Most drivers won’t even hear the term “SR-22” unless they’ve been convicted of a traffic offense. There’s often a lot of confusion around what SR-22 car insurance means, so here’s what you need to know.
How Does an SR-22 Work With Car Insurance?
SR-22 itself is not car insurance. It’s a certificate issued by your car insurance and filed by the state where you live. It’s also known as a certificate of financial responsibility (CFR).
The SR-22 certificate demonstrates financial responsibility, verifying that you have at least the minimum car insurance coverage required by the state. It’s your car insurance’s way of assuring the state you’re maintaining the correct insurance and you’re covered in the event of an accident.
There are a number of situations where an SR-22 certificate is required, including if you have:
- Alcohol violation convictions like DUIs or DWIs
- Multiple traffic violations within a short time period
- Gotten caught driving without car insurance, especially during an accident
- Been driving with a suspended license
- Reckless driving or negligent driving convictions
You may also need to obtain an SR-22 if you are trying to reinstate your driver’s license after it was revoked or suspended. It’s also a requirement if you’re getting a probationary or hardship license.
If an SR-22 form is required for you to get your license reinstated, the state or court will normally let you know, including how long the form must be on file and related insurance requirements.
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How Do I Get an SR-22?
You must get the SR-22 through your car insurance. If you already have a carrier, your insurer might be able to add the SR-22 onto your policy. But if you’re currently uninsured or your insurance company doesn’t offer the SR-22 (some don’t), you’ll need to look for a new insurance policy.
If your current insurer doesn’t offer the form, you can sometimes buy an SR-22 non-owner policy (not covering any vehicles) with another company to get it filed with your state. That way, you can keep your original insurer in the process. This can get pricey, however, as you’d still need to buy the minimum liability coverage on the second policy.
You won’t be penalized for switching auto insurance companies during the filing period in order to get better SR-22 insurance rates. Just make sure you start a new policy before you cancel your current policy. It’s better to overlap a little than have any period of no coverage. If your coverage lapses at any point, you might have to restart the process, which would mean paying the filing fee again (see below) or even having your driver’s license suspended again.
When you’ve chosen an insurer or already have one who offers an SR-22, they will file the form on your behalf.
What are the Costs of an SR-22 Certificate?
As far as immediate costs, there will be a one-time filing fee from your insurance company. In the State of Georgia, that fee is $25. That’s the only official cost. However, this reason for your SR-22 will likely affect your insurance rate.
Be ready for a spike in your insurance rates. Plus, some insurance companies won’t insure drivers with an SR-22 insurance record. That’s why you might need to shop around online for better coverage prices after you’ve been convicted of a traffic violation. It’s the violation that actually spikes your rates, not the SR-22 form. However, your rates should go down again after the violation falls off your record.
Some auto insurance companies in Georgia will offer discounts for SR-22 insurance carriers who make their vehicles safer. For example, having airbags, anti-lock brakes, or getting an alarm system installed in your car may help. Contact your insurance company to know for sure.
How Long Do I Need to Have SR-22 Insurance?
Depending on where you live and your conviction(s), you’ll need to have SR-22 insurance anywhere from one to five years. In Georgia, you’ll need to have it for three years if you have a DUI conviction.
Make sure you know exactly how long SR-22 is required for you. If you end your policy before the time period has passed, the state will get notice and there will be penalties like driver’s license suspension/revocation and having to restart the SR-22 process.
If you were in an accident caused by a reckless or irresponsible driver, they are legally responsible for your costs on top of the SR-22. John Foy & Associates can help you file a claim for damages or explore your options if the driver was uninsured. For a FREE consultation to discuss the details, call us today at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form on this page.