If you live in an SR-22 state, you may know that you need to steer clear of penalties that carry an SR-22 requirement. An SR-22 may negatively impact your ability to afford auto insurance. It also effectively labels you as a high-risk driver for a given period of time.
Drivers have to maintain auto insurance for the duration of the SR-22 penalty. It is important to understand how an SR-22 may impact you, and how you can keep your coverage active at all times.
First, what is an SR-22?
Many drivers believe than an SR-22 is a special type of insurance policy for high-risk drivers. This is not true. SR-22s are merely certificates issued by your insurance company. They verify for your state DMV that you have active car insurance coverage in place.
Each state sets its SR-22 requirements differently. Therefore, where you live will often determine how an SR-22 penalty affects you. Some states do not require SR-22s while others impose varying degrees of penalties.
States require you to file an SR-22 with them following certain driving infractions. These may include:
- DUI/DWI charges
- Multiple wrecks
- Frequent speeding tickets or reckless driving charges
- Driving without insurance
- Failing to carry a valid license or registration
The Effects of an SR-22 Penalty
When you get a driving-related charge, your local authorities will then inform you if you have to get an SR-22. If you receive this penalty, you then must contact your auto insurance provider. Your insurer will then help you determine the steps to take to file a certificate.
Filing an SR-22 can be simple. Your auto insurance agent will be able to issue the form, likely for a nominal fee. Many insurance agents automatically file SR-22s with state authorities as well.
In other cases, the process may be more complicated. Some insurers do not cover drivers with SR-22 certificates. If this is the case, the driver will need to get a new policy or adjust their existing coverage before they file the SR-22. This may lead to added costs that are associated with cancelling one policy and enrolling in another.
SR-22 policies often indicate to your insurance company that you pose more of a risk to insure. As a result, insurers may take action to better cover their risks. Often, this means they will increase your auto insurance rates just because you carry an SR-22. This is just one reason why it is so important to avoid the SR-22 certificate in the first place.
How Long Do SR-22s Last?
How long you have to carry an SR-22 certificate usually depends on where you live. Most states require the certificate for up to three years. Fortunately, an SR-22 is generally not a permanent addition to your driving record. So, your auto insurance rates may improve after your SR-22 expires.
That said, an SR-22 period can also extend beyond the initial penalty. These extensions usually arise if the driver doesn't fulfill the penalty requirements.
For example, let's suppose that you carry an SR-22 certificate for a previous violation. While you have the SR-22 in place, you rack up a DUI charge. Because you offended for a second time during the penalty period, you may have to re-file the SR-22 and start the penalty over.
A common reason for SR-22 periods to restart is because the driver's insurance policy lapses. The purpose of SR-22s is to show that a driver has active insurance. So if a driver doesn't have insurance, the SR-22 essentially becomes obsolete. As a result, many states require SR-22 periods to start over from the beginning if coverage lapses. So it is imperative that an SR-22 holder keep their policy active and up-to-date at all times.
Maintaining Your SR-22
There are two ways that SR-22 carriers can avoid an extension on their certificate period. One way is to keep their auto insurance policies active. The other is to not commit further driving offenses while carrying the form.
All SR-22 carriers can benefit by demonstrating safer driving behavior. Simple changes to routines can make drivers less dangerous on the road and reduce the chance of extended penalties. Driver safety courses can also help those saddles with an SR-22 penalty improve their driving.
Keeping an active auto insurance policy is not just important for SR-22 holders. It is important for every driver. The key here is that an active policy will help SR-22 holders keep certificates from lapsing. Drivers can ensure that they maintain coverage by:
- Reviewing their policies and knowing any renewal or expiration dates associated with coverage. Drivers may be able to enroll in auto-renewal programs so that their policies will renew automatically. This might eliminate the risk of policy lapses.
- Paying their policy premiums. Drivers often have multiple payment options to choose from. They can pay monthly, quarterly or even annually. It is important to pay your premiums on time. Many drivers also choose to pay their bills automatically using direct withdrawal.
By staying on top of your SR-22 requirements, you can lower your driving risks and reduce the change that your SR-22 period will be extended. This, in turn, can get you back on the road to lower premiums.
Do you need SR-22 coverage? Call Auto Insurance Discounters at (866) 288-6545 for a fast, free quote!