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Legislature sends Quinn measure to increase minimum auto insurance coverage

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FINE-GLA-052316-1_39141689.JPGRep. Laura Fine (D-Glenview), pictured here in her office earlier this month, championed a bill to boost mandatory auto insurance coverage after her husband suffered a near-fatal accident. The bill passed the House Sunday and now moves to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk. (Rob Hart/Sun-Times Media)

SPRINGFIELD-Some Illinois motorists could see their automobile insurance rates go up by about $75 annually if Gov. Pat Quinn signs legislation passed Sunday by the House to raise the minimum amount of automobile insurance coverage drivers must carry.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Laura Fine (D-Glenview), passed by a 70-41 margin and now awaits Quinn's approval.

"Again, this bill will save people that are injured in an accident of no fault of their own on many of the out-of-pocket costs that they would incur," said Fine, whose husband, Michael, lost an arm in 2010 when he collided with a truck while driving to work.

The driver carried the minimum amount of coverage required under Illinois law, an amount that came nowhere close to covering the roughly $500,000 in medical costs associated with her husband's injuries, Fine told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The $75 annual increase Fine estimated in increased premiums came from the American Insurance Association, which took no position on her legislation, and would apply only to those motorists carrying baseline liability policies, she said.

"The dollar figure that [insurance companies] gave me at the time was maybe $75 per year, but it depends on the insurance company," she said. "What the insurance companies did say is that this will help lower insurance costs for all policy holders as well."

Under the bill, coverage for bodily injury or death to one person would increase from $20,000 to $25,000 and from $40,000 to $50,000 for injury or death to two or more people. Coverage for injury to or destruction of property would increase from $15,000 to $20,000.

Fine said the minimum coverage amounts have not been raised since 1989 and said Illinois has the lowest liability rates in the Midwest and one of the lowest in the country.

But the measure received backlash from some Republicans.

"At the end of the day when people pay more for their insurance, they have less to buy other things," Rep. David Reis (R-Willow Hill) said. "And we just keep chipping away at people, and I guess I just don't see the need for this."

Other conservative members stood behind Fine's effort.

"The reason I've supported it is because too many of our constituents have a loved one who is killed in an accident," Rep. David Leitch (R-Peoria) said. "There's not enough insurance...So in addition to the burial costs, they're forced to write a check in consequence of the accident."

If Quinn signs the bill, the measure will only apply to policies issued or renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2015.

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