Illinois drivers must get liability and uninsured motorist coverage.
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The Land of Lincoln. The Prairie State. Whatever you call it, if you’re driving in Illinois, you need car insurance in the form of bodily injury, property damage, and uninsured motorist coverage.
The good news for the state’s 8.5 million licensed drivers is that car insurance costs are 13 percent lower than in the rest of the country, on average. (Of course, costs will be higher if you live in a city like Chicago or Aurora.) Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about car insurance in Illinois.
Illinois requires the following liability limits and auto insurance coverages.
The minimum car insurance coverage in Illinois is not enough, as it won’t cover your damages and injuries in accidents you caused. It also won’t protect you financially if your car is damaged from events other than collisions, like car theft or vandalism.
Bodily injury coverage and property damage liability only apply to the other party’s costs in accidents you caused. If someone with insurance hits you, their liability insurance will cover you under a third-party claim.
We recommend adding on medical payments coverage, along with collision and comprehensive coverage. While medical payments coverage pays for your injuries, collision and comprehensive coverage cover your property damage from collisions and non-collisions, respectively.
The limit for your collision and comprehensive coverage is your car’s actual market value. Buy as much coverage as you can afford for your liability coverage, $500,000 being considered the ideal amount of coverage.
Car insurance in Illinois costs $915 a year on average, 13 percent less than the U.S. average. Liability coverage makes up the bulk of this amount at $501, followed by collision coverage at $348 and comprehensive coverage at $137.
Although these were the average rates in 2020, the last time the National Association of Insurance Commissioners published data, we’ve seen annual rates range from $277 for the cheapest car insurance all the way up to $5,327.09 for new drivers.
The cost of your car insurance depends on many factors, like if you had a speeding ticket within the past five years or are one of the many drivers with poor credit. Be sure to fully explore your car insurance rate and coverage options before insuring your car.
You have many companies to choose from when shopping for car insurance in Illinois:
The best ways to save money on car insurance are to …
Driving in Illinois requires not only insurance but also proof of insurance. Otherwise, how will the police officer know you really have it?
People caught driving without insurance in Illinois could face fines and license suspensions.
|First and second offenses||Third and subsequent offenses|
|License suspension||3 months||3 months|
|Proof of insurance||If you have no previous convictions and can prove coverage by the date of your court appearance, you can pay a $100 fine and receive a disposition of court supervision.||You’ll need to carry an SR-22 for 3 years from the date proof is first filed.|
You can show your proof in the form of a paper or electronic ID.
If you’ve purchased your auto insurance policy from an agent or broker, you’re ready to drive – but first make sure you’re compliant with the laws of the land in Illinois.
Illinois is not a no-fault state; it’s an at-fault state.
Say someone hit your parked car and left the scene, a classic hit-and-run — but CCTV caught the culprit speeding off. That person would be responsible for your property damages and any injuries your passengers incurred.
Even if you had some level of negligence (say you were parked in a no-parking zone), as long as you were 50 percent or less culpable for the accident, you could recover funds under Illinois’ modified comparative negligence law.
Illinois is one of the few states to require uninsured motorist coverage, even though the Insurance Research Council estimated in 2019 that only 12 percent of the state’s drivers lacked insurance — a relatively low percentage.
If you get a DUI in Illinois, it will stay on your record for five years, with a six-month license suspension for the first offense and a mandatory interlock. If your blood alcohol concentration was 0.16 percent or higher, you could face even more punishments.
|First offense||First offense, increased penalty||Second offense||Second offense, increased penalty||Third offense||Third offense, increased penalty||Fourth offense||Fourth offense, increased penalty|
|Maximum fine||$2,500||$500||$2,500||$1,250 or $25,000 if transporting a child under 16||$25,000||$2,500 or $25,000 if transporting a child under 16||$25,000||$5,000 or $25,000 if transporting a child under 16|
|Driving suspension (in months)||6||N/A||12||N/A||12||N/A||Lifetime||N/A|
|Driver’s license revocation (in years)||1||N/A||5||N/A||10 years minimum||N/A||Lifetime||N/A|
|Interlock (in months)||N/A||N/A||12||N/A||12||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Community service||N/A||100 hours, plus 25 if transporting a child under 16||N/A||N/A||N/A||25 days if transporting a child under 16||N/A||25 days if transporting a child under 16|
|Maximum imprisonment||1 year||Up to 6 years if transporting a child under 16||1 year||2 years, or 1-3 years if transporting a child under 16||3-7 years||3 months||3-7 years||N/A|
|Alcohol/drug remedial education program||Yes||Yes||Yes||N/A||Yes||N/A||Yes||N/A|
|Vehicle registration suspension||N/A||N/A||Yes||N/A||Yes||N/A||Yes||N/A2|
No matter what seat you’re in, seat belts are mandatory for those 16 and older in Illinois, with the law under primary enforcement. That means police can pull you over merely for someone in your car not wearing their seat belt, with no other traffic violations necessary.
Illinois has a ban on handheld electronic devices for all drivers, under primary enforcement. If you’re caught driving distracted by a phone, tablet, or laptop, you will be given five points per violation and fined.
In Illinois, 16- and 17-year-old drivers are in their initial licensing phase for the first 12 months after obtaining their licenses. During this phase, they must adhere to a few restrictions.
You have five years to file property damage claims and two years to file personal injury claims, due to Illinois’ statutes of limitations.
If an insurance company in Illinois cancels a policy, it must alert the customer 30 days before the expiration date, or 10 days before if the cancellation is due to nonpayment. For non-renewal of policies, the window is 30 days.4
If you have more than 25 vehicles, you can self-insure rather than purchasing a personal auto insurance policy. However, self-insurance is completely at the discretion of the Illinois Department of Insurance’s director, so it’s unclear how doable this is in practice.
The state of Illinois requires either annual or biannual emission inspections for some cars in certain counties and townships.
|Vehicle criteria||Vehicles subject to Illinois Diesel Emission Inspection Program|
|Where it travels||Intrastate or interstate|
|What powers it||Diesel|
|Minimum gross weight||16,000 pounds|
|Registered within the affected area||Yes|
|Age||2 years or older|
|Counties||Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, Monroe, Will, St. Clair|
|Townships||Aux Sable and Goose Lake in Grundy County, Oswego in Kendall County|
How often you have to get your car inspected depends on what it carries and where it drives.
You can find an inspection station here: https://idot.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=40e56aad7a294032b84651dc41109f79.
You’ll have to maintain an SR-22 form as proof of minimum insurance if:
In some cases, you can request your SR-22 be waived through an affidavit.
Remember when we mentioned you could get a discount for taking a defensive driving course? In Illinois, take just one class and that discount can last up to three years. Find a class here: https://apps.ilsos.gov/adultdrivered/providerlist.
Illinois doesn’t pose a serious injury or monetary threshold you need to meet in order to sue for economic or noneconomic damages after a car accident.
If you are involved in a car accident that results in any injury, property damage, or death worth more than $1,500 (or $500 if any involved car wasn’t insured), you’ll have to report it within 10 days or face a license suspension.
Illinois allows insurance companies to base prices on both credit scores and gender, so people with bad credit and men will pay higher car insurance premiums.
Illinois uses the class total loss formula, so a car is deemed a total loss when the repairs would cost more than its salvage value.
Since dealing with government websites is never fun, we’ve done the brunt of the work for you. Find all the contact information and processes you need for auto-related issues in Illinois below.
Follow these steps to register a car for the first time:
Here’s how to renew your registration:
|Vehicle/license type||Renewal fee|
|RV (recreational vehicle) weighing 8,001-10,000 pounds||$90|
|RV weighing 8,000 pounds or less||$78|
|RV weighing 10,001 pounds or more||$102|
|RT (recreational trailer) weighing 8,001-10,000 pounds||$38|
|RT weighing 3,001-8,000 pounds||$30|
|RT weighing 3,000 pounds or less||$18|
|RT weighing 10,001 pounds or more||$50|
|Vanity plate for persons with disabilities||$164|
|Personalized plate for persons with disabilities||$158|
|General plate for persons with disabilities||$151|
|Passenger vehicle with vanity plate||$164|
|Passenger vehicle with personalized plate||$158|
|Passenger vehicle with general plate||$151|
|Motorcycle with vanity plate||$54|
|Motorcycle with personalized plate||$48|
|Motorcycle with general plate||$41|
|B-truck with vanity plate||$164|
|B-truck with personalized plate||$158|
|B-truck with personalized plate||$151|
We don’t recommend paying your registration fee with a credit card, as you’ll be charged an additional bank processing fee.
You’ll need to buy insurance before registering your car.
Illinois doesn’t have a standard department of motor vehicles (DMV) like other states. Rather, all of the governmental information about driving is housed under the Illinois Secretary of State website.
If your car title went mysteriously missing, you can request a duplicate.
You can contact the state’s insurance department in three ways.
In Illinois, car repairs cost 3 percent less than the national average at $372.51. That’s $227.32 for parts and $145.19 for labor, according to a report from CarMD.
Illinois falls below the national average for auto theft, but above it for traffic fatalities.
The state’s annual car theft rate is 170 per 100,000 inhabitants, 45 percent lower than the rest of the country, according to FBI data. However, rates are higher in metropolitan areas like the St. Louis area, Davenport, Carbondale, and Chicago, as stated by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
|Metropolitan statistical area||Number of motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020|
|St. Louis, MO-IL||443|
|Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL||329|
|Cape Girardeau, MO-IL||203|
Unfortunately, the state doesn’t fare so well in traffic fatalities. Illinois is ninth in the nation, with 1,009 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled. That’s nearly a third more than the national average, according to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
From 2019 to 2020 alone, motor vehicle fatalities increased by 16 percent in Illinois, a high since 2007. State officials blame speeding and other risky driving behaviors. While roads that feel emptier than normal may seem safer, reckless driving still has deadly consequences.6
As you can see in our state driving guide, every state has different legislation for car insurance and driving. Some states don’t require auto insurance at all, for example! But whether you’re driving down the Magnificent Mile in Chicago or a rural street in Elsah, Jersey County, keep Illinois’ laws in mind to avoid sullying that perfect driving history of yours.
We’re not done yet. Here are a few quick questions and answers.
This is the minimum car insurance required in Illinois:
Auto insurance in Illinois costs $915 a year on average, according to the latest data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. That’s 13 percent lower than the national average.
Driving without insurance is illegal in Illinois. If caught driving without insurance, you could face fines, license suspensions, and reinstatement fees.
|Penalty for driving without insurance in Illinois||First and second offenses||Third and subsequent offenses|
|License suspension (in months)||3||3|
|Proof of insurance||Without prior convictions, if you can prove coverage by the date of your court appearance, you can pay a $100 fine and receive a disposition of the court’s supervision.||You’ll have to carry an SR-22 form for 3 years following the date proof is first filed.|
In Illinois, insurance follows the car, not the driver. In other words, if someone is borrowing your car, your insurance policy will cover them under a “permissive use” clause. But make sure to check your policy before loaning your car to anyone.
Mandatory Vehicle Insurance. Illinois Secretary of State. https://www.ilsos.gov/publications/pdf_publications/vsd361.pdf
ILLINOIS DUI LAWS & DRUNK DRIVING PENALTIES. DrinkDriving.org. https://www.dui-usa.drinkdriving.org/Illinois_dui_drunkdriving_laws.php
Illinois Compiled Statutes. Illinois General Assembly. https://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K12-610.2
If Your Auto Insurance Policy Is Canceled. Illinois Department of Insurance. (2022). https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/Insurance/Consumers/ConsumerInsurance/Auto/Pages/If%20Your%20Auto%20Insurance%20Policy%20Is%20Canceled.aspx
Periodic Vehicle Inspection/Diesel Emission. Illinois Department of Transportation. https://idot.illinois.gov/transportation-system/safety/vehicle-inspections
More people died on Illinois roads last year than since 2007. Is the pandemic to blame? Chicago Tribune. (2021, Feb) https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-illinois-more-traffic-deaths-pandemic-20210212-4ybopm6pvbelpeorspd3cxm7gy-htmlstory.html