SR-22 Explained: What Is It and When Do You Need One?

What is an SR-22, anyway? Who needs them, how do you get one, and how long do you have to carry it? In Part Two of our FAQ series, we answer all these questions and more.

At Esurance, we do our best to keep paperwork to a minimum — but a certain amount of documentation comes with the territory. One document that raises a lot of questions and causes a lot of confusion is the SR-22. If you have a good driving record and don’t let your insurance coverage lapse, you may never need one. But if you are required to get one, it’s important to know the right way to proceed.

Here, we answer your most pressing SR-22 questions, with the help of Nicole D., one of our super-knowledgeable insurance experts.

(Please note: These are general guidelines. Since regulations vary widely across the country, you should always confirm your local requirements with your state.)

SR-22s: what you need to know

What’s an SR-22?

An SR-22 is often required for a driver to reinstate or maintain their driving privileges after certain traffic-related offenses. It’s also sometimes known as an SR22 or a Certificate of Financial Responsibility.

Is it a type of car insurance?

No. It’s a document that the insurance company sends to the state (electronically or on paper) to confirm that the driver has an active policy that meets state liability requirements.

How do I know if I need an SR-22?

An SR-22 is required when someone who was involved in an accident or convicted of a traffic offense is unable to show financial responsibility (in other words, they can’t prove that they’d be able to pay for damages they may cause while driving).

You might need an SR-22 if you’ve had any of the following:

  • A DUI or DWI or any serious moving violation
  • An instance of being caught driving without insurance and/or without a license
  • An at-fault accident while driving without insurance
  • Repeat traffic offenses or too many tickets in a short time period
  • A revoked or suspended license

If the SR-22 is court-ordered, you’ll be notified at the time of your ruling that you need one. If it’s state-ordered, you’ll receive a notice of the requirement from your state DMV. If you’ve been informed that you need an SR-22, contact your insurance company so they can file it with your state.

Are SR-22s expensive?

The SR-22 itself is not typically very expensive. Though it varies by state, most insurance companies charge a processing fee of around $15 to $25. Some insurance companies won’t insure drivers who need an SR-22, or may add surcharges to the policy because of the SR-22 requirement, but that’s not generally the case. Since SR-22 availability and fees can vary by company, this might be a good time to shop around and get some comparison quotes.

Will an SR-22 cause my insurance rates to go up?

Depending on the violation, you might see an increase to your premium. But it would likely be due to the violation rather than the SR-22 itself.

How long do I need to carry an SR-22?

In states that require SR-22s, you usually have to maintain continuous insurance coverage with an SR-22 for 3 years (though it can range between 2 and 5 years depending on the state and the reason for the SR-22).

Wouldn’t it be easier to skip the insurance and just not drive for 3 years?

You could choose not to drive for 3 years, but that won’t necessarily waive the requirement. When you go back to the DMV after that 3-year hiatus, you may find that you’re still expected to obtain a policy with an SR-22 for another 3 years in order to reinstate your license.

The requirements can vary by state depending on the violation, so your best bet is to check with your DMV to confirm exactly what they need.

I want to get my license back as soon as the state allows. When should I contact my insurance company to get my SR-22 going?

This may depend on how your insurance company files SR-22s with the state. If they’re set up for electronic filing, the SR-22 can potentially be sent to the state the same day you make the request.

If the SR-22 is filed manually through the mail, however, we suggest allowing 10 to 14 days for it to be delivered to the state and processed by the appropriate department. You might get your copy before the state has finished processing the original. If so, you may want to take your copy to your DMV office to see if it’ll be proof enough to speed up your license reinstatement. But it’s up to the DMV to decide if they’ll accept your copy as proof of SR-22 or whether they’d want to wait for internal confirmation that the original SR-22 has been received.

Does having my license reinstated mean I don’t have to carry an SR-22 anymore?

Not necessarily. In most cases, you’re required to carry the SR-22 for the entire time period mandated by your state. It may be that the end of the license suspension also marks the end of the SR-22 requirement, but it’s also possible that the suspension will be reapplied if you don’t keep the SR-22 for the entire mandated period. We suggest checking with your DMV to confirm.

Have more questions about SR-22s?

Post your comment below and we’ll do our best to get you an answer. And if you’re an Esurance customer, you can call our customer service experts anytime at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

Not an Esurance customer (yet)? Get a car insurance* quote online now.

Related posts

The top 6 things you should know about SR-22s.
Out-of-state car-insurance: everything you need to know
Excluded drivers: our expert answers your questions

* Not available in all states.

206 Responses to “SR-22 Explained: What Is It and When Do You Need One?”

  1. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Kelso Rian
    December 20, 2015 #

    My step son was driving the husbands car and had a suspended license now the DMV will not let us register the car until there is a SR-22 , is this for my step son or do we now need this type of insurance for our car?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 4, 2016 #

      Hello Kelso Rian,

      That's a good question. Most likely it will be for your stepson, but the DMV should be able to tell you for sure.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    billybob001
    December 22, 2015 #

    I was not court ordered to get a sr22 in Montana should I just wait it out its been 10 months since my conviction

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 4, 2016 #

      Hello Billy Bob,

      Feel free to give our licensed agent team a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) for help with your specific situation.

      Thanks for reading.

  3. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Charlie
    December 22, 2015 #

    Alright, I am a residant of Iowa and was caught speeding at 110mph in a school zone (ha) jk It was in a 65 zone. I payed the ticket and they are now saying that I will only be permitted to drive from college and to work after I apply for a temp license, and have to hold SR22 for 2 years. I am confused to why they placed me on SR22 when I have never had a violation. Is the offense really that severe?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 4, 2016 #

      Hello Charlie,

      An SR22 filing is simply a document that is filed with the state proving you have auto insurance coverage that meets the state minimum for liability. It also guarantees that the state is notified if the coverage ever cancels. It’s not unusual to have that be a requirement for any kind of moving violation.

      Thanks for reading.

  4. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Dxk
    December 29, 2015 #

    If you lapse coverage with sr22 insurance policy does it start over the 3 year waiting period every time it lapse?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 4, 2016 #

      Hello Dxk,

      That would be determined by the DMV.

      Thanks for reading.

  5. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Karen
    December 30, 2015 #

    I know that a SR22 bond only covers the person that has it. So if your driving a car that belongs to someone else that doesn't have insurance on the car at all and I get pulled over for something. Does that mean I'm ok because I have a sr22 bond? I thought a sr22 bond covered you on anything you drove. Just nobody else

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 4, 2016 #

      Hello Karen,

      An SR22 is simply a document that an insurance company files with the state to show that a person has insurance coverage. Whether an SR22 is vehicle specific or covers any owned vehicle depends on the state. Also, whether a person’s own auto policy would transfer to a vehicle that they are borrowing that doesn’t have coverage would be determined by the way the insurance contract is written.

      Thanks for reading.

  6. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Filicia Wells
    December 30, 2015 #

    I had someone co sign for my car and they need to have sr22 insurance but I don't when try to register my car there is a stop hold on it. Can pay the uninsured motorist fee so can re-register my car even though I have my own insurance?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 4, 2016 #

      Hello Filicia,

      What we usually see is that the lien holder needs to see both names that are on the loan on the insurance policy. As far as changing the registration, you would want to ask the DMV that.

      Thanks for reading.

  7. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    mike
    December 31, 2015 #

    if your at fault in an accident while having an sr22, who is financially responsible?

  8. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Vinnie
    January 7, 2016 #

    If i had my license suspended for 2 years and wont be driving for that entire time, can I just get the sr22 right before i get my license back, or do I have to have it for that two years?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 11, 2016 #

      Hello Vinnie,

      We would suggest that you check with the DMV for the specifics on this.

      Thank you for reading.

  9. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    zach
    January 8, 2016 #

    If I'm not driving because license but had to send a sr-22 form to the state for insurance could they convict?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 11, 2016 #

      Hello Zach,

      Feel free to give our licensed agent team a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) for help with your specific situation.

      Thanks for reading.

  10. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    linda
    January 9, 2016 #

    If my license is revoked and I am not driving why would I need an Sr2

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 11, 2016 #

      Hello Linda,

      The DMV may require the filing as a condition of reinstatement. You will want to check the DMV as to whether you can or wait or you need to file it now.

      Thanks for reading.

  11. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Katie
    January 14, 2016 #

    My son has an SR22 in Illinois but is moving to Texas. Does the Illinois SR22 transfer? Does the State of Illinois transfer the requirement to have an SR22 to Texas? When he transfers his insurance within the insurance company and the SR22 transfers to Texas, who let's the state know the SR22 is going to Texas so they don't send a revocation letter out (thinking he cancelled the policy)? Thanks.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 20, 2016 #

      Hello Katie,

      The best advice we can provide in this situation is to have your son purchase a TX policy with an SR22; once the SR22 is issued, he can take his copy to the IL DMV. There’s a possibility that IL will accept the TX SR22, but IL would not typically be notified of any changes to the policy status as that information would be reported to the state of TX. Your best option may be to have him speak to both DMVs before he moves.

      Thanks for reading.

  12. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Nikkie
    January 16, 2016 #

    Am I understanding correctly when assuming that an SR22 does not replace an insurance policy? That even if I carry and SR22 I must also carry regular insurance?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 20, 2016 #

      Hello Nikkie,

      An SR22 is basically a form/Endorsement that your insurance company adds to your policy. By having the form filed, it’s telling your state that you have valid insurance. If the policy were to cancel, the company would issue an SR26 which would notify the state you no longer have coverage.

      Thanks for reading.

  13. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Kiya
    January 19, 2016 #

    If caught with no insurance and the police give you a ticket to get proof of Insurance within some days and I get some insurance before the days are up… Will I need sr-22?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 26, 2016 #

      Hello Kiya,

      That will be up to the DMV and the court requirement.

      Thanks for reading.

  14. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    sheimicka
    January 21, 2016 #

    As soon as I get sr22 can I get my license back right then or do I have to wait a length of time

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 26, 2016 #

      Hello Sheimicka,

      You'll need to check with the DMV for their particular reinstatement requirements.

      Thanks for reading.

  15. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    George
    January 25, 2016 #

    My son had his license suspended for 5 years due to a DUI. He was not ordered to get a SR-22. He has car insurance. If he drives my car and is involved in a wreck that is not his fault (other driver runs a stop sign), is he automatically responsible for the wreck?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 26, 2016 #

      Hello George,

      This would be up to the claims adjuster to determine based on all facts available in the course of the claims.

      Thanks for reading.

  16. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Daryl
    January 26, 2016 #

    I've been trying to get my occupational license. I had one for two years that expired and I was granted another due to still having so many surcharges to pay. I sent all my paperwork to austin and they keep denying issuance stating my sr22 needs a current date. I have not had a lapse in my insurance so every time they print me out a sr22 it shows the original effective from date and does not show an expiration. If I cancel and renew to get a more current date I lose my great rate. What do I do?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 28, 2016 #

      Hello Daryl,

      Unfortunately, we won’t know the exact reasons; however, you may just simply need to ask your insurance company to issue a brand new SR22 per your state’s request. You may also want to speak to a supervisor at your DMV office to see if you can obtain more specific answers to your situation.

      Thanks for reading.

  17. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Jake
    January 27, 2016 #

    My city only has one DMV, and the waiting times are always dreadfully long. Since Esurance and other carriers pull up my driving record to verify that my driving history is accurate, is Esurance able to tell me whether or not I need an SR22 when paying for a new insurance policy? Mainly to save me from potentially having to wait in a four hour DMV line more than once?

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 28, 2016 #

      Hello Jake,

      That information can only be obtained from your state.

      Thanks for reading.

  18. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Sandy
    January 27, 2016 #

    My license was suspended due to elapse I'm trying to get them back in order to do that I have to have a s22 from insurance. Can I carry insurance with no vehicle? Meaning do I have to have a vehicle insured or can I just have insurance

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      January 28, 2016 #

      Hello Sandy,

      Thanks for checking. You may be able to purchase a non-owners SR-22 policy from a local agency.

      Thanks for reading.

  19. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Utsav Bajgain
    January 28, 2016 #

    My license was suspended in California when I changed my insurance company and the new insurance didn't file SR22. Now I got my insurance company to file SR22 electronically.
    Is my license active now? How can I get my license back?
    Any comments, guidance are appreciated.

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      February 2, 2016 #

      Hello Utsav,

      Please check with your local DMV regarding the status of your license and instructions on how to get it back.

      Thanks for reading.

  20. Avatar for Ellen Hall
    Catfish
    January 29, 2016 #

    Can I drive to and from work with a sr22 if my DL has been suspended

    • Avatar for Ellen Hall
      Rachael Heller
      February 2, 2016 #

      Hello,

      You should not drive with a suspended license. You may be able to get a permit that allows you to drive to and from work. Please check with your local DMV regarding license options.

      Thanks for reading.

Leave a Reply

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your email address will be kept private.