What is SR-22 Insurance?
Few drivers have a perfect driving record. And for those drivers who have multiple accidents, moving violations, DUI or DWI convictions, or charges of driving without insurance, filing an SR-22 form is a reality if they want to keep their car insurance.
The good news is that we can help you find the cheapest SR-22 car insurance quotes from the best insurance companies out there (many of which are specifically suited to drivers who need an SR-22).
What Does SR-22 Stand For?
Technically, there is no such thing as “SR-22 insurance.” An SR-22 is the name of the form, also known as a certificate of financial responsibility (CFR). An SR-22 provides proof of insurance for those who engaged in high-risk behavior while driving.
Before you start comparing auto insurance rates, it’s important to know that the requirements for filing this form and how long it’s valid. Other related criteria vary from state to state, so be sure to check your local laws, too.
Is an SR-22 Considered Car Insurance?
Even though you’ll sometimes hear people refer to “SR-22 insurance,” the SR-22 is more of a document than an actual car insurance policy. In fact, an SR-22 is not a form of car insurance by itself. Instead, it is proof that your car insurance coverage meets the requirements set out by your state’s DMV.
The form is an official way to certify that you have the minimum liability insurance demanded by law. It proves that you have an appropriate amount of coverage to drive legally. If you are a high-risk driver as we described above, you may need your insurance company to provide this form to show authorities you’re legally insured.
What is a Certificate of Financial Responsibility?
A certificate of financial responsibility (CFR) is another name for an SR-22. Both certify that you hold the proper insurance to drive your car. Since nearly every state requires you to maintain sufficient car insurance, they may also ask for this formal document if you’re categorized as high-risk for breaking driving laws or letting previous insurance lapse.
Using the SR-22 (or CFR) provided by your insurer, you can assure your state’s department of motor vehicles that your coverage is valid. The document stays active for a period of time stated on the form, and the insurer who issued it will notify the state once it is no longer in good standing, meaning your minimum liability coverage has lapsed.
When Do You Need an SR22?
While your age and credit can make you a high-risk driver, an SR-22 is often required for drivers with a poor insurance history and auto-related violations or other serious offenses.
For example, if you have a DUI or DWI, the DMV will typically need you to hold an SR-22.
Other reasons include:
- You’ve lost your driver’s license or faced a license suspension at one point.
- You’ve been caught driving without having active insurance.
- You’ve let your policy lapse and hurt a positive coverage history.
Providing this proof of financial responsibility is hardly a one-time expectation. If you need an SR-22, chances are that you’ll need to provide this for several years. On average, high-risk drivers with qualifying, negative marks on their driving and insurance records will need the certificate for an average of three years.
Your SR-22 proving coverage will also expire, and it’s your responsibility to keep it active and valid. Driving with an expired certificate of responsibility means you run the risk of legal action, steep fees, and big penalties. If you don’t remember to renew in time, it will hurt your chances of getting insurance even more.
In short, you’ll need an SR-22 if you are a high-risk driver with a lapsed coverage history or infractions on your driving record. The certificate promises financial responsibility in a way that satisfies the state and shows that you meet the basic requirements of driving with insurance.
What States Require an SR-22?
Every state can require an SR-22 for high-risk drivers who need to certify their liability insurance, with few exceptions. While Florida and Virginia can also require an FR-44 described below, there are only eight states that don’t require the official SR-22 form:
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
Unless you live in one of these states, you will likely be asked to provide the certification of financial responsibility to your DMV or local court if you have significant traffic violations and charges on your driving record.
You’ll need an insurer who offers to file the SR-22 for you, and this is often a high-risk driver insurer.
SR-22 vs. FR-44: What's the Difference?
SR-22 and FR-44 forms apply in different states, certify different levels of coverage, and are required for different reasons—but they both affect the price of your policy.
The SR-22 certificate is used in most states to document minimum liability coverage for drivers, but only Florida and Virginia ask for an FR-44. Though both official documents verify you carry a legally satisfying policy, the FR-44 requires drivers to carry more liability on their car insurance.
Typically, an FR-22 is required for a DUI or suspended license, but an SR-22 covers more high-risk categories like an at-fault accident, lapses in coverage, excessive tickets, driving without a license, and more.
An SR-22 shows authorities you carry proper insurance for up to five years, but three years is the length of an FR-44s promise.
Both these documents have a big consequence for your insurance premiums, raising them by 70% on average. Needing them through your insurer means that you are a high-risk driver who poses a greater chance of filing an insurance claim.
In addition, the FR-44 will ask for much more liability coverage, making it more expensive than a typical SR-22.
How Do You Get an SR-22?
You’ll know you need an SR-22 when your state’s DMV sends you a letter or contacts you stating the requirement. Then, you should contact your current car insurance carrier to see if they can provide one to restore your driving privileges. (However, many insurers won’t offer an SR-22 or accept high-risk drivers.)
If your auto insurer won’t offer the form, it will be time to start shopping for quotes on new car insurance. Before you choose the lowest premium, make sure that the company can give an SR-22 once you activate it—otherwise, you won’t be driving while legally insured.
To receive your SR-22, some insurance companies will ask for upfront payment of the entire premium for 6 or 12 months. The SR-22 form will then be filed with the DMV and state traffic authority to re-establish your status as a legal driver who fulfills all insurance requirements.
What Do You Need to Get an SR-22?
If you have the right amount of liability coverage with an insurer who offers SR-22s, you won’t need anything but to request they file one with the DMV for you. But, if they don’t provide them (or you don’t already have insurance), you’ll need all the usual pieces for the factors considered on a car insurance application:
- Valid license
- Vehicle registration
- Social Security number
- Car make, model, and mileage
- Personal information
- Household details
Though the certificate isn’t liability coverage itself, it can only be given when you have a policy that meets its requirements. To get it filed, you will need to successfully apply for high-risk car insurance and begin paying premiums—sometimes upfront.
How to Get a Cheap SR-22 Policy
If you need to file an SR-22, you’ve most likely been labeled as a high-risk driver. This higher, perceived risk often results in higher insurance rates because insurance companies think you are more likely to file a claim. These increases can be a 70% jump in premiums—or more.
But don’t worry. Just like any other high-risk driver, you can make your car insurance more affordable and get the cheapest rate if you take steps to improve your driving profile and maintain a clean record through safe driving for example. Here are a few steps you can take to lower your car insurance rates over time:
Enroll in a driver’s improvement course.
In some situations, a driver’s improvement course could help reduce points on your driving record or help you find a discount through your insurer. These courses are an inexpensive investment that you can complete online, and some states require insurers to give you a discount if you complete one.
Maintain a clean driving record.
To lower your perceived risk (and your premiums), get a copy of your driving record to see which violations and negative marks you can remedy, expunge, or manage. This could give you a drop in premiums and, in effect, a discount on car insurance going forward.
Some should drop off after seven years in many states, and you can fix errors if they don’t. For other infractions, you can choose to pay a fine or promise a judge to stay infraction-free for a certain period. Each of these can improve your history and make you less risky, earning a better premium.
Buy a cheaper, less risky vehicle.
If you own a less expensive car, you will need less coverage. But, some cars also pose greater risks to insurance companies, meaning they can increase your rate simply because you have a greater chance of damaging the car, having it stolen, or getting into an accident with bodily injury.
Insurers have access to statistics on accidents, thefts, damages, harm, and more. They compare this to vehicle types.
In addition to the cost to repair, you can lower your rate by choosing a safer, less risky car. For example, you can avoid cars that carry some of the highest chances of creating a claim like the Honda Civic, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry.
You also want to choose a car with a low risk of causing bodily harm as part of your liability policy. Some of the cheapest, safest cars are made by Subaru, Kia, and Hyundai which have lower repair costs than other, higher-end models.
Consider non-owner car insurance coverage.
Non-owner car insurance coverage can be helpful if there’s a car you can borrow from a friend or relative. There are also many car-sharing programs in bigger cities like Zipcar that can help reduce your overall cost of insurance when you don’t need to cover your own car.
This kind of policy can apply to any car that you drive, giving you the financial and insurance protections you need to legally drive. If you drive a friend’s car, your policy will kick in to cover costs that exceed their policy’s limits. You can also save when you won’t need to pay a deductible before you can claim benefits and receive payouts.
Many people find they can afford very decent car insurance through non-owner coverage since the premiums can be 15% lower than the alternative. Even better, you won’t necessarily need to shop through lesser-known insurers because the biggest, most trusted car insurance companies give these policies, even to high-risk drivers.
Through Compare.com, you can easily shop for cheap, non-owner insurance.
Compare companies that accept SR-22 policies.
Each company has its own process of evaluating a driver. Because of this, you may find a difference in hundreds of dollars from one insurance company to the next. While you can get quotes from each insurance company individually, it’s best to compare SR-22 policies all at once using Compare.com.
Carefully review each potential SR-22 insurer out there, especially if you feel you’re currently paying too much for your car insurance. If your insurer allows you to keep your policy—just at a higher rate—it’s the perfect time to compare rates from other insurance companies. You can almost always find a better deal with another or non-standard insurer who wants to undercut the competition with a competitive offer.
Even if your current carrier offers policies for high-risk drivers that include the option to file an SR-22 with the DMV, it doesn’t always mean you’re getting the best rate. If your state traffic authority notifies you that you need the official certificate of liability coverage, start looking for ways to save on these policies that are too often high-priced.
What Companies Offer SR-22 Insurance?
From state to state, insurance companies that provide SR22 insurance policies vary. In some locations and situations, it can be a challenge to find the policy you need at the price you want. That’s why it’s so important to compare SR-22 insurance quotes from as many auto insurers as you can. Some of these companies frequently extend high-risk policies at reasonable rates:
- Acceptance Insurance
- 21st Century
- The General
- Infinity Insurance
- Liberty Mutual
- State Farm
- Direct Auto Insurance
- Nationwide Insurance
- Dairyland Insurance
What are the Best Companies for SR-22 Insurance?
We understand that finding the cheapest car insurance quotes can be tricky sometimes. There are several companies out there that specialize in insuring high-risk drivers, but finding the best SR-22 coverage is all dependent on where you live and your driving history. If you are looking for an SR-22 insurance company that can provide you the cheapest coverage quickly, you came to the right place.
Compare.com specializes in comparing different companies and have many partners that offer this high-risk coverage. We’ve built out a list of other potential companies to help you find the best deal.
How Much Does an SR-22 Cost?
The actual cost of filing an SR-22 form isn’t much, ranging from $15 to $50, and it’s usually a one-time fee. The increased costs of insurance coverage you may face are due to covering the high-risk behavior itself: multiple violations, driving without state minimum insurance, a DUI, etc.
If your policy has gone up too much or your policyholder dropped you, it’s time to compare auto insurance rates.
The exact cost of an SR-22 will vary depending on your personal situation. Insurers may ask for the policy to be paid upfront, rather than in monthly or quarterly installments. Be sure to ask about this and any other requirements!
Filing an SR-22 may require a little extra legwork and a few extra dollars. However, with research and proper vetting, you’ll discover that you still have choices.
What’s the difference between SR-22 and regular insurance?
An SR-22 is not actually car insurance. Instead, it is an official form that certifies you carry the car coverage that state traffic authorities legally require. Many insurance companies that cover high-risk drivers will offer to file an SR-22 with your state’s DMV as part of your separate policy, but some will not.
Can I get an SR-22 without having car insurance?
Since an SR-22 is simply a document that shows you have an active and sufficient insurance policy with the minimum liability insurance needed by your state—you can’t get an SR-22 without car insurance. Even if you had a copy of the certificate of financial responsibility, it would be invalid if you didn’t have current car insurance. Your insurer would also notify state authorities of the policy lapse.
Can I drive someone else’s car if I have an SR-22?
You can have an SR-22 with a non-owner insurance policy with the right amount of liability protection. With that kind of policy, you can legally drive a car owned by your friends or family without worrying about legal ramifications as a high-risk driver. But, since the SR-22 only guarantees that you personally carry the state-mandated coverage, you’ll need a policy of your own to get the SR-22.
Does SR-22 increase insurance rates?
Needing an SR-22 means you’ve been named a high-risk driver by your state, and it could increase your rates by a large percentage—up to 70% or more in some cases. The amount your premium will jump depends on the reason for being high-risk and requiring an SR-22 filing by your insurer. For example, a DUI or DWI will cost you more than having too many speeding tickets.
How long do you need SR-22 after DUI?
After a DUI, DWI, OUI, or other, you could need an SR-22 for up to five years. While your state could require the form for as little as one year, most need it for three years at a minimum. To keep that limit, you should maintain active coverage because a lapse in your policy means that you’ll need to start the one-to-five-year period all over.
Does insurance go down after an SR-22?
If you’ve been informed you need an SR-22, your insurance won’t go down. Instead, your premium is likely to rise a good deal. After you no longer require an SR-22 (after three to five years, usually), your premium could drop slightly since you have maintained a positive, continuous insurance history and satisfied the state requirement.