What is SR-22 Insurance?
Insurance companies must jump through hoops to provide auto insurance to some people based on the laws of the state the policy is sold through. The ways that policies are sold and reported along with the way that claims are handled are closely watched and regulated by state insurance offices. One good example of this is the way that states handle drivers that have had major traffic violations. Most states require a SR-22 (State Required form 22) form be on file for these individuals and it is an important form to know about.
If you have a DUI or DWI or any other serious moving violation, have had an at-fault accident while driving uninsured, have too many citations in a short period of time or have your license suspended or revoked you could have to file an SR-22 form. The reason for this form is that it lets the state know that you are carrying the required amounts of liability insurance for your vehicle or yourself. This is NOT a separate kind of auto insurance but instead a way to make sure you are carrying the necessary coverage.
The state bears the responsibility to the other drivers on the road to make sure that you are insured to be on the road and this is one way of doing that. The form is usually submitted by your insurance company, but it is your responsibility to follow up and ensure that this is getting done. What follows is more about the SR-22 and its requirements.
The History of the SR22
Insofar as wanting to know the beginnings of the SR-22 form you may be disappointed to know the exact origins are hard to spot. Most states tend to copycat one another when it comes to steps forward to curb the presence of drunk driving and this is another example of this. The early 1980s were the beginning of the understanding of the perils of drinking and driving and laws like this followed soon after. In addition, this is a way of penalizing those that drive while not insured or not licensed to do so.
The penalty isn’t one that is financial in nature as insurance companies can’t raise your rates due to the presence of an SR-22, but you will have to pay to have it filed. What will happen to your rates is that they will go up because of the presence of what it was that got you the SR-22 in the first place. So, there isn’t much that you need to know about the history of the SR-22, but you will want to know how it works if you have to have one.
How the SR-22 Works
Most of the SR-22 paperwork (outdated term as most is now done electronically) is done behind the scenes by your insurance company. When you apply for your policy you are told that this form will be required and then you provide any necessary information to the insurance company to complete the form. The insurance company will then submit the required information to the state and the binding form is complete. What you will be responsible from this point on is informing the state if your insurance coverage moves to another company.
This is to say that you are the one that cancels your policy and then moves your insurance to another company. Your insurance company might inform the state in this situation, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure this is done. If the insurance company cancels or “non-renews” your policy they are required to inform the state via the SR-26 form that cancels out the SR-22 form.
If this cancellation happens before the end of your filing period required by the state and you do not immediately get coverage elsewhere you could be penalized by the state. This penalty could come in the form of a fine or the loss of your drivers license or vehicle registration. These are hefty penalties that you do not want to get so you will want to make sure that your SR-22 runs its course with valid coverage.
How Long do You have to Keep Your SR-22 Updated?
The specifics of the SR-22 vary by state, but states that require the form require it to be on file and updated for at least a 3 year period. Some states extend this requirement to 5 years and you can get this information from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or whatever your state’s primary vehicle registration department is. Remember, your insurance company will complete the form, you just need to make sure your insurance information is up-to-date.
More Specifics About Who is Required to Carry an SR-22
So we covered some of the basics about who is required to carry an SR-22 on file with the state, but here it is in a little more specific format.
1.) If you have been stopped by the police and were not carrying liability coverage or you were in an accident where you didn’t have the coverage. This isn’t the same in every state, but generally if you have been in this situation you will have to prove that it won’t happen again.
2.) DUI, DWI or other major alcohol or drug violations often carry the requirement of an SR-22 filing. You have shown the propensity to be an irresponsible person so you are required to show your financial responsibility is fulfilled.
3.) Serious moving violations like reckless driving or hit and run may require you to carry an SR-22 on file. In these situations you have shown to be a hazard on the road so the state has to attempt to protect the other drivers on the road.
4.) If your state is one that has “DMV points” or a similar system to determine driver responsibility you may have to file an SR-22 at a certain point. These systems are designed to weed out the bad drivers on the road and force them to conform to required statutes.
5.) If you are a “habitual offender” of traffic regulations you often have to carry an SR-22 to be able to get back on the road insured. A habitual offender is someone that exceeds the state’s definition of someone who has too many violations in a specified period of time.
6.) When reinstating a license or registration after a period of suspension or revocation will often have an SR-22 requirement. Another of the requirements to ensure that the road has more responsible drivers on it.
What States DO NOT Require the SR-22?
In some instances in life it is easier to explain who doesn’t do something instead of who does because of the overwhelming majority having done it. With this SR-22 this is the case because all but 8 states require the SR-22 (or something similar) be filed in situations mentioned above.
The 8 states that do not require this form be filed are Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. These states do not require that you carry the form but they do require you keep your old one updated if you move from a state that required it for the time period it was required. Virginia and Florida not only require an SR-22, but they require something similar called the FR-44 in some instances.
What is the FR-44?
Instead of requiring an SR-22 in Florida and Virginia they require a form referred to as an FR-44 that is similar in nature with some more serious alcohol-related driving offenses. These are the only states currently requiring this form and the form has some steep consequences. With this form you must carry higher than normal levels of liability insurance.
In Florida an SR-22 is only required to carry the state minimum of liability insurance which is 10/20/10 (each number represents a limit in thousands of dollars). If you are required to carry the FR-44 you have to have limits of 100/300/50. Since liability coverage is the most expensive of auto insurance coverages this can be pretty expensive.
In Virginia the limits are double that of the basic liability coverage (25/50/20) so someone with an FR-44 must carry limits of 50/100/40. So the SR-22 isn’t necessarily more expensive than normal, but the FR-44 is.
How Can the SR-22 Affect My Rates?
As we discussed before, you must tell your insurer that you have to have an SR-22 filed and they will file it and they can’t simply raise your rates due to the presence of the SR-22. However, this is tricky because they will get access to the information that led to the SR-22 by doing the normal process of underwriting when your policy starts or is renewed.
For example, if you were a very cautious driver for a long time and then got two DUI convictions in a short period of time your state may require an SR-22. The SR-22 itself won’t cause your rates to go up but the two DUI convictions will. So not only will you be charged as a risky driver that often drives while intoxicated, but you will lose some other discounts you may have had as well. Instead of being accident-free or citation-free you are now responsible and risky. The more blemishes on your record the more your insurance company will want to insure you.
If I Don’t Own a Car Do I Have to File an SR-22?
Yes, most states require that a “non-owner SR-22” be filed if you have proven to be an irresponsible driver even if you don’t own a vehicle. In this case your vehicle is not the issue, you are. So if someone loans you a vehicle and they don’t know your driving history or at least their insurance company doesn’t they are covered under your SR-22 policy.
Most of the time auto insurance follows the vehicle so this isn’t necessarily business as usual, but it is a requirement that many states have. You will be notified by your state if this is require or if you are required to carry one.
What You Need to Know About SR-22 Insurance
What is most important for you to know about the SR-22 is that it is required in all but 8 states and you will be notified if you have to carry one. You need to know that SR-22 insurance is not a specialized type of insurance, but not all companies will offer coverage to someone that must file an SR-22 with the state. Your rates may or may not be affected if you have to carry an SR-22, but it will not be because of the SR-22 alone.
The requirements of the SR-22 in your state may vary from other states, but you will be notified of the requirements if you have to have one. Most states require it be on file for 3-5 years and your responsibility is the same as your insurance company.