Unless you run into legal trouble, you will likely never hear about an SR-22 form or its relationship to auto insurance. But if or when you do, you will need to know what an SR-22 form is, why you would need one, and how to get it properly filed.
What is an SR-22?
An SR-22 form is not an auto insurance policy. Rather, it is a form filed with your state proving that the named individual owns, at minimum, the state’s legally-mandated amount of auto insurance. It is essentially a certificate of financial responsibility telling the government you are protected in case of an accident.
Some states do not use SR-22 forms. Instead they use an FR-22 form or have their own form unique to their state. An FR-22 is typically required with a DUI or DWI and is only used in Florida and Virginia. An FR-22 filing follows a similar process but might increase or even double the minimum amount of coverage needed.
If you live in a state that does not use SR-22 forms, you will need to contact your state and insurance provider to determine what action needs to be taken. The process is usually quite similar but might vary slightly.
States that do not require an SR-22 include:
- New Mexico,
- New York,
- North Carolina,
Although all drivers must protect themselves with auto insurance, not everyone needs to file an SR-22. SR-22 forms are intended for individuals who have experienced legal problems while on the road.
Requirements vary state to state, but the most common reasons people need to file an SR-22 include:
- DWIs, OWIs, or other major alcoholic violations
- Driving without insurance
- Reckless or negligent driving
- Multiple traffic violations in a short time period (3-6 months)
- Several at-fault accidents
- Hardship or probationary licenses
- After reinstating a suspended driver’s license
- Refusing to pay court-ordered child support
If you are required to file, you will be ordered to do so by either a court or your state government. Judges will inform you at your hearing if you need to file. Otherwise you will likely receive a letter in the mail from the DMV informing you that an SR-22 is required before you can drive again.
How long am I required to keep an SR-22 on file?
You will not have to keep an SR-22 on file forever. Typically, SR-22s are required between 1-5 years. Exactly how long you will have to, however, varies state to state and also depends on the type of offense.
How to file an SR-22
You can file an SR-22 form by contacting your auto insurance provider. Auto insurance providers that offer SR-22 policies will be able to add them to your existing policy.
If you don’t already have auto insurance, purchasing a policy will be your first step. While searching for a new policy, make sure you are looking for providers that offer SR-22. Communicate with your provider beforehand that you need an SR-22 included.
Sometimes, insurance providers might not offer a policy under such circumstances as they don’t want to insure potentially risky drivers. It’s best to be honest and upfront to ensure you don’t run into any unnecessary problems.
Your auto insurance provider will then file the SR-22 directly with the state you are required to file with. If at any time while you are required to have an SR-22, you drop insurance or lapse payments, the insurance provider will notify the state.
Make sure if such a problem arises, you communicate your intentions with the insurance provider or state government. If you are switching insurance policies while required to file an SR-22 is included with your new policy to avoid any other problems as well.
Non-owner SR-22 filing
If your current provider does not offer SR-22 filing or you accidentally purchase a plan that does not include it, there is another option available. You can keep your existing policy as a primary policy and purchase a non-owner SR-22 policy for a secondary.
The non-owner SR-22 policy would not duplicate coverage for any cars you own since you are only insured for vehicles you do not own, but can get your SR-22 filed nonetheless. The SR-22 provider would, however, still require you to buy the same amount of liability as is on your primary.
This can be a smart move if you have your primary policy bundled with your home insurance, for instance.
Does it cost to file?
Your insurance provider might charge a small fee, perhaps $25 – $50, to get the SR-22 added to your policy. The reason you have to file is likely going to increase your premiums, e.g. DUIs, traffic accidents, or reckless driving.
What if I move states during the required time?
Let’s say you live in and are required to keep an SR-22 on file in Georgia, but during the period you decide to move to Illinois; what do you do? Or what if you live in Illinois, but get a DUI in Georgia and are required to file an SR-22 there; what do you do?
Typically, you will need to meet the SR-22 requirements for the state where the offense was committed. If both states in question use SR-22 filing, you will just need to get an out-of-state SR-22 filing that certifies you meet the stated minimums.
If one of the states does not use SR-22 filing, you will need to contact the state where you must file to see what your options are.