Financial Responsibility  insurance, otherwise called in Illinois as "SR22 Insurance" refers to the insurance coverage for individuals who had breached some traffic rules in the past.  In the event that you received a demand from the State that you must  file an SR22 insurance certificate, you need to know, among other things, what you have to do, the specifications you need to prepare and the period of time you need to have the SR22 filed.

There are numerous causes why one will be asked to do so by law to have SR22 Insurance, some of which are included below:

  • When you are caught driving while intoxicated with alcohol or prohibited street drugs (DWI);
  • DUIs, or driving an automobile while under influence of alcohol or banned street drugs;
  • When you had a motor vehicle accident and you were not covered by an auto insurance, and a decision was issued against you without you satisfying the judgment;
  • Getting too many tickets in a very short period of time (unsafe driver);
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license;

If you committed any of the above violations of traffic law, it would trigger the suspension of your driving privileges, and an SR22 will be hence the necessity for financial responsibility.

Do you need to have an SR22?
Only your secretary of state will tell you if and when you need or do not need SR22 filing. In Illinois, the Secretary of State will inform you, in writing, of your need to have an financial responsibility certificate filed.  Also, the Secretary of State will advise you and let you know when you do not need an SR22. Once filed, the SR22 must be kept unless told otherwise by the Secretary of State that you do not need it. The notices must be in writing.

What kind of insurance to file?
SR22 is just a regular auto insurance policy that must be reported and filed with the state, and that should not be canceled unless the state otherwise notifies you that you do not need the filing. When you are required to have SR22, you need to file a document demonstrating your financial responsibility.  The certificate must be filed with the Department of Motor Vehicle or DMV.  This filing will in effect get rid of the suspension of your license permitting you to operate a motor vehicle again, providing that you fulfilled all other conditions set forth by the State.

If you already have insurance, and your current insurance company agrees to 'file' your insurance with the state, then you do not need to get extra insurance policy. You need only to notify your agent to have the company files your policy with the state. There could be additional fee for this transaction. Also, certain companies do not file SR22 certificates which means that you have to look for another alternative!

In the State of Illinois, SR22 may consist one of the following certificates by the insurance company which shall be directly filed with the Secretary of State:

* The most comprehensive and most expensive type is called the Operators/Owners Certificate. This certification is issued covering any and all cars either owned or not owned by the operator. This is not a commonly used form, and is insurance companies will grant it mostly in connection with established entities.
*  The most common type is called Owner's Certificate. The driver covered here is also the owner of the car. In other words, you own a vehicle, and you get liability insurance on that vehicle which must be listed on the policy, and ask your insurance company to file your policy with the Secretary of State as a Financial Responsibility Certificate.
*The least expensive type is called the Operator's Certificate. This is a  document that you will use to prove that you are insured when you operate any particular auto with the expressed permission of the actual owner, in the case that you do not own the car you will be driving. Remember that the car itself ought to be insured as well. This type of insurance is referred to as Non-Owner SR22 Insurance. People who obtain this coverage are those who do not own any car but get this coverage to comply with the SR22 requirements. Operator's Certificate is the least expensive type of SR22 insurance.

Operator's Certificate is also the most misunderstood form by people. Many people wrongly assume that because they have a non owner, SR22 policy then they can drive any vehicle. This is half of the truth. The other half is that the vehicle must also be insured! Else, you are breaking the law again of operating an uninsud vehicle!

What is required to be filed?
It is required that you have an auto liability insurance coverage before you file for SR22.  Your coverage should provide at least the minimum state required limits, which is:

Bodily injury (BI) of $20,000 per individual;
Bodily injury of $40,000 per automobile accident;
Property damage (PD) per accident of $15,000;
Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UM BI) per person of $20,000;
Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UM BI) per accident of $40,000.

In the case where insurance coverage is ended or it lapsed, then your insurance company will give a notice of this fact to the state. In that case the Secretary of State will re-suspend or revoke your license.

Who will file the SR22?
Neither you nor your insurance agent are authorized to file the SR22 with the state. You need to get proof of SR22 and have the insurance company file it directly with the state. A while ago the method of filing was manual and was done by regular mail, taking as long as a month or more for filing to complete. Nowadays, the process is automated and is accomplished by using the internet infrastructure. It takes about three business days between the time you purchase the insurance and the time it gets reported to the state.

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