Why SR22 Insurance is Required

Depending on the state, anyone who has multiple traffic violations or accidents may be required to carry SR22 insurance to maintain their driving privileges. Currently, the majority of states in the U.S. require SR22 coverage for drivers with multiple violations on their records. As auto insurance regulations can vary from state to state, certain states may enforce a variation of the SR22 requirement while some states may have no requirements in place at all.

SR22 Insurance Coverage

Also known as a Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate, SR22 coverage is a specialized form of liability insurance. As a state-mandated requirement, having an SR22 on file lets the state know a person has met the state’s minimum insurance coverage requirements.

Rather than being a policy unto itself, SR22 coverage exists as a rider provision on a standard policy. Individuals required to carry this form of coverage include –
• Anyone with one or more DUIs on their record
• Multiple ticket violations
• Anyone caught driving without insurance coverage
• Being uninsured at the time of an accident
• Being unable to verify insurance coverage for a random state verification request

State laws may require drivers to have an SR22 coverage form on file in order to get their license reinstated or to prevent their license from being suspended. Since SR22 insurance is state mandated, insurance providers must be authorized by the state to offer SR22 coverage. Someone needing this form of coverage can contact his or her insurance provider or check with the state website for authorized insurers.

High Risk Drivers

Someone required to carry SR22 coverage is inevitably classified as a high risk driver in the eyes of the law as well as in the eyes of insurance companies. This classification automatically leads to higher insurance premium rates overall. It’s not uncommon for high risk drivers to pay as much as two to four times more in premium costs than non-high risk drivers.

While multiple traffic violations and/or accidents can definitely place a driver in the high risk category, DUIs or DWIs are by far the most serious of offenses. In many states, just one DUI is enough to warrant high risk status with some states also mandating the SR22 requirement as well.

Technically speaking, SR22 coverage is not an actual insurance policy, but rather a guarantee (from the insurance company) that drivers will keep their insurance coverage in effect for a specified period of time. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, in the event a driver’s insurance coverage lapses, is terminated or gets cancelled, the insurance company must notify the state’s department of motor vehicles. When this happens the insurance company files what’s known as an SR26 form with the state.

Minimum Liability Coverage Amounts

As each state sets its own auto insurance regulations, minimum coverage requirements for an SR22 filing can vary from state to state. For example, minimum coverage requirements in the state of Texas are as follows –
• $25,000 for property damage
• $30,000 for bodily injury to one person in an accident
• $60,000 for bodily injury to two or more persons in an accident
Other states may have higher or lower minimum coverage requirements in place. Other states may also require additional coverage types, such as uninsured motorist coverage as part of their minimum requirements.

The cost to have an SR22 form filed with the state can run anywhere from $25 to $50 depending on the insurance company’s filing fee. As there are different degrees of “high risk,” the length of time a driver must maintain this coverage depends on his or her driving record. Typically, the duration falls somewhere between one and three years. So someone with one or more DUI’s would most likely have to maintain SR22 coverage for a longer time than someone with multiple traffic tickets.

Exceptions

As of 2011, a total of six states do not require high risk drivers to carry SR22 coverage on their insurance policies. These states include –
• Pennsylvania
• Delaware
• Minnesota
• Kentucky
• Oklahoma
• New Mexico

With the exception of New York and North Carolina, all states will still require SR22 coverage in cases where a driver is required to maintain it for another state.

In terms of variations on the SR22 requirement, Virginia and Florida enforce what’s known as an FR44 financial responsibility filing. These states require drivers to file FR44 certificates through their insurance companies, much like the SR22 mandate; only these states enforce higher minimum coverage requirements for FR44 filers.

According to the State Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles, FR44 minimum coverage amounts are as follows –
• $100,000 for bodily injury per person
• $300,000 for bodily injury per accident
• $50,000 for property damage

Considering the minimum coverage requirements for non-FR44 files are $10,000 for bodily injury and $20,000 per accident, these rates are considerably higher than the minimum requirements for non-FR44 filers. Likewise, Virginia state laws also enforce higher minimum requirements for FR44 filers.

References –
http://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/sr22InsuranceCertificate.htm
http://www.flhsmv.gov/FRManualFTP/FR44.pdf

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