UPDATED: AUGUST 03, 2022 | 3 MIN READ
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. Instead, 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 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 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
When do I need to file my SR-22?
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 from 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 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 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 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. How long you will have to, however, varies from state to state and 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.
Purchasing a policy will be your first step if you don’t already have auto insurance. While searching for a new policy, ensure you are looking for providers offering 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 unnecessary problems.
Your auto insurance provider will then file the SR-22 directly with the state you are required to file with. If you are required to have an SR-22, you drop insurance or lapse payments at any time; 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.
Non-owner SR-22 filing
Another option is available if your current provider does not offer SR-22 filing or you accidentally purchase a plan that does not include it. 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. The SR-22 provider would, however, still require you to buy the same amount of liability as is on your primary.
This can be smart 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 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 what do you do when you decide to move to Illinois? 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?
You must meet the SR-22 requirements for the state where the offense was committed. If both states use SR-22 filing, you will 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 your options.