Maybe you’ve recently been in court for a hearing where the judge stated you’d need to file and maintain an SR-22 form because of your driving behavior. Or maybe you’ve just received a letter from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) declaring that you need to file for this insurance form immediately. While the form is usually easy for you to get through your preferred insurance agency, you need to understand the various components of this mandatory document.
Our team at American Auto Insurance has put together some helpful information regarding this insurance certificate to better prepare you for the responsibility of making on-time payments throughout your coverage.
What Is SR-22 Insurance?
Financial Responsibility Insurance, or an SR-22, is a document states require some drivers to possess, often ordered by the court. While states can include the form in your insurance plans, an SR-22 is less of an insurance type and more of a certificate of financial responsibility from your state’s DMV. Essentially, the document is proof that your insurance plan meets the minimum liability coverage by your state law. Not all drivers require this document, but your state may mandate you have this document with you if:
- You have a driving under the influence (DUI) charge.
- You’ve been in accidents as an uninsured driver.
- You’re a reckless driver with proof, such as several warnings and tickets within a few months.
In Illinois, the Secretary of State requires drivers to contact an authorized insurance company to write these policies. Typically, you can request the companies to provide you with an SR-22 quote before committing to a policy. Illinois also will require the insurance agency you choose to have a power of attorney on file with the state. After selecting an agency, you’ll sign and submit the Financial Responsibility Certificate, either manually, on paper, or electronically, at the insurance company’s home office on one of three certificates. These include:
- Owner’s Certificate: The Owner’s Certificate covers drivers who own the vehicle. Be sure to include the vehicle’s information, such as its make, model, and license plate number.
- Operator’s Certificate: The Operator’s Certificate covers drivers who operate a vehicle but aren’t the owners of it.
- Operators-Owners Certificate: The Operators-Owners Certificate covers all drivers who own or don’t own a vehicle.
After submission, the Secretary of State can take about 30 days to process the form, and you can receive a copy from the insurance company and a letter from the Secretary of State’s office.
What Happens if I Forgot To Pay My Insurance When I Have an SR-22?
Typically, an SR-22 form lasts about three years, and if you plan to renew the form, you must complete it 45 days before it expires. This is because of the 30-day processing window from Illinois’ Secretary of State. It’s best to renew your certificate on time to avoid any suspensions the state may place on you as a penalty for being late. However, late payments can happen, and we understand that, but you’ll still encounter consequences if you let your SR-22 insurance lapse. Essentially, driving without your SR-22 is like being an uninsured motorist.
If you don’t pay your fee promptly, your insurance company has to report it to the DMV. The DMV will suspend or even revoke your license and vehicle registration. Once this happens, you can no longer legally drive until you rectify the situation. Luckily, there are ways to fix the circumstances, but you must act quickly if your SR-22 lapses.
First, contact your insurance company, explain your situation, and work with their insurance experts. The agents can help you develop a plan to catch up on your missed payments. You can’t file another SR-22 form until you fulfill your previous payments. When you complete your previous payments and file another form with your insurance company, it alerts the DMV of your new coverage. In addition to your repayments, the state may require you to pay the DMV a fee and an expense to reinstate your license.
After you file a new form, many states may require your filing period to restart if it lapses. For example, if the state instructed you to have the form for five years and it lapsed in the third year, you have to start over in the first year again. If you foresee this becoming a challenge for you, work with your insurance company to develop a plan to keep you on track so you make your payments on time and avoid letting the insurance expire.
Is There an Alternative to an SR-22 Form in Illinois?
Yes, you have an alternative choice to an SR-22 form in Illinois. Rather than signing this insurance certificate, you have the option to pay a deposit of $70,000 in cash or securities to the Illinois State Treasury. Securities are certificates or other financial investments that have monetary value you can trade, such as various types of stocks and bonds.
How We Can Help Drivers at American Auto Insurance
Here at American Auto Insurance, we want to provide the best help to all our customers. We want to make your life easy, so when you file the form with us, it’s simple. All you have to do is contact us if you’re in the Chicago or Champaign, Illinois, area, and we’ll provide you with a cheaper quote than most companies. Then, once we’ve approved you for the insurance, we’ll file the SR-22 with the Illinois Secretary of State office electronically on your behalf.
We file electronically rather than manually to help you get the paperwork and get approved quickly. From there, the state will notify you once it’s processed and you’re ready to get back out on the road safely.
If you’re seeking an SR-22 form, contact us to get a quote or speak with one of our insurance representatives. They can answer your questions regarding this form, including working with you to develop the best plan for your situation if you let the insurance lapse.