If you have certain violations on your driving record, you may be required to file an SR-22 form with your state.
An SR-22, often called a certificate of financial responsibility, is a state-ordered form that is added to your car insurance. These forms aren’t required in all cases, but they are necessary for some drivers.
Here’s a full explanation of what SR-22 forms are, when you need to obtain one, how they impact your insurance rates, and more.
What is a certificate of financial responsibility?
A certificate of financial responsibility, or SR-22, proves that you meet your state’s minimum mandated car insurance requirements. You may need to file one with your state if you’re convicted of certain motor vehicle offenses, which we’ll discuss shortly.
Certain states may require that you file an FR-44 instead of an SR-22 after a DUI conviction. FR-44 forms also serve as proof that you meet mandated insurance requirements, and these forms are currently used only in Florida and Virginia.
Who is required to obtain an SR-22?
Drivers with a history of certain motor vehicle offenses may need to obtain a certificate of financial responsibility to stay roadworthy. Here are some examples of convictions and moving violations that may trigger the need for an SR-22 form in your state:
Driving with a suspended license or revoked license
Driving without adequate car insurance
Driving under the influence (DUI) or while intoxicated (DWI)
Several at-fault accidents
Several speeding tickets in a short timeframe
Multiple reckless driving offenses
Failure to pay court-ordered child support
If you go to court as a result of any of these offenses, the judge will inform you if an SR-22 is required. Alternatively, your state’s department of motor vehicles may also provide that information. You’ll often need to file an SR-22 certificate and pay a fee to reinstate your driver’s license.
You may be required to file an SR-22 in a state you don’t live in if that’s where you committed a driving offense. Likewise, if you move to a new state, you may be required to maintain the SR-22 in your former state of residence for a set period.
How does a certificate of financial responsibility affect car insurance rates?
A mandated SR-22 filing can impact your insurance in a few ways – almost always making it more expensive.
If your current insurer allows you to maintain your coverage, your premiums will probably go up because you’ll likely be classified as a high-risk driver.
There’s also a possibility your insurance company will cancel your coverage. In that case, you’d need to find a new insurer and your choice of providers may be limited. Chances are your new insurance company will also charge higher rates due to your past offenses behind the wheel.
It can be difficult to avoid high insurance rates with an SR-22, though you can take positive steps to reduce your rates in the future. Avoiding additional offenses and policy lapses as much as possible will help, and you might also consider taking a safe driving course. Insurers may offer safe driving discounts for policyholders who’ve completed these courses.
How long do I need a certificate of financial responsibility?
SR-22s are typically required for three years, though timeframes can range between one and five years, depending on your state. If you have questions about how long an SR-22 is required, it’s best to contact your state’s department of motor vehicles for more information.
Your history of traffic offenses can also impact the duration of your SR-22. For instance, in Ohio, drivers are required to maintain an SR-22 for three years if it’s their first offense and five years for a second offense.
During the timeframe in which your SR-22 is required, you’ll need to maintain adequate car insurance coverage. If your policy is canceled or lapses, your insurance company will notify your state and you’ll likely get hit with a license suspension, which could impact the duration of your SR-22.
Once you’ve met your state’s requirements for maintaining an SR-22, you’ll need to contact your insurance company to have the designation removed. This step is essential because the SR-22 doesn’t automatically drop off after a set period.
Is SR-22 insurance? Clarifying the terminology
While it may be referred to as SR-22 insurance, an SR-22 isn’t an auto actual insurance policy; it’s simply a certificate you need to file if you commit certain driving offenses. Drivers who need to file an SR-22 will likely see their insurance rates go up, but it’s the past infractions and not the form itself that increases insurance costs.
How to obtain and maintain a certificate of financial responsibility
If a judge or your state department of motor vehicles requires that you file an SR-22, here’s a quick walkthrough of how to obtain and maintain your certificate of financial responsibility.
Learn about your state’s SR-22 requirements, including timeframes and insurance minimums.
If your insurance company offers SR-22s, you can call them to file one. But if they don’t, you may need to find another insurance provider. Contact your state’s department of motor vehicles for a list of possible insurers.
Submit any necessary documentation, including personal and insurance information, and information about your driving offenses.
Pay an SR-22 filing fee. These fees vary by state, but are generally around $25.
Comply with your state requirements, including maintaining continuous car insurance coverage for the duration of your SR-22 filing. Most states require a minimum amount of liability coverage in order to maintain driving privileges.