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In Illinois, an SR-22 is a document that your insurance company files on your behalf with the Illinois Driver Services Department, which certifies that you carry at least the state-required car insurance coverage. Drivers in Illinois are required to file SR-22 forms in order to have their licenses reinstated after being convicted of one of a few serious driving offenses, such as a DUI. Even if you don't own a vehicle, if your license has been suspended, you will need to file an SR-22 in order to have it reinstated—which you can do by purchasing nonowner SR-22 insurance.
What is an SR-22 in Illinois?
If you're convicted of a serious driving offense, including a DUI, driving without insurance, or failing to pay damages for a traffic accident in which you were at fault, you may be required to file an SR-22 in order to maintain your driving privileges. An SR-22 is a paper or digital form an insurer sends on your behalf to the government certifying that you have an active auto insurance policy that meets Illinois' minimum liability insurance requirements. If you ever let your SR-22 insurance lapse, the insurer will notify the Illinois Driver Services Department, which in turn will suspend your license and registration.
What Offenses Can Lead to an SR-22 in Illinois?
If you have to get an SR-22, it's because you have been deemed an at-risk driver, and the State of Illinois wants to be sure 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, though not all are strictly related to driving.
Offenses That Can Lead to an SR-22 in Illinois
- Serious traffic infraction, such as a DUI
- Multiple smaller traffic infractions, like speeding or running red lights
- Driving without insurance three or more times
- Being at fault in an accident while driving 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 to Get SR-22 Insurance in Illinois
Getting SR-22 insurance in Illinois is similar to purchasing normal automobile insurance. Most people who need an SR-22 have had their insurance canceled as a result of having their license suspended or revoked. But if you still have an existing policy, you may be able to simply add an SR-22 through your existing insurance company; you should call your insurer to determine if they offer this option.
If you're applying for a new policy online, you'll typically have the option to specify that you require an SR-22. And if you're applying over the phone or in person with an agent, mention to them that you need an SR-22, as well. Not all insurance companies in Illinois offer SR-22 insurance, so you may need to purchase coverage from a specialized insurance provider.
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. After the form is processed, which can take up to 30 days, you will be able to have your driver's license and vehicle registration reinstated.
It's possible to check the status of whether 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 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, and it's recommended to 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—and 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.
Alternatives to SR-22 Insurance
There are a few alternatives to filing an SR-22 available in Illinois, though they are costly. You can deposit $70,000 in cash, securities, a surety bond or a real estate bond as a guarantee.
Additionally, if you move out of state, you can file an affidavit that will waive your responsibility of filing an SR-22 in Illinois. However, most states have SR-22 or similar requirements, so chances are you'll need to purchase SR-22 coverage in your new home, as well.
Cost of SR-22 Insurance in Illinois
Unfortunately, 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 being required to do so is a strong indicator of someone being a risky driver; as such, you're unlikely to find a truly cheap option. We found that a Chicago 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. For example, Progressive quoted our sample driver an annual rate of $1,228 without an SR-22 and $1,992 with one.
It's always a good idea to shop around for car insurance, and drivers who require an SR-22 should be extra thorough. A 5% cheaper rate is much more significant with an elevated SR-22 insurance premium.
SR-22 Insurance Sample Quotes
|American Auto Insurance||$1,819|
|United Auto Insurance||$2,251|
Quotes are for one year of insurance for a 30-year-old male living in Chicago, with pay-in-full discounts included when available.
Nonowner SR-22 Insurance
If the cost of SR-22 insurance is too high and you don't need to regularly drive a particular vehicle (or you already do not own one), an alternative to standard SR-22 insurance is nonowner coverage. Nonowner SR-22 insurance is cheaper because it provides liability coverage only and protects you while driving someone else's car if you use it occasionally. It is the most affordable way to satisfy the SR-22 insurance requirement for the three years you must have it. However, in order to qualify for nonowner SR-22 coverage you must not own a car, nor can you use the car of someone you live with, like your roommate or spouse. So if you own a car now, you'd have to sell it to qualify for nonowners coverage.