Here’s what Illinois drivers need to know about finding affordable and robust auto insurance.
From the skyscrapers of Chicago to the cornfields of Champaign County down to the Kentucky border, Illinois is a state with plenty of pride, history and culture. And Illinois drivers deserve car insurance that meets their varied needs, whether you’re a city driver or a prairie driver.
Car insurance in Illinois is actually below the national average cost — in 2015, the average annual cost of car insurance in Illinois was $884.56, well under the national average that year, which was $1,009.38.
But that doesn’t mean that finding cheap car insurance in Illinois is easy; Prairie State drivers still have to balance finding affordable coverage with coverage that not only meets the state’s minimum requirements for car insurance but also offers robust protection. In Illinois, where harsh Midwestern winters and hot summers are standard, it’s smart to invest in car insurance that covers damage to your car due to extreme weather, falling objects and floods.
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Almost every state in the U.S. requires its drivers to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. Many states only require liability insurance which protects you from the financial liability if you cause an accident that injures someone or damages their property.
Some states, including Illinois, require more than just liability. Illinois is one of a handful of U.S. states that also requires its drivers to have uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage, which covers you if you’re in an accident caused by a driver who doesn’t have insurance, or has insufficient insurance. Here’s a closer look:
Remember that choosing just the bare minimum of coverage will leave you unprotected. Think of the Illinois state car insurance requirements as a starting point, not a plan.
You’ll likely want higher liability limits and you should also consider adding comprehensive and collision coverage to protect against damage to your own vehicle. If you lease or finance a car, you may be required to add comp and collision to your policy.
|Insurance Company||J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction Rating||Market Share||A.M. Best Rating|
|Berkshire Hathaway (GEICO)||857||6.49%||A++|
Methodology: These five insurers represent the largest auto insurers operating in the state of Illinois, according to the NAIC. The claims satisfaction ratings are according to J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study.
Coverage and claims: COUNTRY Financial - An Illinois-based insurance company, COUNTRY Financial knows Midwestern drivers. It consistently ranks well for claims satisfaction, and it offers a wide range of coverage options you might not find at some of its bigger competitors, including renters insurance as an optional add-on to auto and personal effects coverage up to $800.
Low rates and discounts: GEICO - Known for its discounts and affordable rates, GEICO is an insurance company with loads of brand recognition and lots of ways for drivers to save. Available GEICO discounts include discounts for any federal employees, the company’s original market, as well as discounts for being accident-free for five years, taking a defensive driving course, insuring multiple cars under the same policy and military discounts if you’re on active duty, retired, deployed to an imminently dangerous area, or a member of the National Guard or Reserves.
Digital tools: Allstate - Its website is well designed and easy-to-use, but that’s not the end of Allstate’s digital offerings. In addition to its online quizzes, videos and quote generator, Allstate also has a smartphone app that lets you start a claim, contact a representative, submit photos of damage and show digital proof of insurance. The Allstate mobile app also includes tools for finding the cheapest gas in your area and remembering where you parked your car.
Teen drivers: State Farm - Teen and young adult drivers are expensive to insure because insurance companies see them as higher risks due to their age and inexperience. But State Farm offers some ways to offset that extra cost and help teens and young adults gain experience and improve their driving. State Farm’s Steer Clear program, for drivers under the age of 25, tracks your driving and provides educational quizzes and informational videos. Once you’ve completed the Steer Clear program you can earn an insurance discount.
According to a 2017 report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, in 2015, the average annual cost of car insurance in Illinois was $884.56, lower than the average cost of car insurance in the U.S. that year which was $1,009.38. Here’s that information broken down by the average cost of different types of coverage.
Illinois requires its drivers to have liability coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage — but there are other types of coverage Illinois drivers should consider beyond the state minimums. Increasing your liability limits will give you more financial protection in case you cause an accident, and adding comp and collision will cover damage to your vehicle. Learn more about the different coverage types below.
Liability coverage - Covers you if you damage someone’s property or injure someone in a car accident.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage - Covers you if you’re in an accident caused by someone who doesn’t have insurance, or whose insurance doesn’t cover the full cost of the damage they caused.
Personal injury protection - Often shortened to PIP, this covers medical expenses and lost wages if you or your passengers are injured in a car accident.
Collision coverage - Covers damage to your vehicle from an accident, regardless of which driver was at fault.
Comprehensive coverage - Covers damage to your vehicle that can happen when it’s not being driven, like damage from extreme weather, falling objects, fire, flood, vandalism and theft.
Illinois is a fault-based state when it comes to car accidents. That means that, after an accident, the driver who was at fault is financially responsible for the damage or injuries they cause. (As opposed to a no-fault state, where drivers must get compensation for their damage or injuries through their own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault.) But Illinois also uses a percentage-based system for determining fault if both parties contributed to an accident, so if you’re determined to be 20% responsible for a collision, the money you receive from the other driver’s insurance would be reduced by that amount.
Blizzards, thunderstorms, high winds and heavy rains are extreme weather events that many Illinois drivers may have to deal with. Not only can extreme weather make car accidents more likely, it can also damage your car even when you’re not driving it. Comprehensive insurance covers damage from extreme weather, as well as fire, flood, vandalism and falling objects, like if a snow-covered branch crashes down onto your parked car.
Anna Swartz is a Managing Editor at Policygenius in New York City, and an expert in auto insurance. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic, writing about news and culture. Her work has appeared in The Dodo, AOL, HuffPost, Salon and Heeb.
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