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An SR-22 is an endorsement placed on an insurance policy that guarantees that a driver meets the state’s financial responsibility requirements. The form is then provided directly to the state Department of Licensing by the insurance company’s office. Washington may require that a driver carries this endorsement in several instances:
1. Driver caught driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both
2. Driving without insurance
3. Revocations of driver’s license
There are three kinds of SR-22 endorsements. The owner’s certificate confirms that there is coverage for all owned vehicles of the insured. The operator’s certificate guarantees financial responsibility in the event that a driver does not own any vehicles. The owner-operator certificate guarantees financial responsibility for any vehicle the driver does, or does not own.
In the event that Washington does require an SR-22, the driver is required to carry liability limits of at least $25,000 bodily injury per person, $50,000 bodily injury per accident, and $10,000 property damage. The insured will need to contact a licensed insurance agent to make sure that his or her insurance policy meets these requirements. In some cases, a driver may need to switch insurance carriers in order to find one who will provide the SR-22. Once the policy has been written and the processing fee paid to the agency, the insurance company will send a copy of the SR22 insurance to the Department of Licensing. A driver needs to be aware that the premium increase resulting from an SR-22 endorsement can range from a few hundred dollars on a personal auto policy to a few thousand dollars on a commercial auto policy.
Washington requires that an SR-22 endorsement be carried for thirty-six (36) consecutive months. If the policy is not renewed at least fifteen (15) days prior to expiration, a letter will be sent to the state, resulting in suspension of the driver’s license. Once the policy has been renewed, the state will reinstate the driver’s license. It is highly recommended that the insured renew their policy at least forty-five (45) days ahead of time.
There are two ways to avoid having to obtain an SR-22 endorsement. A driver can make a deposit of $60,000 to the State Treasurer or obtain a surety bond through a surety company that is licensed to do business in Washington.
Occasionally, out of state drivers will be required to carry an SR-22 endorsement in order to release the driver’s license. Out of state residents will have to obtain a non-owner SR22 insurance policy, along with a Washington state insurance policy showing an out of state address.