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Illinois Auto Insurance Requirements
by Doug Cohen

Any automobile owned in, and operated on Illinois highways of the Prairie State must be properly insured, registered and titled. In Illinois itís mandatory and according to the Secretary of State, ďIllinois' mandatory insurance law is one of the most significant consumer protection measures now on the books.Ē Letís take a look at what this means.

So what is the Mandatory Auto Insurance Law in Illinois?
Simply put, Illinois state law requires you, whether driving in Springfield, Illinoisís state capital, or Rockford, Chicago or Cicero, Aurora or Peoria, or somewhere in between, to have an auto insurance liability and UM policy of - at least - the required minimum limits. We recommend considering higher limits.

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What are those Minimum Limits required by the 21st State?
Under Illinois law, you are required to have car insurance Liability limits of at least 20/40/15. What does this mean? It means:
$20,000 per person, for bodily injury you cause,
$40,000 per accident, for bodily injury, and
$15,000 per accident, for damage to anotherís property, usually their car.
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Limits of:
$20,000 per person,
$40,000 per accident.

Proof of Insurance
If you get stopped by Illinois highway patrol or any law enforcement officer, you must present your insurance identification (ID) card showing that the car is insured. Your auto insurance carrier should provide you with an ID card whenever they issue or renew your car insurance liability policy. You can also get an ID card or temporary proof of insurance for each car covered under your policy if you purchased your auto insurance from sites like InstantCarInsurance.com or Ensurance.com after comparison shopping online auto insurance rates. The advantage to these sites is you can print your own ID cards online anytime, day or night, as opposed to waiting for the insurance company phone lines to open up. Nobody likes that.

These insurance ID cards includes the name of the car insurance company, the policy number, and the policy effective and expiration dates. They also include a description of the insured car(s) and/or the name of the insured driver(s). Your signature on the Illinois Vehicle Renewal Registration Application affirms that your vehicle will be properly insured throughout the registration period too.

So How is this Mandatory Auto Insurance Law Enforced?
Enforcement of the mandatory auto insurance law is accomplished through a random questionnaire sampling process and the subsequent issuance of traffic tickets. If the computer randomly selects your vehicle, you will receive a questionnaire asking for the name of your insurance company and policy number. Your answers will be verified with the company you name. If you do not have insurance or fail to return the questionnaire with the requested information, your license plates get suspended and you, the carís owner, get penalized.

What is the Penalty for Driving without Auto Insurance in Illinois?
If you donít carry proof of auto insurance and you are stopped by Illinois law enforcement, your license plates get suspended and you will receive a minimum $500 fine for driving uninsured, not to mention it then goes on your driving record and then you have to pay $100 reinstatement fee once you do get properly insured again. If you continue driving uninsured and get stopped, you get a minimum $1,000 fine for driving a vehicle while the license plates were suspended for a previous insurance violation, and a minimum 4 month suspension plus $100 reinstatement fee. Lastly, while the plates are suspended, no one may drive that vehicle.

The moral of the story: Keep current (up to date) proof of Illinois auto insurance ID cards in the cars with you at all times.

How to Find the Best Auto Insurance Rates in Illinois
Everyone claims to have the lowest price today. Thatís why itís so important to comparison shop for the best coverage at the lowest rate, especially considering Illinois Auto Insurance can be so expensive. There are many basic online resources that provide free quotes from licensed Illinoisan insurance companies and are approved by the Illinois DOI. If you suspect you may be paying too much for auto insurance, residents of Illinois can save time and money by comparing car insurance rates quickly and anonymously between top name Illinois auto insurance carriers simply by logging on to InstantCarInsurance.com.

Some insurers do not sell auto insurance to drivers who have been driving uninsured. If thatís you and you have problems getting car insurance, look into the Illinois Automobile Insurance Plan.

The State of Illinois requires minimum auto insurance of 20/40/15 and UM coverage of 20/40 as long as you have a valid Illinois car tag and car registration. Keep this in mind when shopping for basic coverage and evaluate it against car insurance quotes with higher coverage for a little more money. You may need it someday despite not being as cheap.

Money Saving Tip: Most people do not realize that insurance companies change rates continuously and typically repost new rates twice monthly. Thus we recommend returning to InstantCarInsurance.com to re-rate your cars monthly to be sure you are still getting the best deal at the rock-bottom, lowest, cheapest price you can for auto insurance! Why not? Itís free.

At the same time keep in mind, the cheapest auto insurance is not always the best auto insurance. So itís also a good idea to evaluate the number of complaints an insurance company has against them versus the number of cars they insure. Hereís a chart you might find informative.

CUSTOMER COMPLAINT RATIOS (for Selected Insurance Companies)
These complaint ratios are based on the number of written complaints received by the Insurance Division from January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2006 for the 11 insurance companies that write more than 95% of the private passenger automobile insurance market. These numbers do not reflect any determination on the part of the Insurance Division as to whether a particular complaint may have been justified or not and include no-fault hearing requests.
Insurance Company/Group No. of Autos Insured No. of Complaints Received Ratio of Complaints per 1,000 Autos
American International (AIG) 110,338 58 0.526
Allstate Insurance 61,985 12 0.194
DTRIC Ins. Co., Ltd. 33,326 44 1.320
First Insurance 26,143 4 0.153
GEICO 176,497 108 0.612
Hartford Underwriters Ins. 37,645 12 0.319
Island/Tradewind Insurance Co. 35,172 8 0.227
Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. 32,800 50 1.524
Progressive Insurance Co. 37,355 20 0.535
State Farm Insurance Co. 130,778 17 0.130
USAA Insurance Co. 76,422 8 0.105

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