From Champagne to Cairo, Waukegan to Waterloo, Illinois has thousands of miles of roadways. They’ll take you from the shores of Lake Michigan, along the Wabash River and into the heart of Chicago. Illinois’ roads are used by about 8.3 million licensed drivers, who each travel an average of 8,000 miles a year. Along the way, Illinois’ drivers are involved in thousands of traffic accidents every day, including many that result in serious injury or death. Wherever you live and drive in the Prairie State, carrying adequate car insurance is both a legal requirement and commonsense protection. This is your guide to Illinois’ basic vehicle insurance requirements and laws.
Illinois state law requires you to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties that may include monetary fines and jail time. Under Illinois’ tort system, you may also be liable for actual damages (expenses associated with property damage and medical costs), economic damages (lost wages and earning capacity) and emotional and physical pain and suffering.
The bare minimum car insurance requirement for Illinois drivers is:
$20,000 bodily injury per person per accident
$40,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
$15,000 property damage liability
$20,000/$40,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury
$25,000/$50,000 underinsured motorist coverage
$15,000 with $250 deductible uninsured motorist property damage
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages can be rejected in writing if you prefer not to purchase them. Illinois does not require you to carry additional coverage such as personal liability or Collision and Comprehensive. However, if you own property or other valuable assets, supplementing the minimum requirements can help you protect yourself from monetary loss.
Penalties for Failure to Carry Illinois Auto Insurance
When you register your vehicle in Illinois you are also agreeing to maintain adequate insurance. Illinois law requires that you carry proof of Illinois auto insurance in your car and show it if a law enforcement officer asks to see it. Failure to do so can mean a minimum fine of $500 and your license plates can be suspended for up to 4 months. Driving with a suspended registration can bring a $1,000 fine. Illinois randomly selects licensed drivers to verify that they have the required car insurance coverage. You must complete and return a form within 30 days of receipt or face fines or suspension.
If you are caught driving with a suspended license in Illinois, you are guilty of a Class A misdemeanor and can be sentenced to up to 1 year imprisonment and a $2,500 fine. If you cause an accident that results in bodily harm while driving without insurance in Illinois, you are guilty of a Class A misdemeanor with the same penalties mentioned above.
Illinois Car Insurance Premiums
Vehicle insurance premiums are regulated by the Illinois Department of Insurance. Insurance companies are allowed to charge premiums and award discounts based on a number of factors that can include:
The type of car you are insuring
Prior auto insurance coverage
How much you drive
Your driving record
Your marital status
Your geographic location
How long you’ve been driving
Whether or not you use your car for business
Illinois also allows insurers to consider your credit rating to determine your premium.
How to Get the Cheapest Illinois Car Insurance Policy
You may be able to lower the cost of your premiums in the following ways:
Ask about available discounts for good driving habits, anti-theft devices, multiple cars on one policy, bundling your car insurance with your homeowners or renters policy, automatic or online payments and driving a hybrid or electric car
Compare quotes from a variety of providers on this website
Eliminate unnecessary coverage
Check to see if you qualify for any low-cost auto insurance program your state may offer
New Illinois Driving Laws
Laws regarding driving and car insurance can change frequently. It is your responsibility to stay current about the legal requirements in Illinois. The following laws have recently been enacted in Illinois and may affect your insurance coverage decisions.
Illinois bans texting for all drivers. Talking on cell phones is illegal for all novice drivers, but adult drivers can use hands-free technology to talk on cell phones while driving unless they are in a school zone or construction zone. Hand-held phones can be legally used while driving in case of an emergency. The fine is a minimum of $75.
As of 2014, penalties for drivers who injure or kill others in auto accidents caused by the use of a cell phone or other electronic device.
As of 2014, most Illinois highways speed limits have increased to 70 mph. This includes short stretches of I-55 and I-80 southwest of Joliet, I-57 south of Park Forest and I-88 west of Aurora, as well as a stretch of I-94 between Waukegan and the Wisconsin border. However, only about 30% of the Illinois Tollway’s network will get the higher limits and the 70 mph limit will be post in the Chicago area only in five limited areas.
As of 2014, tossing cigarette butts is littering punishable by a $1,500 fine