Happy New Year-New Resolutions and New Laws

Close-up car accidentOne thing the New Year always brings is resolutions and new laws.


While some of us resolve to get to the gym more when we can't button our pants or have problems finding our toes without sucking in our gut, one thing we should also resolve to do is to review our auto insurance coverage. In my experience, a huge majority of people are either completely ignorant of what their insurance policy limits are, are grieveously underinsured, or both.

Next, check to verify that you have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Insurance companies must offer this to you unless you specifically decline it and it must, in Illinois, be equal to or more than the liability limits. This insurance is key as it protects you if you are injured by an uninsured motorist and also if the motorist who causes damage to you has insurance that won't adequately compensate you.

You should also make sure you have medical payments coverage, which will pay your medical bills in the event of an accident. Often, a $5,000.00 limit is common.

In any event, the best thing to do is get the most insurance you can afford. Too many people learn the hard way, either because they are hit by someone with horribly inadequate insurance, or if they injure someone severely and they were not adequately insured. After all, it's your house, your car, and your family you are protecting so why skimp?


Most important to safety is the new law in Illinois requiring all people in a vehicle to wear safety belts. Kind of obvious but a great idea that is long overdue.

Other new laws include one allowing vehicles outside of Cook and the collar counties to travel 65 miles per hour, rather than 55, and one that increases the penalty for having no proof of insurance on a vehicle substantially, especially for repeat offenders or if serious injury is involved. A good summary is provided in the Chicago Tribune article.


News that parents who supervised an underage New Year's party were charged criminally should not surprise anyone who followed the tragic story of a similar story that happened in Deerfield, which involved a death. Much as it seems to make sense to be on hand to watch children have parties, the simple fact is the laws do not think this is a good thing. While many would argue that it would be better for minors to consume alcohol at home with adults present, the case mentioned above seemingly disproved that notion. Simply, if you are an adult you cannot let minors drink in your home or provide alcohol. It will result in criminal penalties as well as potential social host liability civilly--money damages!

Last year it became illegal to be a "distracted driver" via texting. This remains the law and, while it is still completely possible to be a distracted driver using a hands-free device, that remains legal. But you cannot text and drive in Illinois and in many municipalities, including Chicago, you cannot operate a vehicle without a hands-free device. I'm a cyclist and driver and have nearly been run off the road while on both bike and in car by distracted drivers. Please follow the law and common sense for everyone's safety.

A very happy and healthy and safe 2012 to everyone. Protect yourself, your family, and be smart and safe!

Categories: General