Get Back On The (Right) Road With An SR22 Policy

January 20, 2017 · Posted in General Articles on Car Insurance 

In different states, different insurance companies operate in different ways. However, in certain specific situations, all of the states operate in the same manner. One of these situations is the coverage made available to what are called high-risk drivers, a category that includes people with multiple serious infractions as well as others who have been convicted of drunk driving, variously called Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Because many insurance companies will cancel policies of such drivers, states require the ones who wish to continue driving (legally) to buy financial responsibility insurance. These are called SR22 policies.

As opposed to normal car policies that can cover everything including roadside assistance and towing, SR22 policies are basic, no-frills liability insurance. You can determine the precise regulations where you live by contacting your state DMV, and how to go about getting the coverage. Not all insurance companies sell SR22 policies, but there are typically a number of them doing so in every state.

Improving your record

If you have ever been cited for driving under the influence (drugs or alcohol), driving without insurance, or driving without a license or with a suspended one, you may be declined by mainstream insurers. If, for any reason, you become uninsurable to most insurers, states have established these financial responsibility insurance laws so that you can legally drive. In fact, in some situations you may need to obtain SR22 coverage to get your license back after a suspension, in order to show that you are prepared to resume driving in a legal manner.

Even if you have had serious problems with driving, including DUI convictions, America is famous as a land of second chances. If you return to responsible behavior, get your SR22 coverage and resume driving in a consistently safe manner (and get no more tickets), this can work to your advantage and, over time, lower your insurance costs. States and insurers around the country operate somewhat differently in these matters, but clearly it is in your best interest to change your driving habits and behaviors. Your new, clean record is the best evidence that you are doing so.

Getting the facts

You can contact the DMV directly or, if you have an insurance agent, he or she can make an inquiry for you. It may be that you were told to look into SR22 insurance by the court because of excessive tickets, accidents or other driving-related problems. Sometimes the DMV itself, depending on the state you live in, will even mail you a notice that you are required to obtain the financial responsibility coverage. In some cases, the news will be somewhat of a shock when your insurance company drops you and sends a letter to that effect. Of course, you should have seen it coming if you were having ongoing driving problems but, still, it can be quite a wakeup call to find out that you cannot legally drive anymore.

If your insurer drops you, or if you have been driving without car insurance, you can also deal with the problem directly and seek out auto insurance companies that offer SR-22 coverage. Some companies may charge an extra fee for filing it, so make sure you ask about this. Remember that this coverage is under the oversight of state insurance commissioners and companies that offer it have to follow some specific procedures. In certain cases, you may even have difficulty getting an SR-22 filed if you have a particularly low credit score, although there are always ways to get coverage for all but the very worst offenders.

Bottom line

If you are required to get SR22, do not get depressed about it, just get with a new program and make a determined effort to improve your driving record. Once you are insured with an SR22, stay out of driving trouble and every year you have no tickets, accidents or other problems, you will make progress toward normalizing your record. After a sufficient amount of time (which depends on your unique situation, insurer and state) you will begin to pay less in premiums. As long as you stay on the straight and narrow, so to speak, you will regain full privileges as a driver.

Shop around, of course, but be prepared to pay more for insurance while getting just basic coverage. The main thing that states want to make sure of is that you will not drive uninsured and cause damage that others have to pay for. The fact that you will get this coverage, and keep it while driving legally and without getting any tickets or having any accidents, is proof in and of itself that you made the responsible decision. You decided to get back on the (right) road with an SR22 policy, and you made the right choice.

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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