It is no secret that all states in the United States require drivers to have at least liability insurance coverage on the vehicle they own, lease, and operate.
Obtaining and keeping motor vehicle insurance is a part of national financial responsibility laws. These laws make sure drivers are able to pay for any injuries and damages to any property that may occur in the case of a car accident.
However, what many people may not know is that most states require certain individuals to obtain what is called an SR-22 insurance. There are different types of SR-22 insurance, and the type that you may be required to obtain differs depending on your situation.
But one thing that is universal is the fact that SR-22 insurance is used to monitor and implement certain insurance requirements that are mandatory for some drivers.
What is SR-22 insurance?
Let us start by first explaining that SR-22 Insurance is actually referred to as an SR-22 certificate. Despite having the word “insurance” in its title, it is not actually an insurance policy.
An SR-22 certificate is a way for state officials to verify that a driver has the minimum required vehicle insurance coverage. This form proves that the driver has the minimum insurance coverage required by the state, and it will notify the state if the driver fails to keep up with this minimum coverage.
To avoid any complications with the verification process, the insurance company files and sends over the certificate to the state themselves. The SR-22 form is usually filed electronically.
Just as new laws on distracted driving have been amped up to discourage distracted driving, SR-22 certificates are in place to discourage drivers from driving without proper coverage in the case of an accident.
There are three types of SR-22 insurance:
- Operator’s-owner’s certificate – covers all vehicles owned and operated by the motorist.
- Operator’s certificate – covers a motorist operating any vehicle, even if the motorist doesn’t own the vehicle.
- Owner’s certificate – covers the vehicles owned by the motorist.
When do I need to get SR-22 insurance?
SR-22 is not car insurance coverage, and it is only a certification that someone has required coverage after certain circumstances. Those who are required to get an SR-22 certificate may need to do so to reinstate or keep their driving privileges after multiple driving offenses or one serious offense.
Here are some reasons why one may be required to get an SR-22:
- Received too many traffic tickets in a short time
- Not paying court-ordered child support
- Having one’s driver’s license suspended or revoked
- Being convicted of DUI, DWI, or any other serious moving violation
- Causing an accident while driving without insurance
Most, if not all, the reasons for having to file this form comes from the end-results of interaction during a traffic stop. This is why it is best practice to drive sober and safely, and to be aware of the seemingly random questions that police officers ask during traffic stops.
Having to have SR-22 insurance generally requires that you have at least the minimum car insurance coverage, but it can be higher than that state’s minimum coverage requirement.
In states like Virginia and Florida, people can be ordered to file a form called FR-44, which is similar to SR-22, but the liability coverage requirement is higher than the state’s minimum level.
There are states that do not require either of the two. However, if they do and you find yourself in the situation where you are required to file one, the state will inform you.
How do I get SR-22 insurance?
Like many other procedures in various states, acquiring SR-22 insurance differs from state to state. Your local state department of motor vehicles or traffic court can properly advise you on successfully getting this certificate.
Additionally, you can always start by contacting your auto insurance company.
This is actually a crucial step because there are some insurance providers that do not give SR-22 insurance. Having to have SR-22 insurance means you are now categorized as a high-risk driver. So you may end up needing to find a completely different insurance provider.
Most insurance companies that service high-risk drivers provide SR-22 filings, but higher insurance rates may follow after being required to file this form.
Car insurance companies do everything in their power to combat distracted driving, driving under the influence, and other unsafe habits while driving because it helps them save money.
Higher-risk drivers pose a greater chance of them losing money, so they charge higher insurance rates to those who are considered high-risk drivers.
If you do not have auto insurance already or you have to find a new provider, they may also require you to pay the entire premium UPFRONT with an SR-22 filing. This can be six or twelve months worth of monthly payments.
After your coverage is started and paid for, the insurance company will file and send over your SR-22 certificate to the state.
What are the consequences of not filing for SR-22 insurance?
Needing to have SR-22 insurance automatically labels you as a high-risk driver, and that alone brings on a lot of consequences. Aside from any legal financial responsibilities you are granted from traffic violations, you are required to file this form and are from then on viewed as a risky-client to insurance providers.
After getting an insurance provider to cover you with SR-22, you may experience higher insurance rates until many years later. If by chance you lapse on your insurance coverage, meaning you do not pay it, you can lose your driving privileges and have your license revoked.
The insurance provider is required by the state to report your failure to pay, so they will report it, and the DMV will almost certainly suspend your license immediately.
If you do lapse on your insurance, you can catch up on your payments and then reach out to your DMV to pay any license reinstatement fees. In the worst-case scenarios, the state may not allow you to reinstate your license.
It’s important to know that if you do allow your insurance to lapse, most states require the length of your SR-22 insurance requirement to start over.
So if you were required to file an SR-22 for four years and you lapsed on the third year, you will have to restart the countdown from four years of having SR-22 insurance.
How much does SR-22 insurance cost?
Outside of paying for your insurance policy and any increased rate adjustments, you will have to pay a fee from the state that is around $25 to file an SR-22 certificate.
Depending on the acts that led to you being required to get an SR-22, you may have to pay additional expenses as well. The cost of it all can vary per situation and state.
Drive Safely to Avoid SR-22 Insurance
It is always best practice to shop insurance providers to be sure you are saving as much money as possible on insurance rates throughout this process.
The best way to ensure you never have to worry about SR-22 insurance, though, is to drive safely and smartly whenever you’re on the road.