Though most of us just think of car insurance and registration with our local DMV as the only forms of legal and financial responsibility we must take on as drivers, if you’ve committed a serious moving violation or other infraction on the road, you may need to obtain something else — a document called an SR-22. But what is it exactly, who has to get it, and what does it entail?
What is an SR-22?
An SR-22 is an official document — not an insurance policy — that must be filed with your state by an insurance provider if you have a suspended or revoked license, serious moving violations, or as a result of not paying child support. Also known as a certificate of financial responsibility, an SR-22 serves as proof that you have obtained the minimum liability coverage required in your state. In Virginia, for example, the minimum liability coverage would be $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident for bodily injury and $20,000 per accident for property damage. The issuance of an SR-22 by an insurance company will ensure your driving privileges or reinstate them. Those who are required to get an SR-22 are typically notified through their state division of motor vehicles or by court order. Not all states in the U.S. require an SR-22.
What is an FR-44?
An FR-44 is similar to an SR-22, however it requires higher liability limits for an auto policy than the state minimum and is only a required in Florida and Virginia. In the case of Virginia, the limits for an FR-44 would be $50,000 per person or $100,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $40,000 per accident for property damage — double the amount required for an SR-22 in that state. FR-44s are required for more serious offenses, such as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). Florida and Virginia also use the SR-22, but for less severe infractions.
Who needs to get an SR-22?
Though whether you need to get an SR-22 depends on your state and the violation or offense that’s been committed, you may be required to get one for any of the following reasons:
- DUI or DWI conviction
- Driver’s license suspension or revocation
- Repeat offenses, such as speeding, in a relatively short amount of time
- Unpaid court-ordered child support
- An at-fault accident while not insured
- Driving with no insurance or being under-insured
- Driving without a valid license
- Other serious offenses, such as a hit and run and reckless driving
How do I get an SR-22?
SR-22s can be obtained through your insurance carrier, provided they offer it. If they do not, or if you are currently without insurance, you’ll need to shop around for insurance companies that do offer SR-22s and compare quotes for an insurance policy with an SR-22 endorsement.
Once your policy is in force and at your initial request, the carrier will file the SR-22 document with your state automatically. Insurance companies that market to high-risk drivers typically offer SR-22s. Some of the nation’s largest auto carriers also offer SR-22s. If you find that you are denied coverage to fulfill your SR-22 requirement, your state may be able to help you. Many states have partnered with insurance companies to offer high-risk drivers in their state insurance options, though the coverage offered in this way may be higher. Insurance providers can also be found through the Automobile Insurance Plan Service Office (AIPSO).
Major insurance carriers who offer SR-22s:
- Farmers Insurance
- State Farm
How much does an SR-22 cost?
Though states vary, the cost to file an SR-22 is typically $25 and you may have to pay a filing fee at each new policy term that you still require an SR-22. Extra fees from your state are also a possibility. These fees are small, but your insurance premium will also be impacted.
Will my insurance rate go up?
Because drivers who require an SR-22 are considered high-risk drivers, you should expect to see a higher premium compared to drivers that don’t require an SR-22. The rate will also depend on a number of other factors, such as where you live, your vehicle, the violation behind the SR-22 requirement, and the insurance company. Comparing rates from a variety of insurers that provide SR-22s is the best way to prepare for any increase in rates as a result of this requirement by the state.
What if I need an SR-22 but I don’t have a car?
If you don’t own a vehicle, you can still obtain an SR-22 through a non-owner car insurance policy, which provides coverage for cars you borrow or rent. An SR-22 provided through a non-owner insurance policy may be necessary to get your driver’s license re-instated if it’s been suspended.
How long do I need to carry an SR-22?
For most states, an SR-22 is required for three years. You must maintain continuous coverage during the term of your SR-22 because if there is a lapse in coverage or policy cancellation, your state will automatically be notified, and possible consequences include a reset of the SR-22 or suspension of your license.
You should know the exact length of time you’ll be required to maintain an SR-22. Refer to your state division of motor vehicles or court order to get this information.
Once that period is up, what’s next?
Once the term of your SR-22 is over, you’ll need to notify your insurance company so they can remove it from the policy; the SR-22 endorsement on your policy will not expire on its own. Once this requirement is lifted from your auto insurance policy, it is possible you’ll see a decrease in your rate, though it’s not guaranteed. Insurance rates typically go down three to five years after an accident or moving violation, so there is the possibility for a much lower rate in the years following an SR-22 requirement by the state.