6 Questions to Ask Before Buying Car Insurance

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.

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Getting the Most for Your Money: Vehicles That Owners Keep the Longest

Americans love their cars, but that certainly doesn’t mean they keep them forever. On average, Americans keep their cars for 8.4 years. The vehicles that are consistently kept the longest indicate that they’re more reliable and their owners enjoy driving them. Most of the vehicles on this list are SUVs or sports cars, so check out which ones you’ll want to consider when looking for a car to keep for a long time.

Toyota Avalon – 9.7 years

This spacious sedan has plenty of cargo room, is in the top of its class for vehicle rankings, and is a reliable alternative for those who want space but not an SUV or a minivan.

Toyota Sequoia – 9.9 years

This three row SUV is popular because it’s extremely durable and able to rack up high mileage if well taken care of.

Porsche 911 – 9.9 years

Sports cars can be quite expensive, so most of their owners aren’t looking to get rid of them for some time. They also accrue less mileage than everyday use cars.

Toyota 4Runner – 10 years

The 4Runner is known for being a reliable vehicle that owners tend to hang onto for quite some time.

Ford Mustang – 10 years

Lots of drivers want a Ford Mustang, but not so many want to get rid of one. This sports car typically isn’t used as a primary vehicle, so it can last a long time without racking up high mileage.

Ford Expedition – 10.1 years

This large SUV is in a class of its own, making it a popular option due to the amount of room it has for passengers and cargo, as well as its ability to tow almost any sized trailer.

Audi TT – 10.2 years

This two-door sports coupe is a popular car that drivers tend to hang onto for more than a decade.

Mercedes-Benz SL – 10.3 years

This sports car has space for two passengers and luggage which makes it a popular choice, and is one of the best grand touring cars available.

Chevy Corvette – 10.5 years

This iconic sports car is known for its amazing performance and is a dream car that many drivers never want to get rid of.

Toyota Land Cruiser – 11.4 years

Toyotas are known for their reliability and longevity. This four-wheel drive utility vehicle is comfortable and comes with lots of technology features.

No matter what type of make and model you drive, B&L Automotive is here for all your collision repair needs. Give us a call today at (773) 463-1622 to learn more and schedule an appointment.

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Tips for Driving Safely During the Fall

Fall is finally here, and while it’s a great time of the year, it’s not all about pumpkin spice and cozy sweaters. Along with the cooler temperatures and shorter days come more driving hazards you need to look out for on the road to stay safe. The following safety tips can help you enjoy the season even more by staying out of harm’s way.

Driving in the Dark

During the summer months you may have taken the extended daylight for granted. Fall means the days are getting shorter and we have less sunlight to work with. That means that there’s a better chance you’ll be driving in the dark on your way to work or to drop the kids off at school in the morning, and it also means you may be driving home in the dark too. Now’s a good time to clean your car’s headlights and make sure all your lights are working properly. Another useful tip for driving in the dark is to give your eyes time to adjust, especially when leaving the bright lights of an office setting. It takes your eyes about two to five minutes to adjust to the dark, so be sure not to be in too big of a hurry to get on the road.

Watching for Pedestrians

Kids are back in school which means you’ll need to be very careful when it comes to crosswalks. Make sure you slow down for all school zones and stop well in front of crosswalks. You’ll likely see more people of all ages out walking due to the nice weather, so be sure to always be alert for pedestrians.

Not Settling for Frosty Windshields

Chicagoland drivers know that cooler temperatures mean frosty windshields. This creates a hazard when it comes to visibility, but there are some things you can do about it. Put a towel over your windshield when parked and cover your side mirrors with plastic bags. You can also use a 2:1 mix of rubbing alcohol and water to clean your windshield.

Other Fall Driving Safety Tips

  • Leaves can be slippery so don’t hard brake. Drive through them slowly and pay attention because they may obscure lane lines.
  • Avoid sun glare especially after sunrise and before sunset by wearing sunglasses, keeping your windshield clean, and driving on North/South streets if possible
  • Keep a safe distance from the car in front of you in the event of rain as roads are more slippery. Also make sure your wiper blades are working properly.

While these tips could help you stay safe and avoid an accident, other drivers may not have read them like you did. If you’ve been in an accident and need collision repair services, contact B&L Automotive today at (773) 463-1622.

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Why You Should Visit a Collision Repair Shop ASAP

Was your car damaged recently in a minor collision? It may have only suffered cosmetic damage, but you can’t be sure. A cracked windshield, dented bumper or buckled hood may seem like no big deal, but here’s why you shouldn’t delay repair work on these types of problems.

Cracked Windshield

The force of a collision could send shockwaves through the windshield, causing it to crack, even if nothing actually hit the glass. Even small cracks can spread quickly with the jolt of driving over uneven roads or potholes. Cracks obstruct your view and could reflect light into your eyes when the sun is at just the right angle.

Moreover, a cracked windshield is not structurally sound, putting you at risk of greater injury or being ejected from the car if you get into a rollover accident. Optimize safety by replacing your cracked windshield as soon as possible.

Dented Bumper

The purpose of a car bumper is to absorb the energy of a crash and prevent greater damage to other parts of the vehicle. A bumper weakened by a prior collision can’t withstand the force of another impact as effectively.

Plus, if the bumper came loose in the accident, it could fall off while you’re driving, which could be very dangerous. It may only seem cosmetic, but replacing a dented or loose bumper is important for roadway safety.

Buckled Hood

Rear-end collisions often cause the hood to crumple. Even if a quick assessment of the engine reveals that everything is still in working order, you shouldn’t leave this repair undone for long.

A buckled hood may be difficult or impossible to open, so you can’t check on fluid levels and engine components. Worse still, air can blow under a buckled hood and pop it open while you’re driving, obstructing your view and increasing the likelihood of getting in another accident. Timely hood repair eliminates this risk.

Leaking Fluids

Damage from a minor collision may only seem cosmetic at first glance, but it’s possible there could be more going on than you realize. Leaking brake fluid could prevent you from stopping the car. Leaking antifreeze could cause the engine to overheat. And driving with a punctured gas tank could cause serious engine damage, leading to a more expensive repair.

Look under your car after getting into an accident. If you see any fluids dripping onto the road, call a tow truck and take the car to a collision repair shop immediately.

B&L Automotive Repairs in Chicago has nearly 30 years of experience repairing mechanical and body damage resulting from car accidents. Our staff is continually trained and educated on the state-of-the-art diagnostic and repair equipment we use to get vehicles back up and running quickly and affordably. No matter the make and model of your car, we can meet your needs. Contact us today at (773) 463-1622 for more information or to schedule a service for your vehicle.

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Answering Common Questions About Auto Collision Repairs

Repairing your car after an accident is different than performing routine maintenance. It usually entails bodywork, and your insurance company is involved in the process. You may have some unanswered questions, which we’ll strive to address here.

What do I do if my car isn’t drivable?

Moderate to severe accidents may render your vehicle undrivable. If you’re in Chicago, we recommend calling Belmont Kolmar at (773) 725-8800, and they will tow your car directly to B&L Automotive Repairs.

How soon can the repair begin?

First, bring your car to us between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM for an estimate, no appointment necessary. The process takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Then, we’ll schedule an appointment for your vehicle repair.

Before we can get started, we need you to sign an authorization form and give us the claim number your insurance company issued when you reported the accident. We also collect a 10 to 20 percent deposit on any parts that must be ordered.

What if I need a ride?

While your car is being repaired, you can get around with a rental car. We work with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which you can contact at (773) 478-3310. Also, be sure to call your insurance provider and ask if your policy includes a free rental car.

What if my car is totaled?

When the cost to repair your vehicle is more than the car is worth, it’s considered totaled. In this case, you have three options. You can:

  • Accept payment from your insurance company for the value of the car (minus the deductible) and hand the vehicle over to them.
  • Accept payment for the value of the car and pay for the rest of the repair out of pocket.
  • Accept a lower payment and keep the wrecked car either to fix up as a hobby or to sell as scrap.

Will new paint match the rest of my car?

Yes. Our auto paint technicians use computerized paint matching technology. The first option is to look up the paint color using the VIN. If you have a custom paint job, technicians can use a spectrophotometer to measure the wavelength of light reflected off the car.

With this information in the computer, sophisticated software calculates the exact pigment formula needed to reproduce the color. To ensure accuracy, the technician sprays a sample onto a card. After making any final adjustments, the technician paints the replacement part of your car for an exact duplicate of the existing color.

Do I need to take any precautions with the new paint finish?

Once your vehicle is repaired and ready for pickup, you can drive it immediately. Feel free to wash it by hand any time, but avoid commercial car washes for the next few weeks. Also, avoid waxing the vehicle for three months to allow the paint to set completely.

For answers to any of your remaining questions about auto collision repair, please contact B&L Automotive Repairs in Chicago at (773) 463-1622.

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Tips for Choosing an Auto Collision Repair Shop

Your car was just damaged in an accident, and now you’re scrambling to find an auto collision repair shop in Chicago to perform the repair. Here are the top ways to choose a reputable, convenient place to have your car fixed.

  • Read customer reviews: Search for “auto collision repair shop” online and read the reviews for the companies that come up. Learning about other people’s experiences and how a company resolves issues tells you a lot about how things might go for you.
  • Call friends and family: If you have a hard time trusting strangers on the internet, call around to friends and family who live nearby and have experience working with auto collision repair shops in Chicago. Find out whom they recommend (and whom to avoid) for the repair work you need.
  • Consider the location: For convenience, hone in on shops near your home or work. This way, you don’t have to travel far to drop off and pick up your car.
  • Compare estimates: This involves driving (or towing) your car from shop to shop, but the effort could be worth it to save some money. While you want to avoid being overcharged, the lowest estimate isn’t necessarily the best choice. You want to balance repair quality and price to obtain the best
  • Ask about licenses and certifications: Strict standards regulate the auto body repair industry, so ask any shop you’re considering to prove their credentials. This ensures the best practices and up-to-date equipment are being used to repair your vehicle.
  • Find out what kinds of body parts the shop uses: The options include new, used and aftermarket. New parts generally have the highest quality, but used parts may result in savings. Depending on what part of the car needs to be fixed, aftermarket parts could provide the best value. They’re usually far less costly than new parts from the original manufacturer, and they often perform the same.
  • Ask about paint match technology: If you’re having part of your car repainted, find out how the job is done. Sophisticated spectrophotometer technology and computer software are the most effective tools to get an accurate color match. Then, applying multiple coats and finishing the job with a clear topcoat provide the most professional results.
  • Follow your instincts: When you walk in the front door of an auto collision repair shop, pay attention to the atmosphere. If the office is cluttered or staff members don’t treat you respectfully, this might reflect the level of work and type of experience you can expect to receive. If your instincts tell you something is shady, take your business elsewhere.

For reliable, affordable auto collision repair in Chicago, turn to B&L Automotive Repairs. We are fully certified and licensed, with good customer reviews and competitive rates. We use high-quality parts and painting techniques to ensure the best outcome from our work. To learn more about us, or to request an estimate, please contact us at (773) 463-1622.

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How to Document Car Accident Damage

The aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming. After you’ve checked yourself for injuries, you need to call the police, your insurance company, a tow truck and your loved ones to tell them you’re all right. Then, you’ll need to exchange contact and insurance information with any other drivers involved in the accident. Among all the chaos, it’s vital that you don’t forget to document the collision for insurance purposes. Here’s what to do.

Speak with the Police

Write down the name and badge number of all officers who report to the scene. Ask where you can obtain a copy of the accident report at a later time. Your insurance company may ask to see the report when you file your claim.

Talk to Witnesses and the People Involved

In addition to exchanging information with the other driver, write down the names, phone numbers and addresses of all other parties involved, including the passengers of the other vehicle and any witnesses present.

Take Pictures

Photos from the scene of the accident can make it easier for your insurance company to see what happened. Photos also serve as evidence in court. They may help determine fault and show the extent of the property damage and any injuries that occurred. Here’s what to take pictures of after a car accident:

  • Property damage: Photograph any damage that your car, other cars and surrounding objects sustained in the crash, as well as any skid marks, debris or other evidence that demonstrates the severity of the impact.
  • Injuries: Take pictures of bumps, cuts, scrapes and other visible injuries while still at the scene. Some injuries, such as bruises and swelling, may not show up immediately, so remember to photograph them later.
  • Details about the other car and driver: Document the make, model and license plate number of all vehicles involved. Also take pictures of the driver’s license, insurance and registration information of the other driver.
  • The surrounding scene: Not only does this prove where the accident took place, but it can also show why the accident occurred. For instance, overgrown shrubs may obstruct a stop sign, or a curve in the road could make it difficult to see oncoming traffic. Pictures of nearby businesses also remind you whom to contact if you choose to request security footage that may have filmed the accident.

If you are unable to document the scene because of severe injuries, have another person take pictures for you. If you can’t reach a nearby friend or family member to help, plan to photograph the damages later. Of course, pictures taken at the time of the accident are always preferable.

Once everyone has all the information they need from the scene of the accident, the next step is to start the process of repairing your car. B&L Automotive Repairs offers free estimates for collision repair in Chicago, no appointment required. Stop by after your accident or call us at (773) 463-1622 for more information.

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Dealing with Your Car Insurance Company After a Collision

As if getting into an accident isn’t bad enough, now you have to deal with your car insurance company to agree upon a fair payment that will cover the cost of repairing the vehicle. Your insurer deals with this every day, but this is likely only the first or second time you’ve had to wrestle with such negotiations. Follow this advice to empower yourself when speaking with your insurance company after a collision.

Research Repair Costs

When you file a claim, an adjuster is assigned to your case. This person’s job is to determine how much it will cost to fix your car, and then make you a payment offer. To help you assess whether you’re being offered enough to cover the costs, you may want to get a repair estimate from a trusted body shop in Chicago.

Negotiate Fairly

If the offer you’re given is below the repair estimates you received, you don’t have to accept it. You can negotiate to seek a better settlement. Have a figure in mind, as well as the lowest amount you would accept, with the goal of engaging constructively with your insurance company and avoiding legal action.

Beware of “Betterment”

Your adjuster might argue that installing new parts on your older vehicle increases its value. As a result, you may receive a lower payment offer that reflects the perceived increase in value. To counter betterment claims, you need to prove the parts don’t increase the car’s worth with testimony from your mechanic or an expert witness.

Working with a Total Loss

Moderate to severe damage may total your car, meaning the cost to repair it exceeds its market value. To argue this claim, you need to prove the car is worth more than the adjuster determined, such as by showing evidence that the aftermarket modifications you’ve made raise the car’s worth.

If the assessment that your car is totaled seems fair, you can take what your insurance company is offering and either pay for the remaining repair costs out of pocket or hand over the car to your insurer. You might also have the option of accepting a lower settlement and keeping the car, allowing you to repair it as a hobby or sell it for scrap.

Confirm the Offer in Writing

Once negotiations are complete, request written confirmation from your insurance company of the offer you accepted. This document should succinctly outline the settlement amount and what funds are being used to repair the vehicle, if applicable.

Gear up for Higher Premiums

If you don’t have accident forgiveness, or you receive citations for multiple offenses, your premiums might go up by 50 to 80 percent. You can change insurers at any time, but don’t expect to find a lower rate if you were in an at-fault accident.

To request a collision repair estimate, please contact B&L Automotive Repairs at (773) 463-1622. We’ll work with your insurance company to facilitate the claims process and relieve some of the pressure during this stressful time.

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Tips for Driving Safely in the Spring

The worst of winter weather driving may be behind us, but spring has its own unique set of hazards to watch out for, from rain to wildlife to construction work. Follow these tips to help you drive safely this spring.

  • Watch for pedestrians: The warming weather means more people are out and about. Be watchful at intersections, especially near residential, shopping and recreational areas where more people are likely to travel on foot.
  • Share the road: Two-wheeled vehicles, including motorcycles and bikes, make a comeback in the spring. They offer a fun, open-air way to get around, but their smaller size makes them more difficult for drivers to see. Be extra vigilant about checking your blind spot for cyclists when turning, merging or changing lanes.
  • Be patient in work zones: Construction and road repair begin in earnest every spring, creating frustrating work zones. The key is to slow down, stay calm and avoid distractions. It’s also wise to leave your house a few minutes early if you know you’ll be driving through construction.
  • Know how to handle severe weather: April showers might bring May flowers, but they also bring hazardous driving conditions. If hail or torrential rain hits while you’re on the road, pull over and seek shelter under a covered area, if possible. Also, be prepared to resume winter driving techniques – such as slowing down and increasing your following distance – if freezing temperatures return temporarily.
  • Stay alert for wildlife on the road: Bears, deer and other animals are more active in the spring, so be watchful, especially when driving through rural or mountainous areas.
  • Dodge potholes: The freeze/thaw cycle may have caused large potholes to form in some places over the winter. Avoid driving through these whenever possible to prevent throwing your wheels out of alignment.
  • Don’t drive through water: Go around large puddles to avoid impairing your brakes, splashing your windshield and hydroplaning. If the road appears flooded, never attempt to drive through it. According to The Weather Network, just six inches of water is enough to stall an engine. A foot of fast-moving water can carry a small car away, and two feet is enough to make SUVs and trucks float off.
  • Keep your tires inflated: Full tires have better traction in wet conditions and withstand the impact of driving through potholes more effectively. Check the driver’s side door jamb to see the recommended pounds per square inch of air pressure your tires need.

Despite your best efforts to drive carefully, you may still get in an accident this spring. If you do, bring your car to B&L Automotive Repairs in Chicago. We have nearly 30 years of experience providing fast, reliable service to our customers. Our team has access to the latest diagnostic and repair technologies, making us confident that we can meet your needs no matter the make and model of your car. For more information, or to schedule collision repair, please contact us at (773) 463-1622.

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Understanding Your Car’s Wheel Alignment

When you bring your vehicle to a body shop after a car collision, one of the issues the technician will check is your wheel alignment. It’s very common for an accident to throw off the wheel alignment. Even driving over a pothole or hitting a curb can adversely affect it. It’s important to maintain the proper wheel alignment for safety’s sake. A misaligned car can develop vibrations that you’ll notice in the steering wheel. Plus, wheel alignments can lead to uneven wear and tear, and poor vehicle performance. Here’s a look at some of the many factors that determine wheel alignment.


When you’re looking at your car from the side, the caster is the degree of tilt of the upper point of the steering axis. The tilt can be either positive (backward tilt) or negative (forward tilt). The vehicle height will affect the caster. For example, if there’s a great deal of weight in the trunk, the front suspension will have a positive caster.


Imagine yourself standing in front of your vehicle. Camber is the degree to which the wheels would tilt to either side. If the top of the wheel is tilting toward the outside of the vehicle, it has a positive camber. If the top of the wheel tilts to the inside, the camber is negative. If the camber is either too positive or too negative, the tires will wear out unevenly and prematurely.


Stand up and look down at your feet. Rotate your feet inward slightly so that the toes are leaning towards each other. If your feet were your tires, this inward tilt would be referred to as a positive toe. Rotate your feet so that the toes on each foot are pointing away from your body. On a car, this would be a negative toe. The toe of the wheels must be correct in order to prevent premature tire wear and steering instability.

Bring your car to B&L Automotive Repairs, Inc. for a total, post-accident evaluation. We are a certified collision center serving Chicago since 1978. Give us a call today at (773) 463-1622, and find out for yourself why so many Chicagoans choose us for their car repairs.

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