Illinois Auto Insurance [Comparison & Companies]
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UPDATED: Apr 12, 2022
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|Illinois Statistics Summary||Details|
|Annual Road Miles||Total in State: 145,840
Vehicle Miles Driven: 105,223 million
Total Stolen: 17,652
|Most Popular Vehicle||Honda CR-V|
State Rank: 18
|Total Driving Fatalities||2008-2017
Drunk Driving: 349
|Annual Premiums||Liability $446.72
Because of its central location, the state of Illinois has the distinction of serving as a national crossroads for traffic flowing by air, rail, or land. As such, it has an extensive highway network. With 23 road routes that span 2,169.53 miles, it ranks third (behind California and Texas) for the longest interstate mileage nationwide.
As one of the states with the most highway miles, many residents can’t live without their cars — and they can’t drive without insurance. With all the data available at the touch of a button these days, when you’re looking for coverage, it’s hard to find exactly what you need.
There’s no need to get annoyed, Illinois. We’ve gathered everything here. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare rates, learn about companies, coverage options, and more aspects of car insurance to complete your knowledge.
First up, get ready to find out about car insurance coverage and rates. If you want to compare prices right now, enter your ZIP code in our free tool.
Illinois Car Insurance Coverage and Rates
If you haven’t paid attention to state car insurance laws and the types of coverage available, finding what you’re looking for can be a challenge. The task can become worse if you get stuck plowing through piles of information. You may feel like a dog chasing its tail.
This section is here to help you break free from that pattern. We’ll explain the state minimum coverage requirements, insurance you can add to a policy, and other details to consider when you buy one.
Before we dive into that data, we’ll explore the Prairie State residents’ views of cars.
What is Illinois’s car culture?
The Land of Lincoln has earned a place in American driving history as the starting place for U.S. Route 66, which brings to mind classic cars and a simpler life. This once heavily traveled roadway is lined with several tourist attractions and eateries for those who want a more scenic cross-country trek.
In the Prairie State, as The Hartford notes, cars aren’t always necessary in bigger cities, like Chicago, where residents have access to several forms of public transportation. Illinoisans don’t see autos so much as a status symbol, but more of a commonplace form of transportation that they sometimes need, especially in rural farmland.
Whether you’re preparing to take backroads or for urban traffic congestion in your commute, you’ll need adequate car insurance coverage, which we’ll cover below.
How much coverage is required to meet the Illinois minimum limits?
Under state “fault” laws, according to Nolo, Illinois drivers must carry liability coverage to pay for damages in an accident they cause.
The coverage you buy must also include uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage. It pays for losses you incur from crashes with drivers who don’t have insurance. It doesn’t cover property damage. The uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury amounts required match the liability limits.
You must buy coverage in the following minimum amounts:
|Insurance Required||Minimum Limits|
|Bodily Injury Liability Coverage||$25,000 per one person
$50,000 per accident
|Property Damage Liability Coverage||$20,000 minimum|
|Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury||$25,000 per person
$50,000 per accident
As shown above, state law has certain coverage limits. To protect yourself from paying expensive fees out of pocket if you lack enough coverage, it’s wise to buy more than the minimum required.
What are the forms of financial responsibility in Illinois?
As we mentioned earlier, car insurance coverage is proof of your financial responsibility for an accident. Whenever a law enforcement officer pulls you over at a traffic stop or at an accident scene, or you receive a random questionnaire, you must provide proof of insurance.
The following are acceptable forms of proof of insurance or financial responsibility:
- Your car insurance card (electronic or on paper)
- An insurance binder
- A copy of your current policy declaration page
- A certificate of insurance
- Your last insurance payment receipt
If you can’t show proof of insurance, you face fines, criminal charges, and suspension of your registration and driving privileges. So, remember to carry your insurance card with you whenever you drive.
How much percentage of income are premiums in Illinois?
Car insurance can seem like just another bill, but we don’t always think about how much of our income pays for that expense.
The table below shows how much the average Illinoisan earned and the amount they paid for car insurance compared to the typical American.
|Illinois Insurance and Disposable Income||2012 (Illinois)||2012 (National)||2013 (Illinois)||2014 (National)||2014 (Illinois)||2014 (National)|
|Disposable Income Amount (Average)||$40,143.00||$39,473.00||$40,619.00||$39,192.00||$42,256.00||$40,859.00|
|Full Coverage Policy Cost (Average)||$806.21||$924.45||$819.27||$950.92||$854.10||$981.77|
|Percent of Income Spent on Car Insurance||2.01%||2.34%||2.02%||2.43%||2.02%||2.40%|
From 2012 to 2014, incomes increased, as did annual car insurance costs. Illinois residents paid 2 percent of their incomes toward car insurance, while nationwide, that figure was closer to 2 and a half percent.
Looking at nearby states, Iowans paid less than 2 percent of their wages toward car insurance and had the lowest annual premium costs, while nearly 4 percent of Michigander’s incomes covered premiums, which were also the most expensive. Residents in those states earned less than those in Illinois.
What are the core coverages in Illinois?
Liability, collision, and comprehensive insurance are part of core or full coverage. With data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), below are the state and national average costs for each type of coverage.
|Coverage Type||Averages Cost, Illinois(2015)||Averages Cost, National (2015)|
As shown, Illinois drivers paid less for all of the coverage types than U.S. motorists. The law firm video below explains full coverage and the state-required minimum limits:
Besides core coverage policies, you can also buy additional liability. We’ll go over those insurance options next.
What additional liability is available in Illinois?
An optional form of additional liability coverage available to Illinoisans is Medical Payments (MedPay). This insurance pays for medical bills incurred from an accident, regardless of who caused it.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage for bodily injury is added to every policy in Illinois at the same limits as bodily injury liability, but you can add UM/UIM property damage coverage.
Loss ratios compare how much insurance companies pay in claims versus the amount they charge for premiums. They measure financial stability. The below loss ratios from 2012 to 2014 show how Illinois insurers have handled MedPay and UM/UIM claims:
|Illinois Loss Ratio||2014||2013||2012|
|Medical Payments (MedPay)||75.51%||77.03%||22.23%|
For the most part, Illinois loss ratios were in the middle — neither too high nor too low. An exception is the low rate of 22 percent in 2012 for MedPay. A loss ratio under 40 percent is probably too low, while a loss ratio of over 75 percent is too high.
If a company’s loss ratio is too low, it collects more money in premiums than it needs for the number of claims it receives. On the other hand, if a loss ratio is too high, the carrier doesn’t earn enough money for the claims it receives; it might seek to increase rates soon to adjust for the loss.
Unless a loss ratio has been high for several years in a row, it doesn’t necessarily mean that an insurance company will face bankruptcy.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) estimates that 13.7 percent of drivers in Illinois don’t have coverage. The state ranks 18th nationwide for uninsured/underinsured motorists.
UM/UIM coverage will protect you in case you get into an accident with an uninsured driver. Again, we suggest you buy coverage beyond the state minimum limits so that you won’t end up paying claims yourself.
What add-ons, endorsements, and riders are available in Illinois?
Below is more coverage you can add to a basic car insurance plan for greater protection tailored to your needs.
- Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)
- Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)
- Rental Reimbursement
- Pay-as-You Drive or Usage-Based Insurance
- Emergency Roadside Assistance
- Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
- Non-Owner Car Insurance
- Modified Car Insurance Coverage
- Classic Car Insurance
These options help you customize the perfect coverage just for you.
Usage-based insurance is available through companies such as Root and MetroMile. These programs require the use of an app or a telematics device that plugs into a car’s diagnostic port. Some of them track mileage, others monitor how users drive, and some do both.
MetroMile tracks mileage only, rather than hard braking, speed, or turns. Root bases its car insurance pricing solely on driving habits. You need to qualify for coverage through taking part in their test-drive period. If you pass, Root will tell you how much you’ll need to pay for car insurance. But, if you engage in risky driving behaviors, watch out. The company may later deny you coverage or raise your rates.
Do gender and age affect my car insurance in Illinois?
We’ve partnered with Quadrant Data to bring you the information below. It’s based on coverage the state population has purchased and includes rates for high-risk drivers and those who choose to buy more than the state minimum. That covers other types of insurance the state doesn’t require.
Factoring a person’s gender into car insurance rates is legal in Illinois, but by itself, it’s not as much of an influence as age and marital status.
Here’s how car insurance rates vary among different ages, genders, and marital statuses in the Prairie State:
|Company||Married 35-year-old Female||Married 35-year-old Male||Married 60-year-old Female||Married 60-year-old Male||Single 17-year-old Female||Single 17-year-old Male||Single 25-year-old Female||Single 25-year-old Male|
|American Family Mutual||$2,369.94||$2,369.94||$2,168.97||$2,168.97||$6,676.10||$9,263.85||$2,369.94||$3,056.23|
|Illinois Farmers Ins Co||$2,456.68||$2,457.73||$2,179.75||$2,305.14||$10,514.80||$10,961.50||$2,803.50||$2,931.88|
|Nationwide Mutual Fire||$1,926.46||$1,960.52||$1,713.84||$1,816.17||$5,285.82||$6,786.79||$2,242.62||$2,429.53|
|Safeco Ins Co of IL||$1,401.51||$1,512.93||$1,165.71||$1,303.12||$4,621.83||$5,140.83||$1,464.07||$1,543.97|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||$1,454.19||$1,454.19||$1,299.88||$1,299.88||$4,229.18||$5,361.67||$1,643.58||$1,887.70|
|Travelers Standard Fire Ins Co||$1,570.87||$1,657.44||$1,431.81||$1,526.42||$4,533.18||$5,685.41||$1,665.85||$1,754.69|
For the most part, married, 60-year-old females have an edge over their male counterparts and younger drivers — they pay less for coverage. Generally speaking, after age 17, car insurance costs level off for drivers by several thousands of dollars until they reach age 25. Rates continue to decline slightly as drivers age (and gain more wisdom and experience).
What are the cheapest rates by ZIP code in Illinois?
Where you live also factors into your coverage costs. Rates vary by ZIP code because insurers look at accident and theft rates and even how national disasters have affected certain neighborhoods.
Below are the rates for the top 25 districts in Illinois:
|ZIP Code||Average||Allstate F&C||American Family Mutual||Illinois Farmers Ins Co||Geico Cas||Safeco Ins Co of IL||Nationwide Mutual Fire||Progressive Northern||State Farm Mutual Auto||Travelers Standard Fire Ins Co||USAA|
The state’s biggest city, Chicago, tops the list. Here are the bottom 25 ZIP codes:
|Zipcode||Average||Allstate F&C||American Family Mutual||Illinois Farmers Ins Co||Geico Cas||Safeco Ins Co of IL||Nationwide Mutual Fire||Progressive Northern||State Farm Mutual Auto||Travelers Standard Fire Ins Co||USAA|
Rounding out the list are smaller Illinois towns such as Kewanee (61443) and Normal (61761), where residents pay an average of $2,000 or more less than their “Windy City” counterparts.
What are the cheapest rates by city in Illinois?
Now, we’ve organized the data by city name. First up, in reverse order, are the top 25 areas that pay the lowest premiums.
|City||Average Grand Total|
Overall, rates among the top 25 varied by only about $100. Now here’s the bottom 25 — the cities where premium costs are the highest.
|City||Average Grand Total|
|EAST SAINT LOUIS||$4,537.91|
|NATIONAL STOCK YARDS||$4,577.82|
Chicago and its suburbs, including Lincolnwood, Harvey, and Dolton, dominate this list. Among these cities, there’s a greater price difference — of over $700 — from the highest to the lowest rates.
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Best State Car Insurance Companies
We live in an age of options. Sometimes, that’s a good thing because we have a greater variety to choose from. On another level, however, it may make purchases that require research, such as car insurance coverage, harder. You may struggle to decide what’s most important to consider, whether it’s price, coverage choices, or even the provider itself.
Some companies provide better coverage options and service than others. That’s reflected in reviews, financial ratings, and other benchmarks. In this section, we’ll look at some of the biggest aspects to evaluate when you consider a car insurance company to help you narrow down your choices.
Read on to find out which car insurance companies in Illinois are the best.
What are the financial ratings of the largest car insurance companies in Illinois?
A.M. Best measures the financial stability and credit-worthiness of car insurance companies. As we stated before, a loss ratio is a big part of that.
Below are the grades A.M. Best has given the top insurers in the Prairie State.
|Company||A.M. Best Rating|
|American Family Insurance||A|
|Country Insurance & Financial Service||A+|
None of the companies listed earned less than an “A.” Geico, State Farm, USAA, and Travelers received the highest marks, of “A++” for superior financial strength. They’re more likely to continue their long-term growth and be able to afford to pay lots of claims.
Which car insurance companies have the best ratings in Illinois?
In J.D. Power’s Auto Insurance Study, the company surveyed thousands of car insurance customers. The results below reveal their satisfaction levels for insurers in the North Central region of the U.S., which includes Illinois.
|Automobile Club Group||801||Two|
|IN Farm Bureau||854||Five|
|MI Farm Bureau||839||Four|
|North Central Average||830||Three|
Three smaller insurers — Westfield, IN Farm Bureau, and Erie Insurance — received five “power circles,” which means that they’re “among the best.” Though USAA also earned five, it’s not included because it provides insurance only to members of the military.
Which car insurance companies have the most complaints in Illinois?
Not every dissatisfied customer complains. But those who do take the matter seriously. The NAIC data below reveals the complaint ratios for the top insurers in Illinois.
|Allstate Insurance Group||0.5||163|
|American Family Insurance Group||0.79||73|
|Country Insurance & Financial Service Group||0.44||15|
|Farmers Insurance Group||0||0|
|Liberty Mutual Group||5.95||222|
|State Farm Group||0.44||1482|
A complaint ratio measures the number of complaints a company receives while it conducts business. If an insurer has a larger market share than others, though it may get a lot of complaints (like State Farm), it may still have a low ratio. A number higher than “one,” as shown for Liberty Mutual (at 5.95), exceeds the average. With a lower market share, this is a “red flag.”
What are the cheapest car insurance companies in Illinois?
Now, we’ll look at the average prices the biggest companies in Illinois charge their customers.
|Company||Average||Compared to State Average||Percent +/- State Average|
|American Family Mutual||$3,805.49||$534.54||14.05%|
|Illinois Farmers Ins Co||$4,576.37||$1,305.42||28.53%|
|Nationwide Mutual Fire||$3,020.22||-$250.74||-8.30%|
|Safeco Ins Co of IL||$2,269.25||-$1,001.71||-44.14%|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||$2,328.78||-$942.17||-40.46%|
|Travelers Standard Fire Ins Co||$2,478.21||-$792.75||-31.99%|
At 44 percent less than the state average, Safeco comes out on top with the lowest prices. On the opposite side of the scale, Allstate’s rates were 37 percent higher than the average.
Does my commute affect my car insurance rate in Illinois?
For those who drive long distances regularly, car insurers who based prices on mileage are a concern. Here’s how much the top insurers in Illinois charge for 10-mile and 25-mile commutes.
|Company||10 Miles Commute or 6,000 Annual Mileage||25 Miles Commute or 12,000 Annual Mileage|
Several insurers don’t base their prices on mileage: Progressive, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Allstate, and Farmers. Among those who do, State Farm, American Family, and Geico had the lowest price difference between ten- and 25-mile commutes, of roughly $100.
Can coverage level change my car insurance rate with companies in Illinois?
Your coverage level — whether it’s low, medium, or high — also affects how much you pay for insurance. Here’s how prices vary among insurers for different coverage levels.
|Company||Low Coverage||Medium Coverage||High Coverage|
With full, or high, coverage, you’ll get more of a claim payout. Best of all, with American Family and Nationwide, the difference between low and high coverage amounts to $100 or less, which makes full coverage affordable for some.
How does my credit history affect my car insurance rate with companies in Illinois?
Your credit score also factors into your car insurance rates. Often, with poor credit, you’ll pay more than if you have good credit. Here’s how much insurers in the Prairie State charge for different credit scores.
|Company||Poor Credit Rate||Fair Credit Rate||Good Credit Rate|
Illinois residents generally have good credit.
Experian’s 2017 State of Credit Report reveals that Illinois residents have an average Vantage credit score of 683, which is higher than the national average of 675.
As shown, with some carriers, the price differences from poor credit to good credit can vary by as little as about $1,000 to as much as $3,000.
How does my driving record change my rates with car insurance companies in Illinois?
A speeding ticket or an accident can increase your car insurance premiums by hundreds of dollars. Below are rates among Illinois insurers for common driving infractions.
|Company||Clean Record||One Speeding Violation||One Accident||One DUI|
Not every insurer charges different rates for different offenses. For instance, State Farm increases the rates for a speeding ticket and a DUI — despite the severity of the penalties — by $200 from a clean record.
Which car insurance companies are the largest in Illinois?
Some insurers write more premiums and have a larger market share than others in the Prairie State. Let’s see which ones came out on top.
|Company||Direct Premiums Written||Market Share|
|Allstate Insurance Group||$854,959,000||11.52%|
|American Family Insurance Group||$324,588,000||4.37%|
|Country Insurance & Financial Service Group||$494,300,000||6.66%|
|Farmers Insurance Group||$326,150,000||4.39%|
|Liberty Mutual Group||$216,617,000||2.92%|
|State Farm Group||$2,365,801,000||31.87%|
With nearly a third of the market share and more than $2 million worth of premiums written, State Farm leads by a wide margin. At nearly 12 percent, Allstate placed a distant second.
How many car insurance companies are available in Illinois?
Out of 1,031 property and casualty insurance companies that operate in the Land of Lincoln, 191 are “domestic,” or headquartered, in the state. The rest are “foreign,” or licensed in other states to do business in Illinois.
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Laws control several aspects of daily life. If you’re not up on the latest regulations, especially when it comes to driving, you may get in trouble. And, as they say, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
If you want to take the high road — like honest Abe — you’ll want to keep reading to learn about the laws that regulate car insurance in the Prairie State, along with licensing ordinances.
So, for the full scoop, let’s get started.
Car Insurance Laws
First, we’ll go over how the car insurance you need to buy in Illinois is formed. It helps to know how it can affect you and the coverage you buy.
How State Laws for Insurance are Determined
As part of Illinois state code, the legislature creates car insurance laws. The Prairie State follows a “use and file” system for rate filings, which, according to the NAIC, means that they don’t require prior approval for use.
State laws also control windshield replacement. According to CarWindshields.Info, Illinois repair shops may use OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts, and if you refuse to accept them, you may have to pay the difference. The vendor may also use aftermarket parts, and if they do, they must appear on the estimate.
Illinois law doesn’t specify requirements for insurance coverage regarding windshield replacement. Sometimes comprehensive car insurance policies offer full glass replacement benefits. Generally, a comprehensive insurance policy includes benefits for repair work or even a full vehicle replacement if someone steals your car or if collisions, fire, weather, and other incidents damage your vehicle.
Drivers who have a record of major traffic violations, such as accidents and DUIs, can face problems getting car insurance. Some of these “high-risk” drivers may have to file an SR-22 financial responsibility form with their nearest Secretary of State office.
Illinois drivers who have tried and failed to get car insurance in the open marketplace within the past 60 days and who have or can acquire a valid driver’s license may qualify for the Illinois Automobile Insurance Plan (ILAIP). The ILAIP assigns drivers to a company as part of a pool that spreads the risk among the participating insurers. It’s usually more expensive than standard coverage.
The amount you’ll pay through the ILAIP will vary based on your coverage limits, your location, your age, and other factors.
Under ILAIP, the assigned insurer must cover you for three years, but the program is a short-term solution while you improve your driving record to qualify for coverage under regular insurers.
Though Illinois has a program to help high-risk drivers, it doesn’t have one for low-income drivers.
California, Hawaii, and New Jersey are the only states with government-funded programs to help low-income drivers pay for their car insurance.
Automobile Insurance Fraud in Illinois
Insurance applicants, claimants, policyholders, and agents can commit insurance fraud, which includes the following activities:
- Planning to file a false claim
- Exaggerating damage in a claim
- Faking an accident
As you’ll see below, Illinois has strict and severe insurance fraud penalties.
|Dollar Amount of Fraud||Crime Classification||Penalties|
|$300 or less||Class A Misdemeanor||Up to one year in jail
Up to $2,500 in fines
|More than $300 but less than $1,000||Class 3 Felony||Two to five years in prison|
|More than $10,000, but less than $100,000||Class 2 Felony||Three to seven years in prison|
|More than $100,000||Class 1 Felony||Four to 15 years in prison|
To report insurance fraud, email the Illinois Department of Insurance or call the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) at 800-835-6422.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the time you have left to file and resolve an insurance claim or bring a lawsuit. In Illinois, accident victims generally have two years to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. There are exceptions to the rule. The timeframe can change depending on whether the accident involved a local government vehicle or if the injured was a minor at the time of the accident.
For property damage, the statute of limitations is five years.
In July 2020, drivers who fail to yield the right of way in crosswalks and school zones that cause death or bodily injury will have their licenses suspended for one year. Known as “Mason’s Law,” it commemorates a young man who was killed when a tractor-trailer driver ignored a stop sign.
What are the vehicle licensing laws in Illinois?
We’ve gone over several laws already, but this time we’ll cover those that control vehicle licensing, the renewal process, and penalties for driving without insurance.
The federal REAL ID Act was passed in 2005 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as part of the government’s homeland security initiative.
As a result, starting on October 1, 2020, to travel on domestic airline flights or enter federal buildings (including military installations), you’ll need a REAL ID. If you have a valid passport or a military ID, you don’t need a REAL ID.
To apply for a REAL ID at your nearest Secretary of State driving facility, you’ll need to provide the following documents (originals or certified copies only):
- Proof of identity, such as birth certificate, passport, or permanent resident card
- Proof of your Social Security Number (Social Security card, W-2 form, or pay stub)
- Proof of any name changes (marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order, etc.)
- Two proofs of Illinois residency (utility bill, rental agreements, bank statement, etc.)
- Proof of signature (current driver’s license, debit/credit card, etc.)
After the documents have been reviewed and verified, applicants should receive their new permanent REAL ID cards in the mail within 15 business days.
The news report below reveals more about REAL ID in Illinois:
The Illinois Secretary of State office estimates that REAL ID wait times average 15 to 20 minutes. Drivers will receive temporary documents after they apply and later get their new IDs in the mail.
Now, we’ll look at what could happen if you hit the road without insurance.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
As we outlined above, you must carry proof of insurance with you whenever you drive — otherwise, you risk fines and the loss of your driving privileges. Below are the penalties.
|Offense||Fine||License/Registration Suspension||Other Penalties|
|First and Second||Minimum of $500||Plates suspended until the driver provides proof of insurance|
License suspended for three months
|$100 reinstatement fee|
|Third||Minimum of $1,000||Both suspended four months||$100 reinstatement fee
State officials not only enforce this law during traffic stops and at accident scenes, but they also mail questionnaires to random drivers to confirm if they carry car insurance.
Teen Driver Laws
Like other states, Illinois uses a graduated driver licensing (GDL) program. It lets teens stay safe while they gain driving experience. These are the stages of the program and their requirements:
|License Type||Minimum Age||Requirements||Restrictions|
|Learner's Permit||15 years||Enroll in driver education (not required after age 15 and six months);|
pass written and vision tests.
|May drive only with a parent, guardian, or instructor over 21;
may not drive between 10 p.m.-6 a.m. (11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday);
may not use a cell phone, even hands-free
|Provisional License||16 years||Must have permit for nine months;|
must complete 50 hours of driving instruction, 10 of which are at night;
complete driver's ed; pass road test.
|May not drive between 10 p.m.-6 a.m. (11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday);
may not use a cell phone, even hands-free;
Only one passenger under age 20 (except family) for 12 months or until age 18
|Full License||18 years||If driver did not complete driver's ed in high school, a six-hour adult training course is required||No cell phone use, including hands-free, until age 19.|
Through participating in the program, teens can start with a learner’s permit at age 15 and qualify for a full driver’s license by age 18.
Older Driver License Renewal Procedures
Driver’s license renewal procedures for seasoned drivers differ from those for the general population and are stricter than those of other states.
|Renewal Procedures||Older Population Rules|
|License renewal cycle||Two years for people 81-86; one year for people 87 and older|
|Mail or online renewal permitted||Not allowed for ages 75 and older|
|Vision test required||Age 75 and older; every renewal|
In the process, the requirements help keep older drivers safe.
New residents must apply for an Illinois driver’s license at a local Secretary of State office within 90 days and pay appropriate fees. They should bring original or certified copies of proper identification to verify their full names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, Illinois residency, and written signature.
Drivers who have a license valid in another state or country must take a vision test and a written knowledge test. They’ll need to surrender the out-of-state license for an Illinois one.
If the driver doesn’t have a valid license or is licensed in another country Illinois doesn’t partner with, they will also need to take a road test.
License Renewal Procedures
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that Illinois drivers must renew their licenses every four years. Every eight years, drivers who have accrued driving convictions must take a written test at the time of renewal.
Your renewal letter will state whether you can renew online. At every second renewal, you must renew online. Being designated a Safe Driver for keeping a clean driving record in the past four years lets you qualify to renew online. You can renew online with a valid checking account or debit or credit card in the following steps:
- Enter the renewal authorization number on your renewal form
- Follow the directions on the screen and verify your information; if you’ve moved, enter your new address
- Type in your checking account number or valid Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express credit card
- Print your confirmation
It’s as simple as that. You should receive your new license in the mail within 15 business days.
Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS)
Illinois’s points system for traffic violations tallies who’s been naughty on the road. Offenders will accrue points on their records, which add up. Those who earn three or more points in three months will have their licenses suspended. Below are the points for common violations:
- Failure to stay in the proper lane: 20 points
- Speeding: five to 50 points, depending on the speed
- Failure to obey a traffic sign: 20 points
- Possessing an open alcohol container: 25 points
- Reckless driving: 55 points
The more severe the offense, the higher the points. Based on the number of points collected, these are the driver’s license suspension timeframes:
- 15-44 points: two months
- 45-74 points: three months
- 75-89 points: six months
- 90-99 points: nine months
- 100 or more points: twelve months
Offenders who have had their licenses suspended or revoked in the previous seven years will face longer suspension terms. These penalties literally “point up” the fact that it’s better to drive safely rather than risk losing your driving privileges.
What are the rules of the road in Illinois?
Now that we’ve gone over the licensing laws, we’ll inform you about some of the basic driving safety laws and other “road rules.”
But, first, several new laws go into effect in 2020, which the news report details below. It covers everything from distracted driving to “move over” laws and new roadside sobriety tests for marijuana:
Staying up-to-date on new laws can help you avoid penalties and accidents. If you happen to become involved in a crash, knowledge of the state “fault” laws we outline below may ease the compensation process.
Fault vs. No-Fault
As we covered earlier, Illinois requires the person who is “at fault,” or responsible for causing an accident to pay for any damages. They do this through their insurance coverage. According to state law, the other party involved can sue you for damages, especially if the costs exceed your policy limits.
When it comes to determining negligence or responsibility for a crash, Illinois follows a law of modified comparative fault. Under this system, an injured victim may collect compensation if they were found to be less than 51 percent at fault.
The amount of the damages they can collect is reduced by their portion of fault. For example, if you are found to be 40 percent at fault for an accident that caused injuries and other damages valued at $100,000, you could collect $40,000.
This law firm video further explains the rules:
We’ve covered some of the basics of compensation. Now, we’ll turn our attention to Illinois safety laws, including the proper restraints for adults and children.
Seat Belt and Car Seat Laws
In Illinois, all drivers and passengers older than age eight who sit in the front and back seats must wear safety belts.
Children under age eight must be properly seated in an appropriate child safety restraint system. According to the IIHS, until they’re age two or unless they’re 40 inches tall or weigh at least 40 pounds, they must stay in a rear-facing child safety seat. Children ages eight through 15 or who weigh more than 40 pounds may sit in the rear where only a lap belt is available.
If a passenger with a disability or medical condition can’t fasten their own safety belt, the driver is responsible for securing and adjusting it for them.
The maximum base fine for adults who aren’t wearing a seat belt is $25 (first offense). For children who aren’t properly restrained, it triples to $75.
Regarding cargo areas of pick up trucks, Illinois doesn’t have any laws that restrict passengers from riding there.
Keep Right and Move Over Laws
Illinois law states that drivers must stay in the right lane if they’re traveling slower than the traffic around them.
The Prairie State’s “move over” law is known as Scott’s Law. It was named after Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department, who was killed by a drunk driver while he was at a crash scene. Under the law, drivers must slow down, change lanes, and proceed with caution when they approach disabled vehicles or emergency vehicles with flashing lights.
As noted in this news segment, law enforcement officers gave out 6,300 tickets for violations of Scott’s Law in 2019:
Ten accidents involved Ilinois state troopers in 2019 — an unfortunate reminder to all drivers to obey Scott’s Law.
Another dangerous cause of crashes is speeding. Next, we’ll go over the speed limits throughout the Prairie State.
In Illinois, the speed limit on interstates and tollways is 70 miles per hour (mph). On four-lane highways, it’s 65 mph and on other roadways and in rural areas, it’s 55 mph.
According to the IIHS, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair, and Will Counties have adopted a law that decreases the maximum speed limit. They have a maximum large truck speed limit of 60 mph in rural areas and 55 mph on urban roads.
Generally, in cities and towns, the speed limit is 30 mph. In alleyways, it’s 15 mph, and in school zones, it’s 20 mph on school days between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. when children are present and signs are posted.
Cities and towns have the discretion to post speed limits different from those listed, so pay attention to signage wherever you drive and follow the limits.
Drivers for ridesharing services or transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft must buy liability coverage in required minimum amounts. When they drive, their coverage must have limits of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per incident for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage.
TNCs offer drivers a $1 million liability policy which will cover them when they are sharing a ride. They also offer insurance that will cover passengers.
When drivers are waiting for a fare or logged off of their company apps, they must carry their own personal car insurance. The following companies provide coverage to fill this gap:
Illinois law also requires rideshare drivers to undergo background checks when they apply at TNCs.
Automation on the Road
In Illinois, self-driving cars are only allowed on the road for testing purposes. An operator must be in the vehicle at all times, carry a license, and the state-required minimum car insurance coverage.
The news report below offers more insights into the Prairie State’s pilot program:
Autonomous Illinois is a partnership between state and private companies.
Read on to find out more about state laws designed to keep everyone safe.
What are the safety laws in Illinois?
We’ve covered a lot of laws. Now, we’ll cover some more that focus on controlling drivers’ behavior while they’re on the road and protecting them and everyone else in their paths.
Illinois state law considers driving while under the influence (DUI) a serious offense and classifies it as a violent crime. The Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08. If your BAC exceeds that amount, an officer could arrest you for a DUI. Below are the state’s penalties for driving while under the influence.
|Type of Penalty||First Offense||Second Offense||Third Offense||Fourth Offense||Fifth Offense|
|License Revocation||One year||Five-year minimum for second offense within 20 years||10 years|
Vehicle registration suspended
Vehicle registration suspended
|Already revoked at 4th Offense|
|Fine||$500-$2,500||$1,200-$2,500||$2,500-$25,000||Up to $25,000||Up to $25,000|
|Imprisonment||Up to one year||Five days-one year or 240 hours community service||90 days minimum up to seven years||Four to 15 years||Six to 30 years|
|Other||Must complete substance treatment evaluation program.|
High-risk insurance for three years.
A person convicted of a DUI with a BAC of .16 percent or more while transporting a child under age 16 may face more penalties.
If an Illinois resident is convicted of DUI or refuses to submit to alcohol/drug testing in another state, the conviction or refusal will be reported to the Illinois Secretary of State’s office and appear on the person’s driving record. The offender will face the same administrative action against their driving privileges as if they were convicted of a DUI or refused chemical testing in Illinois.
Think before you drink and drive. Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other organizations have been especially vocal in helping victims and fighting to prevent people from getting behind the wheel while under the influence. Through being aware of the consequences of drinking and driving, you prevent facing severe penalties and keep yourself and others safe.
Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws
Medical and recreational marijuana use is legal in Illinois, yet driving while impaired or over the legal limit for the substance is illegal. No driver or passenger may use cannabis in a motor vehicle.
Responsibility.org reports the legal limit for THC, the substance that causes a “high,” in a driver’s system is five nanograms. Drivers who test positive for this amount in their bloodstreams may be charged with a DUI and suffer the same penalties.
If a police officer stops a vehicle and the officer has reason to believe the driver is under the influence of cannabis, they must submit to field sobriety testing and/or validated roadside chemical tests.
Refusal to undergo testing will result in a driver’s license suspension. Driving while under the influence of marijuana or illegal transportation of cannabis in a motor vehicle may also lead to a loss of driving privileges, and for a medical cannabis registry cardholder, revocation of their medical card.
Distracted Driving Laws
Illinois law prohibits the use of handheld cellphones, texting, and other electronic communications while driving. It does, however, let drivers age 19 and older use hands-free devices or Bluetooth technology. Drivers under age 18 can’t use any technology while they drive.
Per the state’s “Rules of the Road,” holding a cellphone while on speakerphone isn’t “hands-free” use of the device and is illegal. Under Illinois distracted driving laws, drivers may only use cellphones hands-free in the following situations:
• To report an emergency
• While they’re parked on the shoulder of a roadway
• While they’re stopped due to a traffic blockage and the vehicle is in neutral or park
State laws also go further, setting rules on other uses of electronic devices and aids. For instance, watching or streaming a live video violates the law. Drivers also can’t use headsets while they’re on the road, but the law permits one-sided earpieces and hearing aids. Motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, and moped operators may use intercom helmets to speak to a driver or passengers.
Despite allowing hands-free use of cell phones, the state warns that using hands-free technology such as a headset or voice-activated controls is considered a distraction while driving and can be dangerous.
“If a driver must make a phone call, even with hands-free technology, it is recommended the driver pull off to the side of the road before making the call.”
Like with DUI offenses, drivers who violate distracted driving laws face criminal penalties and jail time. In fact, starting on July 1, 2020, the state will increase the penalties for drivers who break the law and cause accidents that lead to serious bodily harm to someone else. Law enforcement officers can suspend offenders’ licenses for one year and fine them $1,000. Until then, officers will assess the fines on a case-by-case basis.
The CBS Chicago report focuses on police efforts to curb distracted driving in Kane County, which has had the highest number of accidents in Illinois:
For those who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or even smartphones, treatment options are available.
Now, we’ll go into more detail about precautions you should take to stay safe wherever you travel.
Driving Safely in Illinois
As we covered above, among the dangers on the road are drivers who are under the influence and are distracted while they use electronic devices. But, depending on where you drive, from the suburbs to the farmlands, there are always potential hazards. Some parts of Illinois have higher incidences of crime, while others have increased crash rates.
If you drive long distances throughout the Prairie State, it can be hard to keep track of everything you should be aware of on the road. We’ve found some kernels of truth about car theft, fatal crashes, average commutes and traffic throughout the state.
We thought you might like to know about the state of driving in Illinois, so keep reading.
How many vehicle thefts occur in Illinois?
If your vehicle’s make and model is on the “top 10” list below, you’ll want to take extra precautions to make sure someone doesn’t steal it.
|Make/Model||Most Commonly Stolen Model Year||Number of Thefts|
|Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)||1999||418|
|Ford Pickup (Full Size)||2006||392|
|Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee||2000||374|
Most of the vehicles listed aren’t particularly fancy or pricey, such as the 2000 Dodge Caravan, but, thieves can find them attractive for their parts and resale values.
Below are the FBI’s 2017 vehicle theft statistics by city in the Prairie State. Did yours make the list?
|Country Club Hills||38|
|East Hazel Crest||6|
|East St. Louis||144|
|Elk Grove Village||38|
|Fox River Grove||3|
|Indian Head Park||3|
|La Grange Park||4|
|Lake in the Hills||3|
|Round Lake Beach||14|
|Round Lake Heights||1|
|Round Lake Park||1|
|South Chicago Heights||9|
Not surprisingly, Chicago topped the list with more than 11,000 thefts, while Rockford placed a distant second at 450.
How many road fatalities occur in Illinois?
Many fatal car crashes have occurred on Illinois roadways; the causes vary, but the results, sadly, are the same. Much of the data below comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Through looking at statistics, we can get a better understanding of when, where, and why they happen and work to minimize the risks.
Most Fatal Highway in Illinois
According to Geotab, over the past decade, U.S. Route 45, which starts in Wisconsin and ends in Kentucky, has had the most fatal crashes in Illinois. An average of 12 people die on the highway each year.
To determine the most dangerous highway in each state, Geotab calculates a fatal crash rate based on the annual number of NHTSA road fatality and fatal crash statistics. They adjust them for the average daily traffic counts the Federal Highway Administration provides.
Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition
Many of us know that weather conditions can contribute to accidents, but in certain cases, the light levels in an area can also have an impact. Let’s see how many of these situations led to fatal crashes in Illinois.
|Weather Condition||Daylight||Dark, but Lighted||Dark||Dawn or Dusk||Other / Unknown||Total|
Most of the accidents happened in normal daylight conditions, and a lot of them occurred when it was raining. These results remind us of the need to adjust our driving habits to current weather patterns and light levels.
Fatalities (All Crashes) by County
Which Illinois counties had the most or the least deadly accidents in 2017? Scroll through or search the table below to find out.
|County||# of Total Fatal Crashes|
|De Witt County||6|
|Jo Daviess County||3|
|La Salle County||18|
|Rock Island County||7|
|St. Clair County||35|
Cook County, the second-highest populated county in the U.S. and the biggest county in Illinois, had the highest fatal crashes. Brown and Calhoun, with fewer people, were among the counties with none.
Below are the traffic fatality rates in Illinois from the NHTSA for rural and urban areas.
Urban areas, where more people live, had an average of 150 more deadly accidents than rural ones.
Fatalities by Person Type
Which types of vehicles or people are involved in deadly crashes? Look below for some insights.
|Light Truck - Pickup||87||86||92||95||83|
|Light Truck - Utility||113||122||127||150||146|
|Light Truck - Van||46||43||38||45||56|
|Light Truck - Other||1||3||4||6||1|
|Bicyclist and Other Cyclist||30||27||26||20||26|
Passengers of cars and light-duty trucks made up most of the fatalities in Illinois, however, many of the accidents also involved motorcyclists and pedestrians.
Fatalities by Crash Type
Now, we’ll see which types of fatal crashes occurred in Illinois.
|Involving a Large Truck||142||111||104||148||149|
|Involving a Rollover||233||209||203||245||235|
|Involving a Roadway Departure||522||493||511||515||535|
|Involving an Intersection/|
The most common deadly accidents involved single-vehicles, while the biggest factors in them were roadway departures and speeding.
Five-Year Trend For the Top 10 Counties
The most populated counties tend to have a larger share of fatal accidents than others. Here’s how they trended from 2013 to 2017.
|County||2013 Fatalities||2014 Fatalities||2015 Fatalities||2016 Fatalities||2017 Fatalities|
|St. Clair County||45||31||39||40||35|
|Total: Top Ten Counties||538||501||530||596||618|
|Total: All Other Counties||453||423||468||482||479|
In many of the counties, the figures remained steady. More recently, Cook and McHenry counties saw sharp increases.
Fatalities Involving Speeding by County
Speeding is often a major factor in deadly crashes, and that’s true in Illinois. Here’s how many speed-related fatal accidents occurred there in 2017.
|County||2017 Speed Fatalities|
|De Witt County||1|
|Jo Daviess County||1|
|La Salle County||7|
|Rock Island County||1|
|St. Clair County||13|
Cook County had the most deaths from speeding, while lower populated counties, such as Edwards and Ford, had none.
Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver by County
Next are the numbers for another major cause of deadly accidents, DUIs, by Illinois county in 2017.
|County||2017 DUI Fatalities|
|De Witt County||0|
|Jo Daviess County||2|
|La Salle County||6|
|Rock Island County||2|
|St. Clair County||15|
Again, most of the accidents occurred in Cook County, followed by Lake County.
Teen Drinking andDriving
As you’ll see below, according to Responsibility.org, the Prairie State has a lower than average rate of teen drunk driving fatalities. The arrest rates for underage DUIs are also well below the national average.
|Teens and Drunk Driving||Illinoise||Nationwide|
|Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities Per 100K Population||0.7||1.2|
|DUI Arrest (Under Age 18)||7||102.82|
|DUI Arrests (Under Age 18) Total Per Million People||2.39||94.84|
Illinois ranked 49th in the U.S. for DUI arrests under age 18, with seven in 2016. The state attributes the declining numbers to many factors, including tougher DUI and fraudulent ID laws and youth prevention and training programs.
It’s illegal for anyone under age 21 in the Prairie State to consume, possess, or buy alcohol. If someone under the legal age limit is caught for a DUI faces revocation of their driver’s license for a minimum of two years for a first conviction.
Offenders younger than age 21 who have any trace of alcohol in their bloodstreams while they drive will have their driving privileges suspended for a minimum of three months.
Those are among the lesser penalties for DUI. More information is available in the Secretary of State’s “DUI Fact Book.”
EMS Response Time
How long does it take emergency medical services (EMS) to arrive at accident scenes in rural and urban areas of Illinois? Let’s explore the figures below.
|Road Type||Time of Crash|
to EMS Notification
to EMS Arrival
|EMS Arrival at Scene|
|Time of Crash to|
Unlike many parts of the U.S., overall, response times were nearly the same for both areas. Arrival times, however, were slightly longer in rural parts, possibly because of difficulties getting to those locations and their remoteness from EMS stations.
What is transportation like in Illinois?
In and around Chicago, more transportation options are available, especially given the amount of traffic congestion there. Many Illinoisans who live outside of those areas need a vehicle to get around. Below, we’ll explore car ownership rates and commute numbers courtesy of Data USA and the state of traffic congestion in the Land of Lincoln from Inrix’s Global Traffic Score Card.
Most Illinois households, as it turns out, own two cars, which closely matches the national average of about 40 percent. Following that figure, most Prairie State residences owned one car, and then three cars. Nationally, more families own three cars than one car.
Illinois drivers have an average commute time of 27.7 minutes, which is longer than the national average of 25.5 minutes. Chicago, with its congested traffic, may have contributed to the time increase. Some Prairie State commuters have a worse time — 3 percent face “super commutes” of 90 minutes or more daily.
Most Illinois commuters — 73 percent — prefer to drive alone. But it’s not always a solo effort. Nearly ten percent take public transportation, and 8 percent choose to carpool.
Chicago has the worst traffic congestion in Illinois, and it’s among a select few cities known for its traffic snarls globally. Inrix ranks Chicago as the third most congested U.S, city and 23rd worldwide. Below are some stats on how much the traffic there affects commuters:
|2018 Impact Rank|
|Hours Lost in Congestion|
|Change from 2017|
|Cost of Congestion
|23 (24)||138 (64)||0.04||$1,920|
During peak rush hours, the average speed in Chicago is 23 mph. At off-peak times, it rises to 42 mph, and in free-flowing traffic, the average speed reaches 51 mph. In the morning, Chicago drivers can expect to add 13 minutes to each 30-minute trip. At night, they add an extra 17 minutes to a 30-minute trip.
According to TomTom, the most congested day in Chicago is February 5th and the best day is December 25th.
This Associated Press video shows what a typical drive on the Chicago Expressway is like:
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