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SR-22 Insurance: What is it and How Does it Work?

A young latino couple driving in their car and illustrating how SR-22 insurance works.

An SR-22 is a form filed electronically by an auto insurance company with the state DMV on behalf of a policy holder to certify their customer has at least the minimum requirements for car insurance. Typically, an SR-22 requirement is part of the fallout from the following convictions: Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or DWI, a driving without insurance citation, reckless driving, multiple or serious traffic offenses or some other highly reckless behavior behind the wheel. An SR-22 has a time limit – depending on what state you are in, you may be required to carry the SR-22 for two to five years. There are many things to learn about how SR-22 insurance works.

If your SR-22 lapses, the time period generally starts over, so it’s in your best interest to never let even a day pass without car insurance. Your insurance carrier is required by law to report electronically in real time if your policy lapses or is cancelled.

What is SR-22 Insurance?

It is a way for a state to know that a driver is carrying at least the required minimum amount of liability coverage. Also known as a certificate of financial responsibility, it is a document that is filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles. An insurer must file this certificate with the DMV, you cannot file it yourself.

The Purpose of SR-22 Insurance

In most cases, SR-22 is an agreement between you and the state: the state will give you back your suspended driver’s license if you purchase the required amount of car insurance.

States require drivers to carry liability car insurance so that the burden of paying for the costs associated with car wrecks falls on the people involved – not the state. SR-22 works by assuring your state that if it allows you to have your driver’s license, you will have the required amount of car insurance. You’ve done something while behind the wheel to cause the state to consider you a risky driver. If the state believes you have a higher than average risk of getting into a car crash, they want to make sure you have the insurance to pay for injuries and damages you may potentially cause. An SR-22 certificate means you have that required coverage.

Reasons for Requiring SR-22 Insurance

Most people associate SR-22 insurance with DUI because the insurance is a necessary part of the driver’s license reinstatement process after a DUI conviction. However, SR-22 insurance also has common reasons like driving without insurance, without a driver’s license, with a suspended or revoked license, or with several traffic offenses in a short period of time.

It may also be assigned to those who have frequent car accidents, accidents where children are involved or infractions, such as for reckless driving or other serious traffic violations. Anybody who experiences a license suspension may find themselves facing an SR-22 after they’ve been to court.

In other words, this proof of insurance signifies to both insurers and state DMVs that a particular driver has historically participated in high-risk behavior. Most people need to get SR-22 insurance for two to five years.

How to Determine if You Need SR-22 Insurance

After you go to court for a DUI or DWI, license suspension, major accident where someone was seriously injured or killed, unreasonable property damage or many violations, you’ll receive a court order to find SR-22 insurance. If you are unclear, you can always find your driving record status at your local DMV. In many cases you can do that online, although there may be a fee associated with it.

Hispanic man fills out paperwork for his SR22 insurance

The Cost of SR-22 Insurance

You’ll need to get an insurance company to file the one-time fee for filing an SR-22 is $25 to $40. Your insurance will double and even triple compared to regular car insurance. That’s because an SR-22 tells an insurance company that you have exhibited some sort of irresponsible, risky behavior when driving and the company is just trying to hedge its bet on you.

Factors Influencing SR-22 Insurance Premiums

Just as with regular auto coverage, there are many factors that go into the cost of your premium. In this case, your driving record and a court order may play the largest part in determining your premium, although other factors such as age, credit score and zip code will also play a part. If there was a DWI conviction after an accident, you may find it hard to get insurance at all.

However, in most cases, you’ll need to shop around to find affordable SR-22 insurance or DUI solutions.

Ways to Lower SR-22 Insurance Costs

There are several ways you can try to lower the cost of your insurance. Many carriers offer car insurance discounts. Some of the more popular ones include:

  • Bundling: Having more than one policy with the same insurer
  • Civic or Service Affiliation: For example, current and former members of the military or first responders may qualify for cost savings
  • Low Mileage: Those who drive less than a set number of miles per month or year may be able to get a discount
  • Defensive Driving Course: Taking a defensive driving course may show your insurer that you are serious about improving your driving record
  • Safety Features: Installing features such as anti-theft devices may get you a lowered rate
  • Senior Driver: Many carriers offer a discount to seniors.

It’s a good idea to check in with your provider on a regular basis to see about any new discounts they offer.

Obtaining an SR-22 Insurance

You’ll need to find an insurance company that provides insurance to high-risk drivers. Don’t be afraid to shop around and compare quotes – after all, high-risk insurance is expensive. Stay current with your payments and keep a clean driving record and one day, you will see lower rates.

Finding an SR-22 Insurance Provider

The best way to find an insurer is to get an independent broker and provide them your information, especially the changes that you’ve incurred. An independent insurance agent can find a variety of options for you based on your needs and your budget. They will have a list of the cheapest companies for you.

As a last resort, most states offer an assigned risk pool. These pools have higher than normal premiums.

How Long You Need SR-22

In most cases, this requirement lasts anywhere from 3-5 years, but it depends on the reason you have it and where you live, as every state has its own rules.

The Consequences of Not Having It

If you are caught driving without your SR-22 insurance after a court has ordered it, you may face having your driving privilege revoked. You may also find yourself sentenced to jail. If your insurance coverage lapses, your time may start over.

Legal Ramifications

States do not play around when it comes to making sure drivers have insurance – regular or otherwise. The purpose of requiring coverage is so that states bear less financial burden when car crashes happen. If you are caught without it, especially after an SR-22 requirement, you face losing your ability to drive legally forever, as well as a possible jail or prison sentence. In addition, the financial consequences can be tremendous.

The Impact on Regular Auto Insurance

In most cases, it is a popular belief that a designation of high-risk driver that comes with an SR-22 requirement can mean insurance costs will double or even triple. Your insurer is gambling that you won’t cost them more money than your monthly premium. When they feel that a driver may be a risky bet, they’ll charge higher premiums (sometimes a lot higher).

The SR-22 Filing Process

Once a court has ordered a driver to carry this type of coverage, the first thing to do is find a company that will insure them at a price they can afford. Sometimes, your current insurer will not. Next, the insurer must file the certification of financial responsibility paperwork with the DMV. There is typically a small filing fee associated with this, usually from $25-$45.

They are legally required to report in real-time if that coverage lapses. A driver that misses a payment and doesn’t stay in touch with their agent will find themselves in a position of having to find a new carrier and a new policy.

Understanding the FR-44 and SR-50 Insurance

Some states do not use the term SR-22 to describe the certificate. For example, in Florida and Virginia the term is FR-44. With an FR-44, drivers are required to purchase additional liability insurance (up to $60,000 for bodily injury liability insurance in Virginia, for example).

SR-50 is non-owner SR vehicle insurance for those who have received an SR-22 requirement but are not the owner of a vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Having an SR-22 Affect My Driving Record?

It tells potential insurers that you are considered a high-risk driver. Even if your SR-22 drops off after 5 years, most insurers have a look back window of 10 years. In some states, for example Texas, your DWI will be on your record forever. However, a clean record for a certain time period will go a long way to reducing your rates.

Can I Cancel My SR-22 Insurance Early?

No. You cannot cancel your SR-22 requirement before your term is up (usually 3-5 years). If you let your policy lapse, your carrier will report it to your DMV in real time and your license may be suspended.

Can I Get SR-22 Insurance with a Suspended License?

Most of the time, you are required to get SR-22 insurance in order to reinstate a suspended license.

Will My SR-22 Requirement Go Away if I Move to Another State?

Even if the state you move to does not require SR-22 insurance, you still need to carry it through your required term. Moving to a different state will not absolve you of the responsibility of maintaining your SR-22 – or similar – auto insurance.

Find Affordable SR-22 Car Insurance Online Today

Freeway Insurance offers a wide variety of insurance options, including auto and motorcycle coverage. We encourage you to visit our website and get a fast and free car insurance quote online. Our customer service representatives are available to answer any questions you may have about your coverage options and we offer competitive rates. For more information about SR-22 insurance, contact us today at (800) 777-5620 or stop in one of our convenient locations.

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