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If auto insurance wasn’t already confusing for many consumers, every state jurisdiction has their own rules and regulations. This often results in more confusion for vehicle owners who wish to play by the rules. One topic that often needs clarification is the rule regarding the SR-22 requirement.
What is an SR-22?
An SR-22 is the title of a form that an insurer must file on behalf of a policyholder who has been required to purchase auto liability insurance. It is a method your insurer uses to let the state that is requiring it know that your required liability insurance is in force. It is a notification form.
Who Needs an SR-22?
An SR-22 filing is required when a vehicle driver is involved in an at-fault accident or convicted of a major traffic violation and is unable to provide proof of financial responsibility (doesn’t have required liability coverage in force) at the time of the accident or conviction of the offense. Typical events when a driver must show financial responsibility are:
- A conviction for a DUI or DWI or other serious traffic conviction.
- A conviction of being found driving without insurance or without a license.
- Ticketed for an at-fault accident while driving without mandatory liability insurance.
- Considered a habitual offender of traffic violations without insurance.
- Attempting to have a suspended or revoked license reinstated.
Is an SR-22 Auto Insurance?
An SR-22 is a common form that insurers use to report to a particular jurisdiction that a policyholder has the minimum liability coverage required in their state. It is not insurance and provides no financial protection for the driver.
What is a FR-44?
Although most states use the SR-22 form for reporting that liability coverage is in effect, some states use the FR 44 form which contains virtually the same information but is used in Florida and Virginia if the requirement is triggered by a DUI conviction or a suspended license.
In many cases, drivers in Florida or Virginia who receive an FR 44 requirement, must carry more than the minimum liability limits. If your auto liability insurance is canceled while your SR-22 requirement is in effect, your insurer will immediately file an SR-26 form with your state’s regulatory agency to notify them your policy is no longer in force.
How do I get an SR-22?
If you receive a notice from your state that an SR-22 or FR 44 is needed in order for you to reinstate your driving privileges, most insurers will issue the form when you purchase the required liability insurance.
It’s important to note that not all companies will be willing to offer you coverage because of the SR-22 or FR 44 requirement, so your best bet will be to shop online for a company that offers coverage when the form is needed. Also, your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles will provide your case number with your notice (court order), so be sure to have that on hand when you are purchasing your insurance.
How Much Does an SR-22 Cost?
The cost for having an SR-22 filed on your behalf is nominal, typically between $15 and $25 dollars. Now that the form is filed electronically, there is no additional cost to the insurer.
Your cost for the insurance policy, however, will be based on the conviction that caused your state to require the form in the first place. If your driving record was previously clean, you should expect to pay higher rates now that you have been convicted a serious traffic offense or accident while driving without insurance.
Once again, be sure and shop for your insurance needs because some companies charge much less than others for drivers who have a tarnished driving record.
What if I Don’t Own a Vehicle but Still Want to Have my License Reinstated?
For drivers who don’t own a vehicle, but still want a license so they can drive a borrowed or rented vehicle, there is coverage available for non-owner drivers. Many insurers offer non-owner liability insurance even when an SR-22 is required. In fact, most non-owner policies are purchased because the licensee is required to file an SR-22 and they don’t own a vehicle.
What are the Different Types of SR-22’s?
Depending on your driving situation, you will need to get one of the three different types of SR-22 certificates.
Owner-Operator Certificate – This certificate covers you for any car you drive. This includes both cars you own and cars you don’t own, such as a borrowed car or a rental.
Owner’s Certificate – This certificate will ONLY cover you for cars that you own.
Operator’s Certificate – This certificate is often referred to as a “non-owner SR-22”. If you do not own a car it is important that you apply for this certificate because it will result in lower insurance rates. This is because insurance companies assume that non-car owners drive less than those who own cars.
What happens if my Insurance is Canceled or Lapses?
If you let your insurance lapse, or it is canceled for any reason while you have a SR-22 on file, your insurance company will alert your state by submitting a SR-26 form. If you haven’t replaced the insurance policy with another insurance policy, your license will be suspended and you may be subjected to additional penalties, fines and most likely higher insurance rates next time you apply.
What happens if I Move to Another State While my SR-22 is Active?
Typically, most states reciprocate when new drivers move to their state. This means that your new state is unlikely to issue your driver’s license if you failed to meet the requirements in the previous state. Many states have varying rules concerning this, so be sure and contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in your new state to find out how they want you to handle the SR-22 requirement in the state you’re moving from. An insurer who is “SR-22 friendly” will work with you so the form can be filed and your license can be issued in the new state.
In closing, it’s important to understand that an SR-22 or FR44 requirement is not that unusual. There are many insurers and agencies out there that actually specialize in getting these forms filed so your license will be reinstated. A simple email or phone call will most likely eliminate any fears associated with meeting the requirement you’re experiencing in order to get your license reinstated.