Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Content Writer & Entrepreneur Shuman Roy

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Jun 28, 2022

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There are only a few possible reasons why you’re inquiring about SR-22 insurance. 

Either you’ve been convicted of driving 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. However, driving without coverage could also see you with a decrease in your driving privileges, especially if it happens more than once.

[How much does car insurance go up after a DUI?]

In any case, it’s not the end of the world. You made a mistake and the SR-22 is just one of the (smaller) penalties for doing so.

The bigger cost may be finding a new car insurance provider. There are a lot of companies out there who will look at reckless driving as a sign of you being high-risk, and they may not take a chance on you in that case. The bigger of a financial responsibility you are, the more money you’ll end up costing them, and in the business world, sometimes that’s not an option. Read on to find out what the SR-22 requirements are, and whether or not it’s actually a form of coverage. 

So is an SR-22 a form of insurance? 

We’ll start by pointing out that an SR-22 is NOT insurance at all, but rather a form filed with your state department of insurance.

It 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 SR-22 filing is the same as how you would buy car insurance normally.

You simply say, “I need an SR-22” 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 SR-22.

The hitch is that your current auto insurance provider may no longer want you as a customer if you need to file an SR-22.

This explains that, “SR-22 is a type of insurance” confusion.

It’s not insurance at all, but there are insurers that advertise it as such because they are willing to insure SR-22 drivers, while others are not. Think of it more of an SR-22 certificate if it helps; it’s something that signifies you have coverage, while not actually being the coverage itself. You’ll have to find a provider that is okay with your driving record reflecting any traffic offenses, because as mentioned above, there are some insurers who will not risk insuring high-risk drivers. 

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How much does SR-22 insurance cost? 

Now that you know an SR-22 is not actually insurance, we can tackle how much one will set you back.

The SR-22 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). You may think of it as some sort of filing fee, which a lot of businesses will charge you should they have to do any additional paperwork. 

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 SR-22 form itself.

The major cost is attributed to the violation that caused you to have to file the SR-22 in the first place.

The DUI may double or triple your premium, but the SR-22 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’ SR-22 insurance are simply playing on the average person’s lack of understanding of the information presented above. You may want to steer clear of any insurance policies they’re offering, because that’s false advertising, and there are plenty of providers out there. 

You can obtain an SR-22 filing from almost any insurance company that is comfortable insuring an individual with a major violation on their record, you’ll just have to ask them when you’re looking them up. 

So be sure to shop online for multiple quotes and don’t be drawn to the first insurer that offers a deal on SR-22 coverage, because it doesn’t exist. 

How does an SR-22 form work? 

As discussed above, an SR-22 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).

It provides proof you are currently an insurance carrier, and meet your state’s minimum requirements, even if you have some form of traffic violation on your record. It also means that you will continue to meet the requirements for a specified time period.

This is accomplished in one of two ways:

1. Mail – Some insurance companies provide their SR-22 filings to the DMV by mail. Of course, this can be slightly more time consuming at the start of the process.

Once your initial SR-22 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, which is to say your proof of insurance, is sent to the DMV that says you have active coverage. But what if your insurance coverage cancels or lapses?

What happens when you have a lapse in coverage or it’s been cancelled?

The whole point of the SR-22 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.

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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 SR-22 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 SR-22 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.

Now that we’ve covered that an SR-22 form isn’t actually any sort of auto insurance policy itself, below we’ll take a look at the most frequently asked questions regarding an SR-22. 

SR-22 Insurance FAQ

Q: What is SR-22 insurance?

A: There is no such thing, technically. An SR-22 is a form you’re required to fill out for certain moving violations. Some car insurance companies will insure SR-22 drivers, others may not. This is what they mean by SR-22 insurance; it’s proof that you may not have a clean driving record but you do have coverage. Your specific auto insurer may require you to have one if your driving history isn’t pristine. 

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Q: Can I drive anyone else’s vehicle if I maintain an SR-22 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 SR-22 if I do not own my own vehicle?

A: Yes, you may obtain a non–owner personal auto policy with an SR-22 filing.

Q: How much does SR-22 insurance cost?

A: Again, it’s not insurance and there is no set fee for an SR-22. However, you can expect to pay somewhere between $15 and $30 to obtain one. In other words, the SR-22 cost is pretty cheap!

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Q: If I already have an SR-22 filed on my personal auto policy, do I need one for a commercial auto policy too?

A: No, you do not need a separate SR-22 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 SR-22 filing active if I move to another state?

A: Yes, it is typically a requirement to maintain your SR-22 filing if you move to another state that didn’t require the SR-22 in the first place. 

Think of an SR-22 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. You could also think of it the same way that you would with policy lapses – don’t let it happen!

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. This may not mean you’ll end up at the cheapest companies, but you don’t really want to go to someone claiming to sell SR-22 car insurance anyways, since that’s not a real deal. 

Look for a provider who is comfortable providing coverage policies to all sorts of drivers, and who will offer decent rates for drivers no matter their driving record. Plus, if you need to have an SR-22 on file, bring that up immediately so they won’t be taken by surprise. And once again, be sharp – don’t file with someone who says you need ‘SR-22 coverage’, because it’s only a form, and not a policy.