In the simplest terms, an SR-22 is just proof of vehicle insurance. For most drivers, a standard insurance card is adequate proof of insurance. But for certain drivers, an SR-22 is also required.
This article outlines why you might be required to obtain an SR-22, what an SR-22 actually is, and how you go about getting an SR-22 certificate.
What Is an SR-22?
The Safety Responsibility form 22 ("SR-22" for short) is a document sent from an automobile insurance provider directly to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The form generally includes the policy number, the name and driver's license number of the policyholder, effective dates, VIN of the covered vehicle, name of the insurance company, and verification of accuracy from an employee of the provider.
What's the Purpose of an SR-22?
An SR-22 basically gives the DMV a way to closely monitor the insurance coverage of certain drivers.
With an SR-22, any time a change is made to a driver's insurance policy, the insurance company must send an updated SR-22 or notification to the DMV. So, if the policy is terminated due to lack of payment or any other reason, the insurance company will notify the DMV of the lapse, termination, or lack of coverage.
What Are the Types of SR-22 Certificates?
SR-22s generally come in three different types:
- Operators' certificate. An operator's certificate is an SR-22 showing that the driver is properly insured. These are most commonly used for persons who have lost driving privileges due to traffic violations or other driving occurrences.
- Owner's certificate. An owner's certificate is an SR-22 showing that the vehicle is properly insured. Owner's certificates are sometimes required when a vehicle was in an accident and the driver was unable to show valid insurance coverage at the time.
- Owner-operator certificate. Finally, an owner-operator certificate has information indicating that the driver and the listed vehicle are covered.
Of these three, the owner-operator certificate is probably the most common as it is the most general and covers all situations.
Why Would You Need an SR-22?
Most drivers and vehicle owners don't need an SR-22. Basically, states require SR-22 only for drivers and vehicle owners who have violated certain laws or lost their driving privileges. Here are some of the more common reasons a person might need an SR-22:
- Reinstatement following license suspension or revocation. The most common reason a person would need an SR-22 is to lift a driver's license suspension or revocation. Depending on the reason for the suspension or revocation, the driver may be required to sustain SR-22 verification for up to three years. If required for a certain duration, the insurance company will generally send the DMV an update every month for as long as is required.
- Vehicle registration revocation. In some situations, the DMV will revoke a vehicle's registration for failure to carry the proper insurance. When an uninsured vehicle is involved in an accident, the DMV might require the owner to obtain SR-22 verification in order to reinstate the registration. The DMV may also require as a condition of reinstatement proof that the vehicle owner paid all damages from the accident.
- Hardship license. Drivers who apply for a restricted or hardship license (for limited driving privileges during a suspension) will often have to provide SR-22 verification. Generally, the driver must often maintain an SR-22 certificate as long as the restricted license is valid.
- Impaired driving. Motorists who are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) will often be required to show verification of financial responsibility via an SR-22. The length of an SR-22 requirement for a DUI conviction ranges from a few months to decades.
Generally, failing to maintain insurance verification will result in license suspension or vehicle registration revocation.
How Do You Get an SR-22?
Acquiring an SR-22 is as simple as requesting one from your insurance provider. Your policy provider typically knows what to send and where to send it. You might have to pay a fee of around $15 to $30 for processing the SR-22 form.