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UPDATED: May 22, 2019
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Driving a motor vehicle comes with a lot of responsibility. In just an instant, one bad maneuver or reckless decision can put someone else’s life at risk.
This is why pretty much every state requires individuals to carry insurance that will pay for the potential damages that they could cause while they’re operating a motor vehicle.
Choosing to drive without insurance or financial responsibility is against the law. When individuals break this state law and they’re caught, it’s possible that they could lose their driving privilege entirely.
Instead of automatically taking this from someone who heavily relies on driving to get around, some courts might order the individual to file an SR-22. If you’d like to learn more about SR-22 filings when they’re required, and how to get one without insuring a car, read this guide.
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What is an SR-22?
An SR-22 is technically an auto insurance filing, certificate or document that’s issued by an insurance company to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
It’s a safety responsibility document that’s required specifically by drivers that are deemed to be high-risk in one way or another who’ve been ordered to buy SR-22 insurance.
If the state is notified that coverage has ended, appropriate action will be taken against the person for failing to comply with their obligations ordered by the court.
When a filing is submitted to the DMV, it proves that the policyholder is carrying insurance with a carrier in the state and that the limits on the policy satisfy mandatory insurance requirements.
Whenever the policy renews or coverage ends, the DMV will be the first to be notified as required under the SR-22 rules.
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Who is required to file an SR-22 with the DMV?
When you’re required to file an SR-22 with state transportation officials, it probably signifies that you’ve been on the wrong side of the law once or twice when it comes to obeying traffic laws.
You aren’t just required to purchase SR-22 insurance because you’re a young driver or because you’ve been in an accident. It’s when you’ve been convicted of a serious traffic violation or you’re a repeat offender behind the wheel that action is taken.
Here are some scenarios where SR-22 filings are often required:
- You’re Caught Driving Without Insurance –If you’re in an at-fault accident and you don’t have insurance at the accident is reported, you’ll almost definitely have to file an SR-22 to show that you now have coverage. Even if you’re not in an accident, it’s possible that you may have to file an SR-22 for ‘no insurance’ citations. Some states require the safety responsibility with just one conviction
- You’re Convicted of Driving Under the Influence –Driving Under the Influence is a serious traffic violation and a misdemeanor criminal offense. In most states, anyone who’s arrested for driving while intoxicated will have their license immediately suspended or revoked. While the driver’s license will be suspended, they are usually given 30 days to request a hearing where they can appeal the suspension. If eligible for reinstatement, the driver can pay a fee and file their SR-22 for a restricted privilege
- Reckless Driving Convictions –Reckless driving is also considered to be a serious offense. While the first conviction doesn’t typically lead to an SR-22 filing requirement, a second offense will in many states
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident –You’re required by law to stay at the scene of an accident and exchange information with the other party. If you’re guilty of hit and run and you’re identified, you could be convicted of leaving the scene of an accident. This conviction can lead to license suspension that can be avoided by filing an SR-22
- License Suspension –If you have multiple infractions on your record, you may get a notice in the mail from the DMV that you have points on your record and that you’re at risk of having your license suspended. If your record is bad enough to lead to suspension, you’ll be asked to file an SR-22 before you can pay for reinstatement
What happens if someone doesn’t file their SR-22?
If you’ve been ordered by a judge to file an SR-22 to keep your license or to get it back, you need to maintain the filing for 36 months.
This doesn’t mean that you have to stay with the same insurer, but you do have to have liability insurance with no lapses for the entire 3 year period.
If the DMV finds out you don’t have coverage, your license and/or registration will immediately be suspended.
Do all states require SR-22 filings?
Every state handles high-risk drivers differently. While it makes sense to require these drivers to prove they’re covered, not all states have SR-22 programs.
The following states don’t use SR-22’s as a penalty after serious conviction:
- New York
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
Do you have to own a car to buy SR-22 insurance?
It might seem like you need a car to buy car insurance, but it’s possible that you can buy the mandatory liability coverage to satisfy SR-22 requirements without owning a car.
Some insurers offer specialty coverage that’s called non-owners car insurance for individuals who need their own liability coverage but who don’t own a car.
Non-owners insurance offers licensed drivers with experience third-party liability and sometimes uninsured motorist coverage.
It does not provide you with physical damage coverage on a vehicle that you’re driving. It also only provides coverage when driving a borrowed or rented car that is not immediately available to the policyholder.
How much is an SR-22?
Non-owner auto insurance is inexpensive, but you’ll also have to pay a fee for the filing. In most cases, SR-22 filings cost less than $50 for the term, which is spread out in the installments.
Remember that premiums will still be based on how risky you are.
If you’ve been convicted of a violation that will trigger the SR-22 requirement, it’s time to start shopping for insurance. For drivers who don’t own a car, buying non-owners insurance is the answer.
If you’d like to price the cost of coverage, use an online rate comparison tool and compare quotes so that you can fulfill the requirement in the most affordable manner possible.
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