Becoming An Informed Insurance Buyer: What SR-22 Means

December 28, 2016 · Posted in General Articles on Car Insurance 

For some reason, some insurance companies make the filing of an SR-22 document seem like a mystery, giving you the impression it is some secretive and complicated matter that you should not question too closely. You cannot start becoming an informed insurance buyer without knowing what SR-22 means, and if you fall into one of the categories of drivers required to file the form, you should know exactly what you are getting into.

Because the SR-22 document essentially proves your financial responsibility, people have erroneously concluded that it is insurance for poor people. This is not the case. It is true that having a very bad credit history can affect your options in buying insurance, but it also affects your ability to get an SR-22 filing because, if you recall, the whole point of having it is to establish financial responsibility. The major reasons you will need an SR-22 include:

-getting caught driving without insurance,

-being cited for DUI/DWI or other serious moving violation,

-causing an accident (being at fault) while driving uninsured,

-receiving repeat citations in a short period of time, and

-driving with a suspended or revoked license.

In most states you will be required to have an SR-22 for a specific length of time, often three years. If you get through that time period without reneging on payments or getting additional tickets, your SR-22 requirement will expire.

Consider it like probation

You will have a long-term filing status with an SR-22, typically three years as mentioned above, which you should think of as driving probation. That is how your state DMV and police think of it, so you should, too. The SR-22 is not insurance itself, and you are required to have ongoing insurance coverage during your SR-22 status. The insurance company that issues you a policy pursuant to an SR-22 filing will notify the authorities in your state at once if your policy is unpaid, canceled or lapses, triggering the suspension of your license once again.

Not every insurance company will file the SR-22, so you need to become an informed consumer first and do your research. There are also different rates for the service, as well as a wide range of policy costs, so you really do need to shop around. You can look forward to a smooth experience if you use a company experienced with the SR-22 filing, and some insurers will stay on top of things to the point that they will file a termination form with the authorities (called an SR-26 in some states), usually within some 10 days of the SR-22’s expiration.

Different state requirements

Generally speaking, if you have an SR-22 currently and move to another state, you will have to finish out the stated time period anyway. You will also need to get in-state insurance with liability limits that meet the required minimums in your former home state. For example, if you have an SR-22 in a state where the minimum liability figures are 50/100/25, and move to a state with 25/50/10 limits, you still have to carry the former, higher limits in your new state. You will continue in your SR-22 status in the new state until the time period ends in the old one.

Some states do not have SR-22 requirements, like Delaware, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Kentucky. If you move to one of these places while in SR-22 status, however, you will have to meet the insurance requirements of the old state where you were required to file the SR-22. If your SR-22 is from, say, Arizona, and then you move to New Mexico, you will continue filing the SR-22 with Arizona until the time period runs out. You will get a New Mexico policy, but keep on filing your SR-22 in Arizona until your period expires.

Bottom line

You need to shop around to find insurance companies that will do these filings if you do not want to handle it yourself. A variety of firms, including SR-22 specialists, exist for the express reason of helping you stay on the road, safe and insured. With some companies and in some states, there may be a filing fee attached to the SR-22, as well. The concept as a whole is similar among the many states using SR-22 programs, but you need to remember that the devil is in the details, and there are a lot of them. It is crucial that you find a firm that has the experience and expertise to help you navigate through the complexities of the SR-22 filing.

Most states require an SR22 for major convictions such as a DUI or DWI, driving while license suspended or revoked and at fault accidents without insurance to name a few.

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