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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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When you own a car, the state wants to know that you’re properly insured. This is why many state officials have started to fund the development of electronic verification systems that notify the department in real time when a car’s insurance lapses.
Unfortunately, not all states can afford these programs and that’s why they focus on verifying that all risky drivers have coverage with SR-22 filing requirements.
If you’ve never been pulled over by an officer and cited for violating any type of driving law, you don’t have to worry about SR-22s and whether or not you need one.
It’s the drivers who have less than perfect driving histories who may be required to submit SR-22 filings just to keep their driving privileges.
Here’s what you need to know about SR-22s:
What is an SR-22?
An SR-22, in short, is a certificate that’s filed by auto insurance companies.
It differs from the standard proof of insurance that drivers keep in their dashboards because it’s filed directly with the Department of Motor Vehicles to show the agency that high-risk drivers have insurance that will pay for a minimum amount of third-party damages.
You can’t fill out a filing form and submit it to promise that you have insurance.
Since judges only order people who are severely at risk of having a loss to fulfill the SR-22 requirement, the insurer that you’ve purchased insurance through must file the proof for you when you buy your insurance and then again when the policy renews.
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When could you face being assessed an SR-22 filing requirement?
You always need insurance but you only need your insurer to file a certificate of financial responsibility to vouch for you when you’ve done something against the law in the past.
It’s important to notice that not all states have SR-22 requirements for drivers with any types of convictions but many do.
There are a few different convictions you could be guilty of that could lead to the judge ordering you to file an SR-22 so that you can keep your license. A basic speeding ticket or rolling through a stop sign isn’t going to cost you in the form of a filing.
The following convictions are taken much more seriously:
- Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated
- Reckless Driving
- Driving Without Insurance
- Fleeing the Scene of an Accident
- Having an Accident Without Liability Insurance
How much will an SR-22 filing cost you?
It’s not the SR-22 that costs you a fortune in insurance premiums, it’s your driving record. Most companies will only charge you a small administrative fee between $25 and $50 to print you a filing and to submit it to the DMV.
Unfortunately, not all auto insurance companies will issue SR-22s because of their underwriting requirements.
The fee might not sound too bad, but there’s a strong chance that you’ll pay a surcharge for the ticket on your record and you’ll lose your Good Driver Discount for having a serious conviction on your MVR in the last three to five years.
The surcharge and the loss of the discount can double or triple your premiums.
What happens if you don’t file an SR-22?
If you decide that you don’t want to file an SR-22, you’ll still pay the consequences. Since SR-22 filings are court orders, you’re choosing not to comply with an order given by the judge when you don’t file your SR-22.
You’re only going to be given a certain amount of time to contact a carrier and have them file your certificate.
If the filing isn’t turned in in a reasonable amount of time, your driving privilege will be suspended or revoked. You won’t be able to reinstate your license until you have your SR-22 and a reinstatement fee.
This means it will just wind up costing you more in fees and more in your insurance costs because suspensions will raise your rates even higher.
Can you be required to file an SR-22 when you don’t own a car?
You don’t have to own a car to drive one. Many people borrow their friends’ cars to drive around town or to go to work.
If something happens and you’re arrested for DUI or another type of serious infraction, you could be forced to show that you have mandatory insurance in your name even though you don’t own a vehicle.
If you need an SR-22 and you don’t own a car, don’t just go out and buy one. That is one solution to finding insurance, but it’s an expensive solution and an unreasonable one. Instead of going that far, consider buying a non-owner’s car insurance policy.
This policy includes only liability coverage and sometimes medical payments coverage to protect you.
Check the Insurance Company’s Underwriting Guidelines
Companies that sell nonowner’s policies are specialists in the industry. They set their own requirements and they also decide how much coverage they will offer.
Since some carriers will only sell insurance to people with preferred records, you may have to do some research to find carriers who sell SR-22 policies specifically.
An SR-22 specialist will issue you a policy with a bad record and a suspended license as long as you can prove it will be reinstated. You’re still going to pay an inflated rate for the SR-22 policy when you don’t have your own car.
You don’t need to own a car to comply with SR-22 laws. If you’ve gotten into trouble driving in the past, don’t get in more trouble by driving without insurance. Get online quotes to compare rates right here and then you’ll be a step closer to filing your SR-22 that’s required.