SR22, or Safety Responsibility, a form that is required by many states, proving that a driver has the minimum necessary state insurance coverage. Strictly speaking, SR22 is not a separate form of insurance in itself but rather an endorsement that is attached to your policy to show your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles that you have met the necessary minimum liability insurance for your state. The SR22 form is most commonly filled out and filed by the insurance company with the appropriate state DMV office.
Why Would Someone Need an SR22?
The main reason that someone would need an SR22 filed is if they had been convicted of certain traffic violations, such as driving while under the influence of drugs, drunk driving or vehicular assault. Another reason someone might need such a form filed is in the event that they are trying to reinstate a previously suspended license, most often due to one of the aforementioned violations.
The amount of time an SR22 must remain active depends on the reason it is needed. In general, most states require it to be on file for up to 3 years, though some cases such as DUI may require having the SR22 on file for up to 5 years instead. Generally, in the case of traffic violations of a serious nature, the court will decide if and for how long an SR22 endorsement must remain attached to your insurance.
Another, less severe, reason that a driver might be required to carry an SR22 endorsement on his or her insurance is due to getting pulled over and not having the state required minimum liability insurance as prescribed by the state in which the driver lives.
Do All Car Insurance Companies Offer SR22 Service?
While many insurance companies do offer to file SR22 forms, many also don’t offer the service. It’s always best to check with your current insurance company or any new insurance company to make sure they do or do not offer the service. Simply ask the company if they offer SR22 filing services.
In addition, if you move or live outside of the state in which you received the violation that prompted the need for the SR22, you will likely still be required to keep up the SR22. Most often, this means looking at one of the nationwide insurance companies and applying through them for an out of state SR22. This holds true even if you move to another state that does not require SR22 coverage.
If you live in New York or North Carolina however, car insurance companies don’t offer out of state SR22 filings for these two states. You will need to have your car insurance company provide the requesting state with the appropriate forms and documentation showing you have SR22 coverage.
What If You Don’t Own a Car?
If you have been court ordered to file an SR22 you will need to do so even if you do not own a car. In many cases, you will also be required to file what is known as a non-owner SR22.
Failure to file this non-owner SR22 means that, effectively, you would be unable to legally drive any motor vehicle, including those borrowed from a friend or a relative. If you are pulled over without a viable license, you an face additional penalties.
What States Require SR22 Coverage?
Because most states do require SR22 coverage, it’s easier to list the ones that don’t require it. The following states do not require SR22 coverage:
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
How Will the SR22 Coverage Affect My Insurance Cost?
Of course, every insurance company is going to be different so giving a figure is beyond the scope of this article. However, generally speaking a court-ordered need for an SR22 filing increases your perceived risk by the insurance company. As a result, this means that a raise in your rates is sure to follow close on the heels of the filing of the SR22. Contact your insurance company to find out exactly how this is going to affect your rates, and if it seems too high, you might consider shopping around for other car insurance carriers.
Remember that anything that increases your perceived risk can cause a rise in your insurance rates, including repeat filings of the SR22. If you find yourself needing another endorsement shortly after the time expired on your previous one, you may once again be subject to a rate hike.
What Happens If You Don’t Keep Your SR22 Up?
If the SR22 endorsement is not kept up for the amount of time specified by the courts, then the insurance company will file a form with the state known as an SR26. This will notify the state that your SR22 endorsement has expired. The reason for the expiration is not important; you might have cancelled your policy, let it expire or just not renewed it. The reason is not important, the mere fact that you no longer have an active SR22 endorsement is enough for the insurance company to file the SR26.
Should your SR22 endorsement expire, you may find that the state will suspend your driver’s license or possibly even confiscate your registration tags or license plates. Rarer, though still certainly a possibility, violators driving without the required SR22 endorsement may be held in contempt of court and fined or possibly even arrested.
If you wish to avoid possible further penalties, you will want to get your SR22 endorsement reinstated as soon as possible. While it is often possible to become insured again through the previous insurance company, depending on the circumstances of your policy cancellation you may need to seek out a new carrier. The important thing is to get your SR22 reinstated as soon as possible before you face any additional penalties.