What is SR-22 insurance — and who needs it?

Young woman in glasses looking at her digital tablet at home to look up sr-22 insuranceImage: Young woman in glasses looking at her digital tablet at home to look up sr-22 insurance

In a Nutshell

Despite its name, SR-22 isn’t actually insurance — it’s a form your auto insurance company files with the state you live in to confirm you have car insurance that meets the minimum required insurance coverage. You may have to get an SR-22 if you’re convicted of a DUI or DWI, repeated traffic offenses, reckless driving or causing an accident without insurance — the laws surrounding this vary by state. While it can vary by state, after a few years of clean driving, you shouldn’t need an SR-22 anymore. But until then you’ll want to keep your SR-22 on file and maintain insurance coverage to stay within the law.
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No one usually wants to hear from their state transportation agency or a court judge. But if you’ve been contacted recently about needing an SR-22 form, you’ll want to take immediate action.

An SR-22 form — sometimes called a certificate of financial responsibility or referred to as SR-22 insurance — is a form that your auto insurance company will file with your state. The form serves as a confirmation that you’ve purchased at least the state’s minimum required insurance coverage.

Let’s take a closer look at what an SR-22 form is, who needs it and what might happen to your car insurance rates as a result of an SR-22 filing.

What is SR-22 insurance coverage?

An SR-22 form is a certificate of responsibility that verifies to your state transportation agency (such as the Department of Motor Vehicles) that you meet your state’s minimum insurance requirements for auto liability coverage. In some states, such as Florida and Virginia, you’ll need a FR-44 instead of an SR-22, which may require that you buy more liability insurance than your state minimum.

These forms are typically required after your license has been suspended and are usually required to reinstate your license.

The SR-22 and FR-44s form are issued by your insurance company. Your insurer will typically file the certificate with your state’s transportation agency. Some insurers will file automatically, and others will file upon your request.

Who needs an SR-22?

The laws for an SR-22 vary depending on what state you live in, but in general you may need an SR-22 if …

  • You’ve been convicted of a DUI or DWI (drunk driving)
  • You’ve had repeated traffic offenses in a short time frame, a serious offense like reckless driving or another serious moving violation
  • You were in an at-fault accident and didn’t have insurance
  • You were pulled over for driving with a suspended license 
  • Your driver’s license has been revoked

If you don’t own a car, you’ll be able to get a non-owner insurance policy and non-owner SR-22 form to cover the requirement.

How long do you need to have an SR-22?

The length of time that you’ll need to have an SR-22 form on file varies by state — but it’s generally three years.

During this period, be careful about paying your premium on time and renewing your policy. If your policy lapses or expires, your insurance company is required by law to notify the state. And your ability to drive may be suspended if your coverage lapses.

Once you’ve had an SR-22 for the required period of time, this status should be lifted. But you’ll first need to submit your SR-22 form to your state transportation agency to get your license reinstated if it was revoked.

How much does SR-22 insurance cost a month?

There isn’t an ongoing cost associated with having an SR-22 certificate. But your insurance may charge you a one-time filing fee of around $25. In some cases, your insurer may file your SR-22 for free. It all depends on your insurance provider and the state where your SR-22 will be filed.

While the SR-22 filing fee is typically low, it’s possible your auto insurance premium will increase. That’s because your car insurance company may consider you a high-risk driver if your driving record includes one or more incidents that led to an SR-22 filing. A serious violation, repeated violations or a DUI or DWI could all drive up your premium costs. But driving history is just one of the factors that can affect your auto insurance premium, so it’s important to shop around and consider your coverage options carefully.

A couple of insurance companies claim on their websites that an SR-22 filing will have a minimal effect on your premium — or no effect at all. Progressive states on its website that rates only increase by an average of about 5% for SR-22 drivers, and Dairyland notes on its site that having an SR-22 filing in itself will generally not affect your premium.

What’s next?

Needing to file an SR-22 form is probably not your ideal situation. But if you’ve been notified that you need an SR-22 form, make sure to get one right away to avoid penalties like temporarily losing your driving privileges.

If your current auto insurance company doesn’t offer SR-22s — or if you’re worried about a hefty increase to your premiums after your SR-22 is filed — shop around and compare car insurance quotes from several auto insurers that offer SR-22 forms to find the car insurance policy and rates that best fit your needs.

About the author: Paris Ward is a content strategist at Credit Karma, providing readers with the latest news that will aid their financial progress. She has more than a decade of experience as a writer and editor and holds a bachelor’s… Read more.