Did you know that one in eight motorists in the US drives on the country’s roads even if they don’t have car insurance? Not only is that illegal in most states– it also puts other drivers and pedestrians at severe risks. On top of that are those who drive while distracted, under the influence, or while impaired. Drivers who use text and drive contribute to nearly one in four crashes every year.
In many cases, these are the motorists who end up requiring SR-22. Failure to meet this legal requirement will mean giving up one’s driving privileges or other penalties. What exactly is SR-22, though, and why do states require it? Aside from the drivers mentioned above, who else would need it?
We’ll get to the bottom of all these questions below, so be sure to stick around!
What Is An SR-22?
SR-22 comes with various names, one of which is “Certificate of Financial Responsibility.” You may also know it as an “SR-22 Bond” or “SR-22 Form”. Either way, it’s a certification document filed with the state.
Each certificate specifies the name of an individual motorist. To have your name on this form means that you have met the state’s required car insurance coverage. It’s a certification that you have already purchased the necessary auto insurance coverage.
As such, the “bond” or the “form” is a guarantee from an insurance company. The insurer assures the state that the named person currently carries insurance coverage. It certifies that a particular motorist is financially responsible for any traffic accident.
Also, the insurer guarantees to let the state know if the named person drops their coverage.
Does That Mean It’s A Type Of Insurance?
Many people refer to SR-22 as “insurance,” but it’s not a form of insurance coverage. Instead, it’s a type of “filing” that states require of some individuals.
People (even insurers) refer to it as “insurance” because you can only get it after buying a policy. Remember, SR-22 certifies that a person carries the legally-required coverage. As such, there’s always a connection between this form and an auto insurance policy.
What About Nonowner SR-22 Insurance?
Nonowner SR-22 “insurance” is much like the standard form — it’s a certificate, not insurance. The main difference is, non_owner SR-22 is for people who don’t own a car but still need the form. An example would be a motorist who lost their license and ended up selling their ride.
In the above situation, the driver would still benefit from an SR-22 filing, even if they don’t own a car. Getting the certificate takes them a step closer to having their license reinstated.
Another situation wherein SR-22 may be helpful is when renting out a car. As a nonowner, you’ll likely need car rental coverage if you need access to a ride. However, you need to get your license reinstated first before you can rent a vehicle.
If you lost your license, get it back with a Certificate of Financial Responsibility. Once you have this form, look for auto hire companies that rent out to SR-22 bearers. There’s not a lot of them, but they do exist.
Is It Required in All States?
Delaware, for instance, has eliminated SR-22 insurance certificate filing requirements. Some states do not require it, such as Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania.
However, the above only applies to people who’ve never needed to file an SR-22. Out-of-state drivers required to have SR-22 still need the form to drive in these states. Let’s say you hail from another state which requires you to have this certificate. If you want to operate a motor vehicle in say, New York, you need to maintain it. Otherwise, you’ll violate the laws in both states.
When Do You Need an SR-22?
Your state or one of its traffic courts will let you know if you need to get SR-22. Most courts order motorists to get it during hearings or drivers get notified via a letter from the department of motor vehicles (DMV).
On that note, many cases of SR-22 requirements occur after a driver gets charged with a DUI or DWI. Motorists with multiple traffic offenses also end up having to get this certificate. The same goes for drivers who’ve had their licenses suspended or revoked.
If you don’t meet your state’s auto insurance requirements, you’ll also face an SR-22 demand. That includes not having enough coverage and not having any insurance at all.
How Much Would It Cost You?
The overall costs of needing an SR-22 vary from state to state and from one insurer to another. For starters, states charge varying filing and license reinstatement fees. For example, in California, you’d need to pay $55 to get your license reinstated. As for filing fees, they can run anywhere from $25 to $50, depending on the insurer. The good news is, this is only a one-time charge.
The most expensive part of requiring this “bond” is the actual auto insurance coverage. Remember, most people end up needing this form due to high-risk driving behaviors. In the world of insurance, generally the higher the motorist’s risk, the more expensive their premiums.
One study even found that a single traffic citation could drive car insurance rates by up to 78.3% each year. The more violations there are on a driver’s record, the higher those rates could be.
If you were paying, say, $1,500 a year pre-SR-22, you could expect your rates to skyrocket. The reason you need the SR-22 form in the first place will be a massive contributor to your costs. Your age, location, the kind of car you’ll insure, and your overall driving history will also play a role.
That’s why it’s essential always to shop around when you need SR-22. This way, you can make sure that you’re getting the right deal for you. The last thing you want, after all, is to face exorbitant rates on top of your auto payments.
So, Where Can You Get An SR-22?
The only way to get your hands on an SR-22 bond is to get it from a car insurance provider. Note, however, that not all auto insurance companies file this form. You need to obtain the certificate from an insurer that specializes in SR-22 filings.
One example of such an insurance firm is Breathe Easy Insurance. You can purchase the mandatory auto insurance coverage from them. They can help ensure that you’re buying the level of coverage that your state requires from you. After that, they’ll help you sort your SR-22 documentation.
If you do have some form of insurance, check with your provider if they issue SR-22. If not, then you’d need to switch insurance providers.
What Happens Next?
Once you’ve obtained the form, your chosen insurance company will file it for you. Reliable insurers usually file the certificate within the same day you’ve paid for it. The sooner you get this document filed, the sooner you can have your license reinstated.
Can You Get an SR-22 Removed?
Yes! SR-22 requirements won’t haunt you for life. On average, most states require motorists to maintain it for three years.
With that said, be sure to ask your state or court how long you need the certificate. This way, you won’t run the risk of canceling your auto insurance policy before the form “expires.” Knowing up to when you need the bond will also help you prevent your coverage from lapsing.
Here are a few tips to get your SR-22 requirement lifted.
Sift Through Your Court Documents
Some states inform drivers that they’ve completed their filing period through a note. Many others don’t, though, so you should check your original court paperwork. These are the documents you’ve received after your hearing.
These docs should have the info on the steps you need to take for your license reinstatement. They should also have details on up to when you need to maintain the form.
Get in Touch With the Local DMV
Don’t just let your form lapse or cancel it outright, as you may still have some requirements to meet. That’s why you should contact your state DMV first before you make any changes to your policy. Get confirmation from the department that you can already remove your filing.
Ring up Your Insurer
Once the court and the DMV give you the green light, you can finally contact your insurer. Tell them that you’ve completed your probationary period and that you no longer need the form. From here, your insurance company will be able to remove the filing from your policy.
Obtain an SR-22 Now So You Can Get Back on the Road Soon
As you can see, most instances wherein SR-22 becomes a requirement are preventable. The form being an extra (and pricey) expense should be enough incentive to stay on the right side of the law. However, if your state already demands you to get one, then do so sooner than later. This way, you can get your license reinstated ASAP.