Illinois mandates car insurers detail why vehicle is totaled

A new law signed by the governor mandates car insurers in Illinois provide the insured motorist details surrounding the companies’ decisions to total a vehicle.

House Bill 5559 was signed by the governor and is now Illinois law. The law mandates car insurance companies to explain in detail how they decided the car was total loss.

Opponents had raised concerns about the burdens on auto insurers and the additive costs to customers, but ultimately the bill was approved unanimously in both chambers.

State Rep. Rep. Tracy Katz Muhl, D-Buffalo Grove, said the bill’s goal was to increase transparency around how car insurers come to a decision to consider a vehicle a total loss.

“So this agreed upon bill is about showing your math. We want to add transparency to help people understand the components of a decision to total your car, typically the current market value, the estimated cost to repair and the salvage value,” said Katz Muhl.

Katz Muhl pointed to a recent Illinois Department of Transportation study that revealed nearly 300,000 car crashes happen in Illinois per year and of those 75,000 result in at least one car being totaled.

“For that roughly 75,000 families it’s a financial catastrophe exacerbated by the opacity in the process of understanding how that calculation was made,” she said.

State Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Lake Forest, carried the measure in the Senate and explained that upon the determination of a total loss of an insured vehicle, the insurance company needs to provide the insured with a brief description of how that determination was made.

“This must include any available repair estimate, estimated vehicle salvage value, assessed market value and other costs and calculations used,” said Morrison.

It appears the Illinois Insurance Association initially opposed the measure, but Katz Muhl said she was proud to get the insurers and auto body interest groups on board with the bill.

“We are excited to have worked with all of the consumer advocates, the body shop community and insurance [stakeholders],” said Katz Muhl.

It is not known if the Illinois Insurance Association removed their opposition. The Center Square could not immediately confirm with the association.

The bill passed unanimously out of both chambers and was signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2025.