SR-22 in California

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If you’ve made a series of bad choices, such as getting convicted for a DUI, getting caught driving without car insurance, racking up several speeding tickets or getting your license suspended or revoked, legally driving again is going to be a challenge. Fortunately, there’s a type of “second-chance insurance” you can obtain to get back on track — an SR-22.

You may have been asked for an SR-22 or already figured out on your own you won’t be able to get your driver’s license reinstated until you get an SR-22. Read on to learn what you need to know about how the SR-22 works so you can put your past mistakes behind you.

SR-22 insurance in California

California drivers need to understand the purpose of an SR-22. Many people think it’s SR-22 insurance. It’s not, although it’s a common way to refer to it. An SR-22 is not insurance — it’s a “Certificate of Financial Responsibility” that confirms you’re carrying the minimum amount of insurance in the state. It does go hand-in-hand with insurance, which may be where the confusion lies. You’ll need car insurance first before an SR-22 California certificate can be issued.

Once you buy SR-22 insurance and your carrier issues the certificate proving you have coverage, they will guarantee the state that you’re maintaining the auto insurance policy. If you stop paying for your car insurance, your insurance company will report it to the state and your driver’s license could get revoked or suspended.

Cost of SR-22 insurance in California

Getting car insurance after a history of tickets, a driver’s license suspension, accidents without insurance or a DUI conviction isn’t going to be easy. You can probably imagine your car insurance isn’t going to be cheap. In fact, the average SR-22 rate in California is $5,112 per year.

Car insurance companies evaluate how risky insuring you would be before they approve you for coverage. They’re looking for clues that you could cause very expensive accidents they’d have to pay for. And there are no stronger red flags that you may be a high-risk driver than the California DMV asking you to get an SR-22. The higher risk you’re considered to be, the more you’ll pay for car insurance.

Not all car insurance companies issue SR-22s, but if they do, be prepared to pay a high premium for car insurance once again. If it’s any consolation — you can work your way back to more affordable car insurance rates by driving responsibly to reduce the chances of speeding tickets and other traffic violations. In addition, pay your premiums and avoid lapses in your coverage. Over time, the events that led to the SR-22 will fall off your driving record and you can qualify for normal insurance rates again.

Non-owner SR-22 insurance for California drivers

If you need an SR-22 but do not own a car, it’s possible to get one. It’s typically required when you want to get your driver’s license reinstated. First, you’ll need to buy non-owner car insurance that insures you instead of the car. Then, your insurance company can issue the SR-22. Not all insurance companies sell non-owner car insurance — you’ll need to shop around to find a company that will underwrite you.

Frequently asked questions

How long do I need SR-22 for in California?

You’ll need an SR-22 for three years. Each state has different rules for how long you need an SR-22. It can range between one and five years.

What happens if I cancel my SR-22 insurance?

When your insurance company issues you an SR-22, they’re guaranteeing your state’s DMV that you will remain insured. If you stop making your car insurance payments, the carrier will report you and you could risk having your driver’s license suspended or revoked.

What companies sell SR-22 insurance policies in California?

Not all car insurance companies in California provide SR-22s. Some companies that sell SR-22 insurance include Allstate, Progressive, Geico, Nationwide, The General, American Family and USAA.

How much does SR-22 coverage cost?

Getting insurance to qualify for the SR-22 certificate is going to be more expensive than regular car insurance. That’s because of the factors that led to the DMV requiring an SR-22 in the first place, such as an accident, DUI or several traffic violations over six-months. reports that the average cost of SR-22 insurance in California is $5,112 per year.

Written by
Cynthia Paez Bowman
Personal Finance Contributor
Cynthia Paez Bowman is a finance and business journalist who has been featured in Bankrate, Business Jet Traveler, MSN,, and She regularly travels to Africa and the Middle East to consult with women’s NGOs about small business development and works with select startups and women-owned businesses to provide growth and visibility.