It’s an exciting feeling, that new car feeling. Maybe it’s a brand-new car or maybe it’s been gently used, it doesn’t matter because it’s all yours.
Getting a new car is great. But there are a lot of small details to figure out once you’ve purchased the car. One of the most important details is getting all the required insurance coverage. And it’s a detail you have to figure out before getting the car tagged and licensed.
But what happens when the DMV asks for an SR-22? If you haven’t needed SR-22 insurance before, you might have a few questions.
Given the new laws targeting DUIs in Tennessee, it’s an excellent time to clarify the SR-22 process for you, including how the paperwork is handled, how long you need to have it, and how it affects your auto insurance rate.
What is SR-22 insurance?
SR-22 insurance can be a little confusing. While it is called SR-22 insurance, it’s not a typical insurance policy, but it is insurance related. Let’s break it down a bit.
SR-22 insurance is one of the costly consequences of a DUI, a license suspension, causing an accident when you’re uninsured, and even getting too many tickets in a short amount of time – and no, that’s not too many concert tickets. If you have had one of those situations, you might have to file an SR-22 form that shows you have the right coverage.
An SR-22 form is filed with your state’s DMV showing that you do, in fact, have enough liability coverage to meet the state’s minimum requirements. A lot of the specifics, including the minimum auto insurance requirements, vary depending on the state of residence. Actually, there are only 8 states that don’t require it.
How long does it last?
Another question people often have about SR-22 insurance is how long is it required. Again, specifics can and will vary, but the average length of time is 3 years. Some states do require it for longer, so check with your state’s DMV.
It’s also important to note a few possible penalties for not following a state’s SR-22 requirement. If you fail to comply with the SR-22 insurance requirements, your license could be suspended. Even if you do comply but let your insurance policy lapse, your insurance company is legally required to notify the state. And then your license could be suspended.
How do you get SR-22 insurance?
Okay, so it’s required. How do you get SR-22 insurance? The process itself isn’t too overwhelming, but it’s helpful to have a step-by-step outline. So here it goes.
#1 – Call your Insurance Company
To state the filing process, you’ll need to contact your insurance provider. You’ll want to verify that your current auto insurance policy meets, or exceeds your state’s minimum requirements. Once that’s settled, you’ll need to certify your insurance coverage.
#2 – Certify your Coverage
Remember SR-22 insurance isn’t insurance coverage at all. An SR-22 just shows that you meet all minimum liability coverage requirements in your state, so you’ll need a certificate.
There are 3 types of SR-22 certificates: owner’s, non-owner, and owner-operator’s certificate. An owner’s certificate covers any car that you own, so it’s probably what you’ll need.
If you don’t own a car, you might still be required to certify your insurance coverage. That’s where a non-owners certificate comes in. Even if you don’t own a car, many states still require you to carry SR-22 insurance.
An owner-operator’s certificate is used if you borrow a friend’s car or rent a car. An owner-operator’s SR-22 certificate will verify that you have the right kind of auto coverage.
#3 – File the Certificate
The final step is to file the SR-22 coverage with the DMV. The good news is that your insurance company will file it on your behalf. You won’t need to physically bring anything to the DMV. This service does come with a small fee, though.
How will SR-22 insurance affect my car insurance rates?
Now, the million-dollar question. How does an SR-22 filing affect you and your car insurance coverage?
SR-22 insurance marks a driver as “high-risk” and that usually means higher insurance rates. The specific dollar amount depends on a lot of different factors – age, location, etc. – but SR-22 insurance can increase rates by almost 20%.
But that increase doesn’t have to be permanent. Once the SR-22 requirement expires (after 3 years on average), your rates can return to pre-SR-22 levels. That’s not a guarantee, but it’s a possibility.
Don’t Get it Confused with an FR-44
Remember 8 states do not require drivers to file an SR-22. But 2 states use and require an FR-44 instead. An FR-44 is similar to an SR-22, but they aren’t exactly the same.
An FR-44 is only used in Florida and Virginia, and it’s only for DUI charges or driving with a suspended license. An SR-22 covers a few other situations and charges. An FR-44 also has a few more costly consequences. The length of time is also similar to an SR-22 in other states. Both Florida and Virginia only require an FR-44 filing for 3 years.
Drivers in Florida and Virginia with FR-44s are required to carry more auto insurance than the state’s minimum requirement. That kind of coverage increase can have a serious effect on your finances.
Whether it’s an SR-22 or an FR-44, there are only a handful of states that don’t require some kind of extra filing in the case of DUIs or driving with a suspended license. If you find yourself in one of those situations, it’s best to call your insurance provider right away. They’ll be able to give you all the specifics of your state’s requirements.
It’s all in the Name of Safety Thing
SR-22 insurance is really meant to keep everyone safe. Yes, it is a consequence, but it also serves as a reminder. If you find yourself needing to file an SR-22, it’s a good reminder to be as safe and responsible as possible. If you don’t need an SR-22 right now, it’s still good to remember to drive safely.
Even if you don’t need SR-22 insurance right now, it’s still a great reminder to be safe while driving. So when the next national beer day rolls around, remember to enjoy yourself but don’t get behind the wheel.