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SR-22 Insurance

Written by W. Lane Startin. Posted in Definitions Last Updated: 12/24/2010

Who needs an SR-22, what it is, and how it works with your auto insurance.

Ultimately it's just another piece of paper.

Car accidents aren’t just about claims. On occasion if you’re found at fault in an accident (or even if you’re not) you can be cited by the police. If you’re convicted of certain traffic violations, the court may order you to carry an SR-22 for a specified amount of time.

Admittedly this can be overwhelming at first. Not only do you have to carry auto insurance to stay on the road, but now you have to carry “SR-22 insurance.” You’ve seen agents advertise that before, but what exactly is it?

What is an SR-22?

An SR-22 may sound scary and complicated, but it’s really not. It’s just an insurance liability certificate filed with the state by the insurance company on your behalf, quite similar to the binder your agent sends to the bank who holds your car loan. That’s pretty much it. However, if you’re caught driving without active insurance and an SR-22 filing, the consequences can be severe.

Accordingly, the term “SR-22 insurance” is something of a misnomer. Instead, the term usually refers to auto insurance with a non-standard or “high risk” company. The two are closely associated because if you need an SR-22, it follows you don’t have a perfect driving record. People with less than perfect records, of course, are a non-standard company’s bread and butter. As a result, the majority of people who have to file an SR-22 do so with a non-standard company.

However, people who don’t need an SR-22 may still only qualify with a non-standard company. Conversely, those who need an SR-22 may not necessarily need to insure with a non-standard auto insurance carrier. The two are closely associated with each other, but not joined at the hip.

Getting Insurance With an SR-22

Getting auto insurance with an SR-22 requirement isn’t that much different from getting auto insurance under any other circumstances. You meet with your agent, go over your driving history, and look for the appropriate coverage with a company that will take you. After the policy is written, you tell the agent you need an SR-22 filing. A good agent may ask you first, especially you’re getting a policy with a non-standard auto insurance company or through an assigned risk pool, but it never hurts to remind him or her.

If you’re shopping for insurance online, asking for an SR-22 may be as simple as checking a box. If you already have insurance, just call and ask for the filing. Simple.

An SR-22 filing is commonly done for a small flat fee above and beyond the premium (usually around $25), but once it’s done, it’s done.

Keeping Your SR-22 Valid

Keep in mind an SR-22 filing is independent of auto insurance underwriting requirements. The state will require you to keep minimum liability limits with your SR-22, but they do that anyway. Meet with your agent before every policy renewal to see if you qualify for better rates. If you keep your record clean, you’ll eventually qualify for standard company rates, possibly in as little as six months depending on the situation.

Make sure your SR-22 filing remains active as long as it’s needed. Once you no longer need it, don’t keep filing it. Once the state says you no longer need it, you don’t need it.

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W. Lane Startin

Lane is a former insurance agent with two well-known and highly rated companies. He left the world of insurance sales to return to his first love, writing. He enjoys helping people unravel the intricacies of insurance without the bias created by working for commission. He’s a graduate of Idaho State University and by extension a long-suffering Bengals fan. Lane blogs at Car Insurance Guidebook.

Reviews (2)

  • Mamoudou

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    Thank you sooooo much for this great article it helped me much to understand what’s SR 22

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      Happy to hear that it was helpful.

      Reply

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