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Are you protected enough if you crash with an uninsured driver?

You follow the rules of the road, which means you drive safely and you carry insurance in case of a crash. Sadly, not everyone in Illinois is as diligent. Every day, many people choose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle without insurance in place. These people are breaking the law, but many of them don’t get caught until they cause a crash.

So what happens if you end up in a collision caused by an uninsured driver? You could wind up paying for a lot of your losses, including medical bills and car repairs, out of your own pocket.

It is illegal to drive without insurance

You are probably already aware of the fact that it’s illegal for anyone to operate a motor vehicle in Illinois without adequate insurance coverage. People who fail to carry adequate insurance are subject to penalties. An officer can issue a citation related to your accident. The uninsured person could have his or her license plates suspended and face a fine of either $500 or $1,000, depending on previous violations.

Comparing that punishment with your potential financial losses after an accident makes the risk to law-abiding drivers clear. The amount of the fine for failing to carry insurance will probably be less than the cost to repair or replace your vehicle, your medical expenses and your lost wages during recovery.

Underinsured drivers are a threat as well

Just because the other driver who caused your crash produces insurance documentation doesn’t mean you won’t end up with major bills. Far too many people on the road only carry the state’s legal minimum insurance, leaving them (and you) underinsured in case of a crash. Your benefits or compensation for property damage get capped at $20,000 and medical coverage tops out at $25,000, unless more than one person got injured, in which case it increases to $50,000.

If you drive a newer, imported, wheelchair-accessible or classic car, the cost to repair or replace the vehicle could well exceed the maximum policy coverage. Medical costs can quickly soar above the limit placed on the policy as well, leaving you with ever-increasing medical bills.

Carry as much insurance as you can afford

The best way to offset the risk posed by people driving without insurance is to have your own insurance in place for this situation. It may be time to consider increasing your own insurance coverage to include uninsured and underinsured driver coverage.

When looking at an insurance payout, especially any coverage paid as a lump sum, be sure to look at the long-term financial impact of the accident. Will you require ongoing care, such as physical therapy or future surgeries? You should carefully consider the future before agreeing to any kind of settlement.