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Gianna Urgo
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The Land of Lincoln is also a land of cars. Ford and Fiat Chrysler have assembly plants in the state, and more than 700,000 vehicles rolled off their factory floors in 2014. But whether residents are driving a Dodge Dart or a Ford Taurus, they’ll need Illinois car insurance. Read on to understand what Illinois requires by way of insurance and what the state is doing to protect its drivers.

Illinois Vehicle Insurance Requirements

Summary

Illinois requires drivers to carry liability coverage to protect other drivers and their property. Insurance policies must also include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, meaning that if you’re hit by an uninsured driver who is at fault, your medical bills will be covered up to the limits you’ve set. That extra level of protection could come in handy, because as of 2012, 13.3 percent of drivers in Illinois were estimated to be uninsured — slightly above the national average.

Who Needs Vehicle Insurance in Illinois?

If you register and drive a car in Illinois, you’ve got to insure it. The good news: that 1968 Mustang you’ve been working on for years in the garage does not need insurance as long as it remains inoperable.

Proof of Insurance

Proof of insurance in Illinois can either be printed on a card or stored on an electronic device, such as a smartphone. The information on the card — vehicle year, make model and identification number — should match the car you’re driving. Your card should also contain the insurance company name, the policy number and the dates the policy is valid for. In addition, the car should include the name of the insured driver (you), which should match the name on your driver’s license.

You’ll need proof of insurance when:

  • You’re pulled over for a traffic offense
  • You’ve been in an accident
  • You need to register your vehicle or renew the registration

Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements in Idaho

Before 2015, Illinois used to require less insurance than most other states. But the state has since raised the minimum levels to typical coverage levels:

  • $25,000 liability coverage per person per injury
  • $50,000 liability coverage per accident per injury
  • $20,000 coverage for property damage
  • $25,000/$50,000 uninsured motorist coverage per person injured/per accident

Uninsured motorist insurance will cover you if your car is struck by a hit-and-run driver or someone with no liability insurance. If you buy more than the minimum required for uninsured motorist insurance, you’ll also need to get underinsured motorist insurance. This way, if an “underinsured” driver is at fault, your policy will pay the difference between that driver’s liability insurance and the amount of uninsured motorist coverage you purchased.

Alternatives to Insurance in Illinois

Unless you own a fleet of more than 25 vehicles, Illinois doesn’t offer any alternatives to insurance. If you have 26 vehicles or more, though, you can choose to self-insure them.

“Problem drivers” with a history of accidents or severe driving violations may have to carry financial responsibility insurance (SR-22). They’ll be required to put down a deposit or buy a bond worth $55,000 to prove that they will be able to cover any future accidents.

What Happens If You Don’t Have Car Insurance?

Drivers can go a long time without having to show proof of insurance, but that doesn’t mean you should be tempted to quietly drop your policy when no one is looking and hope for the best.

The problem with that plan is that there’s a good chance someone will be looking. Insurance companies have to notify the state when an insurance policy is cancelled. The state of Illinois randomly surveys registered drivers. If a vehicle is selected, the driver must provide insurance details. Not responding — either out of forgetfulness or because the car is not insured — results in the license plates for that vehicle being suspended. Drivers will have to pay $100 and get insurance to get their plates back. If they do it again, the same penalties apply, but their license will be suspended for four months regardless of how quickly they get insurance.

Here’s what happens for motorists who are caught actually driving without insurance:

  • They will get fined at least $500 fine for driving without insurance
  • If their license plates were suspended at the time, they will be fined at least $1,000

Of course, much worse than getting caught is the possibility of getting into a catastrophic crash. If you don’t have insurance, the medical bills could put your life savings at risk.

How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need in Illinois?

Cheap car insurance, by its nature, may not be the best car insurance. Minimum liability doesn’t protect you from the aftermath of a crash where you’re at fault, one that could leave you vulnerable to lawsuits that can drain your savings and put your equity at risk. Your personal needs and finances should guide your decision, but insurance experts generally recommend buying $100,000/$300,000 of liability coverage or more for full protection.

What Percentage of Drivers in
Illinois Lack Vehicle Insurance?
13.3% National Average: 12.6 %

You may benefit from other types of insurance as well. Illinois is bordered by the Mississippi River, and from 1957 to 2013, the state had 39 major disasters related to flooding. Comprehensive coverage can help owners repair or replace cars damaged by floods and other natural disasters. Collision insurance provides protection for cars harmed by other vehicles.

For more on the type of car insurance that’s best for you, see our MoneyGeek guide to car insurance basics.

Car Insurance and Special Groups

Teen Drivers in Illinois

Teenagers are just learning to drive, and it’s no surprise that learners make more mistakes than veterans. Recognizing this, Illinois enacted graduated driver licensing in 2008 to lower crash rates and fatalities among teenagers.

But teens as a group are still among the riskiest drivers, and having a new driver on a plan will increase a family’s premium. To protect your children and lower your premiums, you should seek out a large-frame car with advanced crash protection for your teen.

Though teenagers don’t need their own insurance while on a learner’s permit, their families will want to add them or their vehicle to their plan before they begin driving on their own, which is a much cheaper option than for a teenager to buy his/her own insurance.

The Teen/Car Insurance Hike In Illinois

Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:

$2,003 increase This is a difference of 130%.
Comparison of Premium Ranges
25th – 75th Percentile Median
Speeding Toward a Higher Premium

Average annual premium bump if your teen gets a speeding ticket while driving 11-15 mph over the speed limit:

Male teen

$631

Speedometer
Female teen

$512

Discounts for Teen Drivers in Illinois

Impact on annual premium with Good Student and Defensive Driving discounts:

$616 saved

Compare Premiums from Illinois Providers

Policy costs vary more than you may realize, so shop around. Check out the annual average premiums for a married couple with a 16-year-old teen driver in Illinois:

Insurance Provider Min MEDIAN MAX
Farmers $1,705 $2,724 $5,504
American Family $1,722 $3,010 $5,800
State Farm $1,918 $3,646 $7,511
Country $1,654 $3,838 $10,377
Allstate $3,458 $7,930 $22,910

Illinois Premiums: Mustang vs. Minivan

Getting a crash-worthy “family car” for your teen isn’t just a safer choice — it makes a big difference to your car insurance premium.

Average premium for two 2014
Mustang GTs

$5,859

Average premium for two 2008
Town and Country Limiteds

$3,610

Annual benefit of minivans:

$2,249 saved This is 38% less expensive.
Premium Comparison for Two Adults + 16 Year Old
25th – 75th Percentile Median

College Students in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Insurance recommends that if you’re attending college out of state, check on the minimum requirements of that state (you’ll need to match them). If you own the vehicle, you’ll need to get your own policy. In any event, let your insurance agent know where you’ll be housing the vehicle.

Illinois College Students vs. Teen Drivers

Median annual premium change with a college student vs. high school driver

$878 decrease This is a decrease of 24%.
Comparison of Premium Ranges
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Annual Rates for Illinois Insurance Providers

Each year, take a look at your policy before it renews to see whether you could get a better deal. Compare, for example, the average premiums for a married couple and a 19-year-old college student in Illinois.

Provider Min MEDIAN MAX
American Family $1,171 $2,099 $4,199
Farmers $1,342 $2,134 $4,248
State Farm $1,145 $2,253 $4,897
Country $1,739 $3,655 $8,101
Allstate $2,882 $6,378 $15,013

Illinois College Students: Distance Discount

You may get a small break in your family’s premium if your student lives 150+ miles away from home.

Average premium for a 19-year-old male
  • $3,902 at home
  • $3,481 at school
  • $421 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
  • $3,290 at home
  • $3,038 at school
  • $252 in savings

Illinois College Drivers: Mustangs vs. Minivans

A minivan is likely a better choice for your college student than a sports car, which insurers consider risky.

2014 Mustang GTs (2)

$4,622

2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)

$2,766

Annual benefit of minivans

$1,856 saved This is 40% less expensive.
Premium Comparison for Two Adults + College Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Military Drivers in Illinois

Many insurance companies licensed to do business in Illinois offer discounted rates to active duty military and veterans. Armed Forces Insurance, founded in 1887, is one company that caters exclusively to veterans and military families. Essentially, AFI is owned by its policyholders.

By comparing quotes and shopping around, military families stationed in Illinois can save money and possibly enjoy additional discounts with multiple policies. With more than 22,000 active-duty military personnel living in the state, Illinois requires proof of policy before you can show up at the DMV to register your vehicle.. The Illinois Department of Insurance operates a consumer services division with staff to answer questions about the state’s auto insurance requirements: 217-782-4515.

Illinois Service Members:
Your Vehicle Choice Affects Your Premium

Rollover crashes are more common among SUVs and pickups, according to insurance researchers, and insurance research links sports cars to higher rates of speeding. For this reason, a recent model sports car will drive up your premium more than an older model SUV.

Military Drivers: A Comparison of Premium Ranges by Driver Age and Vehicle
25-Year-Old Driver
50-Year-Old Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Age-Based Savings for Illinois
Service Members

Median auto insurance
for service members:

$1,065
Male (25 yrs)$1,435
Male (50 yrs)$1,090
$345 savings
Female (25 yrs)$1,274
Female (50 yrs)$1,092
$182 savings

Compare Average Premiums Available to Illinois Military Personnel

Whether you're in the military or not, it pays to shop around. Check out the average annual rates you can get in Illinois.

Premium Comparison for a Military Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Seniors in Illinois

Illinois doesn’t explicitly require its car insurance companies to give discounts to older drivers, but AARP indicates that they do anyway after the completion of a good driver course.

Undocumented Workers in Illinois

Since 2013, undocumented immigrants have been able to get a temporary license in Illinois if they have lived there for at least a year and can show either a valid passport or an ID from their consulate. At the federal level, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before they turned 16 can also get licenses under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, provided they are students or have graduated high school, haven’t committed a crime and meet the residency requirements set out in the program. Having a driver’s license is a prerequisite for car insurance, so the next step is to register the vehicle and get it insured.

Ridesharing Insurance in Illinois: Are You Covered?

Illinois regulates the use of transportation network companies (TNCs), more commonly known as ridesharing companies. Drivers for Uber, Lyft and other TNCs are required by state law to have $1 million in liability coverage for injury or property damage as long as the app is turned on.

If you’re a ridesharing driver:

Drivers should still be diligent about ensuring they have the right personal and TNC-backed policies. A liability policy covers people in other cars, but not yours. And since a personal auto policy generally doesn’t cover “driving for hire,” you may be at risk in an accident. If you’re a ridesharing driver, check with your insurance agent to make sure you and your passengers are fully covered.

Car Accidents: How to File a Claim in Illinois

The easiest way to deal with insurance is by never having to use it. But if you do get in an accident, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • If someone is hurt or there’s significant damage to one or both vehicles, call the police within 30 minutes to file a crash report.
  • File a separate report within 10 days to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
  • Report the damage to your insurance company as soon as possible, which may need to see a crash report, medical bills or other documents.
  • Depending on who was at fault, you’ll need to decide whether to file a first-party claim with your insurance or a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance company. The Illinois Department of Insurance website describes both procedures in detail.

Best and Worst States for Drivers: How Does My State Rank?

Traffic fatalities in Illinois have declined every decade since 1975. That year, the state had 2,041 traffic fatalities, the fifth-highest number in the U.S. By 2013, that number was down to 991. Gianna Urgo of the Illinois Department of Transportation credits part of the state’s success to the implementation of the State Strategic Highway Safety Plan. By analyzing safety data, she says, the department can better involve local agencies, identify accident trends and funnel resources to preventing deadly crashes.

Illinois Driver Safety Ranking

24th in the U.S.
About Our Data

The driver safety table shows the different safety factors that contribute to your state's overall safety rank (in the green box). The overall safety ranking and the National Ranking column scores in each category (including crash fatality rates) are from safest to most dangerous, with 1st being the safest and 51st the least safe.

How did we create the safety rankings?

We created a traffic safety ranking of all US states plus the District of Columbia by combining data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. We looked at fatality rates by distance traveled as well as by population and gave more weight to behaviors that were riskier and preventable (i.e., drunk driving, not using a seat belt), as well as to accidents that involved more than one party (i.e., multi-vehicle).

Driver Safety Profile Number of Fatalities Fatality Rate

The fatality rate is the rate per one billion vehicle miles traveled, except for pedestrian and bicyclist fatality measures, which are per measured per a population of 100,000.

Ranking
(National)

Rankings are in order of safest to least safe. A state with the lowest fatality rate would be the safest, and thus ranked #1.

Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities 317 3.01 17th
Speeding-Related Fatalities 421 4.00 36th
Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities 276 2.62 19th
Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities 113 1.07 39th
Multiple Vehicle Fatalities 441 4.19 21st
Pedestrian Fatalities 125 0.97 18th
Bicyclist Fatalities 30 0.23 39th
Total Vehicle Fatalities 991 9.41 17th

Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Illinois: Protecting You from Injury on the Road

Illinois is among 10 states with the best set of traffic safety laws, according to Advocates for Highway and Road Safety. It also has a few more obscure ones, such as a prohibition against hanging dice or a tiny scented pine tree from your mirror in Chicago. That’s because Illinois state law prohibits items like air fresheners from obstructing drivers’ views. Check out the table for information about more common ways the state keeps people safe on the road.

As Urgo points out, the lllinois transportation department has a “multifaceted approach” to reducing highway fatalities on Illinois roadways. This includes public education campaigns about impaired driving and seat belt use (and increased enforcement), as well as using crash data to find engineering solutions to reduce the risk of fatal crashes.

Safe Driving Laws – Illinois

  Requirement State Law Details
Mandatory seat belts Seat belts required in all seats; primary enforcement law
Child passenger safety Child or booster seats until age 8
Driving under the influence (DUI) Blood alcohol limit of 0.08 and 0.05 for additional evidence of impairment; “zero tolerance” for alcohol among those under 21. Penalties for a DUI include suspension of driving privileges for a year (can apply for a restricted license with conditions within 30 days of sentence), fines and other costs up to $16,580; possible jail time
Ignition interlock after DUI Mandatory interlocks for convictions
Talking on cell or texting while driving Texting and talking on cell phones illegal while driving
Protections for young drivers During two-year intermediate stage licensing, nighttime driving prohibited for two years (10 p.m.-6 a.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m.-6 a.m. on weekends) and only one non-family passenger is allowed after one year
Motorcycle helmet law No statewide law
Bicycle helmet law No statewide law

Sources: Governors Highway Safety Association and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Car Insurance Resources for Illinois Residents

Illinois Automobile Insurance Plan

If you are a high-risk driver who has been turned down for car insurance, you can still get insurance through the Illinois Automobile Insurance Plan provided you meet certain criteria.

Illinois Department of Insurance

The Illinois Department of Insurance has helpful advice on auto insurance, including a shopping guide, advice on what to do if a plan is cancelled or not renewed and steps to take when filing a claim.

Illinois Department of Insurance – Insurance Complaints & Issues

Consumers can use this portal to create an account and file a complaint.

Illinois Insurance Association

This trade group runs a hotline for consumers to ask questions and request resources.

Secretary of State

Driver services are housed under the Illinois Secretary of State Office. Examples of the available services include license renewal and information on where to take state-certified driver education courses.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety/Illinois

A yearly report on traffic law progress in Illinois from an alliance of consumer, public health and insurance groups.

Updated: July 29, 2017