What To Do If You’re In a Car Accident Without Insurance But Not At Fault In Illinois

If you’re in a crash without insurance in Illinois, you may be eligible for compensation—but you’ll face penalties for driving uninsured.
Written by John Davis
Edited by Amy Bobinger
background
The consequences can be severe if you're in a car accident without insurance in
Illinois
. You can file a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company if you're not at fault. But you may not be eligible for non-economic compensation—and you'll face steep penalties for driving without insurance.
  • If you're in a crash without insurance but not at fault, you can file a claim with the other driver's insurance—but you'll face the consequences for driving uninsured.
  • Exchange information with the other driver so you can file a claim.
  • Document your innocence by taking photos of the crash.    
  • To protect yourself from future violations, shop around to find the best insurance rates. 

What to do if you're in a car accident without insurance in Illinois but not at fault

As per
Illinois' car insurance laws
, driving without car insurance is against the law. If you get into a car accident in Illinois and don't have insurance, here's what you'll need to do. 

Stay at the scene

First and foremost: never leave the scene of the accident. Accidents are panic-inducing, so it may be your first instinct to get out of there as fast as you can, especially if you don't have insurance—but that will lead to way more trouble. Fleeing the scene of an accident in Illinois can carry penalties such as:
You must stay calm and remain at the site of the crash. If it's safe and doable, move your vehicle to a location that isn't blocking traffic, then make sure everyone involved is safe and uninjured.

Call authorities and document the accident

Depending on the accident severity, call 911 or the non-emergency police number if you need assistance, then exchange information (like your driver's license number) with the other driver. Be sure to take photos of the scene to document any evidence of the accident—an essential step that may help prove that you aren't at fault. 
In Illinois, you may not be required to report the crash, depending on the amount of damage that occurred:
  • If you’re insured: You must file a crash report within 10 days if the collision resulted in death, bodily injury, or more than $1,500 of property damage. 
  • If you’re uninsured: That threshold drops to $500 of property damage for drivers without coverage. 
If no one was injured and there's less than $500 of damage, you're good to go—but remember, it's still a crime to leave the scene of an accident without at least exchanging information with the other driver. 
It may not be required in all cases, but filing a crash report may still be helpful. It can be difficult to determine how expensive the damage comes out to be, and some types of car accident injuries aren't evident until later. 

File a claim

If you're not at fault for the accident and the at-fault driver has insurance, you can still file a claim with their insurance company to pay for your vehicle repairs or medical bills following the crash. 
If the at-fault driver is also uninsured, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to collect both economic and non-economic damages, including repairs, medical bills, lost wages, decreased earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

Insurance adjusters will determine fault after an accident

While a police report can help determine fault, the insurance company makes the final call for who is at fault for the collision. 
If you aren't at fault but are uninsured, make sure to provide any evidence you have of the other driver's fault when you file a claim with their insurer. Photos can be a major help in proving your case. 

What if you're at fault?

If you are found to be at fault for the accident while driving uninsured, the outlook isn't so great. 
Because Illinois is a
modified-comparative negligence
state, you'll be financially responsible for your portion of the other driver's damages if you're 51% or more at fault for the accident. If you don't have insurance, the not-at-fault driver can file a lawsuit against you to recover these damages—on top of the fines and penalties for driving without insurance. 

What if you're hit by an uninsured driver in Illinois?

So what happens if you have insurance, but the other driver doesn't? In this case, you'll have a few options depending on the specific circumstances of your situation. 
Your car insurance policy may cover your expenses, depending on your coverage limits. Illinois requires all drivers to have
uninsured motorist coverage
and underinsured motorist coverage, also called UM/UIM. These coverages take care of your medical bills if you're in an accident with an uninsured driver—or one without sufficient
bodily injury liability
to pay your total medical expenses.
Illinois insurance companies also have to offer uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD)—but drivers aren't required to purchase this insurance under the law. Depending on the limits you select, this type of coverage pays for a specific portion of your vehicle repairs if the at-fault driver is uninsured. Again, this coverage is only optional, but it's a useful investment to make. 
One more coverage that can help with your post-accident medical bills is
medical payments (MedPay)
insurance. This coverage pays a pre-determined portion of your hospital bills through your car insurance instead of your health insurance. Your vehicle repairs can be covered through collision coverage if you have it. 
If you're still left with unpaid expenses, you'll have to pursue the uninsured driver directly for damages. Be warned, however, that this may be a lengthy and fruitless effort.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) reported that 11.8% of Illinois drivers lacked car insurance as of 2019, meaning there's a greater than 1 in 10 chance of getting in an accident with someone who is uninsured. That's why it's a wise idea to protect yourself with UIM and collision insurance.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Illinois

Even if you can collect damages after a not-at-fault accident without insurance, that doesn't mean you're off the hook—the penalties for not having insurance in Illinois are serious.
First and second offenses carry a fine of between $501 and $1,000—on top of a three-month license and/or registration suspension and a $100 reinstatement fee. This could bring your total up to $1,100 for driving uninsured.
After three or more offenses, you may also have to file an
Illiniois SR-22 certificate
with your insurance company. You'll also have to submit it to the Secretary of State every month for three years or longer.
An SR-22 certificate acts as proof of financial responsibility, and it's often required after serious driving violations. If you have to have an SR-22, you can expect to pay hefty insurance premiums.
You can't avoid the penalties for driving without insurance. But if you were covered at the time of the accident and simply weren't carrying
proof of insurance
on you, the court may adjust your penalties. 
MORE: The penalties for using fake proof of insurance

Minimum required car insurance in Illinois

To dodge all of these penalties, you'll need to carry the state-mandated car insurance amounts for Illinois. Here's what that includes:
These limits may sound like a lot, but depending on the accident, these coverages may not take                care of all of the associated costs. In fact, insurance experts suggest increasing your limits to $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident for bodily injury liability, and $100,000 for property damage liability. Upping your limits is relatively inexpensive, and it could go a long way in protecting you financially. 
While Illinois doesn't require drivers to carry
collision coverage
or
comprehensive coverage
, they're some of the only ways to ensure your car is protected. Comprehensive coverage protects your car in events like floods, tornadoes, or other freak accidents, so it could come in handy for Illinoisans—even if you drive an older car. 

Driving without insurance can increase premiums

Getting
caught driving without insurance
means you'll have to pay even more for insurance afterward. That's because violations or car accidents on your record will almost certainly elevate your rates, and they'll stay that way as long as the points are on your record. 
MORE: How do driver violation points affect your insurance rates?

How to find cheap car insurance in Illinois

If you still don't have Illinois car insurance, today's the day to get coverage. After all, the penalties for driving without it are too steep to ignore. If the cost of coverage is what's stopping you from following the law,
Jerry
is here to help you out. 
As a licensed broker and car insurance comparison app, Jerry was created to help you find savings on auto coverage no matter what you're looking for. After you sign up, Jerry analyzes your profile and goes to work comparing rates from over 55 national companies—and you'll get your cheapest options in just 45 seconds. 
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