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Illinois Insurance Company - Choosing an Illinois Insurance Company

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No matter what type of insurance you are planning on purchasing, choosing an Illinois insurance company should not be taken lightly. To make sure you are getting the best deal and the best service that will meet your needs well into the future, there are several considerations that must be made.

Any Illinois insurance company falls under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Insurance. To make sure you are protected to the full extent, it is recommended to choose only an Illinois insurance company that has a physical location within the state. To find out if a company is licensed in Illinois, visit the official “DOI website”: http//www.insurance.illinois.gov or give them a call toll-free at 1-866-445-5364. If you choose an insurance company that is not licensed in Illinois, you may have a difficult time receiving assistance should there ever be a problem.

Besides telling you whether an Illinois insurance company is licensed or not, the DOI can also tell you how long the company has held their license. For peace-of-mind, it is recommended to choose an Illinois insurance company that has been licensed for a minimum of ten years. These companies will usually not be the least expensive, but they tend to be more stable and have better service. In addition, the Department of Insurance keeps a database of complaints and complaint statistics.

The next consideration in choosing an Illinois insurance company is determining their financial stability. There are several independent companies that can provide you with financial information on any company you may be interested in. Although Illinois insurance policyholders are covered by insurance guaranty associations, there are limitations with what they can do for you.

An insurance guaranty association will cover your claims should your insurance company go bankrupt. The limitations are set at $300,000 for most claims before 2011. After January 1, 2011, property/casualty claims are covered up to $500,000.

It is always best to check with the private rating agencies. Here are the top rating agencies that will have information on an Illinois insurance company:

A.M. Best – This is the most popular independent insurance rating company. You can find all of their ratings online at the A.M. Best website. Printed copies of ratings and full reports are available for a fee.

Demotech – Demotech provides financial analysis of property/casualty insurance companies. Ratings can be found on the Demotech website.

Fitch – Fitch has free ratings available, but limits free reports to five companies, so you should narrow down your choices before using them. This is the Fitch website.

Moody’s – Moody’s is similar to Fitch with their five-company limitation via phone, but unlimited ratings are provided to consumers via the Moody’s website.

TheStreet.comTheStreet.com lists all of their ratings free online.

Although they are not an independent insurance rating company, it is always beneficial to check the grade the company receives from the Illinois Better Business Bureau. The Illinois BBB will also have a listing of complaints independent of those maintained by the IL DOI.

If you are planning on using an Illinois insurance company for a high-dollar policy, you may want to check that the company has a choice of counsel provision. This allows you to choose your own attorney to defend you should there be a lawsuit regarding a claim against your insurance. Without this provision, you will be forced to use the insurance company’s lawyers who are often employees of the insurance company.

Once you have been through all of these steps, it is time to look over the coverage options provided on the company’s policies and the premiums for each policy. While many people are confident in understanding policies and coverage, other people may be more secure in talking with a licensed insurance agent. An insurance agent will be able to explain coverage in plain English terms that you can understand. If you still do not understand something, never be afraid to ask the insurance agent further questions.
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