Auto Insurance Requirements in Illinois

Auto Insurance Requirements in Illinois

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If you want to drive in Illinois, you'll need to first buy an auto insurance policy with liability and uninsured motorist coverages — unless you're willing to become a self-insurer. You'll also need proof of insurance coverage in the form of an ID card or the declaration page of your insurance policy.

Illinois car insurance minimum requirements

In Illinois, all drivers must carry an auto insurance policy that acts as financial protection following a car accident. All policies must come with at least the state-mandated coverage limits, though some insurers allow you to raise those limits for further protection. The amount of liability coverage you should get depends on your assets and your own risk tolerance. Here are the mandatory minimums:

Illinois required car insurance coverage

Required minimum limits

Bodily injury (BI)

$25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident

Property damage (PD)

$20,000 per accident

Uninsured motorist bodily Injury (UMBI)

$25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
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Bodily injury (BI): This coverage pays the other party's medical bills, car repairs and lost wages following an accident you cause — up to $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.

Property damage (PD): This coverage pays for any property damage you cause, up to $20,000 per accident.

Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI): This coverage offers financial protection after you're hit by a driver who either doesn't have enough insurance or lacks coverage altogether. Your insurer will pay for your own medical bills and repair expenses that the other driver would have covered, up to the same limits as your BI coverage.

When do you need to show proof of coverage?

The state may ask you to show proof of insurance coverage on two occasions:

  • At routine traffic stops, when stopped by police officers.
  • Through the state's electronic verification program, which notifies random drivers and asks for proof of coverage.

Other optional coverage

The main purpose of mandatory liability coverage in Illinois is to make sure you can cover the other party's costs after you cause an accident. However, other types of insurance coverages protect you and your vehicle. Below is a list of the most common coverages that you will find with standard auto insurance providers in Illinois:

Collision and collision coverage: Collision covers the costs of your car repairs if it's damaged in a car accident. Comprehensive coverage pays for incidents that are not a result of a collision, such as vandalism, theft or damage from a natural disaster. Some insurers won't let you buy collision without also having comprehensive insurance. There is usually a deductible or out-of-pocket amount that you pay before these coverages kick in.

Medical payments: Also known as first-party benefits, this coverage will reimburse your own medical expenses from an accident, even if you are responsible for it. In other states, this coverage is also known as the personal injury protection.

Uninsured motorist property damage: Similar to UMBI, this coverage kicks in when you are involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. However, this protection covers any property damage you sustained from the accident.

Alternative proof of financial responsibility

In Illinois, unless you have more than 25 cars registered under your name, there is no alternative to getting a policy with at least the mandatory insurance limits. However, if you do have more than 25 cars, you may be able to apply to become a self-insurer.

Self insurance: Any entity — individual, firm, copartnership, association or corporation — who owns more than 25 cars may become a self-insurer for their fleet. Call the Department of Insurance for a self-insurance application and file the required documents along with the $200 application fee. The Department of Insurance will look for evidence that you can pay for claims as a minimum-coverage policy would. With a regular auto insurance policy, the insurer typically pays up to an established limit — but there's no clear indication of the maximum payment a self-insurer must cover.

Alternative to SR-22 under the safety and financial responsibility law

There is one other situation when you can use an alternative to auto insurance. If you're an uninsured driver, and you're more than 50% responsible for an accident, then eventually you'll need to get auto insurance and ask your insurer to file an SR-22 form on your behalf. If you can't provide an SR-22 from a licensed insurance provider, you may use one of these alternatives:

$70,000 cash deposit: The $70,000 represents the combined limits per accident under an insurance policy's mandatory liability coverages. Once you deposit money with the state treasurer, you'll receive a certificate verifying the deposit.

A surety bond: You may also ask a licensed Illinois surety company to issue you a surety bond for $70,000. The company agrees to pay the claims made against you in an accident you cause, but they'll seek repayment from you. You must send a copy of this bond to the secretary of state, who will then send you a certificate for your proof of insurance.

A real estate bond: With this bond, you ask two people with real estate in Illinois to insure you up to $70,000. An effective real estate bond will have the approval of a judge from the county court where the real estate listed is located. After verifying the bond, the secretary of state will issue you a certificate.

Release or covenant not to sue: If you manage to reach a settlement with the injured party to agree on your release of liability, you will not need to submit an SR-22.

Mark is a Senior Research Analyst for ValuePenguin focusing on the insurance industry, primarily auto insurance. He previously worked in financial risk management at State Street Corporation.

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