From the shores of Lake Michigan, through farm country, hills, and wetlands to the Mississippi River, the Prairie State offers plenty of sights to see. But whether you live in a rural area or the Windy City, you need coverage for your vehicle. And you certainly don’t want to overpay for your policy.

On average, drivers across the state of Illinois pay a little under the national average on car insurance each ear. But when it comes to finding a car insurance company, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a high-risk driver or incident-free—the best way to find cheap car insurance is to take a look at quotes from multiple insurers and choose the one that suits your needs for the best price. All you need to do is answer some basic questions, and you can find quotes from car insurance agencies in your area within a few moments.

But you have some decisions to make about what kind of policy you want before you shop around. So how much car insurance do you need? And what are your other options?

Mandatory Insurance in Illinois

Illinois law requires that you carry liability insurance policies with the following minimums on your vehicle:

$25,000 Bodily Injury Liability per person. This will cover the medical payments or funeral expenses of someone who is injured or killed in an at-fault accident. It will also pay legal fees you incur if the other driver sues you.

$50,000 Bodily Injury Liability per accident. If there are multiple injuries in an accident you are at fault for, this is the maximum amount your insurance will pay for medical bills and funeral expenses. Bodily Injury coverage is only intended for people in other vehicles or pedestrians. It will not cover the costs of any injuries you or your passengers sustain.

$20,000 Property Damage Liability per accident. This will pay to repair or replace vehicles you damaged in an at-fault accident, as well as any standing structures that may have been damaged in the accident. However, it will not pay for damage your vehicle sustains.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

In Illinois, every liability policy you buy will automatically include Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage with limits identical to your bodily injury liability coverage. If you would like to purchase less Uninsured Motorist Coverage, you must submit your request in writing, but you must carry the minimum coverage stated by Illinois law.

If you don’t have collision coverage on your vehicle, you can opt to add $15,000 of property damage coverage to your vehicle. This policy, as well as the bodily injury policy, will help pay medical bills and damages to your vehicle if you are hit by an uninsured motorist, or if the damages exceed the other driver’s maximum limits. If this is a situation you aren’t financially prepared for, you should consider raising the limits and adding additional policies before you start comparing car insurance quotes.

Proof of Insurance

In addition to having law enforcement officers check your insurance in a traffic stop, Illinois also generates a random survey to send out to the owners of registered vehicles. If you are unable to provide proof of insurance or fail to respond to the survey, they will suspend your plates. If an officer pulls you over and your vehicle doesn’t have insurance, you will be subject to a minimum fine of $500 and the possible suspension of your driver’s license. There is an additional $100 reinstatement fee to get your license back after the suspension.

As of January 2019, Insurance companies are required to send daily reports on all the vehicles they insure. So if you have a lapse in coverage, either because you canceled or due to lack of payment, you’ll be in the Secretary of State’s database by midnight that night, listed as uninsured. If a police officer runs your plates, they’ll be able to cite you as uninsured. And, twice a year, the Secretary of State will check for these lapses and send notices out to vehicle owners for proof that they were covered during the lapse. If you are unable to provide it, you will be issued an electronic citation.

Other policies to consider

Carrying minimum liability insurance keeps you legal to drive, but it might not cover the total cost of an accident. If you’re in a serious car accident and the other driver sues, your policy limits can max out pretty quickly. In addition, if you’re injured and unable to go to work, or your car is damaged beyond repair, you’ll have to deal with those financial burdens on top of everything else. If you want to keep your bases covered, there are several other policies to consider.

Collision and Comprehensive insurance policies, or Full Coverage, are required if you are still paying off your car, but even if your title is free and clear, you should consider adding it. Collision pays for damages that happen to your car in an accident or incidents involving road hazards. Comprehensive pays for damage outside of human control, like hail damage or falling limbs. It will also cover you if your car is stolen or vandalized.

Personal injury protection will help pay your medical bills if you’re severely injured in a car accident and the other driver’s insurance can’t cover all of your medical costs. It can also help cover lost wages if you have to miss work, as well as get you in-home help with basic tasks you can’t do because of your injuries, such as going to the store or cleaning your house.

Accident forgiveness on your policy will prevent your rates from going up the first time you get into an accident, and roadside assistance can get you help if you’re ever stuck on the side of the road. You also have the option of adding a loss of use policy to provide you a rental if your car is in the shop for a while.

When comparing car insurance quotes, you need to look at the coverage offered and the deductibles to get a sense of the value. If a policy has a deductible that’s more cash than you ever have on hand, it will be difficult for you to get payments from your insurance company. Learn a little bit more about how car insurance works before you make a choice.

Notice of non-renewal

Your insurance company may decide to send you a notice of non-renewal towards the end of your policy period. It could be due to the number of claims you’ve made or other personal factors, or it could be a change in the company’s risk assessment profiles. It might also be something as simple as your company changing its coverage area.

Illinois state law mandates they mail written notice at least 30 days prior to non-renewal if you’ve had the policy for less than five years. If your policy has been active for more than five years, they must give 60 days’ notice, except for certain circumstances that allow then to give 30 days. No matter what the reason is, they must tell you why they are non-renewing, and it is illegal to issue a non-renewal notice solely based on your credit score or for claims made on damages caused by a hate crime.

If you receive notice of non-renewal, it means you have to shop for another insurance policy. This is quite different than a cancelation, which can occur any time mid-policy under qualifying circumstances. Cancelation is usually due to failure to pay, but it can also happen if you provided false information on your insurance documents or if your driver’s license is revoked. Having your insurance canceled usually results in a rate hike, and you will usually have to pay a reinstatement fee if you want your coverage back.

How to save money on your policy

When it comes to buying car insurance, the best way to get a good deal is to use safe driving practices. Drive defensively, pay attention to signage, and don’t drive distracted. Safe drivers will pay the lowest rates on their policies, especially if they take the time to compare quotes from plenty of different car insurance companies. Discounts offered from company to company can make a big difference.

But insurance companies use more than your driving history to determine the premiums you pay. Your age, credit history, the location you live, and the kind of vehicle you drive are some of the other factors that are taken into consideration. And if any of these factors change mid-policy, the price of your premiums will change to reflect it.

That’s why it’s so important to shop around, even if you’re already covered. You may qualify for discounts, and rate drops at other companies that aren’t available at your current one. Different companies cater to different kinds of customers, and no one company will offer the best prices to everyone. So if you purchased car insurance as a higher risk driver, and it’s been three years since you’ve had an incident, then it’s probably time to check out some other companies.

You should also find out how much coverage will cost you on a particular car before you buy it. Some new cars have a lot of safety features on them that will qualify for discounts, while others might be more expensive - either because of the risk of theft or because they have more frequent claims associated with them. The best way to see how the car affects the price from one company to the next is to compare quotes from different vehicle models.

Get started today, and can help you find the company that’s right for you. Once you’ve found the perfect policy, you can sign up online and have your proof of insurance without leaving the house.