An SR-22 is not an insurance policy. Rather, it is an addendum to an insurance policy that is required of some drivers by law as a result of a DUI or other driving-related issue that marks you as a high risk. The actual details behind the SR-22, including the costs, how long it needs to stay in effect and why it must be a part of your policy will vary from state to state.
Having the SR-22 will allow you to drive with a restricted license and it will also allow the insurance company the ability to submit to the DMV that you have met your state’s financial responsibility requirements as necessary based upon your driving record.
Causes of SR-22’s Issuance
There are a number of reasons behind issuing an SR-22 to a driver. Many times, this is because during a particular traffic offense, the person was unable to show financial responsibility. This is due to such traffic violations as:
- DUI (DWI/OUI)
- Reckless driving
- At-fault accidents
- Driving without insurance
- Other offenses
The SR-22 could also be issued by a judge in a court of law as a result of the past driving record of an individual. While the license is suspended, this is the only way that a person will be able to get driving privileges re-instated. It is a way of proving that you have the financial coverage on your policy to pay for the people that you could possibly injure based upon your past driving experience.
Driver’s licenses are suspended every day for a number of reasons. In order for you to get your driving privileges re-instated, it will often require making an appearance in a courtroom to plead your case. Involving a lawyer can help you to strengthen your case so that the judge will allow you to get your license back. Regardless of the situation, most judges will give you the right to drive again, assuming that you get an SR-22 certificate to meet the financial responsibility laws.
If the judge does not allow your license to be re-instated, then you will not be able to drive on your license at all, regardless of whether you get an SR-22 or not. You may need to show a reason for why you need to have driving privileges, be it due to childcare, employment or another reason. This information will be filed into a computer, which means that switching to another state in order to get another state’s driver’s license will also be impossible.
Acquiring the SR-22 Certificate
Once an SR-22 is required, you will need to contact an insurance company in order for them to issue you the certificate. This is a high-risk insurance certificate that is typically very expensive. Not all insurance companies will issue an SR-22, so it may require a little research. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, located at www.naic.org will assist in helping you to find a licensed agent or broker in your particular state so that you are able to get the SR22 insurance that you need. Here are 3 other important points to keep in mind:
- It Can Take 30 Days, or More, to Receive the SR-22: The certificate will be issued upon payment of the certificate. It will then be submitted to the Secretary of the State. This process can take as long as 30 days to complete. Until the certificate is actually completed, it will not be possible for you to regain your driving privileges because your license is still technically suspended within the computer system.
- Keep It With you At All Times: Upon receiving the SR-22, the insurance company will be required to notify the DMV that you now meet all state laws in regards to financial responsibility as well as minimum requirements as enforced by your state. It must remain active and be in your car at all times should you ever be pulled over and need to show it to a law enforcement agency.
- Your License Can Be Suspended if Your Coverage Lapses: Should your insurance every lapse or be cancelled, your insurance company will be required by law to notify the DMV that you are no longer in accordance with the law. At this point, your license will be suspended for failure to comply with the SR-22 insurance requirements. In order to prevent suspension or be within violation of the terms of the SR22 insurance laws, it is best to renew your insurance at least 15 days prior to the expiration date of the insurance policy. It is also possible that an insurance company will choose not to renew your policy based upon various factors, including driving history and other such information. Planning in advance will ensure that you don’t have a gap in coverage, which would cause your suspension to become active again.
Using an insurance broker that has multiple companies in their portfolio is one of the best options in order to keep the SR-22 active should one company decide not to renew your policy. This will allow you to meet all of the state requirements and keep your policy affordable at the same time.
Finding a Licensed SR22 insurance Provider
When acquiring an SR22 insurance, there are more options than simply going through your existing insurance provider.
- Legally Licensed: In order to be fully compliant with your state in regards to the SR-22 certificate, the issuing company of the certificate must be licensed within the particular state. Not every insurance company is able to issue the certificate, so it’s important to find the company who is able to do so legally so that you’re able to get the certificate, have it reported to the DMV and then continue to be able to drive on your license without fear of being in violation of any laws.
- Alternate Providers: It is possible to have an SR-22 certificate issued from a company that is not your current insurance provider. Contact your current provider first and then go with a company who is affordable and licensed within the state. The DMV as well as the courts will be able to provide you with specific documentation as to where you can get the SR-22 in order to remain compliant.
- Provide Full Disclosure: In addition, it’s necessary to understand that getting the SR-22 must include contacting your current insurance provider about the certificate. It’s not legal to get dual insurance policies by telling one and not telling the other. This will ensure that you have followed the correct procedures and cannot be found in violation of anything.
- Your Previous Coverage May Be Canceled:If you were insured at the time you were required to have an SR-22, the insurance company you were with may cancel your policy with them, depending on your state laws and the particular insurance company you were with (e.g. especially true if they do not offer SR22 insurance).
Filing an SR-22 Policy
When you get the certificate, you will then be able to get the correct policy based upon what the terms of the certificate are. At this point, it will be submitted to the DMV to remove the suspension off your license. If any of the correct steps are not followed, you would be driving on a suspended license, which are grounds for serious legal repercussions including additional fines, license suspension, revocation and possibly imprisonment.
Contact an insurance broker to have them walk you through the process of getting an SR-22 and an affordable policy so that they can help you. This can help to remind you to renew your policy as necessary and that you never fall out of compliance during the term in which you must keep the certificate active; however, keeping the SR-22 active is ultimately the insured’s responsibility.
State Laws Regarding SR22 Insurance
At the time this was written (please check your local laws for current info), there are a few states that currently do not require the SR22 insurance. This includes:
- New Mexico
- Coverage Amount:For a full listing of state laws in regards to the SR-22, you can visit your state DMV/insurance website, which will also detail how much insurance you must have in order to get the SR-22 certificate in your particular state.
- Coverage Length:Most states require that your certificate remain active for at least 3 years. The 3 years typically begins on the first day that the SR-22 certificate is issued from the insurance company. Some states are as much as 5 years.
- Minimum Liability Requirements: The policy in effect with the certificate must meet all minimum liability requirements with the state. This includes personal and property liability. Every state has their own liability requirements, so it will vary significantly based upon the laws of your individual state.
- Licensing in an Additional State: In order to get a driver’s license in another state, you must first satisfy the requirements in the state in which your suspension occurred, which means having an SR-22 on record. Most states in the country report suspensions and other issues on a national computer system. The DMV of most states therefore cannot issue a license if you have been suspended in another state without first getting the SR-22 and having it reported to the DMV. This ensures that your driving privileges are suspended until you can prove financial responsibility. For some states however, this is not required, and more-so if the state you are moving to does not require an SR-22. Please check the laws in the state you are transferring from, and to.
- Penalties/Fees:Certain fees may be assessed in conjunction with writing the SR-22 certificate. Penalty fees can reach as high as $250 in some states while reinstatement fees can be $55 or even higher. This is in addition to any court fees as well as the additional cost of SR22 car insurance. These fees will vary by state and the DMV will be able to tell you exactly how much the fees will be in order to get the SR-22 in place so that you remain complaint.
Getting SR22 Insurance Without Owning a Vehicle (Non-Owner SR22 Insurance)
Whether you own a car or not, you may be required by the state regulatory entity (e.g. DMV) to have an SR-22 certificate and an SR22 auto insurance policy in order to pay out on any future claims. This proof of financial responsibility ensures that liability payments (not the car you are driving) will be covered in case of an accident during your SR-22 period.
A non-owner SR22 insurance policy is quite common and can be more affordable than an owner SR22 insurance policy simply because the likelihood of you driving more often is reduced. Just as you can have a driver’s license without being a car owner, the same is true of an insurance policy.
In many cases, regardless of whether you were a car owner at the time of the incident or not, getting a non-owner SR-22 may be the only way that you will be able to re-instate your driving privileges if your license was suspended. You will be able to drive any vehicle that is not owned by you once you get the certificate and this will be reported to the DMV, allowing you to drive legally on the road without further complicating your driving record.
Various Forms of the SR-22
There are typically 3 forms of the SR-22 that can be issued by a particular state. It is therefore important to get the proper type after having been issued a SR-22 form:
- Operator’s Certificate:This type of policy will cover the motorist in the operation of any vehicle, even if not owned by the driver. If a driver does not own a car, he or she would be covered with this type of certificate.
- Owner’s Certificate:This type of policy covers all vehicles owned by the driver. The vehicle must either be listed on the SR-22 or be issued as “all owned vehicles” in order to be compliant.
- Operators-Owners Certificate:This type of certificate covers all vehicles – owned or un-owned by the driver and is therefore the most comprehensive of the three types of SR-22 certificates.
Based upon your situation, you will need to get one of the certificates in order to remain compliant with the State as well as with the DMV. The most common certificate is the Operators-Owners Certificate because it ensures that you are covered no matter what type of vehicle you are driving. This is also usually the one to have if you drive a company vehicle at any given time, or could ever find yourself behind the wheel of a car that is not owned by you.
Choosing the right certificate will help protect you against having your license suspended again for failure of being compliant. If you are ever pulled over and cannot provide the right documentation because of the way your SR-22 certificate is worded, you could have your license suspended again and have legal proceedings filed against you for failure to stay within State laws.
Moving Out-of-State Requirements
If you should move out of the state where your traffic violation is and where your SR-22 has been issued, you must contact the DMV office of your new state in order to ensure that you are in accordance with new state law. The proof of financial responsibility for the new state may be waived because you have met regulations enforced by the state that you were previously living in. An Affidavit is most commonly required in order to get the waiver.
Some states will require you to do nothing while others will require that you receive a new SR-22 based upon their financial responsibility laws, depending upon whether you carry higher or lower than current state levels.
The Difference Between the SR-22 & the FR-44
The SR-22 is not to be confused with the FR-44. These are both financial responsibility certificates, however the FR-44 is only a certificate that is required by a few states and typically replaces the need for an SR-22. The FR-44 is a certificate that is required in particular cases involving liquor and/or drugs and will increase the minimum liability requirements significantly, thus making insurance generally even more expensive because of the need to have the higher than minimum requirements.
You will know which type of certificate you are required to get based upon the state that you live in as well as what the judge orders you to get. The process for getting the certificates are handled in the same manner, however it is imperative that you get the correct one in order to satisfy state law as well as DMV requirements in order to drive on a license that had been previously suspended.
The best way to fully grasp the details of the SR-22 is to familiarize yourself with state laws. The filing of the certificate will be handled differently from state to state. The penalty and filing fees will vary as will with the certificate will actually be required. Since all states have different financial responsibility laws, the SR-22 will look very different in California than it would in Ohio or another state. Familiarizing yourself with the state laws will ensure that you remain in accordance with the law to prevent future driver’s license suspensions. Rate comparison site, Auto Loan says the cost of getting an SR-22, which is between $15 and $30, far outweighs the financial and legal risks of not carrying one which can be thousands.
Many SR22 insurance companies will work with you to get over the problems that you’ve had to incur. The SR-22 certificate is fairly common, which is why more and more companies will work with you and offer the certificate. If you cannot find a company that will issue you the certificate, then you must keep looking. If you do not get the insurance policy, then your license will remain suspended until you are able to get a certificate and a policy.
In order to avoid driving privileges from being suspended, the SR-22 must be in effect for the entire duration as required by law; generally three to five years for most states, following the suspension. At any time during this period, if the policy is cancelled, transferred to a different insurance company or otherwise disrupted, the license could be suspended again, which could also include more penalty and filing fees as well as set the clock for another three to five years to have the certificate in place. Always verify any moving changes with your insurance provider before acting upon them if you are required to carry SR22 insurance.
- http://doa.alaska.gov/dmv/akol/sr22.htm ‘