For many people, buying a car is one of the most important moments of their lives. Cars tend to equal freedom and independence, after all, not to mention a way to travel to work, school, family and friends. With that said, it should be noted that owning a vehicle is as much a responsibility as it is a boon to your lie. That means that there are things you must do in order to maintain your vehicle and protect yourself and others. One of the most important of these is ensuring that your insurance is sufficient.
What’s required in Illinois?
Every state has different rules regarding car insurance. In Illinois, there are two different kinds of insurance for motor vehicles that you are required to carry – body and liability coverage and property coverage. Body and liability cover is insurance that, as the name implies, covers deaths or injuries stemming from a car accident that you caused. Property insurance, on the other hand, covers things like damage to the property of another person involved in the accident, including things like the vehicle, yards, fences, personal items, and pets.
The state of Illinois only requires that you maintain the minimum of each kind of insurance coverage in order to remain in good standing with the law. That means that you must purchase the following:
- $20,000 in property insurance (for each accident that occurs)
- $25,000 in liability insurance that covers the death or injury of a single person
- $50,000 in liability coverage to cover fatalities and injuries (for each accident that occurs)
Make sure to speak with your insurance broker to ensure that you meet the minimum insurance requirements set forth by the state. Additionally, you must carry your proof of insurance on your person at all times. Without it, you are not fully complying with the law.
Optional vs. Necessary Insurance Coverage
It is important to keep in mind that simply complying with the state law means carrying the bare minimum in insurance, not actually purchasing enough to cover yourself in the event of an accident. To ensure you have adequate security against car accidents, consider investing in voluntary insurance policies like:
- Medical Payments
- Under-insured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Should you find yourself under-insured or uninsured, you could see your license suspended as well as be required to pay an expensive fine. You might also find yourself on the receiving end of civil penalties like a judgement finding you to be responsible for damages and injuries caused by the negligence you displayed when causing the accident in question.
How much insurance do I need?
As indicated above, the state minimums for auto insurance are $20,000 for property insurance, $25,000 for liability (injury or death), and $50,000 in liability (injury and fatalities), or 20/25/50. Most professionals will tell you that you should consider upping these amounts to 100/300/100, respectively, if you have a savings account and are in the middle class. Should you be wealthy and have more expensive assets, then consider investing in 250/500/100. What these higher coverage limits do is help protect your assets should you be found at fault for an accident.
Optional Policies and When to Consider Them
There are a number of optional policies that you can opt to add to your insurance policy. Under-insured motorist coverage, for example, is vital if you have no way to pay for medical care or damage done to your vehicle should you end up in an accident. If you have collision coverage and health insurance, this kind of policy is perhaps a bit more “optional”, but it is still an important one to consider as it helps keep your out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum.
Many people would prefer to avoid collision and comprehensive insurance policies because they are the more expensive additions. It is important to invest in them if your vehicle is ten years old or less, and especially if you have some kind of loan against the vehicle (in which case the lender in question will often dictate a minimum amount of collision/comprehensive coverage to maintain). This kind of optional policy is what helps pay for damage to your vehicle after an accident.
Finally, medical payment coverage is the policy that will help pay for your medical bills should you be injured in an accident. This is especially important if you have no health insurance or if your insurance is inadequate. While this policy addition can be pricey, that cost pales in comparison to the amount of money you could find yourself spending on medical payments should you be injured without it.
Remember that insurance only covers as much as you’re willing to pay for – and after the insurance runs out, you will end up paying for excess expenses. That money will come from your assets and finances. In order to help avoid this, make sure that you maintain adequate insurance coverage at all times.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident, contact the experts at Frederick & Hagle today! We offer free consultations at 1.800.642.1227.