Car insurance is important for your peace of mind, serving to protect you financially if you get in an accident. Before you buy a policy, make sure you’re getting the coverage you need by asking these questions.
What’s covered—and what isn’t—if I get in an accident?
It’s a common misconception that car insurance automatically covers the cost to repair or replace your car, along with paying for towing, providing roadside assistance, and covering rental car fees. The reality is you only enjoy these benefits if you have the right coverage.
Car insurance policies are broken down into the following categories:
- Bodily injury and liability insurance is required in most states, including Illinois. This covers the cost of anyone who is injured or killed, along with any property damage that occurs from an accident you caused.
- Uninsured motorist coverage is automatically included in the minimum requirements for liability insurance under Illinois law. It protects you if you’re in an accident caused by a driver who doesn’t have car insurance.
- Underinsured motorist coverage is also important to help supplement the at-fault driver’s insurance if the damages exceed their policy limits.
- Collision covers vehicle repair costs after an accident, regardless of who’s at fault. This coverage is most beneficial if you have a newer car with a relatively high value.
- Comprehensive pays for non-accident damage to your vehicle, such as theft, fire, vandalism, and acts of nature. The more your car is worth, the more it makes sense to have comprehensive coverage.
- Personal injury protection covers medical payments and lost wages to you or your passengers if you’re in a collision. This coverage also reimburses your medical expenses if you’re injured while riding in another person’s vehicle. It might only make sense to get this coverage if your health insurance plan has a high deductible.
- Towing and roadside assistance are useful if you have an accident or mechanical breakdown. You might not need this coverage if you have a membership with AAA, OnStar, or another roadside assistance program.
- Additional coverage may include rental car coverage, lost income reimbursement, total disability, accidental death benefits, funeral expense coverage, and more. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you have all the coverage you need.
What is the minimum car insurance required in Illinois?
Every state has minimum coverage requirements. For Illinois drivers, this includes:
- Bodily injury and liability insurance: $25,000 per person /$50,000 all persons/$20,000 property damage per accident
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident of bodily injury coverage
If you prefer not to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you can reject it in writing. Illinois doesn’t require drivers to carry collision, comprehensive, personal injury protection, or other additional coverage. Failure to have car insurance could result in a minimum fine of $500, and your license plates could be suspended for up to four months.
What level of coverage should I get?
Having at least the minimum coverage required by state law allows you to drive legally, but it may not provide adequate protection. For instance, if you cause an accident that results in $100,000 in property damage, and you only have $20,000 of coverage, you will be held responsible for the remaining $80,000, which could be financially devastating.
Talk to your insurance agent about the level of coverage recommended for your situation. Most drivers find that a “middle of the road” policy provides the best balance between affordability and peace of mind.
What is the deductible?
Collision and comprehensive coverage usually come with deductibles, or the amount you must pay before the insurance coverage kicks in. These amounts range from $0 to $2,000 or more, depending on your policy.
When choosing your deductible, consider the amount of money you can afford to pay if you get in an accident without incurring financial hardship. The higher you set your deductible, the more you’ll save on monthly premiums.
What are the premiums?
Once you select the right amount of coverage and choose your deductibles, the insurance company will quote you a premium amount. This is the money you pay each month to keep your coverage going.
Your premiums are affected by more than just the coverage you select. For instance, newer, higher-value cars are more expensive to insure. Your age, driving history, and where you live also affect your rate.
What discounts can I qualify for?
The goal of every car insurance shopper is to keep their premiums as low as possible without sacrificing coverage. The key to saving is to ask about discounts. This is an important step in the car insurance buying process because companies may not automatically give you the discounts you qualify for.
Some common ways to save on premiums include:
- Driving a car with advanced safety features
- Having a clean driving record
- Being a good student
- Owning a home
- Bundling multiple policies
- Paying your premiums in six-month installments instead of month-to-month
If you’re ever in an accident, you’ll be grateful you have car insurance to help you get back on your feet. At B&L Automotive Repairs, we have experience working with insurance companies to help ensure your claim goes smoothly. Bring your car by our Chicago collision repair shop or contact us at (773) 463-1622 for more information.