What Happens If I Let My SR-22 Car Insurance Cancel?

Frustrated driver behind the wheel
••• Getty Images/Dave and Les Jacobs

If you’ve recently gotten into an uninsured car accident or were convicted of a serious driving offense such as driving under the influence or racking up too many points on your license, you know that poor driving habits come with severe penalties. In addition to points on your driving record, steep fines, and possible jail time, you may need to purchase a special liability insurance for high-risk drivers in order to legally continue driving your car. That insurance is often referred to as SR-22 insurance, and because of the severity of the other crime, drivers are generally required to have an SR-22 for three to five years.

What is an SR-22?

If you’re reading this, you probably know from dearly-bought experience, but an SR-22 isn’t technically a type of insurance, but rather the SR-22 form that your insurer will be required to file with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles if they decide to sell you an insurance policy. If your insurance lapses and you have an SR-22 on file, the insurance company will be required to notify the DMV when it does.

Every State Has Its Own Set of Rules

It can be quite challenging to find the exact penalties that drivers incur from letting their SR-22 policy cancel because laws vary from place to place and are governed by each state’s DMV. In general, the consequences for lapsing on your policy will include:

  • Driver's License Suspension: Your driver's license is in definite jeopardy if you let your car insurance cancel when you have filed an SR-22.
  • Vehicle Registration Suspension: No SR-22 insurance usually means no registration if the state knows you have a lapse in coverage – which, as we already mentioned, they will.
  • Fees, Fees, and More Fees: The fees are going to set you back so far it is going to be very hard to get back on track. There are fees for reinstating your license and your registration, and insurance companies often make you start from scratch – and often at a much higher rate. That means a sizeable down payment will be required and it is going to take longer to get out of high-risk status.

Paying Car Insurance Late

It is not just letting your car insurance policy cancel that can lead to trouble: paying late can cause a lot of problems, too. When you have requested an SR-22 filing, your car insurance is responsible for keeping the state notified of your policy status. Paying late can trigger a notice saying your policy is in jeopardy of being canceled or sometimes it may even say it is canceled when you could be in a grace period of coverage. The frustration involved with late payments will be huge. Waiting in line at the DMV, proving coverage, and dealing with avoidable fees will all be in your future if you get behind on your car insurance payments.

Best Advice For SR-22 Filings

Sign up for electronic funds transfer or EFT withdraw. Having your car insurance payment taken directly out of your bank account is usually the most effective way of making your payment. Many insurance companies give you a discount for signing up, plus you will never pay a late fee. You must have the appropriate amount of money in your bank account to cover the payments. If not, you could be looking at additional fees from your bank and insurance carrier.

Ask Your Car Insurance Agent for Help

It never hurts to ask for help. The worst that could happen is you are told there is nothing they can do. It is not unheard of for an agent to give you an extension on your payment due date. They can also get you a proof of insurance immediately in case you need to take it directly to the DMV.

Knowing how the system works is your best bet for success. Fully understanding your car insurance policy can save you time and money. Keep your SR-22 filing intact for the required amount of time, which can be anywhere from six months to five years. Once you make it past your filing, start searching for a cheaper car insurance rate. Keep your policy active and your driving record clean to obtain the best car insurance rates.