Big competition and a low population density put the typical Wisconsin car insurance premium more than 20 percent below the national average, which equates to a total savings of nearly $370 a year when compared with the rest of the country. However, when you do some shopping around and choose the right company, you could save hundreds of dollars.
We compared six car insurance carriers for Wisconsin’s minimum coverage and found that a driver could save as much as $858 a year on their premium just by picking a certain company over another. Of all the insurers, American Family made it to the very top of the list. However, it would be a mistake for you to assume that American Family would be the best car insurance company for you without doing some comparisons of your own.
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Why’s that? Insurance rates are based on a bunch of individual factors. Every insurance provider has its own formula for determining how much to charge you that’s based on your age, marital status, driving history, location and a bunch more factors. The only way to figure out who offers the best deals for you is to get quotes — as many as you can stand, really. It doesn’t sound very fun, but the potential savings makes putting in a little time well worth the effort.
Going through the quote process isn’t a huge deal, though it can be time-consuming if companies don’t offer an online tool. You can speed things up by having your personal and vehicle information handy, including the make and model of your car (the vehicle identification number is even better) and the details of any accidents or citations from recent years.
Our Top 6 Picks for the Best Cheap Car Insurance in Wisconsin
The six picks on this list are the cream of the crop when it comes to customer service ratings in Wisconsin and financial stability.
Anyone who purchases car insurance should be able to trust that their company can not only afford to pay claims but also will lend a helping hand when you need to file one. No one needs the extra stress of haggling over contract stipulations in the heat of a crisis. That’s why the choices on this list are companies with top scores from A.M. Best and J.D. Power. A.M. Best is a financial strength rating agency that assesses a company’s long-term stability, and J.D. Power is a global leader in car insurance customer satisfaction surveys. So, between the two criteria, you should be able to trust that you have the cream of the crop among car insurers.
American Family emerges as the best car insurance option because it can have an average premium of $920 a year. The Hartford and Country Financial are close behind, offering $930 and $1,246 a year, respectively. Erie Insurance ended up being the most expensive quote by far, but this was largely due to the fact that it can require you to buy optional coverages that you don’t need or want. However, if you do want more than the minimum coverage, give Erie a shot and it might wind up being more competitive. Also, keep in mind that you will be quoted different rates than the ones mentioned here based on your risk level and other factors.
Wisconsin’s Minimum Coverage Requirements for 2020
Wisconsin law requires drivers to have liability and uninsured motorist coverage. Liability coverage breaks down into three parts: $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person, $50,000 of bodily coverage per accident, and $10,000 for property damage (you’ll often see this written as $25,000/$50,000/$10,000 or 25/50/10). Uninsured motorist coverage takes care of you if you or your passengers are injured by a driver without insurance. It carries the same $25,000/$50,000 minimum as the liability coverage.
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Why are Wisconsin’s rates so affordable?
Wisconsinites luck out with an average premium that’s 22 percent lower than the national average for car insurance. This comes down to two factors: the likelihood of having an accident and competition.
Wisconsin is largely a rural state and that means less traffic and a smaller chance of having an accident. City dwellers can expect higher premiums, but how much higher depends on the city. Madison, for example, was designated one of the best driving cities in the nation by the Insurance Information Institute, so those residents can expect to pay significantly less than their friends in Milwaukee.
The other thing that keeps insurance rates low is the high competition among insurers. Nearly 200 companies offer car insurance in Wisconsin, and if they want your business, they’d better provide a competitive rate. This is wonderful news for you, but it means you may have to do some shopping around to find a company that offers the best coverage for the lowest rate.
Is there any reason not to get the cheapest insurance?
Getting more than state-mandated coverage can really save you if the worst happens. Let’s take a look at two important stats:
- On average, drivers have an accident every 17.9 years — and you’re probably not an exception.
- The average cost of an accident that causes a disabling but nonfatal injury is $93,800.
If you have incredibly cheap car insurance and get into a costly wreck — let’s say $70,000 worth of damages, which is optimistic — the last thing you want is to be sued and declared responsible for paying the extra out of pocket. So to most people, it’s worth paying higher premiums to protect their savings account from being drained of its last penny in the event of a serious claim.
No-fault insurance can help cover your medical bills if you get into an accident, and it doesn’t matter who is at fault. Some states require you to get no-fault coverage, but Wisconsin is not a no-fault state.
Collision and comprehensive coverage are also worthwhile investments. Aside from crashes with other drivers, you also have to worry about chance encounters with wildlife. Wisconsin has the fourth-highest rate of deer-vehicle collisions in the country. The results of hitting a deer or bear aren’t pretty, either for the animal or the car. You didn’t spend all that money on your vehicle to lose it in a freak accident, so it’s worth paying a little extra to ensure that any repairs will be covered.
What happens I’m caught without insurance?
Wisconsin doesn’t require you to show proof of insurance when getting your license or registering a new vehicle, but if you’re caught driving without it, expect a $500 fine. And if you find yourself at fault in an accident, your license may be suspended. Oh, and don’t even think of trying to cheat the system. Presenting fake proof of insurance will cost you $5,000.
You may need to file an SR-22 certificate with the state if your license is revoked or accrues too many points. You obtain an SR-22 certificate from your car insurance company, and it’s used to prove to the state that you have the minimal amount of insurance that’s required in Wisconsin. When you need to have an SR-22, insurance will most likely be more expensive, but you can still save on your rate if you shop around.
Even If You’re Happy, It’s Best to Shop for a New Policy Every Couple of Years
There are many factors that affect your rates, but there are ways to cut your costs.
Car insurance is relatively pricey for young drivers, but you might qualify for some discounts if you shop around. Some insurers offer “good student” discounts that they apply to lower your rate when you maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above. Taking driver training courses may also help lower your premium. Every insurer has different details for their discounts, so look around to see where you qualify and how much you’d save.
If you have a low credit rating, your insurance rates could be higher than what you’d pay if you had a better credit rating. This is just one more reason that it’s worthwhile to do everything you can to maintain good credit and raise your score if it’s low. It may not seem fair that low credit could mean you pay more for car insurance, but insurers see a correlation between not-so-great credit scores and more frequent filing of claims. If you’re a low credit driver, it’s still worthwhile to shop around for the best car insurance for your needs.
Maintaining a record as a good driver also will help you to get the best car insurance rates that you can.
When determining your rate, insurance companies don’t just look at your risk; they also assess how likely you are to remain a loyal customer by analyzing a ton of your personal data, including how long you stayed with previous insurers, social media activity and even your online shopping habits. This practice is called price optimization, and to no one’s surprise, it’s stirred up a lot of controversy in recent years. Basically, it allows insurers to estimate which customers aren’t sensitive to price changes, and take advantage of them with incremental rate increases. Customers who frequently shop around, on the other hand, receive more competitive rates as an attempt to retain their business.
That’s why it’s a good idea to shop around for quotes with other car insurance companies every year or two. Just by getting a few quotes on a regular basis you can avoid being marked by complex algorithms as someone who’s comfortable paying a higher rate. Besides, your risk to insurers changes over time, so a year from now, you may be able to score a much better rate than you can today. (Every year, you get older and your car loses value, which makes the cost of insuring you go down.)
Your rates should be based upon your risk profile, not someone a computer sizes you up to be.
The Consumer Federation of America has brought attention to this issue, citing evidence of this discriminatory practice. So far, 15 states have acknowledged and addressed price optimization, but unfortunately, Wisconsin is not one of them. Insurance companies deny they are doing anything wrong and the state has yet to rule one way or the other. So in the meantime, it’s up to the drivers to avoid falling victim to price optimization.
Finding cheap car insurance is simply a matter of putting in the time. Get quotes from several companies and compare levels of coverage as well as price. If you can afford it, it’s better to go with more than just the bare minimum. Yes, that means higher premiums, but it also means fewer headaches if an accident occurs.
Best Car Insurance in Wisconsin
- American Family
- The Hartford
- Country Financial
- State Farm
- Erie Insurance