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Basics Of Automobile Insurance


Although it is well known that Illinois law requires drivers to purchase automobile insurance, many people do not know the particulars of what is required. A basic understanding of the requirements of the Illinois Safety and Family Financial Responsibility Law will allow you to make wise choices regarding your automobile insurance and to review your coverage to make sure you have enough of the right kinds of insurance.

Automobile insurance in Illinois breaks down into three basic categories. The first category, liability coverage, is required by law and is the insurance that pays for the injuries that you may cause to others because of your own negligent driving. The second category, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, is also required by law and is designed to protect you if you are hit by a driver who has either no insurance or not enough insurance to pay for the damage he or she caused. Finally, first-party insurance, which is not required by law, is designed to protect you from some losses you might suffer because of an accident, such as medical bills and damage to your car.

Liability Coverage
Liability insurance is what most people have in mind when they think about automobile insurance. There are two kinds of liability insurance: bodily injury coverage, which covers the injuries you may cause other drivers or passengers in an accident, and property damage coverage, which covers damage to property caused by an accident, including damage to other cars, street signs, and trees. Currently, the minimum amount of bodily injury liability insurance required by Illinois law is a maximum of $20,000 in injuries per person, with total coverage of $40,000 per accident. State law also requires a minimum of $15,000 of property damage liability insurance per accident. Of course, you may always buy more insurance than required if you choose, and many people decide to carry more than the minimum coverage to protect themselves from lawsuits if they cause an accident that results in more damage than is covered by the minimum amount of insurance required.

Uninsured and Underinsured
Uninsured motorist coverage is similar to liability coverage, except that it benefits you instead of other drivers. Illinois drivers are required to have uninsured motorist coverage with a minimum of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident (the same amount as the required liability coverage), ensuring that a driver will have the same protection he or she would have had if the other driver did have the required amount of insurance.

Additionally, drivers may be required to carry underinsured motorist coverage, which pays for any damages suffered in excess of the amount of the insurance carried by the person who caused the accident. Underinsured motorist coverage is required when a driver has more than the minimum uninsured motorist coverage.

First-Party Coverage
First-party insurance is not required by law, but many drivers choose to purchase it to protect themselves from the expenses incurred in accidents. Although there are all kinds of "specialized" first-party insurance, such as coverage for towing charges, custom items installed in your car, and accidental death benefits, the most common kind of first-party insurance covers medical bills and physical damage.

Medical payment insurance covers exactly what it sounds like it covers--the medical bills caused by an accident--and it will pay for your medical expenses even if you are responsible for the accident. Physical damage coverage covers damage to your car caused by an accident (even if it is your fault). It may be limited to collision coverage, which covers only damage caused by an actual collision, or comprehensive coverage, which covers other losses, such as theft or hail damage.

Armed with this overview, take some time to review your insurance coverage to make certain that you and your family are well protected.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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