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Special Insurance Considerations for Motorcyclists in Wisconsin

From Highway 33 and Kettle Moraine to the Cranberry Highway and the Great River Road, Wisconsin roads offer motorcycle riders some of the most beautiful landscapes in America. However, you’ll need to be appropriately licensed and insured before going on a motorcycle ride in the Badger State.

Here are the licensing and insurance requirements riders must meet to ride a motorcycle legally in Wisconsin, which additional coverage plans riders should consider, and how the state’s liability laws work in case of an accident.

Wisconsin Motorcycle Licensing and Insurance Requirements

All motorcycle riders in Wisconsin must be licensed and insured according to the state’s minimum requirements.

To legally operate a motorcycle, a rider must:

  • Possess a valid Class M motorcycle license or a valid instruction permit (equivalent to a learner’s permit)
  • Be at least 16 years old, and if under 18, must wear a properly fastened helmet, have a sponsor, and show proof of completion of a driver’s education course and the Basic RiderCourse (BRC)

Additionally, riders must obtain appropriate insurance and be capable of showing proof when requested by law enforcement officers, as per the Wisconsin Financial Responsibility Law.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WIDOT) outlines the following minimum liability coverage requirements for all motorists, including motorcycle riders:

  • Bodily injury (BI) – $25,000 for the injury or death of one person, $50,000 for two or more
  • Property damage (PD) – $10,000
  • Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage – $25,000 for the injury or death of one person, $50,000 for two or more

Optional Insurance Additions to Consider

Although Wisconsin requires all motorcycle riders to have bodily injury and property damage insurance, the types of insurance coverage mentioned in the legal minimums only protect your liability in an accident. In other words, your motorcycle is not covered by the legal minimum coverage.

Consequently, new Wisconsin riders are often strongly recommended to seek an insurance policy with collision and comprehensive coverage. If you are an experienced rider with a custom bike, consider custom parts and equipment (CPE) coverage. Other additions include underinsured motorists coverage and medical payments coverage.

Here’s what each type can do for you.

  • Collision coverage: If another vehicle damages your bike in an accident, this type of coverage protects it by covering the costs of all necessary repairs or, if your motorcycle is totaled, full replacement.
  • Comprehensive coverage: This type of insurance coverage is designed to protect you against damage not caused by collisions, such as weather events, fires, vandalism, or theft.
  • Custom Parts and Equipment (CPE) coverage: Typically, insurance coverage for a vehicle only covers its initial factory state. If your bike is heavily modified and features many third-party parts and accessories, CPE coverage allows you to protect your aftermarket parts and accessories against damage.
  • Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage: Not to be confused with uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. A UIM insurance policy is designed to increase your protection if an at-fault party has the legal minimum insurance but does not have enough to cover 100% of your damages.
  • Medical payments coverage: This type of insurance coverage helps pay medical or funeral expenses if you or others are injured or killed in an accident. As motorcyclists are at a significantly greater risk of injury or death in an accident, it is often considered essential.

How Is Liability Determined in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin is a modified comparative fault state. The law stipulates that any party responsible for a traffic accident must pay for the damages caused to all parties injured.

However, the contributory negligence law also states that if one of the injured parties is less than 51% at fault for the accident, the damages they are entitled to recover are reduced by the percentage by which they are at fault.

For example, if your damages are $30,000, but you are found 15% at fault, the amount you are entitled to will be reduced by 15%. In this instance, instead of $30,000, you may be entitled to $25,500.

Ride Safely with Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers

Even if you take all necessary precautions to keep yourself and others safe on the road, you may still be the victim of an accident and may be entitled to compensation for the damages.

For this reason, it is crucial to be fully aware of the laws, respect them as carefully as possible, and call a team of expert Wisconsin motorcycle accident lawyers if you are in an accident. A lawyer can help you deal with insurance companies by gathering evidence, calculating the extent of your damages, and proving the at-fault party’s liability.

At Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers, we are committed to defending riders’ rights, combating motorcycle bias, and obtaining maximum compensation for you. Contact us today for a free case review.

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