The ins-and-outs of getting (and staying) insured while your license is suspended.
If your driver’s license has been suspended, you may be wondering if you still need your car insurance. After all, with some rare exceptions, you’re probably not driving. The answer, though, is yes. Car insurance is still a good idea, even if your license has been suspended.
In fact, depending on where you live, you may need to prove you’re maintaining your insurance in order for your license to become valid again. Here’s what you need to know about getting, and keeping, car insurance while your driver’s license is suspended.
Having a suspended license means that you can’t legally drive until your license is reinstated. A suspension is a temporary state (unlike a revoked license, which is permanent). There are a number of violations that can lead to your license being suspended. Those include, but aren’t limited to:
If you’re eligible for a hardship or restricted license, you might still be able to legally drive even with a suspended license. You can apply for a hardship license with your state, and if you qualify, it allows you to do some limited driving, like to and from work, school or regularly scheduled medical appointments. And if you’re still driving, you’ll definitely need to maintain your car insurance.
If your license has been suspended, you may have to complete some additional steps in addition to waiting out the length of the suspension in order to get your license reinstated. You may also be required to pay a fee or complete an educational course, and you may need to prove that you have a minimum amount of auto insurance.
If you’re required to provide proof of insurance, that might involve having your auto insurance provider submit an SR-22 form to your local DMV. If you live in Florida or Virginia, your state may require form FR-44 instead, which has somewhat stricter requirements. If your state doesn’t require forms SR-22 or FR-44, you might still be required to provide a different kind of proof of insurance, like an insurance ID card.
Form SR-22, sometimes called a “certificate of financial responsibility” or a “certificate of liability insurance,” is a document issued by your insurance provider that proves to your state that you have car insurance. It’s not a type of insurance policy, it’s your normal policy with the SR-22 form attached to it. It’s basically just an extra measure of proof that you have valid car insurance.
You can’t submit an SR-22 yourself, your carrier has to submit it to the state on your behalf. Most major insurance providers will do this, but not all of them will, so if you need to submit an SR-22 in order to get your license reinstated, and your carrier won’t do it for you, you may need to switch insurance providers.
Your insurance provider may charge you a small fee, sometimes $25, for them to file form SR-22 with the state. That’s in addition to whatever fee the state requires you to pay in order to get your license reinstated. But it’s crucial to note that having the SR-22 form attached to your policy will almost always increase your regular premiums. That’s because your provider will see you as riskier to insure, and charge you higher rates accordingly.
But don’t worry, you won’t need to maintain the SR-22 on your policy forever. Your state likely requires you to keep it on your insurance for somewhere between one and three years, but after that, assuming you’ve continued to pay your premiums and haven’t committed any more traffic violations, you won’t need it any longer.
Getting new car insurance or switching providers with a suspended license is still possible, it just might be a little bit more of a hassle. But it may be necessary for you — if your license is suspended, your provider will likely want to know why, and they may give you a certain amount of time to get your license reinstated, after which they might cancel your policy.
Depending on your situation, if you’re shopping for a new policy while your license is suspended, you may need to get auto insurance designed for high-risk drivers. Not all insurance providers offer this kind of coverage, but many major carriers do, including State Farm, Geico, The General and Progressive. If your license has been suspended and you’re looking to purchase new car insurance, a Policygenius expert can help you get a quote for high-risk coverage.
A possible workaround to getting new insurance while your license is suspended is to apply for a policy and name a spouse, another family member or a friend as the primary driver on the policy, which means using their license information instead of your own. But you might not be able to include yourself as a covered driver on the policy until your license is reinstated.
Anna Swartz is a Managing Editor at Policygenius in New York City, and an expert in auto insurance. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic, writing about news and culture. Her work has appeared in The Dodo, AOL, HuffPost, Salon and Heeb.
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