If you want to drive legally, you have to have auto insurance. If you want to be protected, you probably need more than just enough coverage to be legal. Here’s what you need to know about buying car insurance and saving money while doing it.
Who Needs Auto Insurance?
Everyone driving on a public road in Wisconsin needs auto insurance. This includes cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, and more. Some types of vehicles, like RVs or motorcycles, have their own special types of insurance policies that cover the same thing as auto insurance. If you drive for business, you may need a business policy instead of a personal one.
Car Insurance FAQs
How much auto insurance do I need in Wisconsin?
The Wisconsin minimum auto insurance requirements are designed to provide a small level of protection in the event you damage someone else’s property, or you cause harm to another person. In Wisconsin, drivers need a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for Bodily Injury Liability Coverage and $10,000 per accident for Property Damage Liability Coverage.
What is the best deductible?
The best deductible is what you can afford to pay out of pocket when you file an auto insurance claim. The higher the deductible, the lower your premium will be, and vice versa. A higher deductible means your accepting a more significant portion of the risk yourself. It is best not to take on more risk than you can afford.
What is “full coverage?”
There is no such thing as “full coverage” insurance. Full coverage auto insurance is a term that is used to suggest you have chosen protection that goes beyond the minimum coverage required by your State. It typically includes collision and comprehensive coverage, personal injury protection or medical payment coverage, and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
How can I save money on my car insurance?
You can save money on your car insurance by avoiding moving violations, crashes, DUIs, and other incidents. By having a clean driving record, you may also qualify for a safe driver discount. Students may qualify for good student and student-away-at-school discounts. Your vehicle’s anti-theft devices and safety features may also provide more discounts. Paid-in-full, multi-car, and prior carrier discounts are also common.
How long does an auto accident affect my insurance?
A crash won’t impact your car insurance premiums forever. After about three to five years, your rates should recover. Exactly how long this takes will depend on the type of accident as well as the company you are insured with.
Is buying direct cheaper than buying through an agent?
Buying direct is not always cheaper than buying through an agent. You might think that cutting out the middleman would result in cheaper car insurance rates, but when it comes to insurance, this isn’t the case. In fact, an independent agent, one that represents many insurance companies, can often save you money.
What is the best auto insurance company?
The best auto insurance company differs per individual. No insurance company is objectively the best. It all depends on what you’re looking for. Do you want the best customer service, the broadest coverage, or the lowest rates? Or maybe you have unique coverage or underwriting needs? An agent can help you compare car insurance quotes from multiple insurance companies and find the right policy for your situation.
What is the best or cheapest auto insurance rate?
The best or cheapest auto insurance rate can be found by comparison shopping. Compare premiums as well as differences in coverage. An independent insurance agent can help. They can provide options from multiple carriers, along with the expert guidance you need to make a smart choice.
How do I switch to a new auto insurance company?
You can switch to a new auto insurance company at any time, but to avoid overpaying or violating state law, you do need to watch out for a couple of things. Car insurance policies are often sold for coverage periods of six months or one year. In some cases, you may be charged a fee if you decide to cancel your insurance policy early. You may also be entitled to a refund for the unused portion of the premium. You also want to make sure you have continuous coverage to avoid a coverage gap.
What Does Auto Insurance Cover?
There are many different coverage options within each auto insurance policy. What coverage you have depends on the options you select.
Bodily Injury Liability
Bodily injury liability covers injuries you cause to other people. It doesn’t cover your own injuries. For example, if you cause an accident and both you and the other driver have to go to the hospital, your liability coverage pays for that driver’s hospital bills but not yours.
Wisconsin requires all drivers to have at least $25,000 in bodily injury coverage for one person and $50,000 for a single accident. If your liability exceeds your limits, you will have to pay the other driver out of pocket, so many people buy limits that are much higher than minimum coverage.
Property Damage Liability
Property damage liability covers damage you cause to other people. Like bodily injury liability, it only pays for repairs to the other driver’s car, not your own.
Wisconsin requires you to have property damage liability coverage of $10,000 or more. Since many cars are worth more than this, you probably want to choose higher limits to protect your savings and assets if you cause an accident.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Even though every driver has to buy insurance, many still choose to drive without insurance illegally. In addition, your losses from an accident caused by another driver may exceed their limits, especially if they bought minimum coverage. While you can sue the other driver for the difference, that takes time and money, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll have enough money to pay what you win in court. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage replaces the coverage the other driver should have been carrying.
In Wisconsin, all drivers are required to carry at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage. It is your choice whether you want to add uninsured motorist property damage coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage is optional, but if you buy it, the minimum limit is $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident. The maximum limit for your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is typically equal to your liability coverage.
Medical payments coverage protects you and your passengers from expenses not covered by your health insurance. This could include your deductible, co-pays, or excluded expenses. Therefore, you should discuss your health insurance coverage with your insurance agent when deciding if you need medical payments coverage. Medical payments coverage may also cover funeral expenses, which health insurance does not.
Collision coverage pays for damage to your car in an accident. This can include collisions with another vehicle or with an object. Collision coverage is priced based on what type of car you’re insuring, so there’s no specific limit to choose.
Comprehensive coverage covers non-accident damage to your car. This includes things like hail, theft, and falling objects. Hitting deer or other animals may also be a comprehensive claim, rather than collision, so ask your insurance agent what you need if this is something you’re worried about.
Most insurance companies carry your collision and comprehensive over to a rental car with possible limits on the type or value of the rental car. Rental coverage or rental reimbursement refers to the insurance company paying for you to rent a car while your car is in the shop for repairs after a covered claim.
If you add roadside assistance, the insurance company will send someone to help you if you run out of gas, have a flat tire, get locked out, need a tow, or have other problems. Often, these services are free up to a certain number of incidents per year, and you also get the benefit of having pre-negotiated rates for any services you have to pay for.
What Deductible Should You Choose?
Raising your deductible can help you save on your premiums since you’d be handling smaller claims on your own, and the insurance company would potentially have less to pay. When choosing your deductible, think about the maximum amount you could comfortably spend out of savings after an accident. Then, compare that amount against the premium savings from going to a higher deductible to see if you’re happy with the risk versus reward. If you wouldn’t want to spend money out of pocket after an accident, go with a lower deductible.
How Do Auto Insurance Companies Calculate Rates?
Insurance companies use a wide number of factors to calculate your rates including age, gender, type of car, address, driving record, and more. Because these models are so complex, a change in one factor could mean that the insurance company that gave you the highest quote last year is now your cheapest option. The only way to know for sure what you will pay is to get a current quote.