When driving a vehicle registered in the State of Illinois, you are required, by law, to have insurance. Illinois minimum car insurance requirements are:
625 ILCS 5/7-203

  • Auto Insurance policy with limits of at least 20/40/15 – meaning:
    • Liability coverage
    • $20,000 of bodily injury to another person
    • $40,000 of bodily injuries to all other persons in any one accident
    • $15,000 of destruction of property of others in any one accident

Although personal injury protection, collision, comprehensive, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is not required in Illinois, many drivers choose to purchase them in order to cover any expenses they may accrue from an accident.

Alternative Options to Insurance

Certificates of Self-Insurance are available in Illinois if the following requirements are met:

625 ILCS 5/7-502

  • You must have at least 26 vehicles registered in your name
  • You must qualify by application through the Director of the Department of Insurance

Office of the Director
Department of Insurance
320 W. Washington Street
Springfield, IL 62767-0001
217-782-4515

DOI.Director@illinois.gov

In Illinois, you have the option to use a surety bond as proof of financial responsibility instead of purchasing an insurance policy if the following requirements are met:

625 ILCS 5/7-320

  • Surety bond for at least $55,000 made with a surety company licensed to do business in Illinois and filed with the Secretary of State
  • Real estate bond that is approved by a judge of a court, endorsed by the clerk of the court, filed with the county registrar, and filed with the Secretary of State

In Illinois, you have the option to use a deposit of money as proof of financial responsibility instead of purchasing an insurance policy if the following requirements are met:

625 ILCS 5/7-323

  • Deposit of at least $55,000 with the State Treasurer and filed with the Secretary of State

Required Proof of Insurance in Illinois

Insurance Card provided by a licensed insurance company including all of the following:

  • Name of insurance company
  • Insurance policy number
  • Effective date and expiration date of the policy
  • Accurate description of year, make, model and vehicle identification number of the registered vehicle(s)
  • Name and address of the insured driver

Certificates of Self-Insurance are issued by the state and must include the following:

  • Certificate number issued by Department of Insurance
  • Effective date of the certificate
  • Statement that all vehicles owned are insured
  • Name and address of driver covered by certificate
  • Certificate of Deposit
  • Certificate number issued by State Treasurer
  • Name and address of driver covered by certificate of deposit
  • Surety Bond
  • Name of company issuing bond
  • Bond number
  • Name and address of driver covered by bond

Department of Insurance

http://www.insurance.illinois.gov

320 W. Washington Street
Springfield, IL 62767-0001
217-782-4515

Secretary of State

http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com

213 State Capitol
Springfield, IL 62756
1-800-252-8980

Obtaining a Driver’s License

Here are the requirements to obtain your instruction permit:

  • Be at least 15 years old
  • Have a completed affidavit showing consent from a parent or legal guardian
  • Be enrolled in an approved driver education course
  • Pass the vision test
  • Pass the written test
  • Pay the permit fee of $20 (subject to change)

Here are the requirements to obtain your initial driver’s license for residents under the age of 18:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Pass an approved driver education course
  • Have instruction permit for at least 9 months
  • Have at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice, 10 of those at night, with a licensed passenger who is at least 21 years old
  • The Secretary of State Driver Services Department provides a driving log to document the length, location, and conditions of the driving practice
    • This must be certified by a parent or legal guardian
  • Have a completed affidavit showing consent from a parent or legal guardian
  • No traffic violations or convictions within 6 months of applying for license
    • Failure to abide by this will prevent you from obtaining a driver’s license until you are at least 18 years old
  • Pass the vision test
  • Pass the written test
  • Pass the driving test
  • Pay the license fee of $30 (subject to change)

Here are the requirements to obtain your first license for residents over the age of 18:

  • Pass the vision test
  • Pass the written test
  • Pass the driving test
  • Pay the license fee of $30 (subject to change)

The following documents are required for application:

  • Proof of identity
  • Two forms of proof of residency
  • Instruction permit if under the age of 18
  • A completed affidavit showing consent from a parent or legal guardian if under the age of 18
  • Certificate of completion from an approved driver education course
  • Certified driving log showing a at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice, 10 of which are at night
  • Proof of insurance for the vehicle to be driven during the driving test

Completing Driver Education

Anyone under the age of 18 who is applying for a driver’s license must complete an approved driver education course. According to the Illinois School Code, 105 ILCS 5/27-24.2, any school district with grades 9 through 12 must provide a driver education course. These courses are approved by the state and are available for anyone, even non-students, between the ages of 15 and 21.

Driver education courses are also offered by commercial driving schools. If you decide to take a driver education course from a commercial school, make sure the instructors are licensed with the state and the course has been approved by the state. Contact the Illinois State Board of Education at 866-262-6663 to confirm the license status and approval of a commercial driving school.

To complete a driver education course, a student must meet the following:

  • A total of 30 hours of classroom instruction
  • Based on the Illinois Driver Manual
  • Covering Chapters 11, 12, 13, 15, and 16 of the Illinois Vehicle Code
  • A minimum of 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training
  • If enrolled in an Illinois high school, the student must have a passing grade for at least 8 classes over the previous 2 semesters

It is recommended that you research any driver-training program that you enroll in. You want to make sure they meet the following standards:

  • Instructors are licensed and have certificates from the State of Illinois
  • The course meets the state curriculum requirements
  • The course has been approved by the state
  • Check if they have received any disciplinary action for violations
  • Make sure there are enough instructors to meet student needs

If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Illinois State Board of Education at 866-262-6663.

Knowing the Rules of the Road

Illinois provides their rules of the road online in the Illinois Driver Manual. You may be eligible for lower insurance rates by obeying the Illinois traffic laws, which include:

Drivers residing in Illinois generally fall into one of three insurance coverage markets: the preferred market, which offers the lowest premiums and is available for low-risk drivers with clean driving records; the standard market, which offers median premiums and is available to average drivers with fair driving records; and the non-standard market, which offers the highest premiums and is available for drivers with less-experience, multiple traffic tickets or accidents, and/or at least one drunken driving offense. Unsurprisingly, it is the preferred market drivers who can take advantage of the lowest auto insurance rates in Illinois, but even standard market drivers can find affordable auto insurance in Illinois. Unfortunately for non-standard market drivers, though, the average cost of car insurance in Illinois is much higher for them.

Know Your Rates

Auto insurance companies calculate rates by thoughtfully considering all of the licensed drivers residing in the household. The base rate that is used to evaluate each driver is then adjusted according to several factors, including:

  • Vehicle use. How you use your vehicle can also affect the amount you pay for insurance. The more often that you drive and the longer your commute is will increase your chances of having an accident, and, therefore, increase your insurance rates. In addition, if you park your vehicle in a secure location, such as a garage, you lessen the risk of theft and damage to your vehicle, which can lower your insurance rates.
  • Vehicle make, model, and year. Generally, expensive and high-performance vehicles cost more to insure because they are more likely to be stolen. High-performance vehicles are also more likely to be involved in an accident.
  • Driving record and claims history. A poor driving record can increase your insurance rates. If you have had multiple accidents, tickets, and insurance claims, you are considered a higher risk to insure. For this reason, you will have to pay higher insurance rates.
  • Age. Statistics have indicated that drivers under the age of 25 are involved in more accidents than those over 25. Thus, drivers under 25 years old are considered a higher risk, and are required by insurance companies to pay higher insurance rates. Those over the age of 25, however, can enjoy some of the best car insurance rates in Illinois.
  • Gender. Statistical evidence has shown that males younger than 25 years old are involved in more accidents than females of the same age. Hence, male drivers typically must pay higher insurance rates than female drivers.
  • Marital status. Statistics prove that married couples tend to making fewer insurance claims than those who are single, so single individuals may have to pay insurance rates.
  • Geographical area. Areas with high crime rates increase the likelihood of vehicles getting stolen or vandalized. For this reason, drivers living in these areas will have to pay higher insurance rates. Areas that have high numbers of traffic accidents are considered hazardous areas, resulting in higher insurance rates for people who live in them in order to compensate for the increased likelihood of having a collision.
  • Credit history. In most cases, the better your credit score is, the less your insurance rate will be. The main reason insurance companies look at your credit history is to determine the likelihood that you will make your payments. The Department of Insurance provides information about insurance companies using credit information online.

Picking an Insurance Agent or Broker

Insurance agents and insurance brokers are the two main types of insurance representatives you will be dealing with when shopping for coverage. An insurance agent works for an insurance company and sells insurance policies for commission. An insurance broker, on the other hand, is hired by individual clients and earns commission by selling insurance policies from different insurance companies based on each client’s specific needs. Be mindful of the fact that the commission that agents and brokers earn is based on a percentage of what you pay for your premium. Therefore, the more you pay, the more they make.

The Department of Insurance will not be able to enforce any regulations or assist you with any problems if you purchase insurance from an unlicensed company, so protect yourself and make sure the company is licensed by the Department of Insurance before doing business with them. You can verify whether a company, agent, or broker is licensed online, or you can call the Department o f Insurance Consumer Service Section at 312-814-2427 to verify the licensing status of a company, agent, or broker. In addition, you can request information from Consumer Services about how many complaints have been filed against a particular agent or broker and if they have faced any disciplinary actions.

The Department of Insurance also provides consumers with online advice about finding a trustworthy insurance company that is licensed, financially secure, and has a good consumer rating. Included in this advice are links to organizations that provide company ratings, financial analysis, and consultation. All of these organizations have been approved by the Department of Insurance.

If you have had issues with an insurance company, agent, or broker, you can file a complaint online with the Department of Insurance. The Department will investigate the matter and get back to you if any formal disciplinary actions will take place.

Lower Your Rates

You have a better chance of finding lower insurance rates if you shop around. Speak to multiple insurance agents and brokers and compare the coverage and the prices offered by each one. This will help to ensure you are getting the best coverage for the best price. Ask questions and make sure you understand what kind of coverage you are being offered before you agree to pay for it. Remember to make sure that the company is licensed and permitted to do business in Illinois by calling the Department of Insurance Consumer Service Section at 312-814-2427. Also, Consumer Services can provide you with information about any complaints or disciplinary actions an insurance company, agent, or broker has been faced with. In addition, if an agent, broker, or company attempts to sell ERISA or union plans, contact Consumer Services to report the activity.

When shopping around, inquire about discounts that a company may offer but isn’t advertising, such as discounts for young drivers with good grades, drivers who have completed a defensive driving course, drivers who have installed safety devices on their vehicles, and drivers with a history of accident-free driving. Also, compare auto insurance rates in Illinois in general to get an idea of what everyone else is spending.

In addition, pay close attention to your other insurance plans. Some plans, such as medical insurance, can overlap in coverage areas with your auto insurance plans.

After an Accident

Accidents are a common occurrence. If you have been involved in a collision, there is a certain protocol you must abide by in accordance with Article IV of the Illinois Vehicle Code. If you are involved in a collision of any kind, you must stop at the scene. If someone is injured, render aid if you are able. Then, you must immediately notify the Illinois State Patrol, city police, or county sheriff and report the accident. If you or someone else is injured, or if someone has been killed, you must make law enforcement aware of this so they can request the appropriate emergency medical services at that time. If a vehicle or property is obstructing the flow of traffic, you must make every effort to move it out of the way. You are required to exchange names, addresses, driver’s license information, vehicle registration numbers, and insurance information with any other driver(s) involved in the accident. If law enforcement officers respond to the scene, you should not leave until released by an officer. Be prepared to give a thorough account of the events leading up to the collision to responding law enforcement members, and also take down information such as the names of the police officers and names and contact information of any witnesses you spoke with for your own accident report. If you are able, take pictures of the damage to all vehicles and property resulting from the accident. If law enforcement does not respond to the scene, you must go to a police station or sheriff’s office to file a report. In the event that you have a collision with an unattended vehicle or piece of property, you have to attempt to locate and notify the owner. If the owner cannot be located, you must leave a written note with your name, address, and vehicle registration number, and then report the accident to a nearby police station or sheriff’s office. Failure to report an accident involving an injury will result in a Class 2 felony charge and the revocation of your driver’s license. Failure to report an accident involving a death will result in a Class 1 felony charge and the revocation of your driver’s license. Failure to report an accident involving only property or vehicle damage in excess of $1,500 will result in a Class A misdemeanor charge and the suspension of your license.

You are also required to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, closely following your company’s procedures for filing a claim. If your collision involved another driver, you must provide their name, address, driver’s license information, vehicle registration number, and insurance information. You should also be prepared to report the extent of the damage to both cars, if you took any pictures of the accident and the resulting damage, give them to your insurance company as well. Explain how the accident happened, what occurred during the accident, and give the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene. Any police report filed must also be copied and sent to your insurance company.

Once all of your information has been received, your insurance company will investigate your claim within 21 days. You will be notified of their decision. If your claim is delayed, the insurance company must notify you. In the event that your claim is denied, your insurance company will notify you in writing. The Department of Insurance provides advice about filing a claim with your insurance company.

If the other party is at fault for the accident, but you had to use your insurance to cover your expenses, your insurance company may seek subrogation in order to recover the money. Your insurance will cover your medical and/or repair bills and then contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company to receive compensation. During this process, you should provide your insurance company with full cooperation. If you intend to settle with the at-fault driver or their insurance company, be sure to notify your insurance company.

Insurance for High-Risk Drivers

Your driving record, if it is bad enough, may lead to rejections from insurance companies when you are applying for coverage, especially if you have a history of accidents, tickets, or drunk driving. However, all drivers in Illinois are required to have insurance, so, in accordance with the Vehicle Code 625 ILCS 5/7-501, the state makes it possible for every driver to find insurance opportunities by offering the Illinois Automobile Insurance Plan. This plan specifically covers drivers in Illinois who cannot find coverage due to their driving records. In order to qualify, be sure that you meet the following criteria:

  • Have been rejected by at least 3 insurance companies
  • Possess or be able to obtain a valid Illinois driver’s license
  • Be free of debt from any previous auto insurance
  • Must have a vehicle that is safe to drive

If you are convicted of traffic violations, such as driving without insurance, driving under the influence, causing an accident while driving without insurance, having too many traffic tickets within a short time span, or having had your license suspended or revoked, you may have to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of SR-22 insurance. If this applies to you, make sure the insurance company you choose provides SR-22 insurance because not all insurance companies do.

Additional Help

The Illinois Department of Insurance offers assistance to anyone shopping for insurance. They will answer inquiries related to insurance, look into complaints with specific agencies, agents, or brokers, educate consumers on insurance law and procedures, and enforce insurance law on the consumer’s behalf if needed. You can contact them at 866-445-5364.

The Secretary of State Driver Services Department offers information and advice about driver’s licenses, driver’s education, and any other information consumers need when it comes to driving in Illinois. You can contact their Springfield office at 217-782-6212, or the Chicago office at 800-252-8980.

Online resources include: