UPDATED: Jan 25, 2019
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The state of Illinois ensures that all drivers are financially responsible for at-fault accidents with laws requiring a minimum amount of liability coverage for everyone on the road. Not only is there mandatory liability coverage, but drivers in Illinois are also required to carry coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorists as well. Drivers can also select from a variety of optional coverage to protect themselves in the event of an accident or other auto-related loss.
Required Insurance Coverage
There are two main types of coverage that form a basic mandatory car insurance policy in Illinois. The minimum limits can, and frequently are, increased to provide added protection for serious accidents with major financial consequences. As of 2015, the legal limits have been raised to the following requirements.
Bodily Injury – Illinois law requires every driver to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage to pay for the medical costs associated with injuries in a car accident. These are $25,000 per person and $50,000 total for all injuries in a single accident.
Property Damage – To cover the cost of repairs to cars and other property that may be damaged in an accident, Illinois drivers must carry at least $20,000 in property damage liability coverage on their insurance policy.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage – The law requires that you have bodily injury coverage in amount equal to the minimum liability limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident to pay for injuries in an accident with another motorist who does not have insurance or whose insurance is not adequate to cover the cost of injuries.
Optional Insurance Coverage
In addition to the legal minimums, most drivers choose to add a selection of optional coverage to create a policy that protects them from financial loss in a variety of situations. The first and most common option is to increase liability limits. Because Illinois is a “fault” state, drivers found at fault in an accident can be held responsible for damages that go beyond their policy limits; it is very common for drivers to protect themselves with higher limits.
Collision Coverage – This common option provides benefits to pay for damage to your car when it is involved in an at-fault accident. If you are at fault, there is no other source of coverage to repair or replace your own vehicle.
Comprehensive Coverage – Commonly purchased with collision, this coverage pays for damage to your vehicle from a source that is not an accident. Among the common perils covered under this option are theft, vandalism, fire, and weather damage.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage – This covers property damage to your vehicle when the at-fault driver is uninsured or does not carry sufficient insurance to cover the damages in full.
Medical Payments – This option pays for medical needs or funeral costs for you or others who are in your vehicle when involved in an accident, regardless of who is at fault. It also covers you and your family if you are injured as pedestrians.
Accidental Death Benefits – This pays out a set benefit in the event that the insured person dies as the result of an accident.
Rental Reimbursement – This coverage will pay a daily amount to cover the cost of a rental car while your car is being repaired under a covered loss.
Additional Options – Among the other options that car insurance companies in Illinois offer are towing cost coverage, gap coverage, new car replacement endorsement, and coverage for car stereo equipment.
Carrying Proof of Insurance
All Illinois drivers must carry proof of insurance with them at all times when driving. They must present this proof to a police officer upon request and at the scene of an accident. Proof of insurance is also required to register a vehicle or renew auto insurance.
Illinois performs random insurance checks in which a computer selects vehicles at random and issues a request for insurance information. Drivers who receive this request must complete and submit a form including all insurance company and policy information. Failure to do so will result in suspension of license plates.
Drivers who are caught driving without insurance will be issued a traffic citation and required to appear in court. A conviction will result in a minimum fine of $500 and suspension of license plates. If you drive with suspended plates after a conviction for driving without insurance, you will face a doubled fine and further suspension.
For first-time offenders, a $100 reinstatement fee is required to remove the plate suspension. On a second offense, the fee can only be paid after a minimum four-month suspension period. Proof of insurance will be required for reinstatement.
Illinois Teen Driver Licensing and Laws
Illinois employs a graduated licensing system that eases teen drivers into the responsibilities of driving while allowing them to improve their skills. There are three phases to the graduated license.
Learner’s Permit – At 15 years old, a teen may apply for a learner’s permit with parental permission. In order to receive the permit, the driver will need to enroll in a driver education course and take a written knowledge test covering the rules of the road. During the permit phase, the following restrictions apply:
- Driving is not permitted during the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday
- Cell phone use of any kind, including hands-free, is prohibited
- There can be no more than one passenger in the front seat and the back seat may not exceed the number of seat belts
- Driving practice must be completed with a driver aged 21 and over who is a licensed driver
Initial License – At 16, a teen that has met the following requirements may take the driver’s test for an initial license:
- Hold a permit for at least 9 months
- Complete 50 hours of practice driving with a supervising driver, 10 hours of which must be at night
- Keep a clean driving record
- Complete an approved driver education course
Once the road test has been passed, the teen may drive unsupervised. During this time, however, there are still restrictions that must be followed.
- Driving is not permitted between the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday
- No more than one passenger under the age of 20 may be in the vehicle unless the passenger is an immediate family member for the first 12 months or until the driver turns 18. After this time only one passenger is permitted in the front seat and no more passengers in the back seat than there are seat belts
- Use of a cell phone or other device, even hands-free, is prohibited
Full License – As long as the teen driver has maintained a clean driving record for at least six months prior to turning 18, the license will be converted to a full license. The only remaining restriction at this time is that drivers under the age of 19 may not use a cell phone or other device, even hands-free.
Teen drivers in Illinois must be insured as soon as they pass the road test for the initial license. Parents and guardians can add the driver to their current insurance policy and keep them insured this way even if they go away to school. A teen will need to obtain their own insurance policy meeting legal minimums once they establish a permanent residence of their own.
Shopping for Car Insurance in Illinois
Illinois drivers can shop around and compare rates in order to find a car insurance policy that meets their budget and needs. As of a 2017 study by Insure.com, Illinois ranked at number 36 for insurance rates in the U.S., with an average rate of $1159.
To assist drivers with shopping for insurance, the Illinois Department of Insurance provides information on complaints against insurance companies who write policies in the state.
Insurance companies in Illinois use a number of factors in order to determine insurance rates. For example, it is legal for insurance companies to obtain your credit rating when issuing insurance and to use this information for rating purposes.
A high-risk driver is generally someone who has a complex driving history, including multiple tickets or accidents, or a serious violation. Insurance companies differ as to what factors they use to determine who qualifies as high-risk. As a result, some insurance companies may not be willing to offer you a policy based on your history, while others may charge higher rates. Some companies specialize in high-risk drivers, making it easier to obtain insurance.
In some cases, a driver may not successfully qualify for an insurance policy due to their record. The Illinois Auto Insurance Plan is designed to help them obtain the needed coverage. This plan assigns high-risk drivers to a specific insurance company and requires that company to provide a policy. All insurers doing business in Illinois must participate in this plan, which allows for the risk to be spread among multiple companies while ensuring everyone is covered.
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