepared as you shop for insurance and drive through America’s Dairyland.
Car Insurance Laws
We’ve already discussed the main car insurance laws that apply to you in Wisconsin — specifically, the minimum liability requirement for car insurance coverage and the financial responsibility you’re required to maintain.
In this section, we’ll primarily focus on the laws car insurance companies are required to follow that benefit you as an insured driver. We’ll also discuss insurance fraud and how to report it if you suspect fraud is being committed.
Keep reading to learn more about what insurance companies are required to do in the event of a damaged windshield, how they must handle insuring high-risk drivers, and more.
How State Laws for Insurance are Determined
As you likely know, there is a process in place for lawmakers to enact new laws. Since we’re going to be spending some time discussing laws, we should do a quick review before we get started.
The first step in getting a law in place is for the advocates of a proposed idea to put together a bill outlining the law, the reasons for the law, the benefits of it, and any other information that might help convince the legislature to pass the bill into law.
Once the bill is completed, it’s presented to the state legislature for their review, debate, and votes. If the majority of the legislature agrees that the bill is valuable and will benefit their constituents, it will be sent to the governor so that he or she can sign it into law.
In the next few sections, we get into some specifics about insurance laws in America’s Dairyland.
Anyone who’s spent some time driving on the road, particularly highways, has experienced road debris hitting the windshield and chipping or cracking it.
Some states have very specific requirements for how insurance companies must handle claims filed for windshield repair or replacement.
In Wisconsin there is no legal requirement that insurance companies include windshield repair/replacement coverage in their policies, nor is there any requirement that it have zero deductible. However, many insurance companies include windshield coverage as a part of comprehensive policies.
The law does state that insurance companies can choose to cover the cost of aftermarket replacement parts, rather than original manufacturer (OEM) parts.
Policyowners can refuse this, but will be expected to pay any additional costs associated with using OEM instead of aftermarket parts.
You’ve seen that having a poor driving record can result in higher insurance rates, but we’ve yet to discuss what happens if your driving record is so poor that insurance companies won’t cover you. And if you are unable to obtain insurance coverage, you can’t legally drive.
To help you in this situation, The Badger State maintains a program called the Wisconsin Automobile Insurance Plan, which matches high-risk drivers with insurance companies. All insurance companies are required to participate in this program to operate legally in Wisconsin.
The structure is such that companies are required to insure a percentage of drivers equal to their market share. As an example, Geico has 4.69 percent of the market share in the state. Under WAIP, they are required to insure 4.69 percent of the high-risk drivers who are accepted into the program.
If you were previously insured and due to your driving record, your insurance company chose to either cancel your policy or not renew it, Wisconsin law requires that your insurance agent must provide you with information about the WAIP.
If you’d like to apply to WAIP, there are a few things you’ll need. This is considered a last resort after you’ve exhausted your options in attempting to buy insurance through the traditional market. When applying, you’ll need:
- A valid Wisconsin driver’s license
- A vehicle that’s registered in Wisconsin
- Confirmation that you’ve been unable to get insurance in the traditional market for the previous 60 days
- Proof that you have no unpaid insurance premiums
- An accurately and completely filled out application form
While you’ll be guaranteed four years of insurance through the WAIP (which includes the option to purchase all the same insurance coverage you would as an average driver), you’ll be required to maintain significantly higher coverage than the average driver. Your rates will be higher as well.
To see the difference between coverage requirements for the average driver and WAIP drivers, take a look at this table.
|Required Insurance||State Minimum Limits||WAIP Minimum Limits|
|Bodiliy Injury||$25,000 per person|
$50,000 per accident
|$100,000 per person
$300,000 per accident
|Property Damage Liability||$10,000||$50,000|
The WAIP minimum liability requirement is between 300 and 500 percent higher than the state minimum average.
If you want to apply to the WAIP, you can speak to any licensed agent in the state. For questions, you can also speak with an insurance agent, call the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance at 1-800-236-8517, or visit the WAIP website.
It’s true that Wisconsin has the WAIP to aid high-risk drivers in buying and maintaining insurance coverage. However, they aren’t among the states that offer similar programs for low-income drivers.
Only California, Hawaii, and New Jersey offer specific government-funded programs to support low-income drivers in buying and maintaining car insurance coverage.
Automobile Insurance Fraud in Wisconsin
We’ve all seen movies and television shows focused on insurance fraud of various kinds; anything from committing murder to collect on insurance to faking a car accident to file a claim. While much of what we see in entertainment is fictional and dramatized, insurance fraud is a real problem.
Insurance fraud, particularly when it comes to something like fudging your paperwork to get a lower rate, may seem like no big deal. Companies are big, they can absorb the cost, and there’s no real victim, right?
Wrong. Insurance fraud adds up to 10 percent of the total losses insurance companies must absorb, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). To combat this, more and more states have criminalized all forms of insurance fraud, and Wisconsin is no exception.
You can report insurance fraud through the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance at 1-800-236-8517 or 608-266-0103. By email, they can be reached at email@example.com.
You can also report suspected fraud online, by mail, and by fax. The fax number is 608-264-8115. Mail your report through USPS; it should be addressed to the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53707-7873.
If you mail it via FedEx, UPS, or overnight mail, it should be addressed to the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, 125 South Webster Street, Madison, WI 53703-3474.
Statute of Limitations
If you’ve been in an accident and need to file a claim for property damage or injury, the statute of limitations — how long you have to do this before you relinquish your right to do so — is three years. This time starts from the date of the incident.
State Specific Laws
As we’ve already discussed, there are laws you have to follow, such as maintaining at least minimum liability coverage, that are fairly standard throughout the United States.
There might be some slight variation in the exact coverage amounts and types, but no matter where you go in the country, you’ll be required to maintain some level of coverage to be able to drive legally.
However, like many states, Wisconsin has unique, sometimes bizarre (or out-of-date), laws exclusive to the state. For example, you are prohibited from camping in a wagon on a public highway. If you’re found doing so, you could be fined up to a maximum of $10.
On a more practical note, if you’re driving anywhere in the state, you need to know that the law explicitly states that livestock has the right-of-way on any public roads.
Vehicle Licensing Laws
No matter where you live, you’re typically required to register your vehicle with the state if you plan to drive it on any public roads, and Wisconsin is no exception.
Ensuring your vehicle is properly registered in America’s Dairyland will keep you from having to pay fines and possibly having your driver’s license and driving privileges suspended.
Wisconsin prefers that you title and register your vehicle with the state online using their eMV tool. You can only use this online tool if you qualify, however. Some of the disqualifying instances:
- The vehicle is leased.
- The seller has a child support lien listed on the vehicle record.
- You’ll have a new loan on the vehicle (in this case, the lender or dealer will help you register and title your vehicle).
- The vehicle is titled in another state.
These are only a few of the factors that can affect your ability to use the eMV tool. For a complete list, visit the State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s eMV Public Restrictions page.
To register your vehicle with the eMV tool, you’ll need to have the following prepared:
- A Wisconsin title signed by the seller with the odometer reading (if the vehicle is less than 10 model years old) and a lien release (if there is a lien holder listed on the title and the loan is paid off)
- A Wisconsin driver’s license or ID card
- The last four digits of your Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Payment information (Using a credit or debit card will include a convenience fee. Using a checking or savings account will not.)
Once you’ve completed the process through the online tool, you’ll be prompted to print the eMV public receipt.
That, along with the original title (signed by the seller) and other applicable documents such as the original lien release will need to be mailed to WisDOT – eMV Public, P.O. Box 7907, Madison, WI 53707-7907 for you to get your vehicle title, registration, and license plates.
If you prefer an alternate process or don’t qualify for the eMV tool, you can mail your application to WI Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 7949, Madison, WI 53707-7949. If you choose to go this route, you’ll need to write a check for the cost of the registration and make it out to Registration Fee Trust.
If you have questions about registering your vehicle, you can call 608-264-7447 or email the Wisconsin DMV. If you have questions, concerns, or need help with the eMV online tool, you can email the eMV support team.
You may have heard of the REAL ID Act of 2005. This Congressional act was passed as a result of the 9/11 tragedies. The purpose was to ensure people’s identification truly matches who they say they are, particularly if they plan to fly commercially.
As you may have noted by the name, this act was initially passed nearly 15 years ago, but implementation has been slow.
However, as it stands, if you don’t have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license (or identification card) by October 1, 2020, you won’t be able to use a driver’s license as a valid form of identification to get on a domestic commercial flight. You also won’t be able to enter nuclear power plants or military installations without one.
Wisconsin is compliant with the law, meaning you can obtain REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses in the state. They are among 47 of the 50 states who are compliant.
To obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license in Wisconsin, you can apply for one at your next driver’s license renewal for the same cost as a typical renewal.
If you get one outside the normal renewal cycle, which may be necessary depending on when your license expires, you may have to pay additional fees.
You’ll need to bring originals or certified copies (not photocopies or scans) of the following documents with you to the DMV (you will need to visit in person):
- Proof of legal name and date of birth
- Proof of legal presence in the United States
- Proof of identity
- Proof of Social Security number
- Proof of address
- Proof of name change (if applicable)
You can use the State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation Driver License Guide to find out what documents, specifically, are accepted as forms of proof for the required information listed above.
In America’s Dairyland, REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses are indicated to be so by a black circle with a white star inside located in the upper right-hand corner of the license.
If you choose not to obtain a REAL ID-compliant license, your new license will be marked “NOT FOR FEDERAL PURPOSES.”
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
As we’ve stated multiple times already, you must maintain the minimum insurance required by the state to drive legally. If you don’t, you’ll face consequences.
If you’re at a traffic stop (or in an accident) and you can’t provide proof of insurance because you are uninsured, it can result in a fine of up to $500. If you have insurance but don’t have proof of insurance with you in your vehicle, you can be fined up to $10.
If the proof of insurance you provide at a traffic stop or at the scene of a car accident proves to be fraudulent, you may be required to pay a fine of up to $5,000.
Teen Driver Laws
Many American children grow up excited to learn to drive. It’s often considered a right of passage on the way to adulthood and a sign of growing independence as you grow up.
If you’re 15 and a half in Wisconsin, you’re allowed to begin your road adventures by applying for an instructional permit. You’ll be required to pass a knowledge test as well as prove you have adequate vision to drive. You are also required to be enrolled in a certified driver’s education program.
You’ll have to hold this instructional permit for at least six months (although it is valid for an entire year). While you’re holding the permit, you’ll need to complete at least 30 hours of supervised driving. Of those 30 hours, you have to complete at least 10 of them at night.
At 16 (assuming you’ve completed the instructional permit requirements in the first six months), you can apply for an intermediate or provisional license.
With this license, you can drive unsupervised with certain restrictions. You can’t have more than one passenger, and you are prohibited from driving unsupervised between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.
You’re required to hold the intermediate/provisional license for at least nine months. At age 16 and nine months (assuming you’ve completed all previous requirements), you’re eligible to get a full, unrestricted license.
Older Driver License Renewal Procedures
There is no difference in requirements for renewing your driver’s license as an older driver or as a driver who is considered part of the general population.
Both groups must renew their licenses every eight years and provide proof of adequate vision at every renewal. No mail or online renewals are permitted for any drivers in Wisconsin, regardless of age.
If you move to Wisconsin, you’ll be required to register your vehicle and get a Wisconsin driver’s license within 60 days of establishing residency in the state.
To get a Wisconsin driver’s license as a new resident, you’ll need to visit a Wisconsin DMV customer service center in person. You’ll be required to bring the following:
- Completed MV3001 Driver’s License Application
- Medical examination report (if applicable)
- Proof of name and date of birth
- Proof identification
- Proof of name change (if applicable)
- Proof of citizenship or legal status in the United States
- Proof of Wisconsin residency
While you’re at the DMV, you’ll be expected to complete the following (the agent you work with will walk you through the steps):
- Have your photo taken
- Pass a vision or hearing screen
- Complete a written or driving exam (if applicable)
- Complete a medical examination report (if applicable)
- Surrender your out-of-state driver’s license
- Pay appropriate fees
License renewal procedures
Ensuring that you drive with a valid, non-expired driver’s license is important to avoid suspension of your license, fees, and possible suspension of your driving privileges.
In Wisconsin, you’ll be notified by mail between 45 and 60 days before your birthday that your license will be expiring (you can also opt to receive these notices by email or text, if you prefer).
In general, your license is good for eight years before renewal is necessary, though you can renew your license up to a year early, if you choose.
The State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation Driver License Guide will help you to determine exactly what you need for your renewal.
You can also use the guide to fill out electronic portions of your renewal application and schedule an appointment with the DMV to avoid the lines (you will be required to renew in person).
When you visit the DMV, you’ll need to bring the following:
- Proof of identity
- Proof of name change (if applicable)
- Proof of legal status or U.S. citizenship
- Proof of name
- Proof of date of birth
- Proof of Social Security number
- Proof of Wisconsin residency
Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS)
You know it’s important to drive carefully and follow the rules of the road (the specifics of which we will discuss in the next section) to stay safe on the road and keep your insurance rates low.
To encourage safe driving, many states have instituted a program that assigns points to various moving violations. If you’re found guilty of a moving violation, the points will be assigned to your driver’s license for a set amount of time. If you rack up too many points on your driver’s license during that time, your license may be suspended.
California has a program like this known as the negligent operator treatment system (NOTS). In Wisconsin, the system is simply referred to as the Wisconsin Points System.
Twelve points accrued within a one-year period means your license will be suspended. The number of points on your license determines the length of your suspension.
|Number of Points||Suspension Length|
|More than 30||1 year|
Some of the most common moving traffic violations (and their associated points) are listed in the below table.
You can reduce the total number of points on your driver’s license by three points by attending a traffic safety course (but you only have this option once every three years).
Points will remain on your driver’s license for the same length of time that a conviction remains on your driving record (which is typically five years from the conviction date).
To find out the status of your driver’s license you can check online or you can call 608-246-7133. To request a copy of your driving record, you can call 608-261-2566.
Rules of the Road
To avoid getting points on your driver’s license and risking suspension (not to mention higher insurance rates), you need to know the rules of the road.
If you drive regularly, you’re probably already familiar with the legal requirements in your area. However, we think a quick review might be a good idea, because it’s easy to forget some of the subtleties we learn in driver’s education but don’t necessarily use every day.
Keep reading to learn more about some of the major rules of the road in Wisconsin that can help keep you and other drivers safe on the road.
Fault vs. No-fault
Similar to many states across the country, Wisconsin is a fault state. This means whoever is responsible for a car accident is also financially responsible for the resulting property damage and personal injuries.
This means the insurance company that insures the responsible party will be paying the cost of the resulting damages and injuries.
If you’re the victim in a car accident, you can move forward in a few different ways:
- You can file a claim with your insurer (which typically means they will then file a claim with the insurer of the at-fault driver)
- You can file a claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurer
- You can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver (this usually goes to civil court and requires a lawyer)
Seat belt and car seat laws
Wearing a seat belt can save your life, or at the very least decrease the severity of certain injuries if an accident occurs.
Wisconsin takes seat belt and car seat laws seriously. Improper use of a seat belt or car seat is considered primary enforcement, which means you can be pulled over and ticketed specifically for that improper use.
Everyone age eight years and older (and at least 80 pounds and 57 inches or taller) must have seat belts using an adult restraint.
Any child younger than a year old and weighing less than 20 pounds is required to be secured in a rear-facing car seat. Children between the ages of one and three and weighing between 21 and 39 pounds can be secured in either a rear-facing or forward-facing car seat.
All children between the ages of four and seven who weigh between 40 and 79 pounds and are shorter than 57 inches must be properly secured in a forward-facing car seat or booster seat.
Riding in the back of a pickup truck (or any area not built for passengers) is prohibited. However, if the area is enclosed (like the cargo area of a van), sitting is permitted.
Keep Right and Move Over Laws
In Wisconsin, if you’re driving slower than surrounding traffic, you’re expected to move to the right to avoid slowing down traffic flow.
If you’re driving and see an emergency vehicle with flashing lights (including law enforcement, tow trucks, road maintenance trucks, and utility vehicles) on the same side of the road, you must move to the lane furthest from where the vehicle is parked, if it is safe and possible to do so.
You’re also expected to reduce your speed when passing the vehicle.
In Wisconsin, the maximum speed limit in the state is 70 mph. This means no road, regardless of type, can have a posted speed limit faster than 70 mph. However, it also does not mean that all roads will be marked with a posted speed limit of 70 mph.
The maximum speed limits for different kinds of roads in the state are:
- Rural interstates – 70 mph
- Urban interstates – 70 mph
- Other limited access roads – 70 mph
- Other roads – 55 mph
These maximum speed limits are set by the state. Specific sections of roads may not reflect this speed limit due to things such as safety and road conditions. In such cases the posted speed limit may be lower than the maximum allowable speed for the road type.
Regardless of where you’re driving, you should always follow the posted speed limits, and adjust your speed to a slower pace when appropriate, particularly in the event of traffic, poor road conditions, or unexpected weather.
If you need a ride and can’t or don’t want to drive your own vehicle, making use of the prevalent ridesharing services provided by transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft is a great option.
In general, states set specific laws for what TNCs must to do be able to operate legally in the state, who and who can’t qualify to be a TNC driver, and what kind of insurance TNC drivers must carry to be able to drive legally on the road both when they have the app open but are not providing a ride and when they providing a prearranged ride.
These laws are set to ensure that customers of ridesharing services are safe and that drivers sharing the road with TNC drivers are protected if an accident occurs.
In Wisconsin, all TNCs must be licensed to operate in the state. This license must be renewed every other year on February 28 (the renewal occurs on the odd-numbered years).
All drivers performing work under a TNC must carry at least minimum liability insurance coverage of the following (see the table) when the app is open but they aren’t providing a prearranged ride.
|Required Insurance||Minimum Limits|
|Bodily Injury||$50,000 per person
$100,000 per accident
When actually providing a prearranged ride, the insurance coverage must be at least $1 million in liability.
Allstate, Erie, Farmers, Geico, and State Farm all specifically sell insurance policies to drivers employed by TNCs.
Automation on the Road
Autonomous vehicles, also referred to as self-driving cars, are the subject of much discussion, controversy, research, and testing.
Federally there is little legislation on how these vehicles must be managed on the road. Consequently, where and how these vehicles can be used is left up to individual states to define.
This is a complex problem, because if no one is physically driving the car, who is responsible if an accident occurs? The corporation? The owner of the vehicle? Who maintains the insurance policy? How does law enforcement pull over autonomous vehicles? Can they be ticketed? If so, how?
Not all states have enacted legislation dealing with autonomous vehicles yet. However, Wisconsin is actively working to develop the best path forward for handling these vehicles. The Committee on Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Testing and Deployment was created to begin the conversation.
The outcome of this committee was a list of recommendations that were submitted to the governor. One of these was to endorse the whole state as “open for CAV deployment.”
In 2017 an executive order was signed focused on supporting innovation and allowing self-driving cars to be tested and further developed in the state.
The Wisconsin Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds is a U.S. Department of Transportation-designated automated vehicle (AV) proving ground. This organization includes research and development partners, universities, the city of Madison, Wisconsin, private, controlled proving grounds, and more.
To further support future integration of self-driving cars into daily life, Wisconsin is considering designating a lane on the I-94 highway to be specifically for self-driving cars only (as a part of expanding the highway).
Wisconsin drivers are expected to follow the rules of the road we’ve already discussed to keep themselves and others on the road safe. In addition to speed limits, seat belts, and keep right and move over laws, the state has other laws in place to keep you safe.
An example is how the state handles windshield tinting. In America’s Dairyland, there are specific requirements for what kind, color, and how dark tinting can be to ensure that you have the visibility you need to maintain situational awareness and drive safely on the roads.
For sedans, SUVs, and vans:
- Windshield – non-reflective tint can be placed above the manufacturer’s AS-1 line.
- Front-side windows – a minimum of 51 percent of outside lighting must filter into the vehicle and can’t be reflective.
- Rear-side windows – a minimum of 36 percent of outside lighting must filter into the vehicle and can’t be reflective.
- Rear window – a minimum of 36 percent of outside lighting must filter into the vehicle and can’t be reflective.
No tint color is specifically prohibited in the state, but dual-side mirrors are required if the rear windows have tinting darker than 60 percent.
For more safety information, specifically related to DUI and distracted driving laws, keep reading.
We’ve already discussed what driving under the influence (DUI) can do to your insurance rates. However, ultimately the consequences are significantly worse than higher insurance rates.
If you choose (and yes, it is a choice for which only you are responsible) to drive under the influence, you’ll likely face fines, jail time, suspension of your license, and more.
And most significant of all, you may face tragedy as you take your life and others’ lives into your own hands, risking injury and death for anyone you come across.
In Wisconsin, the blood alcohol (BAC) level is 0.08, and the high BAC (HBAC) comes in three ranges: 0.17 to 0.199, 0.2 to 0.249, and 0.25+. In addition, if you are convicted of DUI, it will remain on your record for 10 years.
According to Responsibility.org, in 2017 there were 190 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in Wisconsin. This translates to 3.3 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to the national average of 3.4 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities per 100,000 population.
To see what making the decision to drive under the influence can do to your life, take a look at this table.
|First DUI||Second DUI||Third DUI|
|Fine||$150–$300 + $365 OWI surcharge||– Second in 10 years: $350–$1100 + $365 surcharge|
– Second in 11+ years: $150–$300 + $365 surcharge
|$600–$2000 + $365 OWI surcharge|
|Jail Time||None, unless passenger under 16 in vehicle: five days to six months||– Second in 10 years: five days to six months; safe streets options: five to seven days; passenger under 16 in vehicle: five days to six months|
– Second in 11+ years, none
|45 days to one year; safer streets option: 14 days to one year|
|License Revoked||– Six to nine months. |
– If second in 10 years: occupational license can be applied for in 45 days.
– If second in 11+ years: occupational license can apply immediately.
|– Second in 10 years, 12 to 18 months|
– Second in 11+ years, six to nine months
|Two to three years|
|Ignition Interlock Device (IID)||IID required for HBAC||IID required||IID required|
|Other||Alcohol assessment required, six points on license||Alcohol assessment required, six points on license||Alcohol assessment required, six points on license|
No matter how short the drive may be or how fine you are to drive, you should never take the risk and get behind the wheel after you’ve consumed alcohol. Plan ahead and select a designated driver or make use of the ridesharing options at your disposal.
Marijuana-impaired Driving Laws
Marijuana is completely illegal in Wisconsin, including for medical use. The state law for driving under the influence of marijuana is zero tolerance for THC.
Distracted Driving Laws
While texting and driving is illegal in Wisconsin (and is considered primary enforcement), overall the state has fairly relaxed distracted driving laws.
If you’re learning to drive, all wireless device usage is prohibited. However, if you’re a fully licensed driver, handheld use is permitted, unless you are driving in a designated work zone.
Driving Safely in Wisconsin
Now that you know the rules on the road put in place to keep you and other drivers safe, as well as the insurance laws TNCs and driverless car companies must follow to be able to operate legally in the state, let’s take a few minutes to look at some hard facts.
In the next few sections, we’ll look at theft data for Wisconsin, including numbers associated with specific areas and the kinds of vehicles most commonly stolen.
We’ll also consider what areas are the most dangerous for drivers (i.e. where fatal vehicle-involved accidents most often occur), and what factors might have contributed to those fatalities.
This information can help you plan both from an insurance policy perspective and in terms of when and where you may be most at risk.
Vehicle Theft in Wisconsin
Have you or someone you know ever had your vehicle stolen? This is not an experience any driver wants to have, but the possibility is a fact of life. But just how likely is it that this will happen to you?
To help you make that determination, we’ve collected data on the top 10 most commonly stolen vehicles in the state, which we’ve listed in the below table. The number one most stolen vehicle is a Dodge Caravan.
|Rank||Make/Model||Year of Vehicle||Thefts|
|4||Chrysler Town & Country||2002||313|
If you see your vehicle in this top 10 list (and even if you don’t) you can speak to your insurance provider about what you can do to prepare if your vehicle is stolen.
As you review the data in the above table, note that the year of the vehicle represents the year model that was most commonly stolen in Wisconsin in 2016 (the year the data was collected).
You know your ZIP code affects your rates because insurance companies look at crime and accident statistics in the area to see how risky an area is.
That crime data can help you as well, so you can plan (if necessary) around the data associated with where you live.
To that end, we’ve collected vehicle theft FBI data for all the cities and towns in Wisconsin and listed it in the below table. Search for your city to see how many vehicles were stolen there in 2017.
Road Fatalities in Wisconsin
No matter how safely you drive or how carefully you follow the rules of the road, you can’t control other drivers, road conditions, or Mother Nature.
While there is little you can do to prevent other drivers from reckless behavior on the road and unexpected weather and poor road conditions, you can prepare by learning when and where the risks are the highest (and what the contributing factors are).
In the next few sections, we provide you just that. We’ll look at the most fatal highway in the state, the most dangerous counties for road fatalities, and more.
Most Fatal Highway in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, the most fatal highway is I-94. In the past 10 years, 115 fatal accidents have been recorded there, resulting in 132 fatalities.
Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition
As we alluded to in the introduction, there is no controlling Mother Nature. Storms, light conditions, and more can negatively affect road conditions, visibility, and other drivers’ behavior.
Take a look at this table to see how the weather and light conditions affected vehicle fatalities in Wisconsin in 2017.
|Weather Condition||Daylight||Dark, but Lighted||Dark||Dawn or Dusk||Other / Unknown|
No matter what the conditions, always drive defensively, maintain situational awareness, follow the rules of the road, and reduce your speed when road, weather, and lighting conditions change.
Fatalities (All Crashes) by County
Using NHTSA Crash Report data for Wisconsin, we’ve collected data on all vehicle-caused fatalities by county for 2014 to 2018.
Between 2014 and 2018 the two most fatal counties in the state remained the same across all five years and are listed below:
- Milwaukee County – 357 fatalities
- Dane County – 170 fatalities
Using the NHTSA Crash report data for Wisconsin, below is the number of vehicle-related fatalities for 2014 to 2018.
The number of rural vehicle-involved fatalities is significantly higher than urban fatalities (an average of 93 percent higher across the five years). However, no matter where you find yourself on the road, you should always drive defensively and follow the rules of the road.
Fatalities by Person Type
The same Wisconsin NHTSA Crash Report data categorizes vehicle-related fatalities by vehicle occupant type for the same five-year span:
|Passenger Car Occupant||209||236||250||256||229|
|Light Truck – Pickup Occupant||64||70||55||71||59|
|Light Truck – Utility Occupant||62||56||85||70||91|
|Light Truck – Van Occupant||27||25||38||40||35|
|Light Truck – Other||0||1||1||0||0|
|Bicyclist and Other Cyclist||4||15||11||7||4|
Fatalities by Crash Type
Their data for 2014 to 2018 vehicle-related fatalities is also categorized by vehicle type:
|Involving a Large Truck||55||56||73||85||73|
|Involving a Rollover||147||152||170||169||143|
|Involving a Roadway Departure||314||344||358||325||349|
|Involving an Intersection (or Intersection Related)||140||152||171||178||133|
As you can see, the top three factors in vehicle-related fatalities are a single vehicle, a roadway departure, and speeding.
Five-year Trend for the Top 10 Counties
We’ve focused the same NHTSA vehicle-related fatalities data on the top 10 counties for fatalities in Wisconsin:
|Fond Du Lac||10||12||10||11||16|
About half of the top 10 counties show an increase in fatalities across the five years. The remaining five either held steady or declined slightly, with some spikes in random years, depending on the county.
Fatalities Involving Speeding by County
Take a look at this table to see the Wisconsin vehicle-related fatality data from the NHTSA for 2014 to 2018, for fatalities involving speeding:
Between 2014 and 2018 the most fatal counties in the state for speeding vary from year to year. However, Milwaukee County was consistently the most fatal county each year. Overall, the three most fatal counties were:
- Milwaukee County – 181 fatalities
- Dane County – 50 fatalities
- Waukesha County – 39 fatalities
Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-impaired Driver by County
For alcohol-involved fatalities by county, take a look at this table:
Between 2014 and 2018 the most fatal counties in the state for alcohol-involved incidents vary from year to year. However, Milwaukee County was consistently the most fatal county each year. Overall, the three most fatal counties were:
- Milwaukee County – 23.6 fatalities
- Dane County – 12.2 fatalities
- Rock County – 7.6 fatalities
Teen Drinking and Driving
The legal drinking age in Wisconsin is 21, as it is across the rest of the United States. But we all know partying is not relegated to the 21-and-over crowd.
The extent to which underage drinking and driving is a problem varies from state to state. Sadly, Wisconsin is ranked number six in the nation for DUI arrests of teenagers under the age of 18.
In 2018 alone there were 235 DUI arrests, which translates to 182.5 per million people.
According to Responsibility.org, the state average for alcohol-related vehicle fatalities for people under the age of 21 is 1.3 per 100,000 population, compared to the national average of 1.2 deaths per 100,000 population.
If you’re under the age of 21 and have a BAC of anything over 0.00, you can be convicted of underage DUI.
In general, you’ll be fined and accrue up to four points on your driver’s license, but it’s unlikely you’ll face jail time. You’ll also have your driver’s license suspended for a minimum of three months.
EMS Response Time
When accidents do happen, emergency medical services (EMS) can be the difference between life and death. But how quickly can they reach you?
Take a look at this table to find out what average EMS response times are in Wisconsin, according to the NHTSA Traffic Safety report. These response times are categorized by rural and urban areas, so you can compare the timelines for different areas in the state.
|Location||Average Time of Crash to EMS Notification||Average EMS Notification to EMS Arrival||Average EMS Arrival at Scene to Hospital Arrival||Average Time of Crash to Hospital Arrival||Total Fatal Crashes|
|Rural||4.72 minutes||10.93 minutes||44.22 minutes||57.88 minutes||355|
|Urban||4.38 minutes||5.55 minutes||30.25 minutes||38.59 minutes||200|
As you can see, the urban response times are significantly faster than rural response times. As an overall average across the various timelines listed, the urban response times are about 50 percent faster.
However, EMS response times can be affected by multiple factors including weather, road conditions, and the geographic area EMS teams are responsible for covering.
Transportation in Wisconsin
More data that can be useful as you drive throughout Wisconsin (and may be a factor when insurance companies adjust rates for the state as a whole), include commute time, car ownership, and commuter transportation.
We’ve already discussed how commute can have an effect on your insurance rates, but we focused specifically on commute length. What about commute time? Traffic congestion?
Knowing how much time you can expect to spend in traffic each day can help you plan appropriately.
In addition, information on how many cars households in Wisconsin own as well as the forms of transportation residents choose can help provide a fuller picture of the traffic in the state. Keep reading to learn more.
DataUSA reports that Wisconsin’s car ownership per household matches the national average of two vehicles per household. The average percentage of households that own two vehicles in Wisconsin is 44.3 percent, compared to the national average of 40.5 percent of households.
In Wisconsin, the next highest average per household for vehicle ownership is 22.4 percent of households, owning three vehicles (the national average is 21.4 percent).
The combined population representation for households owning two and three vehicles in Wisconsin is 66.7 percent. The remaining 33.3 percent of households are categorized as follows:
- No cars – about 2.75 percent (compared to 4.25 percent across the country)
- One car – about 18 percent (compared to 20.03 percent across the country)
- Four cars – about 8.43 percent (compared to 9.08 percent across the country)
- Five or more cars – about 4.06 percent (compared to 4.47 percent across the country)
Sitting in traffic is no one’s favorite thing to do. However, as we all know, there’s no avoiding it. What does traffic look like in Wisconsin?
DataUSA reports that Wisconsin’s average commute time is 21.1 minutes, which is about 17.25 percent less than the national average of 25.5 minutes per commute.
While this is still a reasonable amount of time spent in traffic, it’s still better than the national average, which is good for residents of America’s Dairyland.
Compared to neighboring states of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Iowa, Wisconsin has the second shortest commute. Only Iowa has a shorter average commute (18.4 minutes).
How many residents in Wisconsin drive themselves to work? How many use other forms of transportation?
According to the same DataUSA report, 81.1 percent of residents drive alone to work, which is about 6.28 percent higher than the 76.4 percent average across the country.
The following are the other most common forms of transportation in Wisconsin:
- About 7.63 percent carpooled to work, versus the national average of 9 percent.
- About 4.95 percent of residents work from home, versus the national average of about 5.23 percent.
To continue our discussion on traffic in Wisconsin, we’re moving beyond just looking at commute time and on to overall traffic congestion. But where can we find this kind of information?
TomTom provides traffic congestion data for cities throughout the world. This includes Milwaukee, Wisconsin. To give you a full picture of the traffic situation in America’s Dairyland, we’ve compiled this data in the below table.
|Congestion Level||Extra Travel Time (Minutes per Day)||Extra Travel Time (Hours per Year)||Morking Peak Congestion||Evening Peak Congestion||Highway Congestion||Nonhighway Congestion|
|14%||16 minutes||69.6 hours||23%||31%||10%||16%|
While traffic congestion in the city of Milwaukee is significant (as you can see, you’ll spend almost 70 hours per year sitting in traffic), and is higher than nearby Cleveland, it is still significantly less than cities such as Chicago.
We’ve attempted to cover the full gamut of information you need to make an informed insurance policy decision.
We know this can be daunting, which is why we’ve spent so much time providing you with everything from insurance rates and how they’re generated to rules of the road safety statistics across the state.
Ready to begin? Take the first step in finding the best car insurance for your lifestyle by using your ZIP code to get a free quote.