Cheap High Risk Auto Insurance and the SR-22
There is almost no such thing as cheap high risk auto insurance.
In most states, drivers who are considered “high risk” are required to file an SR-22 form with the state. Insurance companies will then jack up the premium rates accordingly, based on the behavior that led to being ordered to file an SR-22 form with the state.
Here are 10 frequently asked questions about the filing of an SR-22 form.
What Is An SR-22?
An SR-22 is a court-ordered addendum to an auto insurance policy, proving to the state that a driver is insured. It is one of several state-mandated Certificate of Financial Responsibility (CFR) forms. The SR-22 is not a type of cheap high risk auto insurance. In fact, it is not insurance at all, but you cannot get an SR-22 without buying an auto insurance policy.
An SR-22 form offers limited driving privileges to drivers who are considered high risk, and/or drivers who have had their licenses suspended or revoked. The SR stands for Safety Responsibility, and serves as proof that a driver has at least the minimum liability coverage required by the state. Some states even require drivers to carry proof of the SR-22.
An SR-22 can prove coverage for a vehicle regardless of who is driving. This is known as SR-22 Owner Liability Coverage. The form can also prove coverage for a driver, regardless of the vehicle being driven. This is known as SR-22 Operator Liability Coverage.
If the car insurance policy is cancelled or terminated, the insurance company must file a form called an SR-26 with the state’s DMV, to let them know of the SR-22 driver’s insurance status. The state will then suspend the driver’s license again, and any opportunity for cheap high risk auto insurance will become a thing of the past.
Who Needs To File An SR-22?
An SR-22 is generally filed by drivers with suspended or revoked licenses, and is the first step in getting a license reinstated. Subsequent steps may include mandatory alcohol treatment programs and driver safety courses. Participation in some of these state-run programs can even lead to finding a cheap high risk auto insurance policy.
Licenses are most often revoked from drivers with DUI convictions and other “reckless” drivers, as well as drivers who get caught operating uninsured vehicles. The reason most uninsured drivers get caught is because they have had an accident. The reason most people drive uninsured is because they cannot afford the policy premiums. People who are found to be guilty of such major transgressions as DUIs or driving uninsured vehicles are known to car insurance carriers as “high risk” drivers. For high risk drivers, it is harder to get cheap high risk auto insurance.
How Does A High Risk Driver Get An SR-22 Form?
The driver gets a form from his/her current insurance carrier. Drivers who are uninsured, and drivers whose carriers don’t accept SR-22 clients just have to shop around for a relatively cheap high risk auto insurance provider. You cannot get an SR-22 without buying an insurance policy.
An insurance agent fills out an SR-22 form and files it with the state. The bad news is that many insurance companies avoid SR-22 clients. This is mainly because high risk drivers have already proven themselves more likely to have an accident. Also, auto insurance carriers are required to notify the state’s DMV office in the event that the driver’s insurance has lapsed, expired, or been terminated.
However, everyone has their price, and some insurance companies, big and small, offer coverage to high risk drivers.
What Is The Cost Of An SR-22 Form?
Having an SR-22 form filed involves some minimal cost, which varies from state to state. The cost of getting an insurance agent to file the form is probably somewhere between $12 and $50.
However, the associated costs involved can be devastating. Unwelcome out-of-pocket expenses include the DUI ticket, court costs, attorney’s fees, license reinstatement fees, a sad lack of cheap high risk auto insurance, and possibly the forced installation of an Ignition Interlock Device in the driver’s car. This device acts like a breathalyzer test. The driver breathes into it, and if the driver’s blood alcohol level is too high the car won’t start. This clever contraption is expensive, but drivers with DUI convictions may be ordered by a judge to have one installed, at the driver’s expense.
As for premiums, let’s put it this way: SR-22 premiums are calculated in the same way as any other car insurance policy, taking into account the person’s driving record. If a driver has been ordered to file an SR-22, it means the driver has been caught doing things that will cause their car insurance premiums to soar. These drivers cannot realistically expect to find truly cheap high risk auto insurance.
Which Insurance Providers Will Cover SR-22 Clients?
As mentioned, many insurance providers will avoid SR-22 drivers altogether. However, for higher rates, quite a few carriers will write policies for drivers who have to file an SR-22. Auto insurance companies known to accept SR-22 clients include smaller companies such as Acceptance, Safe Auto Insurance, and Smart Financial, as well as larger national carriers such as Progressive Insurance, Farmers Insurance, State Farm Insurance, Esurance, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Allstate, GEICO, and USAA, to name a few.
How Can Drivers With An SR-22 Get Cheap High Risk Auto Insurance?
To maintain even limited driving privileges, they can’t. At least, not yet.
However, drivers who have achieved high risk status can get relatively cheap high risk auto insurance by comparing quotes from the websites of car insurance providers who cater to SR-22 clients. You can obtain online SR-22 quotes from each of these insurance carriers. Or compare multiple SR-22 quotes by visiting sr-22-insurance.org. See which auto insurance company offers the cheapest rates for your SR-22 car insurance.
It is only natural that an SR-22 is accompanied by much higher premium rates. Your rates don’t increase just because you file an SR-22. Rather, the reason you were forced to file an SR-22 is the reason your rates will increase. The reason can be anything from a DUI conviction, to an accident caused by reckless driving, to a high number of “points” on your DMV record, to driving a vehicle without the state minimum level of insurance coverage. These incidents can ruin your chances of getting cheap high risk auto insurance.
Still, someone out there has the cheapest SR-22 rates. The lowest rate out there would qualify as relatively cheap high risk auto insurance.
The only cheaper way to get cheap high risk auto insurance is to sell your car and purchase a “non-driver” SR-22 car insurance policy. The premiums are much lower. Many drivers who really want their licenses back but can’t afford the sky high SR-22 premiums will take this route to reinstatement. However, the driver must not own a vehicle during the reinstatement period. If the driver buys a car at some future date, the car can always be added to the existing policy, easing the administrative process.
Does An SR-22 Damage A Person’s Credit?
Filing an SR-22 alone should not be enough to damage your credit, because under most circumstances, you have to pay the SR-22 premium up front and in full.
However, the on-road behavior that led to you being ordered to file an SR-22 may negatively affect your credit. For instance, your inability to pay off the loan on an uninsured vehicle you totaled while driving under the influence. These incidents can affect your credit in a big, bad way.
In any case, if a judge has ordered a driver to file an SR-22, bad credit may not be the driver’s biggest problem. But if you want to be sure, you can always call your credit bureau and inquire.
For How Long Must A Driver Maintain An SR-22 Policy?
That’s the good news! After 3 to 5 years of maintaining a clean driving record (3 years for getting caught driving uninsured, or 5 years for a DUI conviction), most drivers will no longer have to file the dreaded SR-22, and may one day be able to get their licenses back, and purchase auto insurance at lower rates. An SR-22 does not last forever.
What Is An FR-44?
An FR-44 is another type of Certificate of Financial Responsibility (CFR) form, similar to the SR-22, but with higher liability limits than the minimum requirements mandated by state law.
At this time, the FR-44 is used only in the states of Florida and Virginia. In Florida, an FR-44 carries bodily injury liability limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident, as well as $50,000 to cover the cost of property damage. This is despite the fact that Florida’s state-mandated minimum liability limits are only $10,000 for personal injury and $20,000 per accident, as well as only $10,000 to cover the cost of property damage. In Virginia, an FR-44 carries bodily injury liability limits of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident, plus $40,000 to cover the cost of property damage. These amounts are twice the minimum liability requirements for the state of Virginia.
Are There Any Other Options For High Risk Drivers?
One alternative option is to quit driving altogether, although some people may find it impossible to get to work without driving. However, for those who find it feasible, other methods of commuter travel include bicycling for shorter distances, and carpooling or mass transit for longer commutes. With carpooling, you may have to help pay for gas, and with public transit you have to buy a ticket. Still, these options are a lot less pricey than paying auto insurance premiums under the gloomy rain cloud of an SR-22.
To choose this option, the driver would have to be willing to give up driving completely. Drivers located in remote areas might even have to consider moving to bigger cities where public transportation is more accessible and most amenities are within walking distance. A driver might also consider finding ways to work from home.
Drivers who want their licenses back badly enough can always sell their cars and purchase a “Non Owner” SR-22 insurance policy. A non owner policy is available at a much lower premium rate. This may be the cheapest car insurance policy option for SR-22 clients who want their licenses reinstated.
In some states, such as Washington, if a driver with a DUI conviction successfully completes an alcohol treatment program, the DUI charges may be dismissed, in which case the driver will not need to file an SR-22 form.
In other states, such as Arizona, a driver can put down a deposit of about $40,000 with the state, in lieu of an SR-22, to cover the cost of an accident. Unfortunately, not a lot of uninsured SR-22 drivers have that kind of cash lying around, or they would have purchased car insurance to begin with. The number one reason for driving uninsured is simply a lack of funds to pay the premiums. As for drivers with DUI convictions, they seem to be spending their money on alcohol, and may or may not be employed. So the cash up front option is just not feasible for most American drivers with SR-22 status.