SR22 insurance is a necessity for many people as it is often a requirement by the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for drivers who are considered to be “high risk” (see: “Cheap Car Insurance for High Risk Drivers” for more information). SR22 insurance is actually not insurance, but instead is a document that shows proof of insurance. This document is created by a person’s car insurance carrier, and is then filed with the DMV.
How an SR22 Car Insurance Policy Works
When someone is considered a high risk driver (from something like drunk driving or a conviction), the state is concerned about this person potentially causing vehicular harm to others in the future. They will then be required to have an SR22 insurance document filed. If this person already has insurance, they will need to contact their insurance company to have an SR22 form sent to their state’s DMV.
Each state has different requirements in regards to what qualifies a person for an SR22, how long they need to have it on file, and how much insurance coverage they will need for it to be valid. Some states do not require SR22’s at all. If someone does not already have insurance, they will need to acquire a policy and get the documentation so they are meeting their legal obligations.
Basically, an SR22 is enforced to protect others from people who have engaged in some form of risky behavior in the past, to make sure that those people are financially responsible should another incident take place again.
Reasons Filing an SR22 May Be Required
There are multiple reasons that a person may have to have an SR22 document. In most states, when a person is convicted of drunk driving or driving under the influence of a substance, they will need to file an SR22.
Also, if an accident takes place and a person is uninsured, they will need proof of insurance in the future, and an SR22 guarantees that they definitely are insured. Other reasons that an SR22 will be required would be if someone is driving with a suspended or revoked license, gets too many traffic citations, or has been involved in reckless driving. Again, the laws vary by state, but the majority of states require SR22’s for any of these types of behaviors.
How Much Does an SR22 Cost?
The cost to file an SR22 can vary, but is generally around $25, and is usually not more than $50. If insurance companies are switched, a new form will have to be sent in to the DMV, and the fee will have to be paid in order to file with the new insurance information.
Type of Insurance Required
If a vehicle is owned, it will need to be insured with at least the minimum liability limits of the state it is owned in. These limits and the cost vary by state. In Pennsylvania and California, the liability insurance minimum is 15/30/5. This means that there is coverage of $15,000 minimum per person, $30,000 per accident, and $5,000 for property damage. In Wisconsin and Alaska, minimum coverage needed is 50/100/15. $50,000 of coverage is needed per person, $100,000 per accident, and $15,000 for property damage. A policy with these limits at minimum will be required in addition to the SR22 filing fee.
If no vehicle is owned, someone with an SR22 requirement will still have to have insurance along with the car insurance SR22 filing. This type of insurance is called a non-owner’s policy, and will cover a person if they drive another car. This is generally a minimum liability policy. If the car being driven already has insurance, then the non owner car insurance insurance policy will be used as additional insurance should coverage exceed the primary policy.
SR22 Insurance: The State Requirements
If an SR22 auto insurance policy holder moves to another state, they are still required to follow the rules of the state that the SR22 is filed in. For example, if a resident of Wisconsin moves to Pennsylvania, they will still have to have the liability insurance minimums that Wisconsin requires which are higher than Pennsylvania’s requirements. Also, if a person goes to a state that does not require an SR22, they still need to maintain the SR22 filed in their original state.
Always Make Sure You Are Insured
Having insurance will be required during the entire time a person must have an SR22. The amount of time an SR22 is necessary depends on the reason it was issued, but is generally between 3 to five years. If an insurance policy lapses or is canceled without being replaced, then the insurance company will send an SR26 form to the DMV. An SR26 notifies that there is no insurance coverage held, and the DMV can suspend driving privileges, and enforce other consequences if other regulations are in place.
Generally speaking, SR22 insurance policies are very simple forms to get, and requires little effort since most comprehensive car insurance insurance companies send it to the DMV themselves. It is still helpful to know the laws when an SR22 requirement is issued in order to follow them correctly, and hopefully not be obligated to have one again in the future.