Essential Chicago, IL Auto Insurance Guide [Companies & More]

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Chris Harrigan
Former Insurance Claims Managerhttps://res.cloudinary.com/quotellc/image/upload/insurance-site-images/cicompaniescom-live/1f43458a-chris-harrigan.jpg

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Chicago StatisticsDetails
Population2,716,450
Density11,960 people per square mile
Average Cost of Car Insurance$4,497.74
Cheapest Insurance CompanyLiberty Mutual
USAA
Road ConditionsMediocre

Listen: We know that searching for car insurance is difficult. In a perfect world, you’d research companies, get a few quotes, and have a newly purchased policy within a few hours. However, we know that that’s not always the case.

Car insurance can be confusing. There are technical terms like premiums and deductibles. There are acronyms like GAP coverage and PIP.

Researching car insurance may have given you a headache. We understand.

That’s why we’ve put this guide together. It’s your one-stop-shop for all things car insurance in Chicago. You’ll find information on everything from rates to major highways to vehicle thefts.

By the end, you’ll have your black belt in car insurance. If at any point you’re ready to compare rates, try our free online tool to get quotes from companies all around Chicago.

Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

The Cost of Car Insurance in Chicago

Are you sick and tired of getting quotes? Car insurance companies make insurance quotes complicated. There are at least 12 pages you need to go through before you get a quote and there are dozens of bits of information you need to put in. And guess what? They all affect your rate.

How? Let’s find out.

Male vs. Female vs Age

Young versus old. Male versus female. Married versus single.

When it comes to rates, your demographics can make your rates go up, sometimes by a lot, or down. Insurance companies assign some of the highest rates of any age group to 17-year-olds, for instance. Why?

Because younger drivers, well, aren’t great drivers statistically speaking. They have a tendency to take risks, including talking on the phone or texting while driving, and are just not very experienced drivers.

Insurance companies look at this and say, “These drivers are more likely to file a claim.” This costs the insurance company money. It’s really as simple as that. Now, how does this shake out in Chicago?

In Chicago, the average age is 34.6. This puts them at the lower end, where rates really drop but also start to level out. A 35-year-old in Chicago has an average rate of $2,700, which is about $6,900 less than the rate for 17-year-olds.

These numbers and any numbers about car insurance you see in this guide come from our partner Quadrant. It is an organization that has the inside track on the insurance industry. The rates come from actually purchased policies.

35601725Cheapest RateCheapest Age
$2,721.02$2,545.51$9,627.05$3,248.57$2,545.5160

The same logic about the difference between young and older drivers can apply to males versus females. Males are seen as more risky drivers than females and more risky to insure. And at least one study by the IIHS supports that.

The average rates between males and females in Chicago differ by about $250.

  • Male $4,535.54
  • Female $4,277.54

Then there are the married drivers versus the single drivers. Insurance companies look at someone who is married as more responsible, both financially and personally. They are more stable in life and are less risky to insure. The difference between a 17-year-old single male and a 60-year-old married female is about $8,000.

Married 35-year old femaleMarried 35-year old maleMarried 60-year old femaleMarried 60-year old maleSingle 17-year old femaleSingle 17-year old maleSingle 25-year old femaleSingle 25-year old maleAverage
$2,708.30$2,733.75$2,494.91$2,596.11$8,808.60$10,445.50$3,098.36$3,398.79$4,535.54

The rates in Chicago bear all of this out. Females always receive on average the lower rates, while rates also drop with each age group.

Cheapest ZIP Codes in Chicago

The Consumer Federation of America found that identical neighbors, same neighborhood, same plans, same demos, had insurance rates differing in the hundreds. Why? It came down to their ZIP codes.

For insurance companies, where you live determines in part the rates that you’ll receive. Some areas are associated with more accidents, tickets, and vehicle theft than others. This means the average person will receive a higher rate.

In Chicago, there are 58 zip codes. From top to bottom, they differ by $1,500. Search for your s in the box below or use the “next” area to scroll to the next page.

Zip CodeAverage Rates
60601$3,853.01
60602$3,866.67
60603$4,006.24
60604$3,991.79
60605$3,976.26
60606$3,901.06
60607$4,263.61
60608$4,656.33
60609$4,880.99
60610$3,937.50
60611$3,885.20
60612$4,821.18
60613$4,055.80
60614$3,837.67
60615$4,456.26
60616$4,509.45
60617$4,751.21
60618$4,263.32
60619$5,004.51
60620$5,106.75
60621$5,252.39
60622$4,329.78
60623$5,319.98
60624$5,308.33
60625$4,340.72
60626$4,446.26
60628$4,962.87
60629$4,910.08
60630$4,349.39
60631$4,144.64
60632$4,806.57
60633$4,587.01
60634$4,478.10
60636$5,370.32
60637$4,979.15
60638$4,605.84
60639$5,010.63
60640$4,199.50
60641$4,599.02
60642$4,365.00
60643$4,566.04
60644$5,295.93
60645$4,468.13
60646$4,278.23
60647$4,352.72
60649$5,112.76
60651$5,302.29
60652$4,664.85
60653$4,900.13
60654$3,925.77
60655$4,371.46
60656$4,184.23
60657$3,813.21
60659$4,542.39
60660$4,329.47
60661$3,863.33
60699$4,113.14
60701$4,320.08
60707$4,572.14
Average$4,497.74

What’s the best car insurance company in Chicago?

Have you ever found yourself going through the quote process wondering how all these factors impact your rates?

  • Commute distance
  • Coverage level
  • Credit history
  • Driving record

You might have beaten your head against a wall trying to figure it all out. We get it. In this section, we’ll cover all four of those factors. And we’ll throw in a special section you don’t want to miss. It’s the cheapest car insurance rates of the top 10 companies in Chicago.

Cheapest Car Insurance Rates by Company

We know that price may be the most important factor in your search for car insurance. Even if a company has great customer service, strong financial ratings, and a low complaint index, you may go with someone else if the price is too high.

To that end, we’ve put together a table with the rates for the top 10 companies. There is a $4,000 difference between the most expensive company and the cheapest.

GroupMarried 35-year old femaleMarried 35-year old maleMarried 60-year old femaleMarried 60-year old maleSingle 17-year old femaleSingle 17-year old maleSingle 25-year old femaleSingle 25-year old maleAverage
Allstate$4,333.53$4,352.02$4,540.66$4,540.66$11,231.74$14,600.87$5,208.28$5,625.14$6,804.11
American Family$3,145.58$3,145.58$2,885.32$2,885.32$8,974.54$12,401.20$3,145.58$4,060.93$5,080.51
Farmers$3,387.50$3,381.94$3,004.95$3,196.16$14,812.77$15,388.81$3,859.47$4,010.07$6,380.21
GEICO$2,321.81$2,386.47$2,260.32$2,520.72$8,440.81$8,809.84$2,693.02$2,820.22$4,031.65
Liberty Mutual$1,730.29$1,870.12$1,446.38$1,620.84$5,831.92$6,480.50$1,794.62$1,880.23$2,831.86
Nationwide$3,468.49$3,526.47$3,079.05$3,261.83$9,762.62$12,530.53$4,061.93$4,401.39$5,511.54
Progressive$2,707.83$2,546.29$2,236.73$2,348.70$9,987.55$11,206.27$3,228.33$3,487.78$4,718.69
State Farm$1,985.18$1,985.18$1,794.69$1,794.69$6,256.93$7,886.52$2,248.18$2,602.06$3,319.18
Travelers$2,097.28$2,214.09$1,929.63$2,059.15$6,437.19$8,161.97$2,226.23$2,347.05$3,434.07
USAA$1,905.51$1,929.33$1,771.37$1,733.00$6,349.91$6,988.44$2,517.96$2,752.99$3,243.56
Average$2,708.30$2,733.75$2,494.91$2,596.11$8,808.60$10,445.50$3,098.36$3,398.79$4,535.54

Allstate is the most expensive company at $6,800. Liberty Mutual is the cheapest at $2,800. There is a bunch at the bottom with USAA, State Farm, and Travelers all within the $3,200 and $3,400 range.

Geico, Progressive, Nationwide, and American Family are all spread out by $700 to $800 or so. Averaged out, there are five companies below the average rate and five companies above the average rate.

GroupAverage PremiumsCompared to Overall Average (+/-)Compared to Overall Average (%)
Allstate$6,804.11$2,268.5750.02%
American Family$5,080.51$544.9712.02%
Farmers$6,380.21$1,844.6740.67%
GEICO$4,031.65-$503.89-11.11%
Liberty Mutual$2,831.86-$1,703.68-37.56%
Nationwide$5,511.54$976.0021.52%
Progressive$4,718.69$183.154.04%
State Farm$3,319.18-$1,216.36-26.82%
Travelers$3,434.07-$1,101.46-24.29%
USAA$3,243.56-$1,291.97-28.49%

There are four companies with rates 24 percent or lower compared to the average. There are two companies with rates 40 percent or higher compared to the average.

Best Car Insurance for Commute Rates

Did you know that your commute distance or annual mileage can affect your rates?

Car insurance companies believe that the longer you drive your vehicle the more likely you are to get into an accident or need to file a claim. Some companies change their rates according to commute distance and annual mileage and some don’t.

In Chicago, five do.

Group10 miles commute | 6,000 annual mileage.25 miles commute | 12,000 annual mileage.Average
Allstate$6,804.11$6,804.11$6,804.11
American Family$5,015.74$5,145.27$5,080.51
Farmers$6,380.21$6,380.21$6,380.21
GEICO$3,960.79$4,102.51$4,031.65
Liberty Mutual$2,831.86$2,831.86$2,831.86
Nationwide$5,511.54$5,511.54$5,511.54
Progressive$4,718.69$4,718.69$4,718.69
State Farm$3,238.09$3,400.27$3,319.18
Travelers$3,296.21$3,571.93$3,434.07
USAA$3,152.50$3,334.63$3,243.57
Average$4,490.97$4,580.10$4,535.54

Those are American Family, Geico, State Farm, Travelers, and USAA. This has an impact on those who drive a lot, as well as those who drive a little. The average Illinois resident drivers 12,538 miles. They’d be in the second column.

For the person who drives just a few thousand miles every year, they could consider getting usage-based insurance. This kind of insurance is solely based on how much you drive and often has lower rates.

Best Car Insurance for Coverage Level Rates

Your coverage level also affects your rates. You might have come across this question while applying for a quote. However, you might have asked yourself, “What is a coverage level?”

  • Number of coverages – when you have comprehensive o and collision on top of liability insurance, you have more coverage than if not
  • Policy limits – when you have a $100,000 policy limit on bodily injury compared to $50,000, you have better coverage

Most times, the difference between a low coverage level and a high coverage level with a company is just a few hundred dollars. Sometimes, however, it’s more. The average difference between those two coverage levels is $488.13 in Chicago.

GroupHighLowMediumAverage
Allstate$7,063.22$6,554.63$6,794.49$6,804.11
American Family$5,084.55$4,891.45$5,265.52$5,080.51
Farmers$6,881.44$6,038.73$6,220.45$6,380.21
GEICO$4,408.86$3,664.19$4,021.90$4,031.65
Liberty Mutual$3,022.31$2,649.53$2,823.75$2,831.86
Nationwide$5,536.22$5,440.40$5,557.99$5,511.54
Progressive$5,137.63$4,323.70$4,694.73$4,718.69
State Farm$3,510.15$3,123.99$3,323.39$3,319.18
Travelers$3,680.36$3,192.61$3,429.25$3,434.07
USAA$3,462.49$3,026.74$3,241.46$3,243.56
Average$4,778.72$4,290.60$4,537.29$4,535.54

Most companies have differences in prices between their high and low coverages levels of $500 or less. Three have differences around $800.

  • $500 or less Allstate, American Family, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, State Farm, Travelers, USAA
  • Around $800 Farmers, Geico, Progressive

The average for a high coverage level is around $4,800. The average for a low coverage level is around $4,300.

Best Car Insurance for Credit History Rates

News flash: your credit history has more of an impact than just the rate you’re paying on your home loan, whether you get approved for an apartment, or whether you can acquire that new, fancy credit card. It impacts your car insurance as well.

Car insurance companies believe that your credit history can help predict the likelihood that you will file a claim. They calculate this by cherry-picking dozens of items from your credit history and plug them into their own models.

This, according to Consumer Reports.

The average difference between a poor credit history and a good credit history is $2,266.11 in Chicago.

GroupFairGoodPoorAverage
Allstate$6,251.36$5,482.26$8,678.71$6,804.11
American Family$4,601.42$3,895.47$6,744.63$5,080.51
Farmers$6,091.61$5,791.61$7,257.41$6,380.21
GEICO$3,145.68$2,436.38$6,512.89$4,031.65
Liberty Mutual$2,497.44$1,978.61$4,019.53$2,831.86
Nationwide$5,303.02$4,610.20$6,621.39$5,511.54
Progressive$4,562.63$4,223.32$5,370.12$4,718.69
State Farm$2,892.70$2,248.35$4,816.48$3,319.18
Travelers$3,385.59$2,738.41$4,178.22$3,434.07
USAA$2,968.82$2,447.77$4,314.10$3,243.56

The company with the largest difference is Geico at $4,076.51. The company with the smallest difference is Progressive at $1,146.80.

Although this is not exact, as companies don’t use actual credit scores, you can plug your score into one of these three categories.

  • Fair Score (580-699) $4,170.03
  • Good Score (670-739) $3,585.24
  • Poor Score (300-579) $5,851.35

Sometimes a poor credit score costs more with a company than a single DUI conviction. As we’ll see, seven companies in Chicago charge more for a poor credit score than for 1 DUI.

Best Car Insurance for Driving Record Rates

Your driving record also affects your rates. For these calculations, we looked at rates for 1 Accident, 1 DUI, and 1 speeding ticket.

GroupClean recordWith 1 accidentWith 1 DUIWith 1 speeding violationAverage
Allstate$4,847.32$8,304.43$7,673.75$6,390.94$6,941.83
American Family$3,751.26$5,256.77$7,062.35$4,251.65$5,356.79
Farmers$5,379.72$6,954.75$6,784.43$6,401.94$6,372.97
GEICO$2,701.97$4,290.39$5,952.39$3,181.85$4,314.92
Liberty Mutual$2,348.76$3,360.15$2,942.07$2,676.46$2,883.66
Nationwide$4,427.20$5,751.44$6,770.90$5,096.60$5,649.85
Progressive$3,875.10$5,791.98$4,299.50$4,908.17$4,655.53
State Farm$3,015.20$3,623.17$3,319.17$3,319.17$3,319.18
Travelers$2,710.07$3,581.97$4,023.28$3,420.97$3,438.44
USAA$2,297.61$3,329.15$4,569.11$2,778.39$3,398.62

For the designation of the best companies, we eliminated Liberty Mutual because it has the lowest rates overall and the lowest rates for all three infractions. It is the clear winner. However, after it, things get interesting.

  • The best company for one Accident Farmers at $3,581.97
  • The best Company for one DUI State Farm at $3,319.17
  • The best company for one Speed Ticket Geico at $3,181.85

Averaging each infraction out shows that the minimum average penalty for all three infractions is $700 for a speeding ticket. The average penalty for one accident is $1,500. The average penalty for one DUI is $1,800.

Clean recordWith 1 accidentWith 1 DUIWith 1 speeding violationAverage
$3,535.42$5,024.42$5,339.70$4,242.61$4,633.18

If you’ve had too many accidents, high-risk speeding tickets, or a DUI, you might be asked to purchase an SR-22. This is a certificate of insurance for high-risk drivers generally purchased through insurance companies.

However, if you’re having trouble finding a company to purchase from, you can try the Illinois Automobile Insurance Plan. It’s a last-ditch marketplace for high-risk drivers.

Car Insurance Factors in Chicago

Can we be totally honest with you?

There’s more to car insurance than just those initial eight factors that influence rates. Your city, its median household income, homeownership rates, and the level of educations of its residents all play a role.

We know. It’s a lot of information. Bear with us. Let’s jump right in

Metro Report – Growth & Prosperity

Every year, the Brookings Institute does a study analyzing major metro areas around the country for growth, prosperity, and inclusion.

We took a look at statistics from 2007 to 2017 for growth and prosperity. Unfortunately, Chicago was not ranked high in either. Chicago was ranked 65th in growth. Its percentage change in jobs at young firms fell 20 percent, which was ranked 62nd in the nation.

  • Percentage change in jobs +2.6 percent (68)
  • Percentage change in the gross metropolitan product +7.4 percent (70)
  • Percentage change in jobs at young firms -19.5 percent (62)

It was ranked 52nd in prosperity. Its standard of living rose 5.2 percent, which was good for 38th in the nation.

  • Percentage change in productivity +4.7 percent (58)
  • Percentage change in the standard of living +5.2 percent (38)
  • Percentage change in average annual wage +3.6 percent (73)

Growth and prosperity can have an impact on car insurance rates, as the more people earn, the smaller the percentage of money is coming out of their paychecks for car insurance.

More jobs mean more people are working, which in some cities means that more people are out on the roads. This can cause more accidents, which can raise rates. So, its effects can vary in both positive and negative ways.

Median Household Income

When it comes to car insurance, we look at a particular statistic that shows the impact a premium has on your paycheck. It’s called premium as a percentage of income (PaPI).

It works by taking how much you pay for car insurance and divides that by how much you earn. With that, you get the percentage of income you’re spending on car insurance.

In Chicago, the median household income is $55,295. Because the average car insurance premium is $4,497.74, the PaPI for the average Chicagoan is 8.13 percent. This is higher than three of the largest Illinois cities.

CityMedian Income LevelAverage Car Insurance PremiumPremium as % of Income
Aurora$66,848$3,240.384.85%
Joliet$63,359$3,471.615.50%
Naperville$114,041$3,217.102.82%

To find your PaPI, plug your information into the calculator below.

Homeownership in the Chicago

Homeownership can affect car insurance rates as well. A homeowner is seen as more responsible by insurance companies and eligible for discounts. In Chicago in 2017, the median property value was $255,900. This was up from $243,900 in 2016.

This and the rest of the statistics in this section called Car Insurance Factors in Chicago come from Data USA. It is a team of data scientists that put together profiles of various locations in the U.S.

This median property value was the second-highest for surveyed areas that included DuPage County and Cook County.

  • DuPage County $289,900
  • Cook County $227,400
  • Metropolitan area $222,500
  • United States $193,500
  • Illinois $179,700

However, the rent-to-own percentage is much lower. Just 44.9 percent of residents of Chicago in 2017 owned the properties they were living in. Although this was up from 43.7 percent in 2016, it still lagged far behind the other areas surveyed.

  • DuPage County 73.3 percent
  • Illinois 66.1 percent
  • Metropolitan area 64.4 percent
  • United States 63.8 percent
  • Cook County 56.9 percent

It’s always possible that the price of housing can push lower-earning individuals out of the marketplace. Perhaps that is partially responsible for the low rent-to-own numbers,

Education in Chicago

Education also has an impact on car insurance. A person who has a four-year degree or higher is eligible for discounts with car insurance companies. In Chicago, the top three universities accounted for around 30 percent of all degrees.

  • The University of Illinois at Chicago 7,525 students or 11.8 percent
  • DePaul University 6,428 students or 10 percent
  • DeVry University-Illinois 6,038 students or 9.43 percent

The top degrees were spread out in-between the social sciences, business and administration, biological sciences, and nursing.

  • General Psychology 1,408 degrees awarded or 5.54 percent
  • General Business Administration & Management 1,271 degrees awarded or 5.01 percent
  • General Biological Sciences 1,252 degrees awarded or 4.93 percent
  • Other Business Administration, Management, & Operations 1,163 degrees awarded or 4.58 percent
  • Registered Nursing 982 degrees awarded or 3.87 percent

For more information about education discounts for car insurance, talk to your agent or inquire with a company’s representative.

Wage by Race & Ethnicity in Common Jobs

When averaged together, some races earn higher wages than others. This can affect premiums as percentages of interests, as the difference in wages mean some people are paying much more for car insurance than others.

Race/EthnicityMiscellaneous ManagersPremium as a % of IncomeRegistered NursesPremium as a % of IncomeDrivers/Sales Workers & Truck DriversPremium as a % of Income
Asian$116,0963.87%$74,4786.04%$29,09915.46%
White$99,5414.52%$61,3977.33%$46,9439.58%
Two or More Races$72,2326.23%$69,4976.47%$54,6428.23%
Black$64,1067.02%$54,1488.31%$46,0859.76%
Other$60,3497.45%$65,6726.85%$34,84812.91%

In all four categories, there is at least a two percent difference in premium as a percentage of interest. To put an example, for someone making $40,000, that’s $2,000. Not a small amount of money.

Wage by Gender in Common Jobs

The same holds true for gender, though it’s not exactly a secret that men earn more than women. According to Payscale, that number is 79 cents to the dollar.

This affects car insurance a great deal because as we’ve seen a difference in even two percent in income means thousands of dollars lost. This makes paying for car insurance that much tougher.

Here, we looked at three professions. Two are female-dominated.

Job CategoryMale SalaryPremium as % of IncomeFemale SalaryPremium as % of Income
Elementary & Middle School Teachers$58,7797.65%$54,6068.24%
Milscellaneous Managers$110,3534.08%$83,0285.42%
Registered Nurses$85,3105.27%$67,0216.71%

Men earn more in all. The difference in PaPI is somewhere between .5 percent and 1.5 percent.

Poverty by Age and Gender

Poverty can also have an effect on car insurance. When a family is under the poverty line, it might be difficult to purchase or own a car.

If they do own the car, it might be difficult to purchase car insurance, as rates might be higher in poorer neighborhoods than wealthier ones. In Chicago, the largest demographic in poverty are women, specifically for the ages of 18 to 44.

Age BracketMale Poverty ShareFemale Poverty Share
Under 54.73%4.7%
50.93%0.79%
6-115.63%5.48%
12-142.56%2.57%
150.79%0.88%
16-171.55%1.7%
18-246.03%8.02%
25-345.71%8.9%
35-444.37%6.7%
45-544.3%5.3%
55-644.23%5.09%
65-741.93%3%
75+1.28%2.85%

Overall, 20.6 percent of people who lived in Chicago at the time of the survey lived under the poverty line.

Poverty by Race & Ethnicity

For this table, we took two different sets of statistics from Data USA. The first is the general racial breakdown for people in Chicago. The second is the racial breakdown by poverty. This idea is to show which ethnic groups are disproportionately represented in the poverty share compared to their overall share in Chicago.

Race/EthnicityShare of PopulationShare of Poverty
Black or African American Alone29%36%
White Alone34%25%
Hispanic or Latino28%23.5%
Some Other Race Alone1%9%
Asian Alone6.5%4.5%
Two or More Races2%2%
American Indian & Alaska Native Alone.5%negligble
Native Hawaiian & Other Pacific Islander Alonenegligiblenegligble

The answer would be blacks and some other race alone.

Employment by Occupations

We’ve already seen that the amount you earn affects how much you’re paying out of your pocket for car insurance. And, of course, your occupation affects your wages.

There were 1.35 million workers in Chicago in 2017. This was a .413 growth from 2016.

The top occupations were spread out between office and administrative support, management, sales, business and financial operations, and education and library occupations.

  • Office & Administrative Support Occupations 157,795 people or 11.7 percent
  • Management Occupations 140,354 people or 10.4 percent
  • Sales & Related Occupations 135,431 people or 10 percent
  • Business & Financial Operations Occupations 90,451 people or 6.69 percent
  • Education, Training, & Library Occupations 84,073 people or 6.22 percent

Overall, they accounted for around 44 percent of total jobs in Chicago.

Driving in Chicago

Want to know a secret? There’s a lot more that goes into insurance rates than just the number your insurance company quotes you. Bad roads, bad drivers, even speed traps can all affect your rates.

It’s can be a little confusing. We understand. In this section, we cover all things driving in Chicago. That means those bad roads, the bad drivers, the speed traps, and much much more.

After reading, you’ll know everything from the best road trip destinations, vehicle theft rates in Chicago, and how safe the roads are. We even cover commute times and how people get to work.

Let’s get to work.

Roads in Chicago

Picture this.

You’re on your way to your favorite road trip destination from Chicago, humming along to Muddy Waters when you turn down the road towards the interstate. Suddenly you see a dark shape in the middle of the road.

You swerve but it’s too late. Your tire dips in the hole and pops. Fuming, you pull over to the side of the road. Your road trip will have to wait another day. It’s a frustrating moment for sure. We understand. That’s why we’ve put together this section, to cover all things roads in Chicago.

While in a perfect world, we know that roads would be perfect and your destinations close, sometimes this is not the case.

Let’s get down to it.

Major Highways in Chicago

Chicago Highways

There are 11 major interstates in Chicago, totaling 1,464 miles.

Interstate/HighwayLength (Miles)
I-41176
I-55294
I-57386
I-80163
I-88141
I-90108
I-9477
I-1903
I-29030
I-29453
I-35533

Chicago has numerous freeways and expressways, including interchanges like “the squid” which was known as the wone of the worst bottlenecks in the country before undergoing construction.

You might run into toll roads. If you do, you have three options for paying.

NameTypeAreaOptionsStart-Up Cost
CashIn-PersonAll of IllinoisSelf-service or manned toll boothsNone
Pay OnlineOnlineAll of IllinoisOnline through tollway authority websiteNone
I-PASS/E-ZPassTransponderAll of IllinoisI-PASS/E-ZPass lanes$10 refundable deposit
$20 prepaid tolls

All are good for all of Illinois. One aspect to keep in mind is that some toll booths want the exact payment amount.

Popular Road Trips/Sites

We’ve already seen that how far you drive can affect your car insurance rates. Fortunately, there are numerous road trip destinations around Chicago that are just a few hours away. Here are four.

  • Lake Geneva (1 hour 30 minutes): Lake Geneva is a bit of an outdoors paradise. There is zip-lining, boating, kayaking, beaches, and orchards and farms. However, there’s more to it than that. If you don’t like the outdoors, there are museums, restaurants, and sports.
  • Starved Rock (1 hour 30 minutes): Voted the number one attraction in all of Illinois, Starved Rock has 13 miles of trails and 18 canyons that looked completely different in the summer and spring compared to the fall and winter. It even has waterfalls after heavy rains.
  • Grand Rapids (2 hours 45 minutes): Grand Rapids has been named one of the best cities to live in by the U.S. News and World Report in 2019 and it’s easy to see why. With beer, arts, and music, it’s a place every Chicagoan can find something to do.
  • Galena (2 hours 45 minutes): Galena is considered one of the most unique small towns in Illinois with its cobblestone streets and its historic downtown district. It’s the perfect relief from the big city and has many options for health and wellness, including spas.

Road Conditions in Chicago

Road conditions can have a damaging effect on your car, and it’s not just potholes and busted tires.

A poorly conditioned road can cause accidents, ether from people swerving to avoid said potholes, people sliding out of lanes with poorly painted lines, or your car losing traction when a road has been temporarily resurfaced.

Unfortunately, just 36 percent of Chicago’s roads are in good or fair condition. The majority of Chicago’s roads are in mediocre or poor condition. This all increases the vehicle operating costs for someone in Chicago.

Poor ShareMediocre ShareFair ShareGood ShareVehicle Operating Cost
28%35%14%22%$627

What exactly is a poor condition road? Edgar Snyder & Associates has some answers.

  • Clear zone issues when something is in the middle of the street
  • Oil and chip a temporary resurfacing measure that can become slick if left to sit for too long
  • Positive guidance when some lines are painted poorly or signs are missing
  • Shoulder drop-off when the drop-off between the edge of the highway and the shoulder is more than two inches
  • Wheel ruts grooves in the road where wheels can get stuck and make it tough to turn
  • Work zones construction areas where there are lane shifts, confusing signage, and obstacles
  • Potholes holes in the road where your tire can sink into and pop or make it tough to turn

Now, if you get into an accident due to one of these factors, you might wonder who is going to pay the cost of repairs. The answer? It’s a little complicated.

In most situations, if you have collided with something, that’s where your collision coverage will come into effect. Now, if you’ve gotten into an accident and feel the road was an issue, you can always sue the city and hold them liable.

However, that’s a difficult battle. You or your lawyer must generally prove that the city knew about the dangerous conditions on the road and failed to act within a certain time frame. For small issues like popped tires, it’s probably on you.

Does Chicago use speeding or red light cameras?

Unfortunately, yes and yes.

When it comes to speeding cameras or “automated speed enforcement” according to the city, speed cameras are set up at school zones and parking zones. The fine is $35 for going up to 10 miles per hour over and $100 if recorded going 11 miles per hour or over.

When it comes to red-light cameras, Chicago is the leader of all major American cities. According to Illinois Policy (IP), Chicago has 309 red-light cameras. Of all major American cities in terms of population, New York City is next with 164.

This leads to major dollars for Chicago, the IP writes. Since 2008, Chicago has gained over $700 million in revenue from red-light cameras.

With that kind of money comes issues, including a bribery scandal that involved a government official being paid off to keep the red light company in town.

There’s no clear information about how much a red-light ticket costs in Chicago. However, it is considered an administrative infraction and DrivingLaws.org writes that a typical infraction in Illinois is $100.

Vehicles in Chicago

You might wonder why we’re including a section about vehicles in this guide. It’s simple.

The make and model of your car, how many vehicles you have, even if you’re without a car, can all impact the money you spend on car insurance. As well as those pesky speed traps.

Let’s get started.

Vehicles Most Popular Vehicles Owned

In 2016, YourMechanic did a study analyzing which vehicles were brought the most often to their mechanic shops. From that, it created The Most Popular Cars in American Cities list, which included six categories. Chicago is on five.

  • Percentage of cars serviced that were American-made 51
  • Most unusually popular car Chevrolet Monte Carlo
  • Percentage of cars serviced that were hybrids .8
  • Percentage of cars serviced that had V8 engines 10.8
  • Percentage of cars serviced that were Suburus .9

The only category Chicago did not make the list was Porsches.

How many cars per household

How many cars you have can affect your car insurance rates. While owning a single car can be cheaper overall, owners of multiple cars enjoy discounts that those who own just one car do not. These include multi-vehicle discounts. A higher percentage of Chicagoans own just one car or no cars than the nationwide averages. This data comes from Data USA.

Number of CarsChicago ShareUnited States Share
016.7%4.25%
139.4%20.3%
228.7%40.5%
310.5%21.4%
43.26%9.08%
5+1.36%4.47%

This is not surprising, as Chicago is a major metro area that likely can’t support everyone having a car and has an ample public transportation system.

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Households without a Car

As stated in the previous section, Chicago has an ample public transportation system that includes eight trains and 129 bus routes. As such, it is not surprising that a high number of people don’t own cars in Chicago.

However, over 25 percent?

2015 Households without Vehicles2016 Households without Vehicles2015 Vehicles per Household2016 Vehicles per Household
26.50%27.50%1.111.12

While there is an average of 1.12 cars per household in 2016, 27.5 percent of people don’t own cars. This is a high percentage.

Speed Traps in Chicago

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting going down the highway, the window rolled down, the breeze in your face when you see a cop crouched in a ditch with a radar gun.

Fortunately, we’ve got your back. SpeedTrap.org is a website that has been around for at least 20 years. On it, users can submit speed traps they’ve noticed and have them confirmed or discredited by other users. Dating back to 200, users have submitted 172 speed traps for Chicago. The most recent are from the past three years.

I-94 East and Cicero Avenue going south: As soon as you come off the ramp there is a “Park Safety Zone” that you’ll miss immediately. They ticket by red light camera even less than 10 mph over limit.

East of Pulaski Ave. on 79th in front of Bogan H.S.: Drivers have to slow down to 20 miles per hour for several blocks.

Western Ave (S) and 21st St: Speed cameras have been installed on this stretch of South Western Ave. There is a school zone (20 mph – M – F 7 am to 4 pm), but during non-school times the speed limit has been set to a ridiculously low 30 mph. Western Ave is a major north/south street in the city, and traffic typically flows at 40 to 45 mph.

They may be dated but most cities don’t change much. And neither do the speed traps.

Vehicle Theft in Chicago

Having your vehicle stolen is a stressful experience, even if you’re not in the car. Unfortunately, Chicago has a higher vehicle theft rate than the national average. These numbers and all the numbers in this section come from NeighborhoodScout.

AreaMotor Vehicle Theft (Total)Motor Vehicle Theft Rate
Chicago
11,5844.26
United States773,1392.37

You have a 4.26 in 1,000 chance in Chicago of getting your vehicle stolen. The crime map shows most of the crime to be concentrated in the west and south.

If you’re interested in avoiding crime, NieghborhoodScout lists these 10 neighborhoods as the safest in Chicago.

  1. N Ozanam Ave / N Avondale Ave
  2. W Devon Ave / N Central Ave
  3. N Caldwell Ave / N Lehigh Ave
  4. W Foster Ave / N Harlem Ave
  5. N Lake Shore Dr / W Diversey Ave
  6. N Canfield Ave / W Talcott Ave
  7. W Howard St / N Oketo Ave
  8. Sauganash
  9. Irving Park Rd / N Cumberland Ave
  10. W North Ave / N Larrabee St

In general, the crime rate for both property crimes and violent crimes are much higher than in Illinois as a whole.

Chicago Total CrimesViolentPropertyTotal
Number of Crimes29,76689,294119,060
Crime Rate
(per 1,000 residents)
10.9632.8743.83
Illinois Crime Rate (per 1,000 residents)4.3920.1124.5

You have a 44 in 1,000 chance of being a victim of crime in Chicago, with only a 25 out of 1,000 chance in Illinois as a whole. In some cases, the violent crime rates are double or quadruple the rates for the entire United States.

AreaMurder (Total)Murder RateRape (Total)Rape RateRobbery (Total)Robbery RateAssault (Total)Assault Rate
Chicago6530.241,7640.6511,8974.3815,4525.69
United States17,2840.05135,7550.42319,3560.98810,8252.49

If you’re interested in protecting your car from vehicle theft, this guy has a review of the best anti-theft tools.

Traffic in Chicago

Imagine this. You’re driving down the Dan Ryan freeway, listening to Chicago, ready to get to work. You have a meeting at 9 am and feel that this is the day you make it to work on time. However, you notice in the distance the vibrant red of brake lights.

Then more, then more. Soon, all the cars in front of you are slowing down. You’ve just hit a wall of traffic and you can kiss that 9 am meeting goodbye.

We know that traffic can be frustrating. In this section, we cover all things traffic. Everything from traffic congestion to how safe the roads are to ridesharing options you have if you don’t want to drive.

Traffic Congestion

To take a look at traffic congestion in Chicago, we turned to two major traffic indexes in INRIX and TomTom. Each rates cities all across the world in terms of statistics like time spent in congestion to highway congestion levels.

INRIX ranked Chicago 23rd worst in the world when it came to traffic. It calculated this in part by looking at three statistics.

  • Driving time spent in congestion (average driver) 138
  • Inner-city last-mile speed 12
  • Cost of congestion per driver $1,920

TomTom ranked Chicago 122nd in the world.

In its calculations, it looked at 6.3 billion kilometers worth of road. It then calculated the best day and worst day for traffic, general congestion levels, and how bad traffic was at peak commute periods.

  • Best day December 25
  • Worst day February 5
  • Highway congestion level 29 percent
  • Non-highway congestion level 28 percent
  • Morning peak congestion 42 percent
  • Evening peak congestion 58 percent

A 30-minute commute during morning peak congestion would require an extra 13 minutes. A 30-minutes commute during evening peak congestion would require an additional 17 minutes.

While it’s difficult to ascertain a simple cause of traffic, there may be a solution.

Transportation

So what exactly is the average commute time in Chicago with all that traffic?

According to Data USA, which provides statistics for both commute times and commuter method of transportation in this section, the average commute time in Chicago is 33.1 minutes.

This is well north of the 25.5-minute commute for the average U.S. worker.

Commute Time (minutes)Chicago ShareUnited States Share
Under 51.14%2.76%
5-93.78%9.45%
10-146.94%13.3%
15-198.64%15.1%
20-2411.1%14.4%
25-295.91%6.49%
30-3419.5%13.8%
35-394.05%3.03%
40-447.18%3.99%
45-5915.4%8.33%
60-8913%6.47%
90+3.27%2.85%

While most Chicagoans drive to work alone, it is still well below the U.S. average of near 80 percent. The percentage of people using public transit is higher in Chicago than the national average.

  • Drove alone 48.6 percent
  • Public transit 28.3 percent
  • Carpooled 7.58 percent
  • Walked 6.7 percent
  • Worked from home 4.38 percent

This all has an impact as Big Think reports that one in four fatal accidents occur during evening or morning commutes. Aside from being tragic, this can raise rates for individuals and a city as a whole.

Busiest Highways

Chicago is home to some of the busiest highways in the nation according to the Federal Highway Administration.

  • I-53 12 lanes
  • I-90 12 lanes

This affects car insurance as busier roads can often lead to more accidents. And the traffic congestion and stopping and starting during rush hours can lead to a higher vehicle operating cost.

How safe are Chicago streets and roads?

While a grim and disturbing subject, roadway fatalities have an effect on car insurance. Fatal accidents can cause major financial damage to car insurance companies, causing them to raise rates.

For this data, we turn to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) state crash reports. Chicago is part of both Cook County and DuPage with the majority in Cook County.

Overall, traffic fatalities have increased for both counties in the past from 2013 to 2017.

Total Fatalities20132014201520162017Total
Cook County2352392682882641294
DuPage County2436363938173

Aside from a big spike in 2016, alcohol-impaired fatalities have remained level in Cook County. They have risen slightly in DuPage County.

Alcohol-Impaired Fatalities20132014201520162017Total
Cook County85668211782432
DuPage County68871342

Single-vehicle fatalities rose slightly in Cook County from 2014 to 2016, before dropping in 2017. They remained mostly level in DuPage County. Single-vehicle crashes are the single leading cause of traffic fatalities in Cook County.

Single Vehicle Fatalities20132014201520162017Total
Cook County149159155162141766
DuPage County131917141578

Speeding fatalities are the second-leading cause. They rose significantly for both Cook County and DuPage County over the five-year period.

Speeding Fatalities20132014201520162017Total
Cook County10388111145134581
DuPage County121416162078

Roadway departure deaths rose for DuPage County and dropped for Cook County.

Roadway Departure Fatalities20132014201520162017Total
Cook County95918510188460
DuPage County111616101972

Intersection-related fatalities rose for Cook County and remained level for DuPage County.

Intersection-Related Fatalities20132014201520162017Total
Cook County8097115110101503
DuPage County11118211263

Passenger car deaths rose significantly for Cook County and slightly DuPage County.

Passenger Car Related Fatalities20132014201520162017Total
Cook County937698120110497
DuPage County131617121674

Chicago likely has many more pedestrians than DuPage County, hence the imbalance in this category of fatalities. Overall, pedestrian deaths rose for Cook County and remained level for DuPage County.

Pedestrian Fatalities20132014201520162017Total
Cook County6381737775369
DuPage County3649426

The same logic for pedestrian fatalities applies to pedal cyclist fatalities. Overall, they remained level for Cook County and dropped in DuPage Couty.

Pedalcyclist Fatalities20132014201520162017Total
Cook County11141181155
DuPage County312006

The following information comes from NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Report System. In 2017, Illinois had 1,005 fatal crashes with most of them coming on arterial roads.

Road TypeFatalities
Unknown6
Freeway/Expressway10
Rural Interstate53
Urban Interstate87
Other98
Collector Arterial217
Minor Arterial257
Other277
Total1,005

According to the Federal Highway Administration, arterial roads are roads that move people quickly from one location of the city to another. These tend to be larger roads with more traffic and a higher degree of driving demands.

This can lead to more fatalities.

In addition to all the statistics mentioned above, Chicago has also had its fair share of railway incidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were 79 from 2012 to 2016.

Highway User SpeedCalendar YearCountyHighwayHighway User TypeRail Equipment TypeNon-Suicide FatalityNon-Suicide Injury
102012COOK111TH STREETAutomobileCommuter01
-2012COOK95TH STREETPedestrianCommuter10
102012COOK83RD STREETAutomobileD01
152012COOK103RD STAutomobileFreight Train01
102012COOKLAFLIN STREETAutomobileC00
102012COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerCut of Cars01
22012COOKPRIVATE YARDTruck-trailerFreight Train01
12012COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerYard/Switch00
02012COOK87TH/PULASKIAutomobileC00
52012COOK115TH STAutomobileC12
202012COOK55TH AND KENTONAutomobileFreight Train00
152012COOK115TH STAutomobileCommuter01
102012COOKCORNELL AVEAutomobileD01
-2013COOKWELLINGTON AVEPedestrianB10
02013COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerFreight Train00
152013COOKFAU1592/E 130TH STAutomobileFreight Train00
402013COOKCARONDLETAutomobileFreight Train00
162013COOK5345 S. LONG AVE.AutomobileFreight Train01
122013COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerFreight Train00
02013COOKSOUTHWEST HWYAutomobileFreight Train00
02013COOKEGGLESTON AVE.AutomobileD00
02013COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerFreight Train00
-2013COOKSTATE STREETPedestrianLight Loco(s)10
-2013COOK74TH STREETPedestrianD00
102013COOKMONTEREY AVEAutomobileCommuter01
102013COOK95TH STREETAutomobilePsgr Train00
02013COOKPRIVATEVanLight Loco(s)00
102013COOK119TH STREETAutomobileC01
52013COOKPRIVATE RDTruck-trailerLight Loco(s)00
02013COOK95TH STREETTruck-trailerC00
52013COOK105TH STREETAutomobileSpecial MOW Eq00
52013COOKCHAPPEL AVEAutomobileC00
52013COOKTHROOP STREETAutomobileC01
02013COOKFAU1592/E 130TH STAutomobileFreight Train00
02013COOKRACINE AVEAutomobileFreight Train00
12013COOKPRIVATEAutomobileYard/Switch00
52014COOKMONTEREY AVENUEAutomobileCommuter00
02014COOKPRIVATEVanYard/Switch00
02014COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerLight Loco(s)00
02014COOKPRIVATEVanYard/Switch00
02014COOKSAYRE AVETruck-trailerC00
02014COOK99TH STPick-up truckFreight Train01
02014COOKRACINE AVEAutomobileLight Loco(s)00
02014COOK97TH STREETAutomobileFreight Train02
-2014COOKBRYN MAWR AVENUEPedestrianCommuter10
02014COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerYard/Switch00
02014COOKKILBOURN AVENUEAutomobileCommuter00
102014COOK95TH STREETAutomobileLight Loco(s)00
02014COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerFreight Train00
02014COOKW 104TH STAutomobileFreight Train00
12014COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerLight Loco(s)00
02014COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerFreight Train00
02014COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerFreight Train00
102014COOKKILBOURNE AVETruck-trailerCommuter00
02014COOKNARRAGANSETT AVENUEVanCommuter00
02014COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerLight Loco(s)00
152015COOK115TH STREETAutomobileCommuter00
02015COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerYard/Switch00
02015COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerLight Loco(s)00
02015COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerLight Loco(s)00
-2015COOKHARLEM AVEPedestrianCommuter01
102015COOKCLYDE AVENUEAutomobileD00
302015COOKKILBOURNE AVENUEAutomobileLight Loco(s)01
02015COOK72ND STREETAutomobileD02
102015COOK76TH STREETVanD00
52015COOKCITY ST/STONEY ISLANTruck-trailerFreight Train00
-2015COOKFAU2867/RACINE AVEPedestrianFreight Train01
02015COOKNARRAGANSETT AVENUEAutomobileCommuter00
02015COOK115TH STREETAutomobileCommuter01
52015COOK87TH PULASKIAutomobileCommuter24
02016COOK95TH STREETAutomobileCommuter00
02016COOK87TH AND PULASKIAutomobileC00
52016COOKPRIVATETruck-trailerYard/Switch00
02016COOKWENTWORTH AVENUEAutomobileFreight Train00
202016COOK119TH STAutomobilePsgr Train11
02016COOK102ND STAutomobileCommuter00
32016COOKKILBOURNAutomobileYard/Switch00
152016COOK59TH STAutomobileFreight Train01
02016COOK; CALDWELL AVEAutomobileB00
12016COOKRACINE AVE.AutomobileCut of Cars00

115th and 95th street both have four incidents from 2012 to 2016, the highest of any street.

Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report

Bad drivers can cause wrecks, traffic congestion, and unnecessary hard-braking incidents. All of these can lead to lost money, and for the former and last increased rates. Every year, Allstate does an America’s Best Drivers Report, which looks at just how good or bad drivers are in 200 American cities. In 2019, Chicago ranked 133 out of those 200, a four ranking drop from 2018.

Average Years Between Claims2019 Best Drivers Report RankingChange in
Ranking From
2018 to 2019
Hard-Braking Incidents per 1,000 miles
8.3133-428.8

Chicagoans filed claims about two years earlier than the national average and the number of hard-braking incidents per 1,000 miles was about 10 above average.

Ridesharing

Ridesharing is a good way to get around if you don’t have a car or if you’re just looking for a safe night out. But what are the options in Chicago?

To answer that question, we turned to Ride Guru, an organization that allows you to generate hypothetical trips to see what ride services are available and what their prices are. We went from O’Hare to Wrigley Field.

It was 14.4 miles, took 40 minutes, and there were seven options.

  • Lyft Regular $28 | Premier $53 | Lux $79
  • Uber X $28 | Taxi $46 | Select $53 | Black $78
  • Arro $45
  • Taxi $45
  • Curb $47
  • Carmel $59
  • Zum Get a quote

For passengers, insurance really isn’t necessary. But drivers, like in any driving situation for anyone, need insurance. The question for many drivers is, “Will my regular insurance work for ridesharing?”

It may and may not. Insurance companies will likely not be happy you’ve been using the car for profit when it’s listed as a personal vehicle in your profile. They may actually deny your claims based on this misinformation.

To solve this issue, as more and more people sign up to be rideshare drivers, insurance companies have created specific rideshare insurance. This insurance is generally usage-based, meaning it’s active only when you’re rideshare driving.

The coverages vary with rideshare driving insurance and when those coverages go into effect do so as well. Talk to your agent for more information.

E-star Repair Shops

When you purchase through Esurance, you have the option of signing up for its E-star Direct Repair Program.

This program pairs your car with qualified shops all around the country if your car is being repaired due to something involved with a claim. You can even have pictures taken of your car while it’s being repaired.

There are 52 E-star facilities within 50 miles of Chicago.

Name of FacilityAddressContact Information
CARSTAR IDEAL AUTO BODY3212 NORDIC ROAD
MOUNT PROSPECT IL 60056
email: idealarlingtonheights@carstarusa.com
P: (847) 640-7310
CARSTAR SCOLAS COLLISION CENTER9110 OGDEN AVE
BROOKFIELD IL 60513
email: tdscola@yahoo.com
P: (708) 485-7600
CARSTAR WALLY'S WREX1200 E GOLF RD
DES PLAINES IL 60016
email: sherri@wallys-carstar.com
P: (847) 298-6464
F: (847) 298-1218
GERBER - NAPERVILLE/LASALLE ST.1880 LASALLE AVENUE
NAPERVILLE IL 60563
email: gerberilaudits@gerbercollision.com
P: (630) 983-0900
F: (630) 983-9820
GERBER - SCHAUMBURG/WOODFIELD1001 REMINGTON RD
SCHAUMBURG IL 60173
email: gerberilaudits@gerbercollision.com
P: (847) 882-5031
F: (847) 490-0550
LOMBARD BODY & FENDER SHOP INC.27 E WILLOW ST
LOMBARD IL 60148
email: info@mbardbodyandfender.com
P: (630) 627-8688
F: (630) 627-8690
SERVICE KING LOMBARD816 EAST ROOSEVELT RD
LOMBARD IL 60148
email: ccc@serviceking.com
P: ((630) 932-0943
F: (630) 932-1655
SERVICE KING ROLLING MEADOWS2785 Algonquin Road
ROLLING MEADOWS IL 60008
email: ccc@serviceking.com
P: (847) 788-9900
F: (847) 788-9685
SERVICE KING ROMEOVILLE1303 NAPERVILLE DRIVE
ROMEOVILLE IL 60446
email: ccc@serviceking.com
P: (630) 783-8800
SERVICE KING VILLA PARK724 N ARDMORE AVE
VILLA PARK IL 60181
email: sk276staff@serviceking.com
P: (630) 832-8780

Weather in Chicago

Weather in Chicago is thought of as to be snow-filled and cold. Fortunately or unfortunately for some, that is the case. The average annual high in Chicago is just 60 degrees.

Temperature FactsDetails
Annual High59.3°F
Annual Low43.3°F
Average Temperature51.3°F

Chicago receives on average 35 inches of snow per year.

Weather FactsDetails
Average Sunshine189 days
Average Annual Rainfall38 inches
Average Snowfall35 inches

And then there are the natural disasters. According to City-Data.com, there have been 19 natural disasters in Cook County, which is greater than the national average of 13.

A sitting president has declared 15 of those 19 major disasters. Four were declared emergencies. The causes of the disasters varied from floods to storms and even a hurricane.

  • Floods: 13
  • Storms: 12
  • Tornadoes: Three
  • Snowstorms: Two
  • Winter Storms: Two
  • Blizzard: One
  • Hurricane: One
  • Snow: One
  • Wind: One

Diasters can be assigned to multiple categories, which is why they might not add up to 19 here.

Public Transit in Chicago

Chicago has the second largest public transportation system in the United States. It includes eight L trains and 129 bus routes, creating transportation networks across the city.

The Chicago Transit Authority runs the system and provides updates on its websites about which L trains are experiencing delays. The eight are named after colors.

  • Red Line 24-hour train service between Howard on the North Side and 95th/Dan Ryan on the South Side
  • Blue Line 24-hour rapid transit train service between Chicago-O’Hare International Airport and the Forest Park terminal,
  • Brown Line rapid transit service, daily, from Kimball to downtown (with certain late nite trips between Kimball and Belmont only)
  • Green Line rapid transit train service between Harlem in Forest Park, IL and Oak Park, IL to 63rd Street on Chicago’s South Side
  • Orange Line provides rapid transit train service between Midway Airport and downtown (Loop), and provides service to Chicago’s Southwest Side.
  • Purple Line rapid transit train service between Linden (in Wilmette) and Howard (in Chicago) via Evanston.
  • Pink Line rapid transit service, daily, from 54th/Cermak (in Cicero, IL) to the downtown Chicago Loop.
  • Yellow Line provides rapid transit train service between Dempster-Skokie (in Skokie, IL) and Howard (in Chicago), with connecting service to downtown Chicago via Purple Line Express or Red Line

There are several ways to pay, including Ventra cards, Ventra tickets, passes, and cash. Cash is solely an option on buses but can be used to load the Ventra cards.

Options vary in cost depending on what a person wants, such as a three-day pass or a single ride with a Ventra ticket. The CTA also has in place various programs, including the bike and ride program and the park and ride program. It also has rules of conduct.

Cost of Alternate Transportation in Chicago

In June, Chicago started a four-month pilot program involving 2,500 electric scooters from ten companies. According to Curbed, however, that pilot program ended in October and there are no immediate plans to renew it.

Parking in Chicago

SpotHero has put together a great guide to parking in Chicago. According to it, there is parking available at every major tourist and general destination, including some lots that cost as little as $9 to start.

Metered parking in Chicago ranges from $2 to $6.50 per hour and there are certain rules at certain meters, including when to park at one that isn’t working and how long you can park at certain meters.

One difference in Chicago compared to some other cities is that you can and possibly should reserve spots. This is due to the number of cars versus the available parking spots.

Air Quality in Chicago

The air quality in a city can have an effect on your physical health and make things frustrating as you’re walking around or driving with the windows down.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists six pollutants on its website that can affect the air quality within a city.

  • Ground-level ozone
  • Particulate matter
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Lead
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Carbon dioxide

Every year, the EPA does an Air Quality Index Report analyzing the air quality within major metro areas around the country. This includes Chicago metro area which includes Naperville and Elgin.

We looked at the last three years in that metro. While most days were moderate, there were some unhealthy days as well.

YEARDAYS WITH AQIGOOD DAYSMODERATE DAYSUNHEALTHY DAYS FOR SENSITIVE GROUPSUNHEALTHY DAYSVERY UNHEALTHY DAYS
20163661511872341
2017365157183232.
2018365117222206.

Around 7 percent of days for the last three years in Chicago were labeled unhealthy days or worse. While it may or may not have gotten better in recent years, there is a little bit of a hurdle now.

According to the Chicago Sun Time, EPA pollution inspections are down 60 percent since January 2018.

Military/Veterans

Listen: We know that being a service member is tough. There are the long hours, the possibility of being deployed, and being moved from place to place, sometimes only after a year. But you know what shouldn’t’ be tough? Finding the right car insurance.

To that end, we’ve put together this section. It’s all things veterans and military.

  • A breakdown of veterans in Chicago depending in which conflict they served
  • The military bases within an hour
  • Military discounts from the top 10 companies
  • USAA rates compared to other companies in the state of Illinois

Let’s jump right in.

Veterans by Service Period

This data comes from Data USA. The breakdown of veterans by conflict in which they served follows the general pattern in the United States, with one exception.

Service PeriodChicago ShareUnited States Share
World War II4%4%
Korea8%9%
Vietnam47%43%
First Gulf War17%19%
Second Gulf War24%25%

That exception if for Vietnam veterans, for which Chicago has four more percentage points than the nationwide average.

Military Bases Within an Hour

There is one military base close to Chicago according to MilitaryBases.com. That is the Great Lakes Training Center Navy Base in North Chicago, Illinois. It is the one and only Navy boot camp and the largest base in Illinois.

It’s as big as a small city, with its own public works office and fire department. Its feats are somewhat legendary. For instance, it prepared over 125,000 sailors for war in World War I and over 100,000 for World War II.

For those living there, there are five schools nearby. And for those wanting to visit, there are several hotels close, including the Navy Lodge.

Military Discounts by Providers

There are six of the top insurance companies that offer military discounts or are planning to offer one.

  • Allstate no additional details
  • Farmers no additional details
  • Geico must be active or retired
  • Liberty Mutual must be active
  • Nationwide hoping to have one soon
  • State Farm only in select states

However, service personnel have an option that others don’t. That’s USAA.

USAA Available in State

USAA has been around since the 1920s when other companies weren’t insuring military personnel because they were considered risky.

A group of military personnel decided to solve that problem and start the United States Army Automobile Association. Therein, USAA was born.

Today, it is in the top five of insurers in the United States, in spite of only being available to military personnel and their immediate family members.

It has some of the lowest rates in the nation, great customer satisfaction, and strong financial ratings. In Illinois, its rates are 16 percent below the average.

GroupAverage PremiumDifference (+/-)Difference (%)
Allstate$5,204.41$1,898.9357.45%
American Family$3,815.31$509.8215.42%
Farmers$4,605.20$1,299.7239.32%
GEICO$2,779.16-$526.33-15.92%
Liberty Mutual$2,277.65-$1,027.83-31.09%
Nationwide$2,711.81-$593.67-17.96%
Progressive$3,536.65$231.176.99%
State Farm$2,344.88-$960.60-29.06%
Travelers$2,499.76-$805.73-24.38%
USAA$2,770.21-$535.28-16.19%

It is one of the stronger companies around.

Unique City Laws

Every city has unique laws. Here are four broad categories that affect just about everyone.

Hands-Free Laws

According to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois ramped up its hands-free law this year. While the old law penalized drivers for using hand-held electronic devices while driving, the previous offenses were nonmoving violations.

Now, as of July 2019, all drivers cause using hand-held electronic devices will be cited for a moving violation. The moving violations accumulate on a person’s record. Three or more offenses and a person’s license can be suspended.

The electronic devices are not just limited to cell phones. They include tablets, personal computers, hand-held personal assistants, and more. The penalty for the first offense is $75 with subsequent offenses escalating $25 for each instance.

The maximum fine is $150.

Food Trucks

Unfortunately, food trucks in Chicago have declined in the past year and been stunted overall due to a controversial ordinance aimed at protecting restaurants. There are still steps you can take if you want to own and operate one.

The city has all the food truck requirements on its website, which include getting a license, receiving a health consultation, and installing a GPS tracker in your vehicle.

The latter is due to Chicago’s “200-foot” rule which states no food truck can operate within 200 feet of any establishment that serves food. This includes restaurants, convenience stores, and vending machines.

In spite of the rules and regulations, there have been some food trucks in Chicago that have been featured in YouTube videos.

Hot dogs:

Burgers:

Pizza:

Tiny Home

Because Chicago’s city code is not readily available, it is difficult to ascertain the exact regulations and ordinances governing tiny homes. However, it is likely they can be built, as there is at least one organization building them.

Check with your city planner or planning department for more information about specific ordinances.

Parking Laws

Every city has parking laws. While parking tickets don’t affect your rates, not paying for them can cause your license to be suspended. This will increase your rates.

While general parking laws in Chicago are tough to find, ParqEx has some tips about what you shouldn’t do.

  • Vehicle over six feet tall: Park at least 20 feet from a crosswalk
  • Vehicle under six feet tall: keep your bumper off the crosswalk
  • 20 feet away from stop signs
  • 15 feet away from fire hydrants
  • Yellow means NO parking
  • Do not park in bike or bus lanes

There are also some Chicago specific laws and traditions, such as the “dibs” rule where a person can claim a space if they shoveled it first.

Chicago Car Insurance FAQs

What are the minimum car insurance requirements in Chicago?

The minimum car insurance requirements in Illinois are 25/50/20. This means $25,000 for the injuries or death of one person, $50,000 for the injuries or deaths of more than one person, and $20,000 for property damage. This is liability insurance and only covers the damages to the other party in the accident. It doesn’t cover you or your car.

What happens if I get into a wreck in Chicago?

Illinois is considered an at-fault state, meaning that the person who is found at-fault in an accident is responsible for all the damages to the other person or their vehicle. At-fault is typically determined by the police officer who arrives at the scene. However, a person can appeal to their insurance company to look at the case closer. It may also be determined in the court system.

I’m a high-risk driver. What insurance do I need in Chicago?

In Illinois, if you’re labeled a high-risk driver, you’ll likely be required to purchase an SR-22. This is a certificate of insurance and can cost a little bit more than regular insurance. This SR-22 gets filed with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office and makes it legal for you to drive. If you have trouble finding an SR-22, you can always try the Illinois Automobile Insurance Plan.

I’m concerned about vehicle theft. What insurance can I get in Chicago?

Vehicle theft is covered under comprehensive insurance plans. These are part of core coverage and insure your vehicle from everything from weather damage to riots to vehicle theft. Generally, it costs much less than liability or collision insurance. However, rates can rise in areas where non-collision claims happen more often than usual.

How do I file a complaint against a car insurance company in Chicago?

In Illinois, if you’re having an issue with an insurance company, you can always file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Insurance. On its website, it has detailed instructions for the complaint process. There are four methods of filing a complaint. The first is online. The second is by email at consumer_complaints@ins.state.il.us. You fax at (217) 558-2083. And you can mail to 320 W. Washington Street, Springfield, IL, 62767.

Which companies are financially strongest in Chicago?

The three financially strongest car insurance companies are USAA, State Farm, and Geico. They routinely have the highest ratings on Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, and AM Best, three leading credit rating agencies. What does this mean exactly? The higher a company’s financial rating, the less likely they are to default on their loans. Or worse, go bankrupt. It also generally means they have a strong revenue stream and are profitable.

I don’t own a car. Do I need insurance?

Most people would probably say no. However, if you ever plan to get behind the wheel, you need some kind of insurance. This is in case you get into an accident or are pulled over by a police officer. This is where non-owned vehicle car insurance comes in.

Generally, it’s minimum insurance coverage just so that you’re protected while you drive. When you get into an accident in someone else’s car, their insurance kicks in first. However, you can still be sued. This can make non-owned vehicle coverage a worthwhile investment.

Which companies have the most complaints in Chicago?

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners keeps track of all complaints submitted to state departments throughout the country. It puts them all together and weighs them against the number of premiums each company writes. Then it comes up with a complaint index. Nationwide, the companies with the highest complaint indexes are Allstate, USAA, American Family, Farmers, and Travelers. The lowest are Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, and State Farm.

My rates are too high. What can I do to lower them?

If you’re looking to lower your rates, there are a couple of easily available options. First, you can talk to your insurance company about discounts. Most companies offer between 25 and 35 discounts, some of which are not very well known. You might be able to lower your premium by 5-15 percent.

Second, you can sign up for a telematics system. These are systems where companies track your driving, including hard-braking incidents and distracted driving. Sometimes your rates can drop by 20 percent with these systems.

Ready to compare rates? If so, try our FREE online tool!

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