An SR22 Is Not Insurance
There are only a few possible reasons why you’re inquiring about “SR22 insurance.” Either you’ve been convicted of operating a vehicle without proof of mandatory liability insurance, or one of many other moving violations considered to be “major” driving offenses…the most common being a DUI/DWI.
Either way, it’s not the end of the world. You made a mistake and the SR22 is just one of the (smaller) penalties for doing so. The bigger cost may be finding a new car insurance provider.
We’ll start by pointing out that an SR22 is NOT insurance at all, but rather a form filed with your state department of insurance, which proves you have active minimum car insurance at all times while operating your vehicle – after your license is reinstated or if you need an occupational permit to drive to and from work during your suspension period.
The process for obtaining an SR22 filing is the same as how you would buy car insurance normally. You simply say, “I need an SR22” and the insurer or agent literally checks a box on the computer screen. It’s just like asking for roadside assistance coverage during the insurance quote process, only someone is forcing you to purchase the SR22.
The hitch is that your current auto insurance provider may no longer want you as a customer if you need to file an SR22. This explains that “SR22 insurance” confusion. It’s not insurance, but there are insurers that advertise it as such because they are willing to insure SR22 drivers while others are not.
How Much Does SR22 Insurance Cost?
Now that you know an SR22 is not actually insurance, we can tackle how much one will set you back.
The SR22 filing costs an average of $30.00 – could be slightly more or slightly less. The additional cost is due to the expense your insurer will incur for continually having to “touch” your policy (see below for what this process actually looks like).
Here’s what you’re likely more interested in. Your insurance premium is probably going to increase significantly, but it has nothing to do with the SR22 form itself.
The major cost is attributed to the violation that caused you to have to file the SR22 in the first place. The DUI may double or triple your premium, but the SR22 itself is only going to add $30 or so to your tab.
As noted, you might be able to stay with your current insurer, or you may have to find a new auto insurance company that’s willing to take you on as a customer now that you’re deemed high-risk.
TIP: Advertisements that offer “Dirt Cheap” SR22 insurance are simply playing on the average person’s lack of understanding of the information presented above. You can obtain an SR22 filing from almost any insurance company that is comfortable insuring an individual with a major violation on their record, so be sure to shop online for multiple quotes and don’t be drawn to the first insurer that offers a deal on “SR22 insurance.”
How an SR22 Works
As discussed above, an SR22 is simply a reporting form generated by the insurance company on a monthly basis and sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state (or any state for that matter) that provides proof you are currently insured and meet your state’s minimum requirements. And that you will continue to meet the requirements for a specified period of time.
This is accomplished in one of two ways:
1. Mail – some insurance companies provide their SR22 filings to the DMV by mail. Of course, this can be slightly more time consuming at the start of the process. Once your initial SR22 is filed, the subsequent monthly filings won’t be of any concern to you…as long as they keep making it to the DMV.
2. Electronic – other insurers keep electronic databases that can be accessed by the DMV or sent to the DMV monthly to show insurance coverage is in place. You probably guessed this is the faster way to get the initial form to the state and get you back on the road.
So, each month a “note” is sent to the DMV that says you have active coverage. But what if your insurance coverage cancels or lapses?
Canceled or Lapsed Coverage: What Happens?
The whole point of the SR22 is to “keep tabs” on your ability to stay insured, as you have proven to be a higher risk than most other people based on your violation.
If you allow your policy to cancel or lapse for any reason (usually non-payment), your insurer immediately contacts the DMV and notifies them you are without coverage.
Your license is IMMEDIATELY SUSPENDED. Part of the “deal” for getting your license back was keeping coverage in force – and you will have violated that condition at this point.
TIP: While insurers report that coverage is in force on MONTHLY basis, they blow the whistle on lapses and cancellation as soon as they are official. Don’t get caught thinking you have until the end of the month to get your coverage going again.
What About a Work Permit?
You can petition the court to allow you to drive to and from work during your license suspension. Of course, the SR22 is mandatory if you are granted the work permit.
The process varies by county, but below is a snapshot of how the process works.
1. You are granted a work permit to drive while your suspension is in force.
2. You get multiple insurance quotes online and visit a local independent insurance agent to make sure you are getting the best deal.
3. You purchase your policy and the insurer either mails or electronically delivers the SR22 form to the DMV (the initial filing may also be delivered by fax in some cases).
4. Your coverage is verified and your permit is granted, allowing you to drive to and from work.
SR22 Insurance FAQ:
Q: What is SR22 insurance?
A: There is no such thing, technically. An SR22 is a form you’re required to fill out for certain moving violations. Some car insurance companies will insure SR22 drivers, others may not. This is what they mean by SR22 insurance.
Q: Can I drive anyone else’s vehicle if I maintain an SR22 on my personal auto policy?
A: Yes, your state department of insurance is concerned with you having proof of liability coverage, which would allow you to operate another person’s car.
Q: Can I get an SR22 if I do not own my own vehicle?
A: Yes, you may obtain a non–owner personal auto policy with an SR22 filing.
Q: How much does SR22 insurance cost?
A: Again, it’s not insurance and there is no set fee for an SR22. However, you can expect to pay somewhere between $15 and $30 to obtain one. In other words, it’s cheap!
Q: If I already have an SR22 filed on my personal auto policy, do I need one for a commercial auto policy too?
A: No, you do not need a separate SR22 filed on a commercial auto policy if you have one filed on your personal auto policy (and vice versa).
Q: Do I need to keep my SR22 filing active if I move to another state?
A: Yes, it is typically a requirement to maintain your SR22 filing if you move to another state that didn’t require the SR22 in the first place.
Think of an SR22 as a note from your mother (the insurer) to the state each month to prove you are keeping up your end of the bargain after making a somewhat serious driving mistake.
The main thing to keep in mind is that you have several options from reputable insurers at your fingertips…so shop around to make sure you’re still getting the best deal.