Auto insurance requirements in Illinois
To drive legally in the state of Illinois, every driver must carry certain limits of insurance coverage. This is for your protection as well as that of other drivers. Illinois is what’s known as a fault state. This means that the driver who causes the accident is responsible for covering the damages.
Illinois law requires that all drivers must have proof of insurance showing that they carry the required amounts of auto insurance coverage. If you can’t provide such proof, you could face steep penalties. The minimum amounts of Illinois auto insurance required are listed below.
It’s important to remember that you could be required by a bank or lienholder to carry more than the minimum amounts required by the state of Illinois if your vehicle is being financed.
Liability coverage in Illinois
Illinois drivers must carry liability insurance in order to drive legally. If you are at-fault in an auto accident, liability insurance is what will go toward paying the expenses for property damage or bodily injury of the other driver. It’s important to remember that liability insurance only covers injuries or damages that you cause to others. It never pays for injuries or damages to your own property.
Liability coverage is typically split into two different types: bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Bodily injury coverage helps to cover any medical bills — and sometimes funeral expenses — associated with a car accident in which you are at-fault.
The other part of liability insurance is property damage liability. This coverage goes toward covering the cost of damage inflicted on another’s property. These limits are broken down even further detail below.
What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?
The sad fact is that not all drivers carry insurance. Therefore, Illinois mandates all drivers carry uninsured motorist coverage to cover bodily injury if you are harmed in an accident in which an uninsured driver is at fault. Note that the only coverage required is bodily injury. This can still leave your personal property at risk. Uninsured motorist coverage protecting against property damage can be added as an endorsement to your policy if you wish.
What are state-mandated car insurance limits?
Nearly every state requires its motorists to carry a certain amount of coverage to be considered a legal driver. The limit refers to the minimum amount of insurance coverage required by the state. These limits can — and in most cases should — be increased for an additional premium.
You’ll often see liability insurance limits written out as 25/50/20. Known as a split limit, it separates the types of coverage offered. These coverage types are per person, per accident, and property damage.
The per person limit is the amount of coverage available to any single person that you injure in a car accident. Multiple people are covered up to the “per accident” limit.
Per accident applies to the total amount that your car insurance company will pay out for bodily injury that you cause, assuming that you have injured more than one person in the same accident. While this is the total amount that your insurance company will pay out for bodily injury, they will never pay over the “per person” limit for any single person.
Property damage per accident refers to the amount that an insurance company will pay if you damage another person’s property in an auto accident.
Are Illinois’s required car insurance minimums high enough?
The car insurance minimums in the state of Illinois are higher than a number of states. However, even these slightly higher limits can leave you at risk. A property damage liability minimum of only $20,000 can be exhausted quite quickly. Most new vehicles these days are well over $20,000, and if you cause an accident with multiple vehicles, $20,000 is still the maximum limit of what your insurance company will cover.
A higher bodily injury liability should be considered as well. For example, if you injure a car full of people in an auto accident, your insurance will only pay out a maximum of $25,000 for any one person, with a total cap of $50,000 for all of them.
Getting coverage above the state-mandated limits can be a great way to increase your protection in the event of an accident. Otherwise, you could be stuck paying the remainder of costs out of your own pocket.
Illinois's penalties for driving without proof of insurance
Operating a motor vehicle without the proper auto insurance coverage can bring about some stiff consequences. These can include fines and the loss of your driving privileges. Penalties for failure to show proof of insurance in Illinois are as follows.
Optional car insurance coverage in Illinois
Illinois law only requires liability insurance in order to be legal. However, it’s worth considering adding more coverage to your insurance policy to add further protection.
Collision: Collision coverage is important if you want to have your own vehicle covered. This coverage helps you to repair damages done when you are involved in a collision with another vehicle or fixed object (other than animals).
Comprehensive: Comprehensive coverage also covers your vehicle. This coverage typically helps with most other damages your vehicle might sustain (including collisions with animals). When paired with collision, these two are often referred to as full coverage.
Gap Coverage: If you are leasing or financing your vehicle, gap coverage could be a smart option. Because automobiles depreciate in value so quickly, this coverage pays the difference in the actual cash value of your vehicle and what you still owe on the loan.
Roadside assistance: If you find yourself broken down on the highway, this coverage can be very helpful.
Medical payments: This added coverage can go towards the medical bills for injuries sustained by another driver. It covers you and those in your vehicle up to the policy limits (typically between $5,000 - $10,000).
Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD): While Uninsured motorist coverage is required by Illinois, it only covers bodily injury. To have your property protected, you must purchase uninsured motorist property damage coverage separately.
Illinois is a diminished value state
Illinois is a diminished value state, meaning drivers are allowed to recover diminished value from the at-fault party’s insurance company. When your vehicle experiences an accident, even if it is fully repaired to its pre-loss condition, the resale value decreases. The involvement in a collision makes your car’s value lesser than similar vehicles that have not experienced an accident. A diminished value claim allows you to recoup the losses you might experience when selling your car.
Since Illinois is one of the 15 states that offers compensation for diminution in value, you may file by contacting the at-fault party’s insurer. In order to file a diminished value claim in Illinois, certain requirements must be met:
- You are not entitled to compensation if you were the party at fault in the accident
- Documentation will be required to process your claim. Make sure you can provide photos, records of repairs made, and proof of the value of your vehicle by a trusted source.
- In Illinois, the statute of limitations for filing a diminished value claim is 5 years.
- Illinois does have uninsured motorist coverage for diminished value claims.
Why adhering to Illinois’s car insurance requirements is important
No one expects to be at-fault in a car accident. However, we have car insurance for that very reason. Even a momentary lapse in your attention can result in a fender bender. In this case, liability coverage steps in to cover any damages you cause in a car accident -- up to your policy limits at least. This can usually be done for a reasonably low added premium.
Finding the right auto insurance policy is the best way to protect yourself and your assets while on the road. A good place to start is The Zebra. The Zebra can help you find free insurance quotes so that you can get a sense of what types of coverage are available and how much they’ll cost.