If you have been told that you need an SR-22, you might be confused as to what it is and what it means to need one. This article seeks to expand on the information, and separate the myths from reality, to help you understand exactly how an SR-22 will impact your driving record and your life.
What is an SR-22?
SR-22 is not actually an insurance policy; rather it is proof of financial liability that your auto insurance company files with your state bureau or department of motor vehicles on your behalf.
You can only get an SR-22 through an automobile insurance company that handle’s SR-22 filings, and only after you have purchased a policy. Once you have purchased a policy, your insurance company will send an electronic copy of the certificate to the department or bureau of motor vehicles, and send you a paper copy.
Once the bureau or department of motor vehicles receives the certificate, it is stored electronically as part of your driving record; but you will also need to carry a copy of it with you, and present it if asked by a police officer.
If you fail to maintain your car insurance, or if your insurance provider cancels your policy, your SR-22 is no longer valid. The insurance company will also notify your state bureau or department of motor vehicles about the status of the SR-22
Who Needs an SR-22?
Not all drivers need to have an SR-22. In fact, most drivers don’t. However, there are specific circumstances where your state department or bureau of motor vehicles will require you to have one in order to legally drive.
These circumstances include, but are not limited to:
- Getting caught driving without insurance;
- Getting into an accident without insurance, even if you are not found at fault for the accident;
- Getting a DUI or DWI, with or without automobile insurance;
- Having a serious moving violation, such as reckless driving, with or without automobile insurance;
- Having too many accidents, or traffic violations on your record; and,
- Getting your license suspended.
Drivers are usually required to have an SR22 policy for a specific period of time, such as three years, and the length of time varies by state.
If you lose your coverage before the SR-22 requirement has expired, you could suffer several penalties including losing your license or vehicle. When you do reinstate your policy, the state could also reset the SR-22 requirement back to day one, forcing you to start all over.
Do all States Require an SR-22?
No. Some states do not have SR-22 requirements; however, they might require other documentation in order for you to prove liability and reinstate your driver’s license. As of this writing, Delaware, Minnesota, New York, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina do not have SR-22 requirements.
Do I Need to Notify my Insurer of my SR-22 Requirement?
Yes. You need to have an SR-22 to maintain your license, and you can only get one if you purchase a policy from an insurer that does SR-22 filings. For this reason, you will need to notify your insurance company to find out if you can get an SR-22 through them; if you can’t, then you will need to go through a different company.
You can’t have two separate policies through two different companies.
How Much Does and SR-22 and Insurance Policy Cost?
The SR-22 usually costs a small fee that you pay up front. The cost of the insurance policy will depend on several factors including your driving record, your credit rating, and the pricing that the insurance company offers.
Generally, if you have an SR-22 requirement, you will also need to purchase a high-risk policy, which might be more expensive than a regular policy.
However, each provider’s rates are different and you will need to shop around to get the best deal.
What if I Move to a Different State after I get an SR-22?
Changing states does not change your driving record.
If you got an SR-22 requirement on your driving record and then moved to a different state, you will still need to meet the requirements for the state in which you got the SR-22. If your insurance company is not authorized in your new state, you will need to find one that is authorized in both states.
If you move to a state that does not require an SR-22, you will need to contact the bureau or department of motor vehicles in your old state to determine what you will need to do.
What if I No Longer Have My Car?
Even if you don’t have a car, you will still need an SR-22 to keep your license. In those cases, you would get something called a non-owner’s policy which will insure you, instead of a vehicle that’s registered to you.
However, if you do have regular access to someone else’s vehicle, even if it’s not registered in your name, you cannot get by with a non-owner’s insurance policy.
If you are not sure if your situation qualifies you for a non-owner’s policy, contact your insurance provider about your SR-22 options.