Illinois Motorist Law: Pursuing claims against drivers with SR-22 Insurance

What is SR-22 Insurance? SR-22 insurance is a vehicle liability insurance document used by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to provide proof that a high-risk driver has minimum liability insurance coverage. SR-22 is a high-risk insurance that carries specific conditions not found in other auto insurance policies. People often mistakenly believe that SR-22 is an insurance policy because the form is purchased through insurance companies. However, SR-22 is merely a form that shows a driver carries a liability insurance policy that satisfies the minimum amount mandated by the law. Under the conditions of the insurance, the insurance company must certify coverage to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) of the state and must notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if the policy is cancelled, terminated, or lapses. Except for Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New York, and North Carolina, all other states have SR-22 insurance requirements.

Why does Illinois require some drivers to have SR-22 insurance? Illinois requires a SR-22 document from a driver prior to reinstating driving privileges, oftentimes after the driver has been involved in an uninsured car accident. From the date of reinstatement, SR-22 must be carried for 3 years. During that time, the law requires the insurance company to notify IDOT of late payments, lapses, and the switching of providers. If the insurance company provides IDOT with any such notification, an individual’s license will be suspended immediately due to failure to comply with SR-22 requirements. Upon suspension, the SR-22 will have to be renewed again to reinstate driving privileges, and the three-year period will begin again.

Oftentimes, the requirement for SR-22 is imposed on a high-risk driver after conviction of other traffic-related offenses, like a DUI. SR-22 insurance may be required for at least one year for driving without insurance and up to five years for a DUI. Under these instances, one would have to purchase an SR-22 in addition to regular motor vehicle insurance coverage required by law every year until the obligation has been met.

SR-22 does not replace or increase insurance coverage; it is an endorsement or addendum to an auto policy that updates the language of the policy contract and most often broadens the scope of the coverage. SR-22 is the form the government employs as their method of verifying an individual’s financial responsibility and ensuring that he or she carries insurance. When filing an SR-22, the driver’s insurance company provides proof to IDOT that the driver meets the state’s financial responsibility requirements, which, in turn, allows the driver to operate with a restricted license.

If liability insurance lapses during the requirement period for SR-22, then the individual is considered to be in default, and the driver can be charged for each lapse as a separate offense.

What steps should be taken if you are injured by an SR-22 (“high risk”) motorist? If you were injured by an uninsured motorist or a high-risk driver operating with SR-22 coverage, your attorney should verify the driver’s coverage status with IDOT and immediately present a claim to your insurance carrier demanding uninsured or underinsured benefits. There are important steps to be followed after an accident with an SR-22 driver. If you have any questions, speak with a knowledgeable attorney at John J. Malm & Associates right away.