SR-22 Auto Insurance Explained

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Leslie Kasperowicz
14 Years in the Insurance Industry (CSR & Writer)

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Last Updated: March 5, 2019

An SR-22 is a car insurance document required by the DMV for certain drivers in certain situations. Drivers who are considered to be a high risk may be required to get an SR-22. Confused about SR-22 requirements? How long does an SR-22 last? How much does an SR-22 cost? Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about SR-22.

sr-22 car insurance explained

What is an SR-22?

An SR-22 is a vehicle liability insurance document – just like ordinary car insurance. The document is also known as a certificate of insurance or a financial responsibility filing. If you have a high-risk car insurance policy, then you may be required to have an SR-22.

The SR-22 proves that you have car insurance. As a high-risk driver, you may be required to get an SR-22 before your driving privileges are re-instated. You may need to obtain an SR-22 from the DMV after being convicted of a DUI or another high-risk traffic offense, for example. Until you get an SR-22, you may not be legally permitted to drive.

In some states, a driver convicted of a DUI is required to get an SR-22 for three years after the DUI conviction.

How Does an SR-22 Work?

Drivers in the United States are required to have liability insurance in order to legally drive on public roads. Liability insurance shows that you are financially responsible for any damages you cause while driving. There’s property damage liability that covers damage to other vehicles, for example, and there’s bodily injury liability that covers medical expenses and lost wages of other drivers or passengers. Both property damage and bodily injury liability insurance is required in every state (except New Hampshire, which has its own unique rules).

An SR-22 demonstrates that you have the minimum required car insurance as a high-risk driver. It’s a document proving that you have sufficient property damage liability coverage and bodily injury liability coverage to meet the state’s minimum requirements.

In some states, SR-22 insurance raises your liability requirements. Instead of requiring just $10,000 of property damage liability coverage, for example, you may be required to have $20,000. You are a higher risk driver who is more likely to get involved in an accident. Thus, you must maintain higher minimum insurance requirements than an average, lower-risk driver.

In some states, drivers are required to deposit cash as proof of financial responsibility. In these states, an SR-22 can be used as an alternative to a cash deposit. The SR-22 proves that you are financially responsible. In Arizona, for example, a driver seeking reinstatement after a high-risk conviction may be required to deposit $40,000 in cash or use an SR-22 as proof of financial responsibility.

Ultimately, SR-22 insurance varies widely across the United States. Each state has different rules regarding how SR-22 insurance works. Fortunately, the court should explain your exact SR-22 requirements after your conviction.

Do I Need an SR-22?

If you have been convicted of a serious traffic violation, then you may be required to obtain an SR-22. Some of those serious traffic violations include:

Different states have different SR-22 rules. A single DUI conviction might lead to an SR-22 requirement in some states, but not others.

The court will tell you whether or not you require SR-22 insurance. It will be part of your conviction. The court may also explain other driving restrictions linked to your conviction.

How Do I Apply for an SR-22? How Do I Get an SR-22?

Getting an SR-22 is surprisingly easy. There’s no special application process required at all.

Instead, getting an SR-22 in most states simply requires the following steps:

Step 1) Request a car insurance quote online or over the phone

Step 2) Complete the application, filling out your personal details

Step 3) Indicate on the form whether or not you need an SR-22

Step 4) Complete the application and receive an estimate for SR-22 car insurance

That’s it! It’s the same process you use when buying an ordinary car insurance policy. Most major car insurance companies in the United States have a section of the application form where you can indicate whether or not you require SR-22 car insurance. However, some insurance companies require you to contact the insurance agent to get a customized SR-22 insurance quote.

Most major car insurance companies offer SR-22 car insurance. However, some car insurance companies avoid covering high-risk drivers. Drivers with multiple at-fault accidents or other serious incidents, meanwhile, may be denied coverage.

How Much Does the SR-22 Cost?

Most car insurance companies in the United States file the SR-22 for free as part of the cost of your car insurance policy. Some car insurance companies may charge a small filing fee.

If you are required to have an SR-22, then your car insurance rates will likely be much higher than a lower-risk driver with a clean driving record. The insurance company sees you as a higher risk driver to insure, and that means you will inevitably pay more for car insurance.

Some car insurance companies charge exorbitant rates to high-risk SR-22 drivers because they don’t want to cover these drivers. Other insurance companies offer more competitive rates to SR-22 drivers. Be sure to compare several quotes online to ensure you’re paying a competitive rate for car insurance.

How Long Does the SR-22 Last?

Typically, an SR-22 is required for 3 to 5 years.

Different states have different rules about SR-22 car insurance. Some states do not require SR-22 insurance at all. Other states label SR-22 insurance under different names. Some states require you to have an SR-22 for 12 months following the conviction, while others require you to have an SR-22 for 3 years after the conviction.

In many states, for example, you are required to have an SR-22 for three years after being convicted of a DUI, driving without insurance, or driving with a suspended license.

In other states, DUI convictions are treated more seriously, and drivers are required to have an SR-22 for up to five years after they are convicted of a DUI.

Once the SR-22 expires, the insurance company is required to issue an SR-26 form, which certifies that your high-risk car insurance policy has been terminated. The car insurance company will also issue an SR-26 form if you cancel your SR-22 insurance – say, if you no longer want to drive and no longer need car insurance.

Types of SR-22 Insurance

Typically, car insurance companies will give you the option of purchasing three different types of SR-22 car insurance. The type of SR-22 you need depends on whether or not you own your vehicle – or if you’re renting a vehicle or borrowing someone else’s car:

Operator: An Operator SR-22 Certificate is designed for drivers who borrow or rent a vehicle, but don’t actually own a vehicle themselves. Sometimes, an Operator SR-22 Certificate is combined with a non-owner car insurance policy.

Owner: An Owner SR-22 Certificate is for those who own and drive their own vehicle.

Operator/Owner: Most car insurance policies offer hybrid operator/owner SR-22 certificates, which are a combination of the two policies above. This policy covers your own vehicle and any vehicles you rent or borrow.

Conclusion: Compare SR-22 Car Insurance Quotes Online Today

The SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility that proves you have a certain minimum required level of car insurance. Certain high-risk drivers may be required to obtain an SR-22 in order to continue legally driving. If you were convicted of driving without insurance or driving under the influence, for example, then you may be required to obtain an SR-22 for 3 to 5 years.

Getting an SR-22 is straightforward. Typically, you fill out the same car insurance application form as you normally would, but you indicate on the form that you want SR-22 coverage. You can compare car insurance quotes from major car insurance companies like you normally would.

Different states have different rules regarding how SR-22 insurance works. Some states – including North Carolina – do not have SR-22 insurance, but use a form called the FS-1 form instead. Virginia and Florida, meanwhile, have a similar form called the FR-44. Indiana uses one called an SR-50. The court should tell you exactly which car insurance restriction you need, regardless of your state.

Fortunately, no matter what state you are in, the SR-22 allows you to continue driving after being convicted of a serious traffic violation. Drivers who require an SR-22 can compare car insurance quotes online today to ensure they get the best rate on their SR-22 car insurance.

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