Though most of us just think of car insurance and registration with our local DMV as the only forms of legal and financial responsibility we must take on as drivers, if you’ve committed a serious moving violation or other infraction on the road, you may need to obtain something else — a document called an SR-22. But what is it exactly, who has to get it, and what does it entail?
SR-22 in Illinois
In Illinois, an SR-22 is an official certificate that must be filed with the state by an insurance provider if you have a suspended or revoked license, serious moving violations, or as a result of not paying child support. Also known as a certificate of financial responsibility, an SR-22 serves as proof that you have obtained the minimum liability coverage required in your state. In Illinois, as of October 2022, the minimum liability coverage would be $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident for bodily injury and $20,000 per accident for property damage. The issuance of an SR-22 by an insurance company will ensure your driving privileges or reinstate them. Those who are required to get an SR-22 are typically notified through their state division of motor vehicles or by court order.
What offenses can lead to an SR-22 in Illinois?
If you receive notification that you have to get an SR-22, it’s because you have been determined to be a high-risk driver, and the State of Illinois wants to be certain that you are being responsible behind the wheel by maintaining insurance coverage. You can be required to get an SR-22 for a variety of reasons in Illinois. Most involve having your license suspended, but not all are strictly related to driving.
Offenses that can result in an SR-22 in Illinois
- Severe traffic infraction, such as a DUI
- Multiple smaller traffic offenses, like speeding or running red lights
- Driving a vehicle without insurance three or more times
- Being at fault in an accident while driving a vehicle without insurance
- Failure to pay damages after you were at fault in an accident
- Failure to pay child support
- Failure to continuously maintain a previous SR-22 for three years
- Excessive tollway fare evasions
How do I get SR-22 insurance in Illinois?
Obtaining SR-22 insurance in Illinois is similar to purchasing normal auto insurance. The majority of people who are required to obtain an SR-22 have had their insurance policy canceled as a result of having a suspended or revoked drivers’ license. If you still have an existing auto insurance policy, you may be able to simply add an SR-22 through your existing insurance company; you should call your insurer to determine if this is an option that they offer.
Contact your current carrier or find an insurer that is authorized to write SR-22 policies
If you’re applying for a new policy online, through the phone or in person with an agent, you’ll typically have the option to specify that you require an SR-22. It’s important to note that not all insurance companies in Illinois offer SR-22 insurance, so you may need to purchase coverage from a specialized insurance provider.
Pay the SR-22 filing fee.
Your insurer will usually charge a flat fee between $15 and $50 when they file the SR-22 form on your behalf. The SR-22 will not be filed until this fee has been paid.
Have your insurer file proof of insurance on your behalf.
Once you’ve purchased coverage, your new insurance provider will send the SR-22 form to the Illinois Department of State—you cannot send it yourself. The insurance carrier must also have a power of attorney on file in Illinois. Once the processing period, which can take up to 30 days, has been completed, you will be able to have your vehicle registration, as well as your driver’s license, and reinstated.
The SR-22 certificate is issued in one of the following forms:
- Operator’s Certificate — covers the motorist in the operation of any non-owned vehicle.
- Owner’s Certificate — covers vehicles owned by the driver. The type of vehicle must be listed on the SR-22 or may be issued for all owned vehicles.
- Operators-Owners Certificate — covers all vehicles owned or non-owned by the driver.
You are able to verify the Illinois Driver Services Department has received your SR-22 form — and whether you can resume driving — by calling 217-782-3720 and providing your driver’s license and Social Security numbers. If you confirm that your license has been reinstated, you can start driving immediately; you don’t need to wait for the paperwork to arrive in the mail.
You must continuously maintain an SR-22 for three years. It is strongly recommended that you renew your SR-22 insurance at least 45 days before your policy expires. If you have not renewed your insurance 15 days before its expiration date, your insurer is legally required to notify the state of Illinois.
If your policy lapses, your license and registration will be suspended immediately, and you’ll have to start the reinstatement process over again.
Once your three years are up, you can cancel your SR-22 insurance and look for the cheapest prices on standard car insurance.
Cost of SR-22 insurance in Illinois
Auto insurance companies charge much more for auto insurance if you require an SR-22. The high cost isn’t strictly due to filing the form, but because being required to do so is a strong indicator of someone being a high-risk driver. As such, it’s highly unlikely that you will find a truly cheap option.
An Illinois driver with a recent DUI and an SR-22 requirement can expect to pay 50% to 80% more than the same driver without a DUI or SR-22.
Alternatives to SR-22 Insurance in Illinois
There are a few alternatives to filing an SR-22 available in Illinois, but they are incredibly pricey. You still have to maintain the standard car insurance requirements, but you can deposit $70,000 in cash, securities, a surety bond or a real estate bond as a guarantee.
Additionally, should you move to a different state, you are able to file an affidavit that waives your responsibility of filing an SR-22 in Illinois. However, nearly every state had SR-22 or similar requirements, so there is a high probability that you will need to purchase SR-22 coverage in your new home state as well.