If you fall into the category of being a high-risk driver, which might include having multiple traffic violations or a DUI conviction, you’ll likely encounter the term “SR-22.” So, what exactly is an SR-22? It’s a certificate of financial responsibility mandated by some states or court orders for certain drivers. This certificate serves as proof that the driver has obtained the minimum required auto insurance coverage in their state. Depending on your specific situation and the state you reside in, an FR-44 might serve the same purpose as an SR-22.
The Mechanics of an SR-22
Understanding when you’ll need an SR-22 is key. Typically, a court order following a driving offense will necessitate obtaining one. You can also consult your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to determine whether you require an SR-22.
Your car insurance provider is responsible for filing the SR-22 form on your behalf. It’s possible to add this to an existing policy, but not all insurers offer SR-22 insurance. If this is the case, you’ll need to search for a new policy.
Regrettably, the SR-22 and the infraction that prompts it come with immediate financial implications. First, you might face a one-time fee from your insurer for the SR-22 filing itself. After finalizing your coverage, be prepared to pay your insurer either a fee or a substantial portion of your annual premium upfront.
Why is an SR-22 Required?
Though the specifics of SR-22 requirements vary by state, several circumstances necessitate obtaining one. Some common reasons include:
- DUI, DWI, or other severe moving violations
- Accumulation of multiple traffic violations within a short span
- Conviction for driving without insurance, or being involved in an accident without proper insurance
- Failure to maintain car insurance on a registered vehicle
- Unpaid child support
SR-22s are also essential for reinstating revoked or suspended licenses, and they are a crucial step in obtaining a hardship or probationary license.
Duration of SR-22 Requirement
In most states, an SR-22 is mandatory for three years, but it’s vital to contact your state’s DMV for precise details on the duration. Keep in mind that if you cancel your car insurance policy before the stipulated SR-22 period concludes, your insurer must report this to the relevant traffic authorities. This action could result in the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, even necessitating a restart of the SR-22 process.
It’s also worth understanding any other parameters pertaining to your SR-22. For instance, determine whether the SR-22 period commences on the date of the driving offense, the date of license suspension, the date of license reinstatement, or another date.
When your SR-22 period comes to an end, inform your insurance company that you no longer require it. At this point, you might even be able to explore more affordable car insurance rates, as premiums could decrease three years after a major traffic violation.
FR-44 vs. SR-22
The FR-44 requirement is exclusive to Florida and Virginia and typically applies to drivers convicted of impaired or under-the-influence driving offenses. Those requiring FR-44 coverage must obtain higher liability coverage than the minimum mandated by their state.
The filing procedures for SR-22 and FR-44 share several similarities. Key points in common include:
- FR-44s are often required through court orders, or their necessity can be confirmed by contacting the local DMV.
- Your car insurance provider will file the FR-44 on your behalf with the state’s motor vehicle authority.
- An FR-44 is typically mandatory for three years, but various factors can impact the total duration.
FR-44 in Virginia
In Virginia, an FR-44 is mandated if you’re convicted of:
- Causing injury to others while under the influence
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving with a forfeited driver’s license due to a conviction
Virginia’s FR-44 liability coverage requirements are double the minimum:
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death per person
- $100,000 for bodily injury or death per incident
- $40,000 for property damage
FR-44 in Florida
In Florida, an FR-44 is required for those convicted of DUI or DWI. The FR-44 liability coverage requirements in this state are:
- $100,000 for bodily injury liability per person
- $300,000 for bodily injury liability per incident
- $50,000 for property damage liability
Notably, these coverage levels are significantly higher than Florida’s minimum requirements. For comparison, standard drivers are only required to have $10,000 for bodily injury or death of one person.
Where to Obtain an SR-22
If you suspect you need an SR-22, consult an insurance agent. They can guide you through the SR-22 filing process and ensure compliance with your state’s insurance regulations.