Although many car owners have never heard of or been exposed to SR-22, there are tons of people out there that know what it is and why they have to have it.
First of all, SR-22 is not a type of insurance. SR-22 is simply the form number used for the Financial Responsibility Form that most states recognize.
In this article, we’ll explain what an SR-22 form is along with the reason or reasons that some (actually a lot) of drivers have to have one.
We intend to provide the who, what, when, where, and why about SR-22 insurance.
Who must have an SR-22?
The SR-22 (financial responsibility form) is used by each state’s department of motor vehicles as a way for insurance companies to provide proof of liability coverage for a vehicle owner who was in an at-fault accident or found guilty of a serious driving violation like DUI while they were not carrying bodily injury liability insurance.
This form is required to reinstate your driving privileges and satisfy the state’s financial responsibility requirements.
Typically, every state has some form of liability insurance requirement for vehicle owners that must be met before they can register their vehicle. Unfortunately, that is not always the case with over 30 million drivers across the U.S.
Although proof of insurance has to be provided to get your vehicle registered and tagged, many car owners let their car insurance policies cancel, lapse, or expire.
If you are in an at-fault accident with bodily injury and/or property damage and uninsured, not only will you have a hefty fine to deal with, your driving privileges will be suspended until you can provide proof that you have the minimum amount of liability coverage your state requires.
This proof is furnished electronically to the state using the form – you guessed it – SR 22. Additionally, if your liability policy should cancel for any reason, your insurance company is required to rat you out by sending the state an SR 26 form which tells them you no longer have coverage with that company.
What is an SR-22 Used For?
Most Department of Motor Vehicles use the SR-22 (a few use FR-44) requirements to offer reinstatement privileges for a suspended license. The form is required by law for certain circumstances such as:
- A license suspension resulting from a driver being in an accident while uninsured or other major violations.
- Unsatisfied judgment
- A conviction for DUI/DWI
- Failure to pay child support.
- Other vehicle violations while uninsured
If your license is suspended for any of the above-mentioned reasons, and you are ready to reinstate it, you are more than likely going to have to provide an SR-22 with your car insurance and you’ll likely have to keep it in force for three or more consecutive years depending on the state you live in.
When will a car owner need an SR-22?
If you own a vehicle and are driving while uninsured or underinsured, you can violate your state’s financial responsibility laws if you cause an at-fault accident and another party is injured or if there is property damage.
Additionally, in no-fault states like Florida where bodily injury liability insurance is not required, you can still run afoul of the financial responsibility law even if you carry their minimum coverage of property damage liability and Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
That’s right, in Florida, car owners don’t have to carry bodily injury liability insurance unless and until they are in an at-fault accident and the other person is injured. What happens next to these drivers is typically a lawsuit from the other driver’s insurance company, a big fat fine from the state, and loss of your driving privileges until you satisfy the financial responsibility laws that you may have never heard of.
Where can I buy SR-22 Insurance?
Since about 30 million drivers are cruising the highways of America at any given time, many companies will be happy to file an SR-22 form on your behalf if you buy the insurance coverage from them.
There are also some companies that will not insure drivers that require an SR-22 and they have several good reasons not to:
- You were driving without insurance and got caught
- You were in an at-fault accident or got a serious traffic violation while uninsured
- You likely have other violations on your driving record
- You are considered a high-risk (which means low-profit)
Not to worry, however, there are many companies out there who will sell you the insurance you need and file your SR-22 form with the state because they know you must keep that policy in force for three years or risk losing your driving privileges once again.
It’s actually a very easy process to get your SR 22 issued:
On the personal auto insurance application, there will be a question asking if an SR-22 is required by the state. When you answer “yes,” the next question will be for the case number which is typically listed on the suspension notification form.
Once the insurance policy is issued, the insurance company will electronically send the SR-22 form to the Department of Motor Vehicles, allowing them to lift your suspension and reinstate your driving privileges.
Depending on whether your suspension was due to an at-fault accident or major violation, you may have restitution requirements to deal with as well. If there are restitution requirements, you will be better served by taking care of them before you apply for your insurance and SR-22.
I got rid of my car – why do I need an SR-22?
If you had an accident and your car was totaled or if a friend or family member agrees to let you use one of their vehicles, you’ll still need an SR-22 to get your driving privileges reinstated.
Most people don’t understand that if they lend you a vehicle to drive (even casually) you would need to be listed on their insurance policy. That can be a problem since your driver’s license is suspended.
In this case, you can get an SR 22 filed with the state by purchasing a non-owners policy and then have that company file the SR-22 on your behalf. This can be a win-win situation because you can get your license reinstated and you’ll have bodily injury liability coverage when you are using a car you don’t own.
How long must I keep an SR 22 in Force?
Most states will require the form to be on file for about three consecutive years or more and if your policy is canceled or lapses, the insurance company must rat you out to the state by filing an SR 26 form which means your coverage is not valid.
Typically, when this happens, and it happens a lot, you have to start over again with your requirement period.
Frequently asked Questions
Is it hard to get an SR-22?
Generally, every independent insurance broker can take care of filing your SR-22 when you purchase liability insurance but some carriers charge extremely high rates because the consider applicants who need an SR-22 very high risk.
Is SR-22 a special type of car insurance?
SR-22 is simply the number at the bottom of the Financial Responsibility form that is used to let state jurisdictions know a car owner is carrying the proper kind of auto insurance. Additionally, if your SR-22 form is no longer required or if you car insurance lapsed or was canceled, the insurance company will file an SR-26 form to notify the state.
What causes a car owner to need an SR-22?
If you own a vehicle that is not insured and then any of the following are true, you will need an SR-22 to have your driving privileges reinstated:
A license suspension resulting from a driver being in an accident while uninsured or other major violations.
A conviction for DUI/DWI
Failure to pay child support.
Other vehicle violations while uninsured