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Don’t Let Car Accident Damages Wreck Your Financial Security

Smashed front end of a silver car

To keep families safe and financially secure, Illinois law requires every driver to have auto insurance before taking the wheel. It pays for things like medical treatment for the other party if you are in a collision, and can cover your own car accident damages if the other driver does not have insurance or does not have enough.

Covering Car Accident Claims

In Illinois, the minimum coverage requirements include liability insurance for bodily injury and property damage. The state’s minimum liability limits are $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $20,000 for property damage per accident. If you don’t have this insurance, you could get fined, lose your license or face other penalties, including being involved in a personal injury lawsuit. However, the minimum coverage requirements might not be enough for you or cover all types of damages, says Dan Ellsworth, president of Key Insurance, Hinsdale. Ellsworth advises making sure your coverage plan protects you: If your assets are greater than your liability limits, it would be wise to purchase umbrella insurance to make sure your assets are not exposed in case of an accident.

Young Drivers and Damages in a Car

It is a good idea for families with young drivers to think about getting extra insurance, like coverage for accidents with drivers who do not have enough insurance, or coverage for things like theft or vandalism. Adding a new driver to your existing policy is often more cost effective than getting a separate one. But be ready for your insurance costs to go up because teen drivers are riskier.

You might want to also increase your coverage limits to make sure you are protected if there are car accident claims. Some insurance companies offer discounts to teen drivers who complete driver education courses or have a good driving record. Take note, however, that the value of a new/teen driver’s vehicle is a significant factor in the cost of coverage, says Ellsworth. Also, the parent’s experience and credit will allow for lower rates for a teen. However, if the teen has car accidents and violations, carving the teen out of your existing policy does allow for an opportunity to save, but the vehicle must be titled to the teen.

Insurance Terms for Economic and Non-Economic Damages

There are some key terms commonly found in insurance coverage documents:

  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: This coverage protects insured drivers and passengers in the event of an accident with a driver who lacks insurance or has insufficient coverage. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage helps pay for medical expenses, lost wages and earning capacity and other damages that the at-fault driver’s insurance cannot cover adequately. This might be especially relevant for rideshare passengers in the event of car accident injuries if their Uber or Lyft driver gets into an accident.
  • Collision Coverage: Collision coverage pays for repairs or replacement of the insured vehicle damaged in a collision with another vehicle or object, regardless of fault. It is especially beneficial for families with newer or more valuable vehicles.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: Comprehensive coverage protects against damage to the insured vehicle from non-collision incidents such as theft, vandalism, natural disasters, and falling objects. It offers additional peace of mind for families concerned about potential risks beyond a car accident case.
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP): While not mandatory in Illinois, PIP coverage provides additional protection against financial losses for medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs for the insured driver and passengers injured in an accident, regardless of fault.

Shop Around to Protect Yourself and Limit Financial Losses

Understanding these insurance terms and selecting the right coverage can help protect your family and minimize your financial losses while driving in Illinois. When deciding what insurance is right for you, be sure to shop around. Ellsworth says working with an independent agent is a valuable option: “Independent agents work with multiple insurance carriers, giving them the ability to offer a wider range of coverage options and policies. This means they can shop around and compare quotes from different insurers to find the best coverage and price for their clients’ specific needs.”

Written by George King and Marty Dolan

George King is a second-year law student at Belmont University College of Law in Nashville, Tennessee. Prior to law school, George graduated summa cum laude from Furman University. He works as a law clerk for Dolan Law in Chicago.

Marty Dolan is the owner and founder of Dolan Law, Chicago. He is a trial lawyer and has been so for over 30 years. Dolan Law handles complex catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, including crime victim litigation. He was appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Character and Fitness 2013-2023 and serves on the Illinois Supreme Court Rules Committee. He is a longtime Clarendon Hills resident.


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