SR-22 insurance is coverage for high-risk drivers who are required by their state to verify that they are carrying the minimum amount of car insurance required by law. An SR-22 is not a separate type of insurance, but instead a form that an insurer files with the state DMV on a driver’s behalf.
Drivers usually need an SR-22 after being convicted of a serious moving violation, like DUI or reckless driving. Since drivers with an SR-22 are considered high-risk, they typically pay above-average rates for coverage.
Key Things to Know About SR-22 Insurance
- Your insurance company will file the SR-22 with the state on your behalf.
- You usually need an SR-22 on file for at least three years, though specific requirements vary between states.
- SR-22 insurance often costs more than twice as much as a standard policy.
- Grange Insurance, Geico, and Mercury have the cheapest SR-22 insurance in 2021.
How to Get an SR-22
1. Contact your car insurance company to start the filing process.
You will be required to certify that you will carry at least the minimum amount of car insurance for the entire period that you must have an SR-22 on file. If you do not have car insurance or you do not have enough coverage to meet state minimums, you will have to first purchase a sufficient amount of coverage before an SR-22 can be filed.
2. Decide what type of SR-22 certificate you need.
There are three types of SR-22 certificates available to drivers based on their individual needs. An owner’s certificate only covers cars that you own, while an operator’s certificate (also called a non-owner SR-22) is what you need if you don’t own a car. In most states, you can also get an owner-operator certificate, which covers you when you drive any vehicle, regardless of ownership.
If you own a vehicle but frequently use rented or borrowed cars, the owner-operator certificate is likely the best choice for you.
3. File the SR-22
Your insurer will file the SR-22 with your state’s DMV and charge you a filing fee between $15 and $25. It is important to consistently maintain insurance coverage while you have an SR-22 on file. Should your insurance lapse or be canceled during the mandated period, your insurance provider will alert the state. If you have not obtained insurance from another provider, the state may revoke your driving privileges as a penalty for having a lapse in coverage.
Most states require drivers to file an SR-22 for a minimum of three years. So long as you remain violation-free during that time, you will no longer be required to have an SR-22 on file after that period ends. However, if you commit another serious violation, your filing period may be extended. Eight states do not require either an SR-22 or an FR-44.
*Minimum filing period was set to 0, for the states which do not require an SR-22.
SR-22 Requirements by State
Minimum filing period (in years)
|District of Columbia||Yes||3|
* Minimum filing periods vary depending on the specific violation.
** The filing period increases with each subsequent offense. After a fourth DWI offense, the filing requirement becomes permanent.
In Massachusetts, an SR-22 is only for drivers who are required to file one in another state. The filing period depends on the state where the driver was convicted.
In Florida and Virginia, drivers are required to file an FR-44 after a DUI rather than an SR-22. An FR-44 is similar to an SR-22 in that it verifies that a driver has insurance, but it requires higher coverage limits than the state minimum.
How Moving States Affects SR-22
The patchwork of state requirements can lead to some complications if you move between states during the SR-22 filing period, but the rule of thumb is that you must follow the requirements of the state that first required you to file an SR-22.
Your new state will typically become aware of your SR-22 when you try to get a driver’s license. As part of that process, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in your new state may check a national database and see information related to your previous violations and SR-22 requirements. Some states will not require you to file a new SR-22 when you become a new resident, but you will have to fill out an affidavit stating that you will continue to have an SR-22 on file in your previous state. Other states have special SR-22 requirements, including paying additional fees, meeting additional requirements, or filing an SR-22 in your new state.
If you move to a state that does not require an SR-22, such as New York or North Carolina, you still need to maintain your SR-22 with the state that originally required you to file.
To make this process as seamless as possible, don’t wait until you need to get a license in your new state. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles or other relevant office that handle SR-22s in both states before your move to ensure that all requirements are met without any interruptions.
SR-22 Insurance Cost
There are two types of costs associated with filing an SR-22: the SR-22 filing fee and the increased cost of your insurance to have at least the minimum amount of coverage required by your state.
States require a filing fee for the SR-22 form. Although this fee varies by state, it typically ranges from $15-$25. Your insurance provider will file the form with the state and charge you the fee as part of your insurance bill. This is a one-time fee that will be paid upon the initial SR-22 filing. No additional fees will be required when the SR-22 is renewed annually.
Increased insurance cost
While the filing fee is nominal, the real cost is the increase in the cost of your car insurance that may result from your insurance company considering you a “high-risk” driver. Your insurance may cost significantly more than what a safe driver would pay for the same insurance package. In addition, some insurers will require you to pay for the policy in full up-front to avoid any risk of non-payment or lapse in coverage.
SR-22 Insurance Cost, by Insurer
|Insurer||Average Premium with a Clean Driving||Average Premium with an SR-22|
It is possible that you will not be able to find a company that is willing to insure you. If you are unable to find a company willing to provide the necessary coverage and certification on your own, you may be able to apply for car insurance through your state. Many states have programs that match high-risk drivers to partnering insurers that agree to provide at least the minimum required level of coverage. Depending on the state, you can apply through a state office or through a local insurer who participates in the program. However, consider using a state program a last resort, as it will likely be your most expensive option.
Cheapest SR-22 Insurance
- Grange: $995 per year
- Mercury: $1,087 per year
- Geico: $1,213 per year
- First American: $1,237 per year
- Progressive: $1,326 per year
- Travelers: $1,389 per year
Tips for Getting Cheap SR-22 Insurance
Get quotes from your multiple insurance providers, not just your current company.
Figure out how much insurance you really need.
Your state requires a minimum level of insurance, but getting more than that is up to you. You should consider the monthly cost of insurance options against the risk of not having enough insurance to cover expenses in the event of an accident.
Consider a non-owners SR-22 certificate.
As explained above, there are three types of SR-22 certificates you can obtain. The Operator’s (non-owners) certificate is likely your cheapest option and can be used if you need to drive, but do not own a car.
Continue to compare insurance rates annually.
As time passes, the violation that caused you to need an SR-22 will have less of an impact on your insurance rates. You should compare quotes annually to make sure your current company is still offering you the best deal. If you do switch companies during the time in which you are required to file an SR-22, make sure there your insurance does not lapse.
Ask the Experts
To gain more insight about SR-22 insurance, WalletHub posed the following questions to a panel of experts. Click on the experts below to view their bios and answers.
- What can high-risk drivers do to lower their car insurance?
- What makes a driver high risk?
- How much coverage should a high-risk driver carry?
- What can drivers do to become not a high-risk driver?