The state of Wisconsin requires motorists to prove financial responsibility before they’re allowed to take a motorcycle or vehicle on public roads. This means that you’ll be able to pay for damages incurred in potential accidents. Financial responsibility requirements are regulated and enforced by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
Legal Ways to Prove Financial Responsibility
Most motorists choose to prove their financial responsibility by acquiring motorcycle insurance, but the following ways are all acceptable means to prove your responsibility in the state:
- Having a liability insurance policy which covers both property damage and bodily injury
- Posting a bond that has been issued by an insurance company
- Depositing $60,000 in cash with the Department of Transportation
Assuming you don’t have $60,000 in cash, an insurance policy is a better means of covering your potential accident expenses.
The definition of a motorcycle varies from state to state, and Wisconsin has more complicated definitions than most. If you aren’t sure whether your bike qualifies as a motorcycle, you can call the Department of Transportation at 608-266-2353.
Wisconsin state law has the following definitions of two-wheeled vehicles:
- Type 1 Motorcycle – A motor vehicle with 2 wheels in tandem with a power source that is an integral part of the vehicle and the ability to travel over 30 MPH; it must be designed for one rider
- Type 2 Motorcycle – a motor vehicle that has been designed to operate with three wheels (golf carts are an example)
- Motorbike – A two-wheeled bicycle with a motor that cannot reach 30 MPH
- Moped – A two-wheeled vehicle that has a seat and a motor but cannot reach 30 MPH
The state publishes a Motorcyclists’ Handbook which has more complete definitions of two-wheeled vehicles.
Minimum Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
If you purchase motorcycle insurance to meet your financial obligations, the following levels of protection are required by state law:
- $25,000 for the injury or death of one individual
- $50,000 for the injury or death of multiple individuals
- $10,000 for potential property damage
Most financial experts recommend having coverage in addition to these requirements. Full coverage will help ease your mind and financial burden in an accident. You can compare and contrast the different types of insurance available and work with your motorcycle insurance agent to find the plan that suits your individual needs best.
Does Wearing a Helmet Affect My Insurance Requirements?
Many states allow lower minimum insurance requirements if you wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle; however, Wisconsin isn’t one of them. State law does not require you to wear a helmet unless you are under the age of 18 or only have an instructional permit rather than a full license.
Providing Proof of Insurance
State law doesn’t require insurance carriers to tell WisDOT about your insurance coverage. Some carriers will inform the Department of Transportation when you begin a new policy; others will give you a complete SR-22 form. Whenever proof of insurance is required, you’ll need to present this form. You should also keep your insurance card in your vehicle at all times, as you will need proof of insurance if you are pulled over by a law enforcement official.
Failing to Maintain Insurance
If you fail to maintain your insurance policy or are underinsured, you could face suspension of both your license and registration. If this happens, you have to provide proof of insurance and pay reinstatement fees for your license and registration.