This ultimate guide to the SR22 Insurance Certification has been conceived as a FAQ. It aims to answer all your questions regarding costs, providers, laws, and requirements. It has been conceived by tapping into the expertise of the most reputable sources—from Wikipedia to the biggest providers (Progressive, Nationwide – Titan, Geico, Allstate – Esurance, and Acceptance). Check out the questions and feel free to contact us with anything you feel we the article below doesn’t cover below.
What is an SR22? A basic definition
The SR22 is also known as a Certificate of Insurance or SR-22 bond. In other words, it’s not an insurance policy per se, but a form that most Departments of Motor Vehicles require from “High Risk” or otherwise non-conforming policy owners.
So, if it’s not insurance, then what is an SR-22?
It’s proof from your insurer that you actually have coverage. Since SR22 requirements are instated for a lack of coverage, traffic violations, or insufficient coverage, it makes sense that the state would require you to prove you are not breaking auto insurance laws again.
What does the SR stand for in SR-22?
According to DMV reps, as cited by Esurance, those two initials stand for absolutely nothing at all.
Do I need an SR-22?
That’s a question best answered by your state’s DMV and your current car insurer. And, at the end of the day, you’ll know if you need one, because a judge will have ordered you to take one out. Regulations and requirements for financial liability proof differ from one state to another and we’ve covered each state that enforces the SR-22 in part. Don’t expect to be subjected to the same standards in Texas as in Illinois or California. However, here are some general guidelines to the situations in which you require an SR-22:
- If you’ve committed a traffic violation or several;
- If you’ve been found guilty of reckless driving;
- If you’ve been found guilty of a DUI or DWI;
- If you were involved in an at-fault accident while driving without insurance and haven’t covered the court-ordered damage fees;
- If you were found driving without insurance on public roads;
- If you were found driving without a valid license on public roads;
- (in some states) if you’ve fallen behind on court-ordered payments, such as child support.
What’s an FR-44?
In some states (namely Florida and Virginia), the SR-22 for DUIs and driving without a license is called an FR-44, and may come with higher (read: double) mandatory minimum premiums. For this reason, FR-44 are decidedly expensive. In Florida the minimum coverage for bodily injury and property damage stands at $10,000. With an FR-44, these costs are increased to $100,000/$300,000 for injuries and $50,000 for property damages. Given these high costs and the drivers’ high risk profile, many coverage providers require policy holders to pay for the policy upfront, in-full, as to avoid non-payment cancellations.
Once the FR-44 probationary period expires, the insurer will file an FR-46 (similar to the SR-26) with the state.
How long will I need an SR-22 for?
Though they may seem daunting when you first get one, the truth is that the SR-22 is not forever. Also, the required time span varies based on state regulations. However, by and large, the DMV will require you to prove your financial liability for 36 months in non-alcohol-related offenses like driving without being insured, and up to 5 years for DUI violations. When your SR-22 expires or is canceled, your insurance provider will issue an SR-26, which confirms the expiration/cancellation of the policy. If the SR-26 is filed with the DMV before the probationary period is up, you may have your privileges revoked for driving without insurance. In some states (Maryland and Delaware specifically), you will need to also file the FR-19, to confirm you have the minimum amount of liability coverage required by the state.
Typically, the SR-22 and FR-44 remain valid for as long as your insurance policy is also valid. If you decide to cancel the insurance, your provider will have to inform the DMV and other relevant authorities. If the required time has not elapsed yet, you might stand to lose driving and car licensing privileges (again).
At the end of the time span during which you are mandated to have an SR-22 certificate, the violation that prompted this requirement will be cleared from your driving record. But do bear in mind that in most states, the DMV will not specifically inform you when that time is up and you become eligible for a clear record again. Check with your insurer, or even with the DMV itself.
How to obtain an SR22
Getting an SR22 depends on two factors:
- Whether or not you have insurance. If you already do, then all you’ll need to do is add the SR-22 to your current policy. If you don’t, then you’ll need to get quotes for both the car coverage and the SR-22 certificate.
- Whether or not you own a car. If you don’t, you’ll need to take out a special type of SR-22 certificate, which is called a non-owner or operator SR22. This is the case for people who don’t have regular access to (their own) car, such as those who drive regularly for a living.
For current policy holders, it’s often a good idea to simply add the SR-22 to their policy. In fact, most major providers make this process as simple as ticking a box that says “Certificate of Financial Responsibility/FR-44/SR-22” on their online quote application form. Be aware that some providers might not be able to issue SR22 certificates for other states than the one where your insurance policy has been taken out.
The process of filing for an SR-22 per se differs for one state from another. Should you be informed by the DMV or a court of law that you need such a certificate, you will have to reach out to your current insurance provider. Buying insurance is the first step, if you don’t have a policy already, or if your provider cancels your old one, on account of the SR22 requirement.
What does SR22 filing mean?
The SR22 filing is simply applying for the SR22 certificate, as well as receiving it. It’s actually very simple to file for the SR-22, since all you need to do is inform your insurance provider. They will take care of the work for you, as they are mandated by law to file the application with the DMV. Expect the filing to last around 30 business days, at the end of which you receive a letter of notification from the authorities, as well as the SR-22 itself. In some cases, you may receive an SR22 binder initially, with a limited validity (usually 90 days). The binder is useful for applying for hardship or other restricted or probationary driving licenses.
Is the SR-22 expensive?
Again, the cost of the SR-22 depends on several factors, the most important of which is your current premium. In some states, insurance premiums for cars will be more expensive than in others, DUI/SR22 or not—New York, California, and Florida are among the most notable examples. It also depends on how serious your violations was. A traffic ticket or too many points on your license will not be as ‘expensive’ as a DUI, an accident ending in damage, injury, or even fatalities, driving without insurance, or a repeat offense of any of the above. To minimize the cost damage, make it a point to drive safely for years from now on, lest you want your insurer to have you pegged as High Risl for life.
The SR-22 filing itself usually costs between $10 and $25, depending on the state where you live and, in some cases, your age, too. This is a one-time fee; should your SR-22 expire and should you need to renew it, you won’t have to pay for the filing again. However, you will be required to pay this fee for each person on your insurance policy (spouses, children, etc.). And it’s also worth mentioning that some states require SR-22 holders to pay the premium upfront and in full. This works as a strategy to minimize risk for the insurer, so that they are not later faced with the only option of canceling your policy, because you never paid for it.
Bear in mind that not all insurers can provide you with an SR-22 certificate. And even if they say they do, you should always check with the DMV, to make sure the company is state-authorized and their certificates valid.
Can I cancel my insurance with an SR-22 on record?
In the cases where you are mandated to pay in full upfront, you won’t be able to cancel the insurance and switch providers. However, make sure that, if you do cancel it, you are not violating the DMV’s time requirements. Within weeks of the cancellation, your insurer will notify the authorities. If you cancel the policy before the SR-22 deadline, you may have your driving privileges revoked or canceled.