You likely haven’t heard of an SR-22. Perhaps you’ve heard of an acquaintance needing one or are concerned you might need one yourself. Few people know the filing exists and in general, it’s better that way. An SR-22 is usually required after a run-in or violation with the law. If you’re a safe driver and avoided those, you probably haven’t come into contact with the form. However, if you’re interested in learning more just in case or in need of some guidance about next steps to take, read on.
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What Is an SR-22?
Despite what people often think, an SR-22 is not car insurance. An SR-22 is simply a document filing that verifies someone has auto insurance. Its name stands for several variations of “safety responsibility”, “state reference form”, and “state requirement” form. Sometimes, you might also hear the filing referred to as a “certificate of financial responsibility.”
The SR-22 form is filed by your insurance carrier and then passed onto your state’s DMV. It confirms that you meet the car insurance liability requirements of your state. The state typically mandates the need for the certificate, and then an individual must contact their car insurance company for next steps.
Every state has different car insurance requirements resulting in many different types of SR-22 forms. They don’t all hold the same coverage laws. Basically, the form is evidence of responsibility so that the DMV knows you are a covered driver in case of future accidents. In nearly all states it’s the law to have some degree of coverage.
Who Needs an SR-22?
There are several possible reasons your state may mandate you to file an SR-22.
If you’ve been convicted of a DUI or DWI, you will likely need an SR-22. Driving under the influence is a serious crime and states want to make sure you are properly covered before getting on the road again.
- Driving Without Any Insurance
If you were caught driving without car insurance, you will need an SR-22 filing. The reason is relatively obvious, as your state will likely want proof of your insurance if you’ve been found without it.
- Multiple Violations
If you have multiple violations, such as repeated tickets for speeding or reckless driving, then your state may be apprehensive and see you as a risky motorist. As a result, they may require the form to confirm your coverage.
- Suspended License
If you have had your driver’s license suspended or revoked, your state may require proof of car insurance in order for it to be reinstated.
Consequences of an SR-22:
Finding out you need to carry an SR-22 isn’t the best news. Car insurance carriers typically require a small fee, anywhere from $15-$50, to file the SR-22 form, but the consequences are larger. You will likely face higher premiums for some time as needing an SR-22 is often seen as an indicator of risk for insurance companies. High-risk drivers typically feel the burden of any violations for an indeterminate amount of time. If you’re unhappy with your premium, you can always try shopping around. Though you will still have to inform a new carrier about recent violations, they may still offer a more affordable rate. Furthermore, not all auto insurers will provide an SR-22 form so check to make sure your provider can fulfill the requirements. Most of the larger names are well aware of the SR-22 requirements and will assist you with the process.
The silver lining in all of this is that if you follow the filing rules, your state will mandate the form for approximately 3-5 years. After that, your premium rate will drop again. If you do your best to drive safe, you can recover from an SR-22 filing.
Furthermore, not all states have an SR-22 requirement. If you live in Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, or Pennsylvania, you do not need to worry about an SR-22. However, if you’ve recently moved, your old state of residence may still require the filing. You can speak to your local DMV to find out what is required for you to be driving on the roads.
Even if you don’t own a vehicle, you still may be required to file an SR-22 if you have had serious driving violations. Usually, a driver will have to purchase non-owner car insurance and the carrier will file an SR-22 in a similar manner.
SR-22s can be a hassle to deal with but we promise you that they aren’t forever. If you focus on maintaining a safe driving record and carefully follow the filing procedures, you’ll be free of the requirement in no time.
Photo credit (top image): Eric Fischer