What is an SR-22? Everything You Need to Know
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Few drivers have a perfect driving record. And for those with multiple accidents, moving violations, DUI/DWI convictions, or charges of driving without insurance, filing an SR-22 form is a reality if they want to keep their car insurance.
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What is an SR-22?
Technically, there is no such thing as “SR-22 insurance.” An SR-22 is the name of the form you have to file, also known as a certificate of financial responsibility (CFR). An SR-22 provides proof of insurance for those who engage in high-risk behavior while behind the wheel.
Before you begin the hunt for SR-22 insurance, it’s important to know 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.
When Do You Need an SR-22?
While your age and credit score can make you a high-risk driver without taking your driving behavior into consideration, 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 (Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated), the DMV will typically need you to hold an SR-22.
Other reasons include:
- You lost your driver’s license or faced a license suspension at one point.
- You’ve been caught driving without having active insurance.
- You let your auto insurance 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 you’ll be required 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 three years.
Your SR-22 proving coverage will expire at some point, and it’s your responsibility to ensure it’s renewed. 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 further hurt your chances of securing an insurance policy.
How Do You Get an SR-22?
So you need an SR-22? Here’s a step-by-step overview of how you can secure this form.
Find Out if You Need an SR-22
You’ll know you need an SR-22 when your state’s DMV contacts you to let you know. In most cases, you’ll receive a letter in the mail.
If you don’t receive any communication requiring you to get an SR-22, you don’t need to worry about it.
Reach Out to Your Current Car Insurance Company
If you find out you need to get an SR-22, then you should contact your current car insurance carrier to see if they can provide one to restore your driving privileges.
Unfortunately, many insurers won’t offer an SR-22 or continue to cover high-risk drivers, and your coverage may be discontinued. However, there are others that will.
Shop Around For a New Car Insurance Company
If your auto insurer won’t offer an SR-22, or if they raise your rates beyond what you can afford, it will be time to start shopping for quotes on new car insurance. Before you choose the lowest premium, make sure the company can provide you with an SR-22 once you activate it—otherwise, you won’t be legally insured.
As you are shopping around, be prepared to see a big spike in your insurance costs. The SR-22 form requirement indicates to an insurance company that you are a high-risk driver. With that perceived higher risk comes increased auto insurance costs, but even with an increase in rates, you should still compare rates to find a reasonable premium.
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Gather the Information You Need for an SR-22 Form
In order to get an SR-22 form filed, you need to obtain the appropriate amount of insurance through a company that is willing to work with high-risk drivers.
If you have the right amount of liability coverage with an insurer that 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 this filing (or you don’t already have insurance), you’ll need to provide some basic information about yourself and your vehicle, including:
- 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.
File the Form with Your State DMV
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.
In many cases, the insurance company will send this form directly to the DMV. But that’s not always an option. Make sure to review the details of the filing process with your insurance company. You don’t want the form to get lost along the way.
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. But it’s not the filing fee you have to worry about! It’s the increased insurance costs that are associated with an SR-22 form.
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.
Unfortunately, the increased insurance costs can add up quickly. It is not uncommon for your rates to increase by at least 70%. That could take a big bite out of any budget!
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.
Which States Require This Form?
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:
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 company that offers coverage for high-risk drivers.
SR-22 vs. FR-44: What’s the Difference?
SR-22 and FR-44 forms certify different levels of coverage and are required for various 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 that drivers carry more liability on their car insurance.
Typically, an FR-44 is required for a DUI or suspended license, but an SR-22 covers various high-risk categories like an at-fault accident, lapses in coverage, excessive tickets, driving without a license, and more.
Both these documents have a big impact on 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 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.
Most of these steps will not lead to immediate savings. But with time, your actions could allow you to save big time on your insurance.
- 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. Keep in mind this won’t remove the violation from your driving record altogether. The violation will still be applied to your auto insurance policy rating.
- 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 lead to a drop in premiums and, in effect, a discount on car insurance going forward.
- 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.
- 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. Many car-sharing programs in bigger cities, like Zipcar, can help reduce your overall cost of insurance when you don’t need to cover your own car.
- Get a Low-Mileage Insurance Policy: Although not the right choice for everyone, infrequent drivers can tap into significant savings through low-mileage insurance. Essentially, this type of insurance bases your premium on how many miles you drive each month. So, if you drive less than most people, this might be a great way for you to save.
- Don’t Skip the Discounts: The right discount can significantly lower your car insurance premiums. Even when shopping for insurance that satisfies your SR-22 requirements, don’t forget to look for discounts.
- 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 per year 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 an auto insurance comparison tool.
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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:
- 21st Century
- Acceptance Insurance
- Dairyland Insurance
- Direct Auto Insurance
- Infinity Insurance
- Liberty Mutual
- Nationwide Insurance
- State Farm
- The General
FAQs About Getting an SR-22
Does an SR-22 make insurance rates go up?
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.
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.
How long is an SR-22 valid?
When you file an SR-22 form, it should be valid for the duration of your active insurance policy. But depending on your state, the form may expire in one to three years. If the insurance company cancels your policy or you can’t afford the premiums, a lapsed policy must be reported to the state DMV.
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