The great prairie state of Illinois has over 8 million drivers that travel an average of 8,000 miles a year across the thousands of miles of roadways in the state. With Illinois’s tort law, you will be liable for actual physical damage, economic damage and even emotional and physical pain and suffering. An at-fault state, Illinois does however require all drivers to carry liability insurance and uninsured insurance to help protect victims of accidents.
Filing Suit or Claim after an Accident
As a true at fault state, victims of an auto accident in Illinois have three options after being involved in an auto accident when they are not found at fault. They can follow up with their own auto insurance, filing a claim if they have suitable insurance to cover either personal injury or property damage. They can file a claim directly against the person at fault’s insurance carrier or they can file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the at fault driver in civil court. The timeframe limits for these civil lawsuits are limited to 2 years for personal injury and 5 years for property damage. After this has passed, no litigation can be instituted.
Were You at Fault?
Illinois is also one of the few states that have a Comparative Fault rule that shares fault in an accident amongst multiple parties if they were deemed to be at fault, negligent or failed in a duty to help prevent the accident. In Illinois if you are found more than 50% at fault you are unable to file a lawsuit. Furthermore if you were found partially at fault your lawsuit damages may be lowered by the same percentage you were found at fault.
Insurance Minimums in Illinois
The state’s law requires that all registered motor vehicles being driven in the state be required to carry minimum liability insurance as laid out below:
$20,000 for the injury of one person,
$40,000 for the injury of multiple persons in one accident,
and $15,000 minimum property damage coverage.
The law also states that every policy sold must also carry uninsured coverage in equal portion as the injury liability coverage of the policy. This coverage helps cover those victims that do not carry auto insurance for whatever reason.
Illinois is the 12th least expensive insurance state in the US with an average insurance cost of $1079 annual insurance cost per driver. These rates are fairly low compared to most states. However this average only tells part of the story. With one of the largest metropolitan cities in the US, the average car rates in the state are almost double in the Chicago area, compared with most other cities downstate. As always, the rates of insurance can be drastically different between drivers, vehicles, locations, insurers, ages and sex. The average rate in Chicago is over $1600 per year, but some of the cheapest rates in the city are as low as $1100. Be sure to shop around, compare different quotes for the same coverage to get the best rate possible.
Illinois’ state insurance enforcement uses a novel way to check on motorists to ensure they are insured. The state uses computer systems to randomly send out insurance questionnaires to registered drivers to ask about their insurance coverage. You must respond to the questionnaire and if you do not, or your answers are not confirmed by your insurer you are liable to have your motor vehicle registration suspended.
You are also liable to license plate suspension if you are stopped for a traffic violation and are not able to produce a valid insurance card for your vehicle. The $500 minimum fine for driving without valid insurance and $1000 minimum if you are driving with a suspended license is quite aggressive in keeping drivers insured in the state.
Another quirk of the Illinois insurance industry is the ability of all insurers to arbitrarily cancel your insurance policy within the first 60 days for any reason. However, after the first 60 days your insurer can only cancel for a failure to pay, violation of the policy terms, or proof that you obtained insurance under false information or pretence.
However, insurers can also non-renew your insurance at the end of each policy cycle for the first 5 years for any reason except typical racial or discrimination issues. After the 5 years, an insurance company can still non-renew your policy at any end of the cycle with 60 days written notice.
Insurance in Illinois is required but with an at fault comparative fault rule state, Illinois still provides a litigation outlet for those that are victims of car accidents that were not their fault.