Illinois is a study in contrasts, the home of one of America’s great cities, Chicago, but also many miles of prairie and long stretches of farmland in the central and southern parts of the state. You’ve got some contrast, too, in your car insurance premiums: Although the national average is $1,009 per year, the average insurance policy in Illinois is only $885, more than $100 less.

With some homework on your part, it could go even lower. We’ll walk you through the coverage, discounts, and extras offered by the top five auto insurance providers in Illinois, then use our handy quote tool to compare rates.

Illinois Minimum Liability

Illinois has fairly standard minimum liability amounts — these are the numbers that the state says you must meet with your insurance policy in order to drive legally:

  • $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
  • $20,000 property damage coverage per accident
  • $20,000 coverage per person for uninsured and underinsured motorist

Every state mandates a certain level of minimum coverage for you to drive legally, and Illinois’ is fairly standard, at 25/50/20. That shorthand notation is how the bodily injury and property damage coverage is usually written, and we’ll use it throughout this review. You’ll also see it frequently on insurance company websites.

In addition to that standard 25/50/20, Illinois also requires drivers to have $20,000 of coverage per person for uninsured and underinsured motorists. This is to protect you if you are injured or incur property damage caused by someone who has no — or not enough — insurance. Not every state has this, but in Illinois, your policy will automatically include it.

But here’s something to think about: this is the minimum coverage you can have in Illinois. We suggest that you consider going for higher levels if you can afford it. Think of how quickly $25,000 in medical costs would be used up if you’re in a serious accident, for example; or what you would do if you hit a luxury car worth more than your insurance covers. It’s not a bad idea to have some additional resources in your policy.

Unless you’re driving an ancient junker that’s not worth very much, you’ll also want to explore two additional types of coverage: collision and comprehensive.

  • Collision pays for damage to your car if it’s in an accident or overturns.
  • Comprehensive pays for repairs after non-accident-related events, like theft, vandalism, flood, fire, or other perils.

If your car still has significant value, you’d be wise to consider these additional coverages to avoid being caught short if the worst happens.

Illinois Auto Insurance Reviews

Geico

It’s not a bad idea to pay attention to that little green lizard when he tells you that you can save 15 percent in 15 minutes. He’s right on two counts.

First, Geico’s quote tool is a breeze to use: It prompts you gently throughout the process with tips that might save you money — and it did indeed take us less than 15 minutes to have a quote in hand.

Second, with $102 in discounts, it gave us the second lowest rate of any of our five contenders: $235 for six months of coverage. (That was less than half what Allstate, our highest quote, estimated.)

We’re not the only ones who like Geico. It had the highest ranking of any of our contenders in J.D. Power’s assessment: a four out of five for both the claims process and the overall customer experience. Consumer Reports gave it a reader score of 89, which tied it for first place with State Farm. That score is quite comprehensive. It’s based on a survey taken by nearly 24,000 individuals who, on average, were “very satisfied” with their Geico experience.

The company earns high rankings from the financial watchdogs, too: All in the upper “A” range — which is what you’d expect from a company owned by mega-corporation Berkshire Hathaway.

Geico bends over backward to create a customer experience that integrates seamlessly into life. It has a mobile app that was ranked number one in Forrester’s 2017 U.S. Mobile Auto Insurance Benchmark, and which allows you to get roadside assistance, chat with a customer care rep, look for a Lyft ride, and view your vehicle’s service history, as well as update your policy and pay your bill.

There’s even a Geico skill for Amazon’s Alexa and a Google Action to find out basic info on your policy and have instant answers to your questions.

State Farm

Illinois likes State Farm — the company writes more policies in the state than any other insurer. There are plenty of good reasons for that. The company is highly rated by financial watchdogs like Moody’s, A.M. Best and S&P Global, earning A.M. Best’s top rating of A++. That matters because you don’t want a company that can’t manage it’s own finances well. After all, it needs to be there for you when you need it, with adequate reserves to pay claims promptly.

State Farm was also at the top of the list for discounts. These include standard ones like a multiple policy (ie, both car and homeowner insurance) discount and an accident-free discount.

Its Drive Safe and Save program is worth noting, as it stands to save you a good chunk of change. You earn a 5 percent discount just for signing up. Then, using either your OnStar service or a small beacon device that the company sends you, your driving is monitored in real time. If you stick to speed limits, brake when turning, and generally handle your car like a star, you stand to save up to an unheard-of 50 percent off your premium, according to the company.

Another thing we like about State Farm? Its website is excellent, with an extensive blog called Simple Insights that can have you up to speed on all the proper insurance lingo and knowledge in no time.

The quote tool was intuitive and easy to use, and gave us three options. The best one for us was the mid-priced option, $421 for six months, which included $78 in discounts. Interestingly, the “premium” option wasn’t that much more: $462 for 100/300/100 coverage.

Depending on your own circumstances, you might find that you can afford more insurance with State Farm than you thought you could — which is never a bad thing.

Progressive

We couldn’t find much not to like about Progressive, and in fact, its quote was the lowest we received: $228 for six months of coverage. But at the same time, nothing about the company wowed us.

It’s not at the top of the list in available discounts or supplemental coverage options — although it does offer “gap” insurance, which protects you against depreciation. Its website is adequate but doesn’t offer the extensive educational extras that you find at State Farm’s site. We’d rate it a definite “meh.”

That said, Progressive does well in a number of areas. J.D. Power gives it a solid three out of five for the claims experience as well as the overall customer experience. Consumer Report’s reader score was 87 — the lowest of any of our contenders but still only two points away from top-of-the-list State Farm and Geico. It scores in the “A” range for financial stability with A.M. Best and other financial ratings organizations, too.

Like big dogs State Farm and Allstate, Progressive has also implemented a real-time program that offers discounts for your driving ability. It’s called Snapshot, and it claims that the average driver earns a $130 discount with it. The plug-in device that monitors your driving even beeps if you execute a hard brake — so it may even improve your driving while also saving you some money.

Allstate

Allstate’s ranking for a number of organizations is pretty much the same as State Farm’s. It differs by only one point in Consumer Report’s Readers' Score (with Allstate at 88 to State Farm’s 89). Both companies earned a grade of “very good” from CR for the simplicity of the claims process, and “excellent for timely payment. Allstate is a bit lower than State Farm with A.M. Best and the other financial rankers, but still scores in solid, stable “A” range.

Likewise, Allstate was always just a hair away from State Farm with indicators such as number of discounts and the comprehensiveness of its supplemental coverage. It even has a program that’s similar to State Farm’s Drive Safe and Save program, called Drivewise, but instead of earning a discount for your safe driving, it offers points that can be redeemed for savings on merchandise from name brands like The North Face and Lacoste.

Allstate’s website is good but we found the quote tool a bit glitchy, and it has one feature that turned us off: you can’t get an online quote without giving them your email and phone number, thus setting you up for pesky sales calls before you’re ready.

Its $493 quote for six months of coverage was higher than State Farm’s quote, even though it supposedly included $335 in discount savings. Of course, your numbers will be different.

The site has a fairly extensive blog, along with tools like a car payment calculator, as well as the ability to file a claim online, find an agent, and pay your bill — all of which are fairly standard for the larger insurance companies.

Country Financial

Country Financial is a regional insurer that works in 19 states including Illinois. Smaller than our other companies, it isn’t rated by Consumer Reports. JD Power’s regional report, however, gives it a two out of five ranking for both the claims process and overall.

This was lower than our four other contenders (the winner there was Geico, with a four out of five in both categories). A.M. Best, however, gives it a rating of “A+” — assuring that the company will be there when you need it.

Country Financial couldn’t match the quantity of discounts of our other contenders, but it did have a few that were unusual, including one for engaged couples, and an occupation discount: teachers may be eligible for up to 10 percent off, firefighters, police officers, EMTs and paramedics can save five percent.

It also offered a robust number of optional coverages, including gap coverage for newer cars up to four years old that will pay you to buy a brand new car, same make and model, in the case of a severe accident, rather than giving you the current market value of that model.

Country Financial’s website doesn’t feature all the bells and whistles that you find on, say, State Farm’s site. There’s a simple calculator tool to help you figure out how much car insurance you can afford, but no blog. Still, the site does clearly explain possible coverages and what is involved in each, and a fairly comprehensive FAQ section for common questions.

The quote tool was easy to use and left us with a pleasant surprise: It gave us our third best quote estimate, a reasonable $288 for six months.

More Tips for Illinois Drivers

Get To the Head of the Class With InsureU

If car insurance had a Facebook page, it’s relationship status would be: it’s complicated. Understanding the many factors that go into each individual policy and that govern the insurance field as a whole would take years to learn. But we really like the website that the Illinois Department of Insurance directed us to, called InsureU.

This is a great site with educational material for newbies and experts alike. There’s a driving self-assessment test, lots of entries on things like “Teen Driving 101” and “Ten Things You Should Know About Auto Insurance,” and a whole resource kit of info on buying a new car.

The site was created by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, an organization of chief insurance regulators in all 50 states, so the info is legit. No matter where you are in your insurance quest, we recommend that you take a few minutes to check it out.

Comparative Negligence: What it Means for Illinois Drivers

Insurance law is frustratingly complex, but here’s a concept that you might hear if you’re in an accident: comparative negligence.

In Illinois, more than one person can be considered at fault in an accident. For example, say one driver is speeding toward an intersection, while someone coming from the opposite direction is making a left turn. A collision ensues. The driver making the left turn would normally be at fault, but they can argue that it was impossible to judge the distance of the other car because it was speeding, so the fault could be divided between both.

In Illinois, the standard for recovery of damages is called modified comparative negligence, which means that even if you’re at fault, if it is determined that you are less than 50 percent at fault, you’re still entitled to damages.

It’s a little confusing, we know. That’s why we urge you to seek good legal counsel if you’re in an accident. An Illinois lawyer with insurance experience will be able to guide you through the complexities of comparative negligence.

A Solid Last Resort for Car Insurance

You know you need insurance to be able to drive legally, but what do you do if, say, you’ve had some dings to your record and are considered a high-risk driver? You may not be able to find insurance on the voluntary market.

Like many states, Illinois and the insurance industry have teamed up to offer plans that can help you get on the road immediately. The Illinois Automobile Insurance Plan requires you to meet four requirements to apply for a policy:

  1. You must be turned down for auto insurance from other insurance companies.
  2. You must have a valid driver's license or be eligible to apply for one.
  3. You must not owe an outstanding premium for prior insurance coverage during the past 36 months.
  4. Your vehicle must be safe to drive.

Of course, there’s a caveat: You may pay more for the policy than you would for an average policy on the open market. But if you’ve been hindered by a lack of insurance, this is a great resource that will have you driving legally again.

If you maintain a good driving record while you’re on the plan, you may find it easier to get a normal policy with out of our top insurance companies in Illinois within a year or so.