How Long Do You Have to Get Insurance After Buying a Used Car?

Understanding Illinois Law: How Long Do You Have to Get Insurance After Buying a Used Car?

How Long Do You Have to Get Insurance After Buying a Used Car

Purchasing a used car is an exciting endeavour, however it comes with responsibilities, including making sure that you have enough insurance coverage. In the state of Illinois, like many other states, there are particular guidelines and timelines regarding when you need to get insurance after buying a used vehicle. Knowing these regulations is important to avoid penalties and make sure that you are safeguarded on the road.

Also Read: Best car insurance options for seniors in Illinois

Initial Steps After Buying a Used Car

1. Immediate Insurance Coverage

In the state of Illinois, you are legally needed to have auto insurance coverage before you can drive your newly bought used car off the lot. This means you ought to arrange insurance coverage in advance or at the time of purchase to go with state laws.

2. Proof of Insurance

When you buy a used car in the state of Illinois, the dealership or private seller usually demands proof of insurance before finalising the sale. This particular proof is necessary to legally register the vehicle in your name and get licence plates.

Also Read: Average car insurance cost per month in Illinois

Understanding Insurance Requirements in Illinois

1. Minimum Liability Insurance

The state of Illinois law regulates that all drivers carry minimum liability insurance coverage to safeguard in the face of possible damages and injuries caused to others in an accident. The minimum liability coverage regulations are:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
  • $20,000 for property damage per accident

These are mostly referred to as 25/50/20 coverage limits.

2. Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Added to liability insurance, the state of Illinois needs drivers to have uninsured motorist coverage. This particular coverage safeguards you in the event of an accident with a driver who does not have any insurance or in a hit-and-run situation. Minimum uninsured motorist coverage limits are:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury per accident

Also Read: High-risk Auto Insurance in Illinois

Timelines for Obtaining Insurance After Buying a Used Car

1. Immediate Coverage Requirement

As previously mentioned, you ought to have insurance coverage in place before you can legally drive your newly bought used car in the state of Illinois. This particular regulation is not negotiable, and failure to comply can end up in fines, licence suspension, or other penalties.

2. Insurance Binder or Proof of Coverage

To meet the insurance regulation at the time of purchase, many insurance firms give an insurance binder or proof of coverage document. This temporary proof of insurance allows you to finish the purchase transaction plus register the vehicle with the state of Illinois Secretary of State.

3. Registration and Title Transfer

To register a used car in the state of Illinois, you need to give proof of insurance, along with other documents like the vehicle’s title and odometer disclosure statement. Without proof of insurance, you can’t finish the registration process, and the vehicle cannot be technically legally driven on public roads.

Also Read: Lowest car insurance rates in Illinois

Consequences of Driving Without Insurance in Illinois

1. Fines and Penalties

Driving without insurance in the state of Illinois is illegal and can result in major fines. The exact penalties are depending on the situations , but first-time offenders might end up facing fines starting from $500 to $1,000. Subsequent offences can result in higher fines, licence suspension, or even at times vehicle impoundment.

2. Legal and Financial Liability

Beyond fines, driving without insurance exposes you to possible legal and financial problems if you are involved in an accident. Without insurance coverage, you might be personally liable for some medical expenses, property damage, and other costs due to the accident. This can end up in lawsuits and major financial hardship.

Steps to Ensure Compliance and Protection

1. Research and Compare Insurance Policies

Before buying a used car in the state of Illinois, research insurance options and compare quotes from different insurance firms. Take into consideration the factors like coverage limits, deductibles, and further optional coverages (e.g., comprehensive and collision) to find a policy that meets your demands and budget.

2. Understand Policy Terms and Coverage

Analyse the terms and conditions of your insurance policy attentively to know what is covered plus any exclusions or limitations. Clarify any questions with your insurance agent to make sure that you have enough protection in various scenarios, including accidents and vehicle damage.

3. Maintain Continuous Coverage

Once you get insurance for your used car, keep continuous coverage to comply with the state of Illinois law and steer clear of penalties. Keep your insurance policy active and up to date by always paying premiums on time and promptly updating your coverage as required (e.g., adding or removing vehicles, adjusting coverage limits).

Additional Considerations for Illinois Drivers

1. SR-22 Requirements

Drivers in the state of Illinois who have been convicted of certain offences, like DUI or driving without insurance, might be needed to file an SR-22 form. SR-22 insurance is a certificate of financial responsibility that proves that you have the minimum regulated liability insurance coverage. It is often needed for a particular period, usually three years, and failure to keep SR-22 coverage can result in licence suspension.

2. Temporary Non-Use and Insurance Exemptions

If you temporarily do not have any intention to drive your newly bought used car, you might qualify for a temporary non-use exemption from insurance regulations in the state ofIllinois. To qualify, you need to submit an affidavit of non-use to the state of Illinois Secretary of State. Nonetheless, you need to reinstate insurance coverage before driving the vehicle ever again.

3. Educational Resources and Assistance

The state of Illinois Department of Insurance gives educational resources and guidance to help residents know car insurance requirements, consumer rights, and how to go through insurance-related issues. Taking access to these resources can empower drivers to make decisions about their insurance coverage and rights.

4. Insurance Binder and Temporary Coverage

When buying a used car in the state of Illinois, getting an insurance binder or temporary coverage is common practice. An insurance binder is a temporary document that proves you have coverage while you are waiting for the official insurance policy to be given. This allows you to legally drive the vehicle off the lot and complete required paperwork in the case of registration.

5. Notification of Purchase to Insurance Company

It’s necessary to notify your insurance firm promptly after purchasing a used car. Give them the vehicle’s identification number (VIN), make, model, and buying date to start the process of adding the vehicle to your policy. Delaying notification could influence coverage or lead to complications if an accident is to happen before the vehicle is added to your policy.

6. Factors Affecting Insurance Premiums

Multiple factors can determine the cost of insurance premiums for a used car in the state of Illinois:

  • Age and Condition of the Vehicle: Older vehicles or those with greater mileage might have lower premiums due to decreased value and repair costs.
  • Driver’s Age and Driving Record: Younger drivers or those with a history of accidents or traffic violations might end up facing higher premiums.
  • Location: Where you live in the state of Illinois can affect premiums based on factors like population density, crime rates, and traffic congestion.
  • Coverage Limits and Deductibles: Selecting higher coverage limits or lower deductibles usually results in higher premiums, while going for lower coverage limits or higher deductibles can decrease costs.
  • Credit Score: In some cases, insurance firms might need to consider your credit history when estimating premiums, as it can be indicative of financial responsibility.

7. Optional Coverages to Consider

Beyond the regulated liability and uninsured motorist coverages, the state of Illinois drivers might need to opt for additional coverages to enhance their protection:

  • Collision Coverage: This tends to cover damage to your vehicle resulting from a collision with another vehicle or object.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: This covers destruction to your vehicle from incidents other than collisions, like theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.
  • Medical Payments Coverage: This covers medical expenses for you and your passengers even if you are at fault in an accident.

8. Comparing Insurance Quotes

Shopping around and comparing insurance quotes from different firms can help you find the right coverage at competitive rates. Consider factors beyond price, like  customer service reviews, claims management process, plus available discounts (e.g., safe driver, multi-policy, or bundling discounts).

9. Steps for Registering a Used Car in Illinois

In addition to getting insurance, registering a used car in the state of Illinois involves multiple steps:

  • Obtain Title Transfer: Make sure the seller transfers the vehicle title to your name.
  • Complete Odometer Disclosure: Give the right odometer reading to the Illinois Secretary of State.
  • Pay Registration Fees: Fees mostly vary depending on the vehicle’s weight, age, and other factors.
  • Pass Emissions Testing (if applicable): Certain regions in the state of Illinois need emissions testing for vehicle registration renewal.

10. Insurance Verification Program (IVP)

The state of Illinois operates an Insurance Verification Program (IVP) to monitor compliance with insurance regulations. Under this program, insurance firms electronically report policy information to the Secretary of State to verify coverage. Drivers might be randomly chosen for verification, and failure to keep insurance could end up in fines or license suspension.

11. Penalties for Non-Compliance

Driving without any insurance in the state of Illinois carries serious consequences, including fines, licence suspension, vehicle impoundment, plus legal liability for destruction in case of an accident. It’s necessary to keep continuous insurance coverage to stay clear of these penalties and protect yourself financially.

12. Insurance Considerations for Out-of-State Purchases

If you happen to buy a used car outside of the state of Illinois, like from a private seller or dealership in another state, you need to still comply with the state of Illinois insurance regulations before driving the vehicle in the state. Make sure you have enough insurance coverage that meets the state of Illinois’ minimum regulations before registering the vehicle and driving it on public roads.

13. Educational Resources and Assistance

The state of Illinois Secretary of State and Department of Insurance offer resources and guidance to help residents know and comply with car insurance regulations. These particular resources include informational guides, online tools, plus customer service help to address questions or concerns about insurance laws and regulations.


In conclusion, getting insurance coverage immediately after buying a used car in the state of Illinois is not just a legal regulation but also a crucial step to safeguard yourself and others on the road. By knowing the state of Illinois’ insurance laws, timelines for compliance, and consequences of driving without insurance, you can make sure that you meet legal regulations and protect against financial risks linked with accidents or unforeseen circumstances.

By Alex Narmondy

Hello, I'm Alex Normandy, an attorney based in sunny California, USA. Here is my LinkedIn Profile. With a career dedicated to auto insurance claims, I've navigated the complexities of law to ensure fair outcomes for my clients. From negotiating settlements to advocating in court, my passion lies in securing justice and protection for those affected by auto accidents. When not in the courtroom, I enjoy exploring California's diverse landscapes and spending time with my family.

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