Do You Need SR22 Car Insurance?

And Tips to Lower the Cost If You Do

Close up view of a suspended Driver's License
••• halbergman / Getty Images

If you’re in the process of working on getting back your driving privileges, it is very probable you keep coming across the term SR22 filing when looking through the steps required to get licensed and insured. SR22 is a state filing required of drivers who have gotten into some trouble along the way. Knowing what SR22 insurance is and how to get it is the beginning of getting your driving privileges reinstated.

What Is SR22 Auto Insurance

Technically, SR22 insurance does not exist. SR22 is not a type of insurance -- it’s a form your insurance company has to fill out and file to prove to the government that you are adequately insured. Because of this, in common parlance, SR22 insurance is a plan under which your insurance carrier is willing and able to file paperwork with the state notifying them of your coverage.

The insurance company will also keep the state update on your car insurance policy renewals and cancellations. The state usually requires this filing for a few years after a problematic incident to verify you are keeping your insurance in good standing at all times.

Not Following Rules of the Road

The state requires SR22 filings when you have not followed the rules of the road. Several different types of violations can force you into SR22 filings, including

  • Drunk driving
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving without insurance
  • Injuring someone in an at-fault accident

You will also be required to get SR22 coverage after a series of small incidents that lead you to rack up too many points on your driver’s license.

Each state has different laws governing SR22 filings. The following violations can add up to forced SR22 insurance if you want to continue to be a licensed driver.

Finding an Agency

Most insurance agencies are capable of selling SR22 insurance. However, some prefer not to and could turn you away or not respond to your requests. You are better off looking into insurance agencies that specialize in high-risk car insurance companies. An insurance agent who handles the filings on a day to day basis is more likely to have more options for you and get the job done efficiently.

Getting SR22 Insurance

Purchasing a car insurance policy with an SR22 filing should not be complicated. You tell the insurance agent or make the selection online if you are buying direct. The insurance carrier should take care of the rest. Dealing directly with an agent, you should be able to get an accurate price a little faster.

Meanwhile, purchasing car insurance online can delay a precise rating because the SR22 fees vary per state. You may not find out exactly what the fee is until after the policy is purchased. In most cases, it is best to schedule a meeting with an insurance agent who specializes in high-risk drivers so that you can know your coverage options.

The Expense of Bad Driving Decisions

Purchasing a car insurance policy with an SR22 filing can be very expensive. The high cost is more likely due to your violation than the actual state filing fee. A DUI, multiple traffic violations, or an accident with current insurance all lead to high-risk insurance rates. Add in an additional charge such as an SR22 filing, and you are indeed paying more than an average driver.

State filing fees vary per state. Expect to spend at least $25 on top of the cost of your insurance coverage. You usually only pay the fee at the time you set up your policy. Switching insurance carriers or lapsing in coverage will require another processing fee.

Lower the Cost

To reduce the overall cost of high-risk insurance, it is recommended high-risk drivers insure a used vehicle which does not require physical damage coverage. Keeping your car insurance coverage to a minimal amount will save you lots of money up until you get out of the high-risk tier.

It is not uncommon for someone with a recent DUI or multiple traffic violations to sell their car and downgrade to make driving somewhat affordable. If you drive carefully, you can get through the rough patch and begin again, once the violations have dropped off your driving record.

Another option that will save you a lot of money is purchasing a non-owner SR22 car insurance policy. Of course, as the name implies, you will not be able to own a car while you have this policy. But it is a much cheaper alternative to traditional SR22 coverage and can help you get back on your financial feet much faster.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an attorney.