Illinois is poised to raise the minimum amount of car insurance its drivers must carry.
The proposal will cost the poorest drivers a bit more but also means that their insurance coverage might actually cover the damage after an at-fault accident.
A bill ready for Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature would increase mandatory liability insurance for bodily injury from $20,000 to $25,000 per person, and from $40,000 to $50,000 per accident. Required property damage liability would rise to $20,000 from $15,000. (See “What you need to know about car insurance in Illinois.”)
Not many drivers buy only the minimum levels insurance -- and not many should.
Any damage above your policy limits is your personal responsibility. If you buy only $20,000 worth of property damage insurance and total some lawyer’s Porsche, he can go after the remainder in court.
Minimum coverage is usually OK for drivers who don’t have a home or substantial savings. The increase in minimum required coverage should raise liability rates for those drivers about 10 percent.
In Illinois’ most expensive ZIP code, 60624 in Chicago, a 24-year-old man with a clean record driving a 2004 Ford Taurus would pay about $716 a year for the new mandatory amounts. He would pay just $554 in the cheapest ZIP code, 61761 in Normal.
Every state bordering Illinois would have a lower property damage limit after the change. Missouri, Indiana and Kentucky, for example, require only $10,000.
The average new-car transaction price in April was $30,084, according to TrueCar.com.
Liability insurance covers only the damage that drivers do to other people and property. The Illinois law would take effect in 2015 if Quinn signs the bill.