After a license suspension or serious driving misdemeanor, you will likely have to file an SR-22 form. Though not an ideal situation, you can prepare yourself for the rigidity of an SR-22 policy.
What is SR-22?
People make mistakes, and an SR-22 form offers a little hope to drivers who commit serious moving violations. An SR-22 is required when someone can’t pay for damages incurred during a serious traffic offense. Such offenses include:
- Drinking and driving
- Reckless driving
- Getting into an at-fault car accident without insurance (once or multiple times)
- Driving with a suspended license
Though often referred to as insurance, SR-22 is a form filed with the state rather than an insurance plan. Filing an SR-22 identifies you as a high-risk driver, and your insurance company is notified of your precarious driving record. This usually results in premiums raised anywhere from 14-40%. Higher premiums protect the insurance company, as they take on a high risk and potential future damages by keeping you on as a claimant.
The length of time you need to keep your SR-22 varies state-by-state and relates to the seriousness of the transgression, but the average length of SR-22 is at least 2 years.
How to File an SR-22 Form
If your infraction is serious enough to require a court appearance, the judge will order you to obtain an SR-22 at the time of the ruling. Don’t fret, reputable auto insurance companies can help you fill your SR-22 out. They may charge an initial one-time fee for filing the claim with the state. The insurance company sends a copy of your SR-22 to the appropriate state department, and then the insurer will notify you if you can maintain insurance with them. Some insurance companies are unwilling to take on SR-22 claims, in which case you’ll have to locate another company willing to do so.
If you’re unable to consistently make the minimum payments to sustain your SR-22 insurance, you face license suspension. If this worst-case scenario happens to you, you’ll have to catch up on late or missed payments and re-file an SR-22 claim. The length of time you must maintain the SR-22 insurance starts over when you file a new claim. If your state orders SR-22 for a minimum of 3 years and your plan lapsed after 2 years, for example, you will have to maintain the policy for another 3 years from the point of expiration.