What Is an SR-22?
SR-22 is a certificate of insurance you must carry if mandated by the state. This order usually comes as the result of a serious traffic offense and is imposed on high-risk drivers. It is used by most state Departments of Motor Vehicles in the U.S.
Note that an SR-22 is not actually an insurance policy. Rather, an insurance company fills out an SR-22 form as proof that you have insurance and are financially responsible for any damages caused on the road. It also provides the state with an automatic notification if you either change cars or cancel your insurance.
What are the Reasons for Needing an SR-22?
The reasons you might need an SR-22 include serious traffic offenses for which the state might otherwise not allow you to drive. In other words, it is a way to begin reinstating your driving privileges after they have been revoked or suspended. The reasons for an SR-22 include:
1. Driving Under the Influence
If you get a DUI or a DWI (driving while intoxicated), chances are you’ll need an SR-22 to get back on the road. Particularly after the traumatic experience of being arrested, paying fines and legal fees, and potentially having your professional and personal life affected by the event, it’s important to take positive action toward moving past it. This will likely include DUI insurance , which is just SR-22 insurance by another name.
2. A Reckless Driving Charge
Whether you’ve been charged with reckless driving or negligent driving, you’re probably feeling like recovering from this blow will take some time. An SR-22 will help you get back on the road so you can start to rebuild your driving record after one of these charges.
3. Driving While Uninsured
It is a federal law that all drivers must be insured. And while you may get by with only a misdemeanor charge for your first offense, subsequent offenses can lead to greater fines and even jail time.
If you get into an accident while driving without insurance, the consequences are typically severe — particularly if the accident causes significant property damage, injury, or death. In this case, being uninsured can put both you and other parties in significant financial danger since it’s not guaranteed you can cover things like repairs and medical bills.
4. Your License Has Been Suspended or Revoked
When the state has suspended or revoked your license, an SR-22 will be part of the process of getting your driving privileges restored.
Understand what steps the state needs you to take in order to reinstate your driver’s license. You’ll probably need to take a defensive driving class and pass a test in order to progress, which will not only help you get your license back but could also lower your insurance rates. After this, you’ll need to have your insurance company fill out an SR-22 filing.
You may also need to attend alcohol courses if ordered by the court. There may be other requirements in place as well, which will vary by the state and by your situation. In the end, you’ll need to pay fees to have your paperwork processed. These fees may be higher for alcohol-related offenses.
5. You Are Getting a Hardship License
You rely on your vehicle to get to and from work or school, buy groceries, and/or take kids to and from school. If your license has been suspended, but you are absolutely dependent on your vehicle, you could be eligible for a “hardship” or restricted license, which lets you use your car to make trips to and from a specific set of locations while your license is suspended.
There is typically a “hard suspension” period after your offense, usually lasting one month. During this time, you will not be able to drive at all. You’ll need to wait until the end of this period to apply for a hardship license.
Depending on the decision of the courts, you may be required to carry an SR-22 with your hardship license.
The Good News About SR-22 Insurance
Sure, SR-22 insurance is expensive and is a red flag — but it’s also an open door for you to begin making advancements toward regaining your driving privileges.
When serious legal troubles and state or court rulings pile up, it can feel completely overwhelming. However, burying your head in the sand will only prolong the problems caused by a mistake. At every step of the way, being open and communicative will help you get past obstacles and make progress.
Look at an SR-22 as an olive branch. The state wants all citizens to be able to move freely, live their lives to the fullest, and keep the economy ticking — and the creation of the SR-22 form is simply a way to monitor high-risk drivers more closely so they can be given a second chance.
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How Long Does an SR-22 Last?
The length of your SR-22 requirement will vary by state. In California, for example, you must maintain your SR-22 status for at least three years of continuous coverage. Compare California’s mandates to a few other states:
|Length of SR-22 requirement
|3 years of continuous coverage
|2 years of continuous coverage
|3 years of continuous coverage
|3 years of continuous coverage
It’s important to note that failure to maintain your SR-22 insurance can add more years to your required coverage period, and result in a hefty fine.
How Much Does SR-22 Insurance Cost?
In general, you can expect to pay about twice as much for SR-22 insurance as you would for normal insurance. In some states, the fees can be significantly higher, while in others, the increase in cost may only be several hundred dollars per year.
The following are a few examples of the average SR-22 insurance cost in different states:
- Arizona: $3,579
- California: $5,119
- Hawaii: $4,464
- Louisiana: $3,612
- Massachusetts: $3,198
- Michigan: $8,324
- Montana: $2,726
- North Carolina: $5,563
- New Jersey: $3,851
- New Mexico: $2,735
- Nevada: $2,489
- Oregon: $2,296
- Pennsylvania: $2,330
- Rhode Island: $3,627
As you can see, the variation between states is extreme — SR-22 insurance in Michigan is 362% more expensive than in Oregon, for example. No matter where you live, you should spend time researching and shopping around with various insurers to find the high-risk policy that best suits your needs and your budget.
As you shop around, keep in mind that you’ll see this type of insurance billed under several different names and could get confused if you’re not aware. Some may refer to it as DUI insurance, others as SR-22 insurance, and others simply as high-risk insurance — all of these refer to policies for drivers coming off a serious traffic offense, and you should see comparable prices based on your specific driving record.
What Is the Cheapest SR-22 Insurance in California?
For help finding the most affordable SR-22 insurance California has to offer, contact us. We specialize in helping our customers navigate the wide variety of different insurers to find the best and most affordable option.
Another potential way to manage SR-22 insurance cost is by looking into non-owners SR-22 insurance in California. This type of policy is, as the name implies — it provides those who don’t own a car an insurance policy with SR-22 backing.
To qualify for non-owner SR-22 insurance, you must not own a car. This is quite common for people who have lost their license. Another stipulation is that no one living in your household can own a car either — insurers offer this plan with the understanding that access to the car isn’t too immediate. The ideal situation is to have a friend or family member who is willing to loan you a car now and then to take care of essential tasks.
The last qualifier is that you cannot have non-owner insurance if the state has ordered you to use an ignition interlock breathalyzer device. This mandate cannot be followed if you’re using someone else’s car.
At first, it might seem that driving a car that doesn’t belong to you is riskier and could therefore be more expensive for insurers. However, non-owner’s SR-22 insurance is actually the cheapest option of them all. The reason it’s more affordable comes down to some simple math: the less time you spend on the road, the less time you spend at risk of getting in an accident. That translates to lower premiums due to a smaller number of insurance claims. See how non-owner policies compare as you shop around for the best option.
SR-22 Adviser Helps You Find the Best SR-22 Insurance
At SR-22 Adviser, our goal is to help you get back on the road and on your way toward reinstating your driver’s license. The process of dealing with a major traffic infraction can be extremely difficult. Visit our website to get a quote from our insurance partner and start the important process of shopping for the best deal available.