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No car, but I'm forced to buy insurance?


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Question: I had a SR-22 when I had a car; however, I lost my car to the bank last summer, so I dropped insurance, too. I was recently pulled over by police while driving a friend’s car and found out that my license was suspended due to not having the SR-22. If I don’t have a car, I still need to have a SR-22? Was I supposed to know this?

Answer: Yes, and yes. It may seem silly to require that you have auto insurance even if you don't own a car, but when you are required to file an SR-22, that is what is expected. (See "SR-22: The questions drivers ask most.")

The notice that you received explaining that you were required to have an SR-22 filed with the state should have detailed how long the SR-22 needed to be maintained (typically it’s three years) and that if you were to cancel auto insurance during this period what the penalties would be.  Usually, it’s specifically noted that you don’t need to own a car to have to obtain the required auto insurance coverage and SR-22.

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Remember, the SR-22 isn’t an actual part of your car insurance policy, but a special filing with the state that certifies you have certain auto insurance coverages in place.  Once this future proof of financial responsibility is in place, your auto insurer is required to alert the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if your insurance policy, and thus SR-22, lapses or cancels.

In most states, if your SR-22 lapses for any reason, then your license and vehicle registration (if you had a vehicle) will be suspended.

Solution: A non-owners policy

Why all this hassle? The states that mandate the SR-22 usually do so only after a driver has been convicted of a serious offense or as part of the reinstatement process after a person’s license has been suspended or revoked. The state wants to monitor these motorists and make sure they’re adequately insured to take care of future auto accidents if they’re negligent and harm others while driving -- even if the vehicle being operated isn’t owned by them.

If you had contacted the DMV when you lost your car to the bank, you would’ve discovered that you needed to obtain a non-owners insurance policy and continue on with your SR-22 filing

A non-owners auto policy’s benefits are meant to be secondary coverage for when you are operating cars that you don’t own. So, when you’re borrowing a friend’s car, that person would still need to have primary insurance on their vehicle.  (See “What is non-owners car insurance?”)

Not all car insurance companies offer non-owners policies or SR-22 filings.  However, we work with auto insurers that offer both.  By contacting our call center toll-free at 1-855-430-7753, our agents can help you obtain a quote for the coverage you need to get your license reinstated.

Most companies can provide immediate proof of insurance via e-mail or fax. Processing of SR-22 requests depends mostly on whether your state accepts filings electronically.

If in the future you purchase a car to insure, then contact your car insurance company to convert to an owner’s policy.  Also, once the SR-22 is no longer needed, or the offense requiring it falls off your driving record, it’ll be a great time to comparison shop and see if cheaper auto insurance rates are available.

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