This is part one of a four part series about Wisconsin insurance and common types of coverage.

In Wisconsin, tailgating before the big game is one of our favorite pastimes.  Whether a tailgater is elaborately planned or thrown together at the spur of a moment, if you find yourself tailgating before a Packer, Brewer, or Badger game, there’s a good chance that you’re having a great time with friends, both old and new.

When Wisconsinites head out for a tailgater, one of the last things we think about is the chance we could be involved in an accident along the way.  This makes sense statistically, as fewer than 7% of the autos registered in Wisconsin were involved in crashes in 2016.[1]  But the consequences of those accidents were significant, as 75% resulted in property damage, 25% resulted in personal injury, and almost 2% of the injury-involved accidents resulted in someone’s death.

We call crashes “accidents” because nobody ever plans on being in one.  But even the best drivers make mistakes, and even “minor” accidents can cause catastrophic injuries or even death.  Since the financial consequences of an auto accident can be dire, it is important for Wisconsin drivers to have insurance in place before accidents happen.

Because there are so many types of insurance that can apply after an accident, and because each type covers different things, it can be a challenge for Wisconsinites to keep it all straight.  To help you understand the most common coverages and make informed decisions about the coverage(s) you should have for yourself, here’s an explanation of how the different types of insurance coverage work to protect you.

  • Auto insurance. Most drivers have a basic understanding of what auto insurance is, but not everyone knows you can get several different types of coverage through a single auto insurance policy.  The most common coverages you can get through your auto insurance policy are as follows.
  • Liability coverage protects your assets if you cause an accident. When you cause an accident and injure someone else, your assets can be jeopardized in two ways.  If you are sued, you could be required to pay a lawyer to defend you in court, and if you are found liable for causing the accident, you could be required to pay damages to each injured party until the party is made whole (including their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering). Liability coverage protects you against both of these risks.  If you are sued, your liability carrier will hire a lawyer to defend you at no cost, and if you are found liable to pay damages to an injured party, your liability carrier will cover those damages up to the limit of liability in your policy.  As a result, so long as your limit of liability is high enough to cover all the damages arising out of an accident, your liability insurance will fully protect you.  Liability limits in auto insurance policies are typically established on a “per person” and “per accident” basis, with the first limit being the maximum amount the policy will pay to any one injured party, and the second limit being the maximum amount the policy will pay to all injured parties combined.  In Wisconsin, the minimum required liability limit for an auto insurance policy is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, commonly referred to as a “25/50” policy, but it is not uncommon to see auto insurance policies with limits other limits, such as 50/100 or 100/300.

If you have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact the personal injury team at Brennan Steil, S.C.  We are happy to help and here to serve.

[1] See Wisconsin DOT, Final Year End Crash Statistics,  http://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/about-wisdot/newsroom/statistics/final.aspx (8/15/17).

About the Author

Duffy Dillon

A shareholder and managing partner of Brennan Steil S.C., Duffy is a litigator whose practice focuses on personal injury matters, insurance defense, business disputes, and employment law. Learn more.