What Is an SR-22? Who Needs to File an SR-22 and How to Do It ?

Written by Gary Bangstad and Andrew Freiburghouse on September 26, 2011 & Posted in Auto Insurance

Unless you need an SR-22, you probably wouldn't even suspect that this form has anything to do with car insurance. For drivers that do need an SR-22, it still may be a mystery; all you may know is that the court or Department of Motor Vehicles is requiring you to get the form filed by a car insurance company.

Mystery solved

An SR-22 isn't an actual car insurance policy, it's a form that is filed (electronically in many states) for a driver by his or her auto insurance provider.

The SR-22 is also called a financial responsibility form or certificate because its purpose is to provide proof to the state that you have certain car insurance coverage in place (usually the state's minimum), and will maintain that coverage for a certain period of time. The mandated time period for you to comply with SR-22 requirements can be anywhere from one to five years.

But, why do I need it?

The reasons that SR-22 forms are mandated vary by state, but in general, it's because drivers have done something wrong in the eyes of the state, which now wants to track these drivers and make sure they are being financially responsible if they return to the roadway.

In general, the SR-22 is required for drivers who have:

  • Failed to provide proof of car insurance coverage to the DMV upon request
  • Been caught driving without insurance
  • Been involved in a motor vehicle accident while uninsured
  • Applied for a hardship license
  • Been convicted of a drug or alcohol offense (such as a DUI)
  • Been designated as a habitual traffic offender (HTO)
  • A suspended or revoked driver's license and are now trying to reinstate it.

Where do I get it?

If you currently have an auto insurance policy in place, then speak to your car insurance agent and find out if your provider issues SR-22s. Telling your car insurance company that you need an SR-22 isn't going to affect your rates, but the actual offense that is causing the state to mandate the SR-22 will normally cause your rates to rise if it makes your insurer see you as more of a risk.

If your current carrier doesn't file the SR-22 form, then you will have to look for coverage elsewhere; this means obtaining a new car insurance policy with a company that does file SR-22s to replace your current policy.

About the Author

Gary P. Bangstad, Ed. D. is a freelance writer in the area of business and insurance. Previously, he worked for Midwest Financial Planning LTD, selling insurance and investment products. He has also taught music at the university level.

Andrew Freiburghouse is a writer and businessman. As a partner at Los Angeles tax preparation firm Pronto Income Tax of California, Inc., Andrew has served thousands of clients both face to face and over the telephone. Currently, Andrew lives in Brooklyn, NY, and is in the process of starting up his own tax practice.

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