High-risk drivers, such as those with suspended licenses, likely need SR-22 insurance. Despite its name, SR-22 insurance is not insurance but proof that drivers have the minimum liability auto insurance required by the state.
States set their own rules for SR-22 certificates, but in general, most drivers need to have one if they drove under the influence (DUI) or have had their license suspended. If you have an SR-22, you may have to shop around for nonstandard auto insurance. Unfortunately, SR-22 insurance costs more than a standard policy, and not all insurance providers cover high-risk drivers.
Table of Contents
- What Is an SR-22 Certificate?
- What Does an SR-22 Certificate Look Like?
- Who Needs an SR-22 Insurance?
- How Do You Get an SR-22 Insurance?
- How Much Does an SR-22 Insurance Cost?
- What Happens After You Get SR-22 Insurance?
- How Long Do You Need an SR-22 Insurance?
- Is an SR-22 and FR-44 the Same Thing?
- Moving With SR-22 Insurance
What Is an SR-22 Certificate?
While it’s often referred to as SR-22 insurance, it is not a type of insurance policy. An SR-22 certificate document provides proof that a driver has bought the minimum liability coverage required in their state. For example, many states require at least $25,000 in bodily injury coverage, $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage, and $25,000 in property damage liability coverage.
Once you have found a policy, the insurance company files the SR-22 certificate with the state on your behalf. You may purchase collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, and underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage for additional financial protection. But depending on your state, this coverage may be optional.
What Does an SR-22 Certificate Look Like?
Your insurance company will complete the SR-22 form for you. It may include the following information:
- Your name
- Mailing address
- Birth date
- State where you are filing
- Driver’s license number
- Policy number for current auto insurance
- Case number – you can find this on the letter from the DMV stating that you need an SR-22 certificate
- The make, model year, and vehicle identification number (VIN) for your car
- Name of the auto insurance company
- The auto insurance company’s NAIC number
Who Needs an SR-22 Insurance?
Drivers who have had multiple accidents or moving violations must have an SR-22 to maintain or restore their driving privileges.
States have different rules for when an SR-22 is needed, and not all states require one. But in general, the following situations likely require an SR-22 requirement:
- You have gotten a severe moving violation or a conviction for DUI or DWI.
- You are found at fault for an accident while driving without insurance
- The government suspended your license due to too many accidents or moving violations.
- You failed to pay court-ordered child support.
- You’ve had too many traffic tickets within a short period.
If you require an SR-22, insurers consider you a high-risk driver. Your insurance premiums will be higher, and your choice of insurers will be more limited.
Industry statistics support the assumption that high-risk drivers have more accidents. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), from 2018 – 2020, the claim frequency for private passenger cars with standard insurance averaged 3.06 per 100 insured cars. In the nonstandard market, the frequency was 7.2 per 100, more than twice as frequent.
Some states do not require drivers to file SR-22 forms after an incident such as a DUI. States without an SR-22 requirement include:
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
Two states, Florida and Virginia, require a form called an FR-44 for drivers with DUI convictions. It is similar to an SR-22, but the coverage requirements are higher.
If you move to a state with no SR-22 or different insurance requirements, you still have to follow the SR-22 from the issuing state until it expires.
Even if you don’t have a car, you might benefit from buying non-owner car insurance and having an SR-22 filed. It may be necessary to get your license reinstated. You’ll be covered if you have an accident while driving a rental or a friend’s vehicle. With non-owners insurance, you can avoid a coverage gap, leading to higher premiums.
How Do You Get an SR-22 Insurance?
A judge in traffic court might order the SR-22, or you may receive a letter from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) stating that you need to file an SR-22 form to reinstate or keep your license.
Let your auto insurance company know you need an SR-22. Not all companies insure high-risk drivers, so your insurer could cancel your policy or refuse to issue one, forcing the driver to look for coverage elsewhere.
Your rates will go up because you are considered a high-risk driver. So you’ll need to shop around for a company with reasonable prices that offers SR-22 filing. Make sure the policy you are considering meets the state’s minimum requirements. Also, confirm that the company provides SR-22s.
The insurer might require you to pay 6 or 12 months of premiums upfront. Once your coverage is in place, the insurer sends the SR-22 form to the state and mails a copy to you.
How Much Does an SR-22 Insurance Cost?
There is a one-time fee of $25 for filing the SR-22 form. However, the actual cost is the auto insurance you must purchase so you can file the SR-22.
As a high-risk driver, your premiums will increase. For this reason, it’s essential to shop around so you can find the best rate. Use an auto quote tool to compare premiums for the coverage you want. Some insurers will require you to pay for the policy upfront rather than monthly, which will also impact your budget.
Be honest with your agent regarding your driving history and that you need an SR-22 filed. That information will affect your quoted rate and lets the insurer know to file the SR-22 paperwork promptly.
What Happens After You Get SR-22 Insurance?
Typically, auto insurance companies require applicants to have a valid driver’s license to get insurance. But insurers realize that it may be necessary to file the SR-22 form for reinstating the license.
Once you have purchased coverage, your insurer sends the SR-22 form to the state. It may take up to 30 days for the government to reinstate your license. Insurance companies allow 30 days for you to provide proof that you have a valid license. If they do not reinstate your license within that time frame, the insurer will cancel your policy, and you’ll have to reapply for auto insurance. Your new insurer must file a new SR-22 form.
When most states reissue your license, you must visit the DMV to pick it up. You’ll need to show a copy of your SR-22 and proof of insurance coverage.
Paying your premium on time is essential, or you’ll risk losing your license. Throughout the length of your SR-22, your insurance company and local government detect if your policy expires or defaults. In this scenario, the DMV suspends your license again, increasing the difficulty of getting insurance the next time.
How Long Do You Need an SR-22 Insurance?
Check the requirements for your state to confirm, but in most states, the SR-22 requirement lasts three years. The date for when the requirement countdown begins also varies by state. Contact your DMV to see if your requirement period starts with the date of the offense, the conviction date, or the date your license was suspended or reinstated. Keep your SR-22 and insurance in place until your requirement period is complete. If you terminate the insurance linked to your SR-22, the insurer must inform the state. The state typically suspends your driver’s license and vehicle registration.
After three years, you’ll need to let your insurance company know the requirement is complete. Shop around again for the best insurance rates. After three years, you may qualify for lower premiums.
Is an SR-22 and FR-44 the Same Thing?
Two states, Florida and Virginia, have both SR-22 and FR44 certificates. The purpose of each of these certificates is to show that drivers comply with the state’s minimum requirement for liability insurance.
For severe violations like driving without insurance, drivers file an SR-22 form. Insurance companies and states require drivers convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This form is similar to an SR-22, but the liability coverage required is much higher.
Moving With SR-22 Insurance
States have different requirements for SR-22s, and some don’t require them. However, if you have an SR-22 and move to a new state, you should maintain the SR-22 insurance for the necessary time.
When you renew your license in the new state, the DMV will probably see that your old state’s policy carries an SR-22. Even if your new state doesn’t require SR-22 certificates, it could make you carry your SR-22 until it expires. Failure to carry insurance and file the SR-22 certificate could cause your insurance premiums to increase or your license to be suspended.