Auto Insurance in Illinois

Overview

In Illinois, drivers beware if you are caught driving while under the influence, or driving while uninsured. If you’re caught breaking either one of these laws the penalties are severe. In 2011, penalties for driving under the influence became even stiffer. It’s a political hot-button in the Land of Lincoln.

Driving while intoxicated

In Illinois, if you drive under the influence (DUI) and you are caught and convicted, the charge goes on your driving record permanently. In fact, DUI is considered under Illinois law, to be a violent crime.  Your vehicle registration may be taken away, you could lose the privilege of driving, heavy fines could be imposed and you could ultimately face imprisonment. Repeat arrests or convictions result in even more severe penalties.

Illinois mandatory insurance requirements

Illinois law requires all motor vehicle owners to have minimum amounts of auto liability insurance. This means no person can operate a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is covered by a liability insurance policy of at least the required minimum limits. Liability insurance covers damages that the designated driver causes to someone else or there property.

Under Illinois law, you are required to have car insurance liability limits of at least 20/40/15.

This means:

  • $20,000 – bodily injury, per person
  • $40,000 – bodily injury, per accident
  • $15,000 – property damage

While Illinois liability minimums are higher than some states, if you drive a more expensive car these minimums may not adequately protect you. You may also want to consider the fact that medical bills arising from a car crash can be extremely costly.

Consider also that Illinois’ state minimums may not be adequate to provide you the best protection if you were to be found negligent in the case of car accident, in which case you could be sued. Discuss with your agent how to provide the best coverage for yourself and for your family.

Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage

It is not mandatory to carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. However, if you have financed your vehicle, your lender may require it.

Also, with the escalating costs of damages resulting in the event of a car accident, your insurance company or agent may recommend carrying this optional auto insurance to ensure you are adequately covered.  UM/UIM coverage protects you if you are in an accident that is not your fault and the driver at fault does not carry insurance adequate to meet your costs. It will also protect you in an accident if the at-fault driver leaves the scene.

Proof of insurance

If you get stopped by a law enforcement officer, you must present your insurance identification card to prove that the car is insured. Your license plates may be suspended if you fail to produce evidence of auto insurance coverage. In addition, if you fail to show proof of the minimum required auto coverage, you may be charged additional fees beyond your ticket fine, your ticket may go on your record and you will be charged with a mandatory $100 reinstatement fee after you have shown evidence of the proper auto insurance coverage.

If your plates have been suspended, no one will be allowed to drive the vehicle.

Illinois also engages in a random questionnaire sampling process. If you are randomly selected by computer, you will receive a questionnaire from the state of Illinois asking for the name of your insurance company, along with the policy number. You face the suspension of your license plates if:

  • You do not carry the required minimum insurance
  • You are uninsured
  • Your information cannot be verified
  • If you fail to return the questionnaire with the requested information

Rental cars

If you drive a rental car you are still be required to provide proof of insurance. Find out what coverage you have on your own car, as this coverage would apply to your rental car providing you are using the car for recreation and not business.

If you have dropped comprehensive or collision insurance in order to save money, you will not be covered if the rental is stolen or damaged in an accident.

Who is liable

Like many states, Illinois has a fault-based system of auto insurance.  This means that the person that caused the accident is responsible for the cost of medical treatments and repairs. Fault is supposed to be determined by the driver’s insurance companies, although many cases are ultimately resolved in court.

Average annual cost of Illinois auto insurance

The 2011 average annual premium for Illinois auto insurance is $1,290, which is considerably less than the national average of $1561.

 

Resources

Insurance Information Institutewww.iii.org
The State of Illinois Rules of the Road www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/rules_of_the_road/rrtoc.html
Illinois Department of Insurance Tel 217-782-4515

Web www.insurance.illinois.gov