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If you’ve had your license suspended, you may have also received a notice from the DMV to file an SR-22 in order to have your license reinstated. An SR-22 isn’t a car insurance policy — instead, it’s a certificate filed by your car insurance company on your behalf stating that you meet the minimum car insurance requirements in your state. However, not all car insurance companies offer SR-22 forms. Drivers who need one should understand what an SR-22 form is and how to purchase and file one to have their license reinstated.
What is SR-22 insurance?
Despite what the name may suggest, SR-22 insurance is not a type of car insurance policy. An SR-22 is an endorsement that is added to your car insurance policy and states that you hold the minimum required amount of car insurance in your state. It is also referred to as a certificate of financial responsibility.
If you commit a serious traffic offense, your state’s department of motor vehicles may notify you that you need to file an SR-22 with the DMV. Only your auto insurance provider is able to file an SR-22 for you. Depending upon your state of residence and specific correlating offense, the SR-22 requirement may be removed after a few years or it may remain there for a prolonged period of time. In some states, the form name and required insurance levels can vary depending on the offense. Florida and Virginia, for example, require an FR-44 with significantly higher liability limits than state minimum if convicted of DUI/DWI.
Why would you need an SR-22?
Typically, adding an SR-22 component to your existing insurance is not done voluntarily. Instead, the state may require this documentation after you have had a serious driving incident or conviction, in order to prove that your insurance has not lapsed in the course of events.
Drivers may be required to have an SR-22 in the following situations:
- The driver was charged with a DUI or DWI
- The driver was charged with reckless or negligent driving
- The driver was charged with multiple traffic offenses in a short time period
- The driver was caught driving without insurance
- The driver was involved in an accident while driving without insurance
- The driver was pulled over while not carrying car insurance in the registered vehicle
- It is sometimes required in order to reinstate a driver’s license after a suspension
If you are faced with an SR-22 requirement, the good news is that it will not last forever. Most states require you to carry it for one to five years, provided that adequate insurance is continuously maintained during that time. If there are lapses in coverage, the clock may start all over again on the requirement, or your license could even be revoked.
How do you get an SR-22?
Obtaining an SR-22 is typically a fairly simple process once you have enacted a policy with the required levels of coverage. Filing an SR-22 form requires the participation of your insurance provider. If your company has the option of an SR-22, it may be as simple as calling up your insurance agent to inform them of the change, or going online to add it on to your existing policy directly. From there, your car insurance company will contact the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Although you will pay a fee for the additional service, your provider is responsible for filing the necessary paperwork with the state.
If your company does not give you the option to file an SR-22 form — or the corresponding form required in your state — you may need to shop for a new policy in order to be able to obtain a form and coverage under a high risk provider.
Keep in mind that even if you do not have access to a car of your own at the moment, you may still be required to meet the SR-22 requirements. In that instance, you will want to get a non-owner policy. It will help cover you against liability claims if you happen to get behind the wheel on occasion, and it will keep you up-to-date on your insurance requirements associated with an SR-22.
Companies that will file an SR-22
Getting a policy to satisfy SR-22 requirements may not be as easy as purchasing regular car insurance. It is risky for insurance companies to cover drivers who have a history of serious traffic violations. Because of that, not every insurance provider offers SR-22s. Here are some of the companies that specialize in high-risk drivers:
How much does an SR-22 cost?
Getting an SR-22 form filed on your behalf, in itself, will not be a huge expense. With most car insurance companies, adding this component onto your insurance policy is only a matter of paying a small fee. The exact fee may vary by state or provider, but you can generally expect the cost to be somewhere around $25 to $50 to fulfill this requirement.
Will an SR-22 increase your rates?
Ultimately, your insurance premium will likely be affected if you have to get an SR-22. But it is your infraction — the event that caused you to need SR-22 insurance in the first place — that will cause you to be labeled as a high-risk driver and raise your premium. Sometimes your rate can change dramatically, such as with DUI convictions. However, the amount may be less for a different charge, like driving without insurance.
The best thing that you can do to secure an affordable rate is to shop around and compare quotes. Even high-risk insurers will offer different rates depending on your circumstances. You will find the best rate by collecting a few different quotes and comparing them.
What are the different state laws around SR-22s?
While most states use an SR-22 filing as assurance that you are covered, not all of them follow this method. Eight states, including Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, do not. However, most still mandate every driver to have specific minimum liability coverage amounts in place with an active policy. Some, like Minnesota, still require you to file proof of insurance with the state.
In Florida or Virginia, you will likely be required to obtain an FR-44 form with the state instead of an SR-22 form, depending on the severity of the infraction. For the most part, this form works very similarly to the SR-22, except it requires you to carry more than the normal insurance minimums in those states.
It is important to note that, if you move out-of-state while under this restriction, you will still be subject to the SR-22 requirements of the state where your driving incident occurred. You will still have to maintain your SR-22 filing for as long as is mandated, even if your new state does not require such coverage. In this case, it may be best to work with a national insurance carrier that offers out-of-state SR-22 options.