Auto Insurance Basics

What is SR-22 Insurance? Tips to Find Cheap SR-22 Coverage

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An SR22 form is a certificate of financial responsibility which demonstrates that a driver possesses the required amounts of liability coverage on their auto insurance policy. You only need to file an SR22 if ordered to do so by a court or the state after having committed certain motor vehicle violations, such as getting a DUI ticket. If your license has been suspended due to such a violation, you’ll need to request that your insurance company files an SR22 on your behalf; alternatively, you can acquire car insurance from a company that is willing to do so.

What is SR-22 Insurance?

SR-22 insurance, also referred to as a SR-22 bond, is simply an auto insurance policy that has been provided from an insurer that has also filed an SR-22 document on your behalf. The SR-22 filing acts as proof of coverage for the DMV, confirming that you have the required amount of liability insurance mandated by the state. States require proof of third-party liability insurance, since coverage will pay for any injuries or property damage caused to others by your driving. The coverage provided by the minimum SR-22 insurance will typically not cover any injuries to you or damages to your own vehicle.

You would only be required to get SR-22 insurance if you had been deemed a high-risk driver. This can happen if you have been:

  • Convicted of a DUI or DWI that's alcohol or drug-related
  • Involved in an at-fault accident while driving without auto insurance
  • Convicted of repeat traffic offenses or a high volume of traffic offenses in a short period of time
  • Caught driving with a revoked or restricted license

When you’re designated a high-risk driver, typically your drivers license will be suspended and, either the court or your state DMV, will issue you a notice requiring you to get an SR-22. Once the SR-22 has been filed and processed, you will be able to reinstate your license and resume driving.

Non-Owner SR22 Insurance

If you don’t own a vehicle but have had your license suspended or been designated a high-risk driver, you can purchase non-owner SR22 insurance. Non-owner car insurance offers coverage to drivers who don’t own a vehicle, so you’re insured even when using a rented or borrowed car. If you already have non-owner car insurance, you should contact your insurer to request that they file an SR22 on your behalf, as this will allow you to get your license reinstated. Note, however, that non-owner car insurance isn’t available from every insurer, so you may have a challenging time finding coverage, particularly with violations on your driving record.

How to Get a SR-22

Drivers typically find out that they need to file an SR-22 form when they're at an administrative court hearing, which is commonly after a license suspension and at the beginning of a probationary driving period. The judge presiding over the case will order the form from the driver, and drivers are responsible for telling their auto insurance company that the request has been made.

Your car insurance company does the actual SR-22 filing with the state's Department of Motor Vehicles on behalf of the policyholder. You won’t be able to file an SR-22 on your own; instead, it must be sent directly by your insurer. Once your insurer has filed the SR-22, the DMV may require up to two weeks to process the request, with requests that were filed electronically usually processed more quickly than those sent through the mail.

It’s important to request the SR-22 from your insurer quickly, as the court or state will typically impose a deadline within which it needs to be processed. If you don’t meet this deadline, your license may be suspended, even if you maintained its validity.

How Much Does a SR-22 Cost?

The fee to file an SR-22 differs from state to state. It generally costs around $25 to file an SR-22, but the fee can vary between $17 and $45. Since your auto insurance company will file the SR-22 for you, the insurer will then pass the fee along to you in a bill. Though you may be required to have an SR-22 in place for multiple years, the cost to file is a one-time fee, so you won’t have to pay each time you renew your car insurance. However, if your auto insurance policy lapses and you purchase new coverage, you will have to pay the fee again, as new proof of coverage will need to be sent by your insurer.

How Long Do You Need to Carry a SR-22

Drivers generally have the certificate of financial responsibility on their records for three years, though the time period can range between two to five years, depending on the state you live in and the reason you were required to get an SR-22. The SR-22 will remain valid for as long as your car insurance policy is active.

If you cancel the policy or it lapses for any reason, your insurance company is required to notify proper state authorities, who will “pause” your required time with an SR-22. For example, if you were mandated to have the certificate in place for three years but canceled your insurance policy after two years, your license would be suspended (if it had been previously). In addition, you would need to have SR-22 insurance in place for an additional year if you later decided to purchase a new policy.

The period of time you’re required to have SR-22 insurance is typically fixed but, if you are involved in an accident or commit further violations, the time period may be extended. This may also raise your rates considerably, as it’s an indication to your insurer that you’re an even riskier driver.

Once you no longer require a SR-22 form, or if the SR-22 period expires, your auto insurance company files a SR-26 form, effectively ending the sponsorship on their behalf. This can be done automatically by your insurer through an electronic AAMVA filing.

How Can I Find Cheap Auto Insurance Quotes with an SR-22?

Essentially any auto insurance company licensed in a state can file a SR-22, but they aren’t compelled to do so. Since getting an SR-22 signifies you are a risky driver, your normal car insurance company may cancel your coverage. And, even if your insurer chooses to keep your business, whatever driving violation caused you to require an SR-22 may significantly increase your car insurance rates. Carriers determine auto insurance quotes based on how risky they judge a driver is to insure, as reflected in the likelihood they will cause a claim. Such SR-22 triggers as being in an accident, driving with gaps in your insurance coverage, traffic violations, or driving while drunk are risky behaviors that will drive your rates up.

If your current company drops you, you will need to find a new company to file the SR-22, preferably one that won't heavily penalize you for your conviction. We've found that larger companies like GEICO and Progressive tend to penalize drivers more heavily for a DUI than do smaller, regional companies. Even without a SR-22, comparison shopping for car insurance is vital to finding the lowest premiums, but shopping around becomes even more imperative after you receive moving violations.

Generally speaking, the impact of an SR-22 on your insurance will be less severe if the cause was a traffic violation as opposed to a DUI conviction and accident. In our price surveys of certain states, including Ohio and Texas, we didn't see rates rise that much based on speeding tickets. Here is a directional breakdown of the average cost differential for speeding violations or a DUI and an accident from our study of sample drivers:

StateAvg Annual RatesSpeeding ViolationDUI + Accident
California$1,830$3,060$7,794
Texas$1,230$1,242$2,298
Florida$1,576$2,424$3,384
Illinois$1,320$2,784$2,004
Ohio$824$856$1,848

Keep in mind that, in some cases, you may be required to provide not only proof of current coverage but proof of future coverage as well. Therefore, if you’ve previously paid for auto insurance in monthly installments, you may now be required to pay the premiums for six to 12 months at a time.

And, while it’s rare, some violations will be a high enough indicator of risk that you won’t be able to find any insurance company that will take you on as a customer. Most states, therefore, have assigned high-risk plans, which you can apply for through a local insurance agent.

SR-22 Insurance Alternatives

Depending on the state you live in and the severity of your violation, you may be required to file a different document indicating financial responsibility.

SR-21 Insurance

Similar to the SR-22 filing, an SR-21 is a document demonstrating proof of the required auto insurance coverage from the insurer. An SR-21 is more commonly required if you’ve been involved in an accident or have received a ticket at a traffic stop.

SR-22A Insurance

In Missouri, Georgia and Texas, the SR-22A is typically used for repeat violators of financial responsibility laws, and requires that the policy the form is attached to be a six-month term that is paid in full.

FR-44 Insurance

In Florida and Virginia there is the FR44, also referred to as the SR44, which is typically required if you’ve had a DUI-related violation. It is essentially the same document as the SR-22, although it requires the driver to carry twice the standard minimum liability coverage.

SR-50 Insurance

The SR-50 filing is only used in Indiana, and is similar to the SR-22 in that it provides proof of coverage and allows you to get your license reinstated if it has been suspended.

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