Most U.S. states, including Illinois, require drivers to have some form of auto insurance. Regardless of where you live, it’s wise to get a good car insurance plan so that you can have peace of mind in the event of an accident. If you have particular circumstances that require you to have an SR-22 form, it’s even more imperative that you have the appropriate coverage. Below, you can learn what an SR-22 form is and what can happen if you don’t have one if your situation calls for it.
What Is an SR-22 Form?
An SR-22 form is a form that you fill out and submit to your state’s official government office. The information you provide on this form shows your state that you’re meeting its minimum requirements for car insurance. Each state has specific minimum requirements, so it’s your responsibility to understand what kind of coverage you need to secure. You can fill out and submit this form once you’ve purchased an insurance plan that aligns with your state’s minimum requirements.
Who Needs an SR-22 Form?
Not every driver needs to fill out and submit an SR-22 form. You only need to deal with this form if you’ve received notice from your state’s government office. If your state’s government has never sent you a letter requesting that you fill out and submit an SR-22 form, it likely doesn’t require you to have one.
Drivers who receive SR-22 requirements most often get them for being involved in high-risk or irresponsible driving practices. For example, you may receive one if you’ve been convicted of driving under the influence or while intoxicated. You may also have to fill out and submit an SR-22 form if any of the following circumstances apply to you:
- Your state has revoked or suspended your driver’s license in the past.
- You were the at-fault party in an auto accident and didn’t have insurance coverage.
- A judge or jury found you guilty of the same traffic violation on multiple occasions.
- A judge or jury found you guilty of a serious traffic offense, including, but not limited to, fleeing from law enforcement or reckless driving.
What Are the Effects of Having an SR-22 Form?
Individuals with an SR-22 form on file almost always pay more for auto insurance than if they had a clean driving history. This is because insurance companies view individuals with SR-22 forms as more likely to participate in risky driving behavior, so they charge higher rates to account for this assumption. Insurance providers want to ensure that they’ll be able to compensate any affected drivers involved in a car accident who may initiate a claim against you.
After you submit an SR-22 form that shows you have the appropriate insurance coverage that your state demands, it’s your responsibility to maintain this same coverage. Some individuals may want to lower their coverage to minimize their monthly premium. This move can lead to the loss of your license or other kinds of legal action, so it’s essential that you keep the coverage you have.
How Can I File an SR-22 Form?
Your state’s government office will alert you if you need to file an SR-22 form. Most often, you’ll receive this notice via paper mail. Once you get your notice, it’s vital that you immediately contact your insurance provider. Your company should be able to add the SR-22 form to your existing policy if you have one. Note that your premium amount will likely increase. If you aren’t satisfied with the updated rate that they present to you, you can choose to seek quotes from other providers until you can find one that’s within your budget.
As you begin to seek quotes from other insurance companies, always inform them of your SR-22 form upon first contact. This can save you a lot of time, as some providers don’t provide plans to individuals with this status.
What Happens if There’s a Gap in My SR-22 Insurance?
If you have a clean driving record and no SR-22 form, you may be able to experience leniency with your insurance company under certain circumstances. Some providers offer grace periods, meaning they won’t revoke your coverage if you’re a few days late on your premium payment. However, individuals with an SR-22 form don’t have this luxury. If you miss an auto insurance premium and have an SR-22 form, you’ll likely experience a gap in coverage until you can complete the payment. If this happens repeatedly, your insurance company may cancel your insurance policy.
If a police officer pulls you over and you don’t have proof of a valid SR-22 form, the officer will likely take you to a local police station. You may have to pay penalties that your local law enforcement and DMV issue and call a relative or friend to pick you up from the station. A police officer will likely impound your car or have a towing company come to tow it away. It can cost you hundreds of dollars to get your vehicle back in your possession. Your state’s DMV may also suspend or revoke your license.
How Long Do I Have To Maintain SR-22 Insurance?
States have different requirements when it comes to the maintenance of SR-22 insurance. The average maintenance period tends to be about 36 months, but you may have to retain SR-22 insurance for a longer period depending on your circumstances. If you maintain your SR-22 insurance for the appropriate period, you can revert to paying regular insurance rates as long as you commit to safe driving behaviors. Note that if you don’t maintain your SR-22 insurance for the appropriate period, you may need to start over again, even if you’re a year or two into your current policy.
If you live in Illinois and need help securing SR-22 insurance, feel free to contact our team at American Auto Insurance. We specialize in helping drivers in extenuating circumstances secure the coverage they need for reasonable rates.