SR-22 Car Insurance: How It Works
What is an SR-22? An SR-22 is a mandatory government form for certain drivers to obtain and maintain their driver’s license. Different states have different rules and approaches to the SR-22 form. In some states you may need to provide an FR-44, which is similar to an SR-22. Confused yet? Compare.com can walk you through the confusing world of SR-22 state insurance forms.
When do you need an SR-22?
Thankfully, if you don’t know what an SR-22 is, then you probably don’t need one. An SR-22 is mandated for several reasons. If you have a DUI, lost your license, are caught driving without car insurance, or have a prolonged lapse in your car insurance coverage, your state’s department of motor vehicles may require an SR-22. The purpose of the form is to provide proof that you have insurance. An SR-22 is a restriction that is placed on your license. The restriction states that you must be continuously insured to maintain a valid driver’s license. Without your SR-22, you can’t legally drive.
Acquiring and maintaining your SR-22
Typically, you get the SR-22 form from an insurance agency. Most insurance providers charge a fee for the form. It’s not uncommon to see fees of $50 or more, but they tend to average around $25. Not all car insurance companies offer this form, so you may need to make a couple calls (or check our list of SR-22-friendly providers) to find an insurer that can provide this document. Drivers who need SR-22’s are considered high-risk or non-standard risk drivers, and not all insurance companies support SR-22’s. These drivers are seen as non-ideal customers by many insurance agencies. However, some insurance companies specifically serve high risk or non-standard drivers.
If you currently have insurance, you may be able to get the form from your insurer. If you do not currently have insurance, you’ll need to acquire auto insurance that meets or exceeds your state’s required minimum limits for liability coverage.
Being required to provide an SR-22 is not usually a one-time deal. If you’re required to have one, then odds are you’ll have one for a while. 3 years is the typical length of time drivers are required to provide the form.
SR-22’s do expire, so pay attention to the expiration date. If you’re caught with an expired SR-22 or you wait too long to renew an old one, then you run the risk of not being able to get insurance at all.
Not every state treats SR-22/FR-44’s the same
Because these are state forms rather than federal, the rules change from state to state. Check with your state’s DMV as well as your auto insurance provider to make sure you meet all of the requirements.
Speaking of different states…
A word of warning to drivers with SR-22’s who may be moving to a different state: you must keep up your SR-22 and abide by your former state’s laws. Just because you move to a new state doesn’t mean that you are no longer required to maintain this form. In fact, failing to do so could get you into even more trouble including expensive fines, revocation of your driver’s license, and possibly jail time. Before you move, speak to someone at your original state’s DMV to find out what you need to do after you move.
Auto Insurance A to Z
It’s easy for a lot of folks in auto insurance to forget that most people don’t know what they’re talking about when they refer to liability coverage, or an SR-22. Our Auto Insurance A-Z Guide helps decrypt things, unpacking these concepts into language you and I can understand.