SR-22 Insurance: What You Need to Know and Why Should you Care?
What is SR-22?
You may be required to purchase a high risk, SR-22 insurance policy by Washington State as a result of a DUI conviction, a Reckless Driving conviction, or multiple convictions for traffic infractions. Typically, a driver is required to maintain an SR-22 policy for 3 years, but the underlying reason for the policy may change the total amount of time that you are required to carry it.
SR-22 was created by the government. Technically, SR-22 is a certificate of insurance issued by an insurance company that shows proof of liability insurance to the Washington State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). It is Washington State's requirement that you have a form that proves you hold a high-risk auto insurance policy for an exact period of time. SR-22 is known as a "Financial Responsibility Form."
If your driver's license is suspended, Washington State may require you to provide SR -22 in order to get your license reinstated. Without an SR-22 Financial Responsibility Form, you cannot get your license back. If you are required to show proof of Financial Responsibility, you cannot just present your insurance card or even your insurance binder to DMV. A SR-22 is a separate filing that is sent to you by an insurance company to present as proof to the DMV. Many insurance companies will work with you to provide proof of SR-22 on the same day that you purchase the policy.
Just because you've been required to carry SR-22 insurance doesn't mean you don't have options. You can purchase high-risk insurance whether you own a vehicle or not. You can also apply SR-22 to a motorcycle policy. Finally, you can purchase SR-22 as a liability only policy on a vehicle, or liability plus full coverage (comprehensive and collision).
Why Should I Care?
That being said, an SR-22 policy is expensive. It's not the SR-22 form itself; the SR-22 Financial Responsibility Form only requires a filing fee of approximately $15. The problem is that once you are required to carry SR-22, you are placed in a high risk category. If you weren't already a high risk policyholder, your insurance premiums will automatically increase.
It's impossible to state the cost of an SR-22 insurance policy because of all of the factors that go an insurance company's calculation (including type of offense, policy holder's age and prior driving history). However, according to Mothers Against Drunk drivers, the average amount of SR-22 based on a DUI conviction is between $3600 to $6000 a year. That's on top of all of the fines and fees that you encounter in order to reinstate your driver's license.
Thus, if you suspect your Washington State Driver's License is in danger of suspension, either because you've acquired multiple traffic tickets or been cited for Reckless Driving, save yourself thousands of dollars in higher insurance premiums. Contact Attorney Michael D. Sheehan. In over a decade, he has helped thousands of clients avoid the burden of carrying SR-22 insurance.