What is an SR-22? Do I have to get it from an auto insurance company?
Many motorists mistakenly believe the SR-22 is an actual type of car insurance, but that’s not the case. The SR-22 is simply a form that your car insurance company files on your behalf with the state.
The form, usually filed electronically, provides the state with proof of financial responsibility by showing that you have the required insurance coverages in effect. The state-mandated coverages may be the same as your state’s minimum liability requirements or different coverages with higher limits. The exact auto insurance requirements differ from state to state.
You can get your SR-22 only from a car insurance company because the purpose of the form is to show that you have obtained, and will maintain, certain insurance coverage. There is no other way to get the SR-22; you cannot get an SR-22 without buying a car insurance policy.
Read more: What is the difference between an SR-22 and a regular car insurance policy?
Why do I have to carry an SR-22?
All states except Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania may require a driver to obtain a SR-22.
Some of the reasons your state may require an SR-22 certificate of financial responsibility include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
- Failure to carry liability insurance on your vehicle
- Conviction for driving without insurance
- Driving uninsured and being involved in a motor vehicle accident
- DUI, DWI or other major alcohol offense convictions
- Serious moving violation (such as reckless driving) convictions
- Accumulating too many DMV points
- Being termed a habitual traffic offender
- Needing to apply for a hardship or probationary permit (while license is suspended)
- Reinstating your license after a suspension or revocation
To find out under what circumstances your specific state requires the SR-22, contact your department of motor vehicles.
Read more: Under what circumstances is the SR-22 required?
How long do I have to carry the SR-22?
In most states, you must carry the SR-22 for three years, but the period varies from one to five years. In some places the period varies by offense.
The start date for counting how long you must carry the SR-22 also varies by state. Your state’s department of motor vehicles will tell you how long you need to carry the SR-22 and from what date. The clock may start with the offense date, conviction date, suspension date or date of your driver’s license reinstatement.
Don’t cancel an SR-22 before your filing period is up or your state will find out and penalize you. If car insurance associated with an SR-22 is removed or canceled, the insurer must file an SR-26 that informs the state of the cancellation. The state can then take actions against you that typically include the loss of your driver’s license and/or vehicle registration.
Read more: How long are you required to drive with SR-22 insurance?
What is the difference between an SR-22 and a FR-44?
The FR-44 also provides proof of financial responsibility, but mandates that you carry higher liability limits. The FR-44 is used only in Florida and Virginia currently and is required instead of the SR-22 when you have been convicted of certain alcohol-related offenses. The FR-44 must be held for three years in these states, the same period such states require the SR-22 to be carried.
In Florida, FR-44 has bodily injury liability limits of $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident and property damage liability limits of $50,000. This is written as 100/300/50. The Florida SR-22 has liability limits of only 10/20/10.
In Virginia, the FR-44 liability insurance limits are 50/100/40, which are double the limits required for a SR-22 filing (currently 25/50/20).
Read more: What is FR-44 insurance?
Do I have to tell my insurer? Can I buy the SR-22 from a different company?
Yes, you must tell your current insurance company about the need for the SR-22 so that it can file it for you. Even if you already have coverage in place that meets or exceeds the state-mandated coverages, the state can still require you to file an SR-22. This allows the state to make certain you will maintain your car insurance coverages for the specified time period.
You can’t skip telling your insurer about the need for the SR-22, keep your current policy in place and then buy a separate policy for a SR-22. That type of duplicate car insurance coverage isn’t allowed. If your present insurer doesn't file SR-22s, you need to cancel your current policy and purchase a car insurance policy with an insurance company that will file the SR-22 for you.
Read more: Will my existing insurance increase with a DUI/SR-22 insurance?
I’ve moved out of state. Do I still have to carry the SR-22?
If you carry an SR-22 in one state but move to another state, you must fulfill the SR-22 requirement for your former state, even though you no longer reside there. To do this, you usually need an insurance carrier authorized to do business and file SR-22s in both states.
Your car insurance policy in your new state must have coverage and limits that at least meet the SR-22 minimums required by your former state. If the new state’s requirements are higher, you will need those even higher limits on your policy.
Read more: If I am required to carry an SR-22 and move to another state, do I have to keep the SR-22?
What if I don’t have a car? What is a non-owner’s SR-22?
If you don’t own a car, you can still be required to carry an SR-22, and in that case you will need to get a non-owner’s policy to fulfill your SR-22 filing requirement.
With a normal SR-22 policy, you own and insure a vehicle, but with a non-owner’s policy you don’t own a vehicle to insure directly or have access to a car that you can insure.
If you have a vehicle registered to you, one in your household, or someone provides a vehicle for your regular and frequent use, you should NOT purchase a non-owner policy for coverage. If none of these situations applies, you can get a non-owner’s policy that complies with your SR-22 filing requirement.
Read more: I am required to carry an SR-22 but don’t own a car. What should I do?
How much does an SR-22 cost?
A car insurance company filing the SR-22 form on your behalf may charge you a one-time filing fee of between $15 and $50 (typically, it’s $25). However, the cost of the auto insurance policy associated with the SR-22 varies.
The car insurance policy associated with a SR-22 doesn’t have a set premium. It’s calculated according to standard rating factors, such as your driving record, your geographical location, and the type of vehicle you drive, to name a few. If your driving record shows that you are a risky driver, due to a major offense like a DUI, your rates will be higher, whether or not an SR-22 is required.
The only way to determine how much your SR-22 car insurance policy will actually cost is to get a personalized car insurance quote. It pays to shop around; one insurance company may look at a DUI very differently than another, for example.
Read More: How much does it cost to get SR-22 insurance?