Careful drivers in Illinois are aware that there are many uninsured and underinsured motorists on the roads of our state. If one of those uninsured or underinsured drivers causes an accident that injures someone, there is no safety net in place to cover the victim’s losses. When a driver violates our state’s minimum insurance requirements, every person who shares the road with them is at risk. And in many cases, the bare minimum for insurance coverage is insufficient to cover the immense medical bills and property damage expenses that may be incurred in a collision.
It’s advisable to look into auto insurance coverage options that can more sufficiently cover the actual costs normally associated with a motor vehicle crash. This will help prevent a situation in which an injured accident victim is unable to receive the compensation necessary to recover their losses. Carrying sufficient uninsured and underinsured coverage on your policy can help provide the added protection motorists in Illinois need.
After discussing the definition of uninsured motorist coverage and why it is important for Illinois drivers, we’ll provide information about Mandatory Insurance laws for vehicle owners in our state. If you have further questions about the content of this article, we invite you to contact the law office of Schweickert Ganassin Krzak Rundio, LLP. An experienced car accident attorney from our firm is available to answer inquiries about motor vehicle laws in Illinois.
What Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)?
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) can help cover expenses and damages caused by an at-fault driver who did not have coverage at all. Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) help cover the expenses and damages caused by an at-fault driver who did not have adequate insurance. Both of these coverages can include both bodily injury coverage (such as medical bills and lost wages) and property damage coverage (such as expenses associated with vehicle repair).
If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision caused by another driver, one of your first steps after the crash is to work with your car accident attorney to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s car insurance company. After an accident, you may need to recover compensation for damages such as:
- Hospital and physician visits
- Ambulance fees
- Medical bills and prescription medication costs
- Lost wages and benefits from work hours missed
- Loss of future income during recovery or disability
- Pain and suffering
- Vehicle repairs or purchase of a new vehicle
- Rental car costs
- Other property damage
- Out-of-pocket expenses
But when an at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance—or has only minimum coverage or otherwise does not have enough coverage —the steep costs resulting from the accident may not be covered. This can leave you, as the accident victim, in a difficult position. UM and UIM coverage is intended to protect policy holders against an unjust situation in which a negligent driver forces the financial burden of their error on the victim of the accident.
How much uninsured motorist coverage or underinsured motorist coverage you should have in Illinois will depend on your insurance policy, and is something you should discuss with your insurance agent.
UM and UIM coverage is important because it can protect you if you’re in an accident with a driver who doesn’t carry liability insurance—or when the other driver’s liability limits are too low. In the latter case, your UM or UIM policy may be able to cover the remainder of your expenses once the other party’s policy has been exhausted. However, you must obtain your insurance company’s permission to accept the policy limits from the other driver before accepting the policy limits, and your insurance company may have specific requirements and procedures for this process. You also need to put your insurance company on notice of the UM or UIM claim in a timely and proper manner. An attorney from our firm may be able to provide legal guidance if there is a dispute with an insurance company when filing a claim.
Illinois Motor Vehicle Insurance Laws
Motorists operating a vehicle in our state have the duty to know how much car insurance you need in Illinois. The state of Illinois enforces Mandatory Insurance laws requiring drivers to carry liability insurance. All motor vehicles registered and operated in Illinois (with the exception of trailers) must be covered by specified amounts of liability insurance. Liability insurance is required for drivers in most states. This type of insurance coverage helps to pay for medical expenses and property damage sustained by another party in an accident that was your fault.
In Illinois, motorists are required to have liability insurance coverage at or above these minimums:
- $25,000 for injury or death of one person in an accident
- $50,000 for injury or death of more than one person in an accident
- $20,000 for damage to property of another person
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) is automatically included when you purchase a liability insurance policy in Illinois. The minimum amount is generally equal to the minimum coverage of one person’s injury in an accident—$25,000. But in many situations, this minimum amount is not enough to cover the losses sustained by car crash victims, and a victim becomes personally responsible for costs once limits are exhausted. It’s recommended that motorists carry more coverage than merely the legal minimum. In this way they can best protect themselves in the event of a serious accident.
Fines for Mandatory Insurance Violations in Illinois
If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer while driving, you must be able to provide proof of your insurance coverage. It is required that drivers keep a copy of the vehicle’s insurance card on hand at all times. If you are not able to show proof of insurance, you may face fines or registration suspension for violating Illinois auto insurance laws. If a vehicle’s license plate has been suspended because of a past insurance coverage violation, it may not be driven on the road.
Those found to be in violation of state laws may be subject to the following penalties:
- Minimum $500 fine for operating an uninsured vehicle
- Minimum $1,000 fine for driving a vehicle while the registration is suspended for no insurance
- Suspended vehicle registration for first-time offenders until a $100 reinstatement fee and proof of insurance are submitted
- Four-month suspension, $100 reinstatement fee, and requirement to provide proof of insurance for repeat offenders
When discussing auto insurance, it’s important to remember that insurance coverage generally follows the car, not the driver. So if someone borrows your car and is involved in a collision, it will be your insurance policy that applies, even if you weren’t driving at the time of the accident.
Taking Legal Action After a Collision with an Uninsured Motorist
Those who operate a car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle in Illinois need to be aware of the risks associated with driving and owning a vehicle. When motorists fail to follow state-mandated insurance laws, it is never fair that victims of their negligence also be made to pay for their mistakes. If you were involved in a collision with an uninsured driver in Illinois, you may be entitled to take legal action against the party liable for your injuries.
Contact our office to discuss your case with a member of our legal team. One of the experienced attorneys at Schweickert Ganassin Krzak Rundio, LLP will be able to offer honest and experienced advice regarding your legal options following an accident.