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 July 23, 2010


Mandatory state vehicle insurance required

Motor-vehicle insurance is required for all motorists, except for trailers or semi-trailers, in the state of Wisconsin, effective June 1. The requirement was included in the last state of Wisconsin budget.

Sections 344.01 and 344.62 of the Wisconsin Statutes provide that, with certain exceptions, a person may not operate a motor vehicle on the state’s highways unless the owner or operator has a liability insurance policy in effect for the motor vehicle.

At Fort McCoy, visitors must be prepared to show proof of insurance, which may be in the form of an insurance card or letter from their insurance company, when they apply for a visitor’s pass, said Sgt. Domenic Modica of the Fort McCoy Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) Police Department.

Employees will need to show proof of insurance when they register their vehicle for the first time or renew their registration at Fort McCoy. Otherwise, as in the rest of Wisconsin, it is a secondary enforcement law. Motorists cannot be stopped by a law enforcement officer solely to determine if they are driving without proof of insurance.

Law enforcement personnel can ask motorists for proof of insurance during a traffic stop or inspection made for other purposes. A driver may not be arrested or taken into physical custody merely for failing to display proof of insurance. (Wisconsin Statute 344.65 (3)).

Motorists in the state of Wisconsin must have coverage, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT), in the following minimum amounts:

• $50,000 for injury or death of one person;
• $100,000 for injury or death of two or more people in any one accident;
• $15,000 for damage to others’ property.

There is no requirement that a vehicle have in place either collision or comprehensive coverage. Collision coverage pays for damage to a vehicle resulting from an accident involving another vehicle, an object such as a tree, or a rollover. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage from other causes, such as fire, vandalism, water, hail, glass breakage, wind, falling objects, or hitting a bird, deer, or other animal. Among those exempted from the requirement to carry liability insurance are those who have a bond or deposit of cash or securities on file with the DOT, qualified self-insurers, and governmental units. Act 28 prohibits an insurer from placing an applicant for motor vehicle insurance coverage in a high-risk (and more expensive) category solely on the basis of the applicant having not previously had motor vehicle insurance.

For more information about mandatory vehicle insurance in Wisconsin, visit the website http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/vehicles/ins-req.htm.

Effective, Jan. 1, 2017 and at five-year intervals thereafter the DOT will adjust the liability amounts that must be carried to reflect changes in the consumer price index (inflation).

Driving without having a motor-vehicle insurance policy may result in a forfeiture of not more than $500. (Wisconsin Statute 344.65 (1) (a)).

Failure of a driver to have proof of insurance in one’s immediate possession and to display the proof when required by a law enforcement officer may result in a citation with a penalty of a $10 forfeiture.

However, a person may not be convicted of failure to show proof of insurance if he or she subsequently produces proof that valid insurance was in effect when the ticket was issued either at the time of the person’s appearance in court in response to the ticket or in the office of the traffic officer who issued it (Wisconsin Statute 344.65 (1) (b) and (c)).

Displaying fraudulent, false, or invalid proof of insurance for the purposes of creating the appearance of satisfying the requirement to show proof may result in a forfeiture of not more than $5,000. Also prohibited is possessing, forging, falsifying, counterfeiting, or fraudulently altering any proof or policy of insurance or other insurance document. (Wisconsin Statute 344.64 and 344.65 (2)).

Effective June 1, there is no requirement that motorists provide proof of insurance when they obtain their driver’s license or are registering a vehicle, unless that information is requested by Department of Motor Vehicles and is a requirement before reinstatement of a driver license after a suspension or revocation.

While not all states require drivers to buy liability insurance to show financial responsibility, 49 states (plus Washington, D.C.) do. New Hampshire is the only state that does not have compulsory auto insurance liability laws, as of June 2010.

For more information about motor-vehicle insurance requirements in the Fort McCoy community, call the Fort McCoy Traffic Safety Section at 608-388-2044.

(Information in this story is compiled from the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles. Story submitted by the Fort McCoy Directorate of Emergency Services.)

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