If you are reading this article, chances are that you or someone you know is now considered a high-risk driver and needs SR-22 Insurance.
It is also very likely that you might have questions regarding the process involved in acquiring the SR-22 document, the changes this will cause to your existing insurance policy, and the period of the time the certificate is needed.
First and foremost, we need to establish that SR-22 is not actually insurance, but a certificate issued by your car insurance company and filed with the state, confirming that you have liability insurance and are financially responsible in the event of an accident. In general, drivers who are required to have an SR-22 need it in order to maintain their driving privileges or have them reinstated. In most cases drivers will have to comply with its requirements and terms for about two to five years, depending on the state.
If you or someone you know needs an SR-22 Certificate, the first step could be contacting the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for help locating a licensed provider. Since the process can take up to 30 days to complete, you should start looking for a provider as soon as possible. It is also wise to check your state’s requirements, to make sure that your new policy will include the minimum personal and property liability coverage required.
It’s also important to know that there are three types of SR-22 forms, an Operator’s Certificate, an Owner’s Certificate, and an Operator-Owner’s Certificate.
The Operator’s Certificate is issued to drivers who do not own a vehicle and intend to borrow or rent a car.
The Owner’s Certificate is issued to people who own and drive their cars.
The Operator-Owner’s Certificate issued to people who in addition to driving their own car, intend to rent or borrow another vehicle.
But, how do you file the SR-22 form?
If the state notifies you that you are now required to file an SR-22 or Certificate of Financial Responsibility (CFR), you must immediately contact your car insurance company and inform them; you cannot file an SR-22 form yourself. The conversation with your agent will have one of two outcomes: your agent can either inform you that he/she will start the process of filing the SR-22 form on your behalf or can tell you that the company does not offer insurance for high-risk drivers.
If your current insurance company can issue the certificate for you, the agent will review your policy coverage and make the necessary changes. Your policy will change to a high-risk driver policy. Your agent will help you complete and the file the SR-22 form. You will then have to pay the filing fee which varies by state and any other monies your insurer requires for changing your current policy to a high-risk auto insurance policy. Be warned; your premiums may go up.
If your current insurance company does not insure high-risk drivers or you have no car insurance, you need to do comparison shopping as quickly as you can. Luckily for you, many major insurance companies that issue the SR-22 Certificate offer free online quotes to help the process move forward faster.
How do you choose an SR-22 insurer?
When choosing your new insurer, the first question you should ask is if the company can file the SR-22 certificate for you. Once you identify companies that can submit the document on your behalf, compare their policy’s coverage, affordability, customer service support, and you should even look at the company's’ reputation.
Your coverage must include at least the minimum liability insurance required by your state. It must include both personal and property liability. Remember to check the amount of coverage you need because each state has its own requirements. Moreover, there are additional fees and penalties that range anywhere between $15 to $250 that also vary by state.
The next step is to compare at least three quotes with the same coverages based on your new SR-22 status. The only way to truly compare costs is by checking quotes that cover the same set of coverage, limits, and deductibles. Only then can the cost be an actual factor in your decision. Also, remember that the cheapest insurance is not necessarily the best choice.
The cost of your policy will influence how high a deductible you will have to pay in the event of an accident. A less expensive policy will most likely have higher deductibles than a more costly one.
Furthermore, considering the company’s customer service and reputation is important. Purchasing the least costly insurance might leave you with terrible customer support when you need it the most. Also, being able to access your policy online or using an app are things that you might also want to consider and might not be available with some insurance companies. Moreover, if you need to, you should be able to contact a customer service agent 24/7.
In addition to the minimum requirements, you might also want to check what extras each car insurance company offers. Some offer roadside assistance, medical expense coverage, and even pet injury protection. What is more, based on personal factors, there are several discounts that you can qualify for. For example, if you own a home, have affiliations with certain agencies or are a member of the military or a federal employee, you might qualify for additional discounts.
The company’s reputation is a final factor that should influence your decision. Doing a quick online search will give you some information regarding how satisfied consumers are with the service a particular company provides, from the ease of filing a claim to how customer service representatives handle customer inquiries. You can find information about how stable the insurer is by checking on financial rating agencies such as Moody’s or A.M. Best. Or to make it easier, you can check our reviews here.
If you cannot stay with your current insurance company, doing some comparison shopping will help you make the right choice. Finding the right high-risk insurer to file your SR-22 form will make a difficult situation a lot less stressful.