The SR-22 is a form submitted by your car insurance carrier to your local DMV in order to prove you have car insurance.
When your license is revoked, your state may require you to show that you have a minimum amount of car insurance before it reinstates your license. This proof of insurance is indicated by form SR-22. In Florida and Virginia, a form FR-44 may be required instead. If your state requires you to submit form SR-22 or FR-44, it won’t reinstate your driver's license until this paperwork is received.
States that require your insurer to submit an SR-22 usually mandate that it stays on your insurance for two or three years, after which you no longer need the form. But if your SR-22 insurance is canceled or lapses before that period has ended, your driver's license will be suspended again.
Read on to learn more about form SR-22:
An SR-22 is a certificate issued by your car insurance company to your local department of motor vehicles, when your driver's license gets suspended, that proves to the DMV that you have auto insurance.
SR-22 insurance isn’t technically a type of car insurance; it’s simply your usual car insurance policy with an SR-22 form attached to it. The SR-22 form may also be called a “certificate of financial responsibility” or a “certificate of liability insurance.”
Most states require your insurance carrier to submit a certificate of financial liability to get your driver's license reinstated. States that don’t require the SR-22 form will still request proof of insurance in some other way.
Since not all car insurance companies submit the SR-22 – and you can’t submit it yourself – you may have to change carriers in order to get your license reinstated. But virtually every large carrier will file an SR-22 on your behalf, so if you’re looking to change car insurance companies, talk to one of Policygenius’ licensed representatives to get a quote for high-risk drivers.
Every state has different rules governing driver's license reinstatement. If your license is suspended because of one of the following violations, you may need form SR-22 before your license is valid again.
Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI)
Causing an at-fault accident when you don’t have car insurance
Getting too many tickets or committing too much traffic violations
Court-ordered license suspension due to drug or alcohol possession
These laws will apply regardless of the type of vehicle you were driving when you committed the traffic offense. Drivers of both commercial and personal autos will be subject to the same proof of financial responsibility requirements to undo a driver’s license suspension.
Most states require the SR-22 to stay on your insurance for between one and three years. After that period has ended, the insurer no longer has to submit the certificate of financial responsibility to keep your driver's license valid.
But while you’re still required to have an SR-22, you need to keep paying your car insurance premiums. If your policy is canceled during that time, the SR-22 will no longer be in force, and your driver's license will be suspended until you have car insurance and your insurer has filed an SR-22 again. However, the insurer will notify you long before that happens.
If you commit another traffic violation during that time, you’ll need to have an SR-22 form even longer if you wish to continue your driving privileges.
When renewing your SR-22, the form must be filed a certain number of days in advance, as defined by your state’s laws.
Insurers may charge you $25 to file the SR-22 with your state government. Additionally, your state’s driver’s license bureau may charge you a reinstatement fee, which varies between states.
However, having SR-22 insurance – meaning car insurance with an SR-22 form attached to it – will almost certainly mean paying higher premiums. The average monthly cost of car insurance is around $92 a month, so expect to pay slightly more than that.
That’s because your premiums are based on the amount of risk you pose, so if you have a demonstrated history of causing accidents or driving while intoxicated, you’ll be more expensive to insure.
You can lower your premiums if you’ve been driving safely after a given period of time, which varies from insurer to insurer but may range from five to 10 years. By that point, the SR-22 will be long gone from your record, unless you cause another accident.
If you commit a moving violation in another state, your driver's license may be revoked in that state until you meet that state’s requirements for certificates of financial responsibility. Make sure your insurer services that state and that they issue SR-22s.
Some states allow you to waive the SR-22 requirements by signing an affidavit, but because driving without insurance is illegal in most states, you’ll still need at least that state’s minimum insurance coverage before driving there.
Non-owner car insurance is for people who will be driving a car they don’t own. If your license has been suspended, you’ll need to get non-owner SR-22 insurance, which is also called an “operator’s certificate,” until the suspension has been lifted.
As a limited car insurance policy, non-owner insurance may offer only liability insurance, the type of car insurance that covers you if you cause injury or damage to someone else, but which won’t cover damage to your car or injuries you or your passengers incur after an accident. (The person who owns the car will have his or her own insurance policy that specifically covers the car.) Because of that, non-owner insurance may be relatively less expensive than other types of car insurance with more robust coverage.
Anyone who gets behind the wheel has to have insurance coverage if their state requires it, whether or not they own the car. Driving without insurance can mean expensive fines and even jail time.
In Florida and Virginia, you may be required to submit an SR-22 for some driving violations, but for others, form FR-44 may be required instead.
The FR-44 has stricter requirements to be valid for license reinstatement; namely, you’ll have to purchase double the amount car insurance for the state’s legal minimums. That means your car insurance premiums, which are already higher because of your spotty driving record, will be even higher due to the increased coverage.
As with the SR-22, your auto insurance company will submit the form on your behalf. Likewise, the insurer will need to file the FR-44 every policy period for up to three years for the DMV to reinstate your license.
Zack Sigel is a SEO managing editor at Policygenius. He covers personal finance, comprising mortgages, investing, deposit accounts, and more. His previous work included writing about film and music.
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