If you’re considered a high-risk driver — such as one who’s been convicted of multiple traffic violations or has received a DUI — you’ll probably have to become familiar with an SR-22. What is an SR-22? An SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility required for some drivers by their state or court order. It serves as proof that the driver has purchased the minimum required auto coverage in the state. Depending on your situation and what state you live in, an FR-44 may take the place of the SR-22.
How does an SR-22 work?
You should have a pretty clear idea of when you’ll need an SR-22. Typically, you’ll receive a court order requiring that you get one as a result of a driving offense. Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles can also let you know if you have to obtain an SR-22.1
It’s up to your car insurance company to file an SR-22 form for you. You may be able to add this onto a current policy, but keep in mind that not every auto insurer is willing to provide SR-22 insurance. In this case, you’ll have to shop for a new policy.2
Unfortunately, an SR-22, and the infraction that necessitates it, will create a lot of immediate expenses. First, you may incur a one-time charge from your insurer for the SR-22 filing itself. Then once you’ve solidified your coverage, be prepared to pay your insurer a fee or a good portion of your annual premium in advance.2,3
Why is an SR-22 required?
While the laws surrounding SR-22s vary from state to state, many of the circumstances in which you’ll need one are generally the same. Here are some of the common reasons why an SR-22 is required2,3:
- DUI, DWI or another serious moving violation
- Multiple traffic violations within a short time span
- Driving without insurance conviction, or being in an accident without proper insurance
- Not carrying car insurance on a registered vehicle
- Unpaid child support
SR-22s are also necessary to reinstate a revoked or suspended license. In addition, filing an SR-22 is a key step in attaining a hardship or probationary license.3
How long will you need to have it?
In most states, an SR-22 is required for three years, but you should contact your state’s DMV to find out the exactly how long you’ll need it. It’s important to know that if you cancel your car insurance policy before your required SR-22 timeframe ends, your insurer must inform the traffic authorities. This could result in your driver’s license being suspended or revoked. You may even have to start the SR-22 process all over again.
Also, try to understand any other parameters that govern your SR-22. For instance, you’ll want to figure out if your SR-22 period begins on your driving offense date, the license suspension date, the date you reinstated your license, or another date.3
When your SR-22 period ends, make sure to tell your insurance company you no longer need it. You may even be able to start shopping for cheaper car insurance rates at this time because premiums may decrease once you’re three years removed from a major traffic violation.2
FR-44 vs SR-22
FR-44s are required only in Florida and Virginia and are mostly reserved for drivers with convictions related to driving while impaired or under the influence. Drivers who need FR-44s must procure more extensive liability coverage than what is minimally required in their state.3
The filing procedures for the SR-22 and FR-44 are similar in many ways. Some of the main things they have in common include4,5,6:
- FR-44s are usually required via court order, or you can verify your need for one by contacting your local DMV.
- Your car insurance company will file your FR-44 on your behalf with the state’s motor vehicle authority.
- You’ll need to have an FR-44 for three years, but certain factors and penalties can impact the total length of time.
FR-44 in Virginia
According to the Virginia DMV, an FR-44 is required if you’re convicted of any of the following:
- Maiming or injuring others while under the influence
- Driving under the influence of intoxicants or drugs
- Driving while your driver's license has been forfeited for a conviction
In Virginia, the FR-44 liability coverage requirements are double the minimum:
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death of one person
- $100,000 for bodily injury or death of multiple people
- $40,000 for property damage
FR-44 in Florida
In Florida, FR-44 insurance is necessary for those convicted of a DUI or DWI. The FR-44 liability coverage requirements in this state are6:
- $100,000 for bodily injury liability per person
- $300,000 for bodily injury liability per accident
- $50,000 for property damage liability
Note that these are significantly higher than Florida’s minimum requirements. For context, the minimum liability coverage for a normal driver is only $10,000 for bodily injury or death of one person.7
Where to get an SR-22
If you think you need an SR-22, check with an insurance agent. They’ll be able to guide you through the entire SR-22 filing process and make sure you’re meeting your state’s insurance regulations.