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SR22 Car Insurance
SR22 insurance is a special type of policy issued to high-risk drivers. It is usually mandated by a judge because of some sort of violation or series of violations.
When you are required to have SR22 insurance, your car insurance company will file an official form with the state. By filing this form, the company is assuring the state that you are in compliance with the state’s minimum requirements for car insurance, says Tennessee’s Department of Security and Homeland Safety.
Each state sets its own guidelines for SR22s. Sometimes a state might have different types or requirements for an SR22 depending on the reason you have to get an SR22. The length of time you are required to have an SR22 on file varies by state and offense as well.
An SR22 is also a bit different because the companies will also notify the insurance company if you cancel or fail to pay for your insurance. If this were to happen, the company notifies the state that you are no longer in compliance with the requirement for an SR22. The state will then revoke your driver’s license.
It’s also likely that you’ll have to start the SR22 required time period over again. Most SR22 requirements last for three to five years. Therefore, if you stop paying your insurance premiums after two years, get caught, and have to start over, you could end up paying five years rather than an original three.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence (DUI) is the biggest reason drivers are required to have SR22 insurance. When you are caught driving while intoxicated, whether the substance is alcohol or illegal substances, you’ll be paying the price for years. If you cause an accident, it will be even more, especially if you cause an injury or death.
According to a pamphlet published by the Colorado Department of Transportation, a single DUI could cost you almost $9,000. This includes the fines you’ll pay, fees to get your license reinstated a year later, any wages you won’t earn if you spend time in jail, lawyer’s fees, and an increase in insurance costs.
According to the state of New York, you could pay over $5,000 just in insurance for the next three years after a DUI arrest. Costs go up even more for repeat offenses.
Drunk and impaired driving has become a huge issue in this country. As the Insurance Information Institute reports, someone dies in this country every 51 minutes die to drunk driving. There were over 10,000 fatalities due to alcohol caused crashes in 2010.
Not every impaired driver is involved in an accident. Millions of people drive impaired each year. In 2010, an estimated 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving while intoxicated. So this issue affects a broad range of drivers.
Of course, ideally no driver would ever drive under the influence. Recent campaigns to call attention to the issue have reduced the numbers of arrests and accidents in recent years. One of the reasons states require SR22 insurance because of a DUI is that it acts as an added incentive not to drink and drive.
The reason SR22 insurance is so expensive is not because it costs a lot of money to file the form with the government, as that really doesn’t cost that much. It’s what it represents. Because only illegal, risky, or irresponsible behavior results in the need for SR22, this is a red flag for insurance companies.
Insurance companies do not want to have to pay out claims. Thus, they reward drivers who present a low risk of causing them to pay out money. Customers who are likely to cost them money are charged more for the risk they present. Drivers who have already been caught driving under the influence present a high risk to insurance companies.
In exchange for covering someone with a risky driving record, he is charged a higher premium, a much higher premium. However, if you abide by the terms of the SR22, it won’t last forever. After the three to five years are up, you should be able to purchase standard insurance at standard prices again.
Too Many Accidents
Sometimes people with several accidents in a certain amount of time are required to have SR22 insurance. This is the case even if the accidents weren’t alcohol related. Just the fact that a driver is consistently involved in accidents can be a safety risk.
The number of accidents will vary by state. There are a certain number of points on your driving record that will cause a judge to issue the requirement in order to keep your license.
Once you have reached that threshold, you’ll be required to buy an insurance policy with a company that will file an SR22 with the state, just like someone with a DUI. This just assures the government that you are carrying the insurance required to pay for the accidents you are causing.
However, once you have a requirement to carry an SR22, you must continue to pay the premiums for it, or else the company will notify the state that you no longer have the proper coverage. This will change your situation from one of having too many accidents or tickets to one with having a suspended license.
Driving without Insurance
If you are caught driving without insurance, especially if you cause an accident while uninsured, you might find yourself required to keep an SR22 on file as well. This is due to your financial irresponsibility. It is illegal to drive without insurance in every state though a few states allow you to file a surety bond. But since this is much more expensive than insurance, you’re probably not going to have that either.
If you have shown that you are willing to drive without the proper insurance, an SR22 will hold you responsible for keeping it in the future, at least for three to five years.
Having Your License Revoked
If you have your licensed revoked for any reason, it is common for an SR22 to be part of the process you’ll have to go through to get your license reinstated. Once your suspension is over, you’ll need to show proof of financial responsibility to the state before they’ll let you drive again. An SR22 will do this.
Again, you’ll probably have to keep the SR22 for at least three years. If you keep your driving record clean during that time, you can go back to a standard insurance policy with normal rates.
Where to Get SR22 Insurance
Sometimes your insurance company will supply an SR22 form for you without having to change insurance companies. They will of course, raise your rates significantly to do so, as needing an SR22 automatically puts you in a high-risk category.
You may find, however, your insurance company will not offer SR22 policies, or will just decide they don’t want to cover you now that you have this on your record. Unfortunately, this means you are going to have to shop around for a new policy from companies who will file SR22s.
Several companies in each state offer SR22 policies. In fact, some companies specialize in high-risk clients. Because you do have a few options with SR22, you should get a few different quotes before you buy a policy. It might even save you some money. The states just require the SR22 form; they don’t regulate how much the insurance companies charge for it.
One thing to understand about an SR22 policy is that it usually only covers the minimum amount that the state requires for insurance. In some states that is just liability, whereas others require uninsured motorist and medical coverage.
It does not cover damages to your car, since it doesn’t have comprehensive and collision. If you need this type of coverage either because you still have a car payment or because the value of the car is high enough to require it, you’ll need to make other arrangements for that.
If you can’t afford this, it might be time to sell the car and get a less expensive vehicle that doesn’t require comp and collision. If you don’t own a car, you’ll still need to buy a non-owner’s SR22 policy so that you can get your license returned, since you’ll need that for identification.
If you’ve been informed that you need to have an SR22 in order to drive, you will end up paying more than you are used to, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your driving.
Whatever the reason that requires you to obtain an SR22, it will only last for a few years as long as you don’t repeat the problem. Then you can return to a regular insurance policy as well as a regular price.
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