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Motorcycle Insurance Minimum Requirements in Wisconsin

Before you're allowed to take your cycle on the streets, you need to show that you meet the minimum financial responsibility requirements mandated by the Department of Transportation (WisDOT).

Accidents can be costly, and can cause financial destruction to those involved. So, the state needs to have some sort of assurance that you have the means of dealing with the possible expenses. Most motorcyclists choose to purchase motorcycle insurance to meet this requirement.

Ways to Establish Financial Responsibility

There are a number of acceptable ways to prove to WisDOT that you're financially responsible enough to ride your bike throughout the state:

  • Carrying a liability policy that includes bodily injury and property damage coverage.
  • Posting a bond issued by an insurance company.
  • Placing a cash deposit of $60,000 with WisDOT.

Two-Wheeled Vehicles Defined

Trying to figure out if a cycle qualifies as a motorcycle under Wisconsin's complex laws can be confusing. You can always call WisDOT at (608) 266-2353, though, for help with this.

Here's a summary of some pertinent vehicle definitions:

  • Type 1 Motorcycle―A motor vehicle that has a power source as an integral part of the vehicle, can travel over 30 MPH, and is built for one rider.
  • Type 2 Motorcycle―A motor vehicle designed to have at least 3 wheels, such as a golf cart.
  • Motorbike ―A bicycle with a power unit added that can't reach speeds of 30 MPH.
  • Moped ―A vehicle that has a seat for the operator, a power source as an integral part of the vehicle, and can't travel at over 30 MPH.

Please see the state's Motorcyclists' Handbook for more complete definitions.

Wisconsin Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

If you choose to meet your financial obligation by purchasing motorcycle insurance, you must have at least the following types and levels of protection:

  • $25,000 or $50,000 for personal injury or death.
  • $10,000 for property damage.

Although meeting these standards allow you to conform with the state's requirements, most financial professionals advise having much more extensive insurance protection than this. Consider this when getting a motorcycle insurance quote.

How Coverage Affects Helmet Requirements

Unlike some states, Wisconsin doesn't relax the motorcycle insurance standards for those who wear a helmet while riding.

Remember, if you're younger than 18 years old or you only have an instruction permit, you must a wear helmet when riding.

Proof of Insurance and Financial Responsibility

WisDOT may not automatically hear from your insurance company about your motorcycle insurance coverage. Some insurers will send your insurance information electronically to the WisDOT; others will simply give you a completed SR-22 form, which you need to show whenever required to do so.

Penalties for Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility

What happens if you have no proof of insurance when involved in an accident or are pulled over for a traffic violation?

You'll have the opportunity later to prove that you were covered by motorcycle insurance at the time of the incident. However, if you can't provide such proof, you could face license and registration suspension.

If that happens, you'll need to provide proof of current insurance (and do so for the next three years), and pay reinstatement fees to get your license and registration back.

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