You might think that with tax time in full swing, an SR-22 form is another one of those obscure deduction forms you need to keep on hand in case of an audit. Perhaps an SR-22 form is a signed affidavit allowing a piece of evidence into a jury trial? We probably could go on all day with the guessing game but the fact of the matter is that an SR-22 form is something that people will carry to prove they are financially responsible and that they currently have all of the necessary auto insurance to operate a vehicle.
An SR-22 form is filled out by an auto insurance provider and given to the state and to the customer to prove that they have proper auto insurance. There are three primary reasons why someone would be required to carry an SR-22 form while they are driving.
- After you’ve been in an accident and could not prove financial responsibility
- After you’ve been convicted in a court of law for a traffic violation and could not prove financial responsibility
- A judge orders an SR-22 for another reason
Q: “I don’t have an SR-22 form when I drive. If I get pulled over, will I be penalized for not showing this to the officer when he asks for my insurance?”
A: Not in the slightest. An SR-22 form is only required to be carried by individuals who have previously broken the traffic laws and could not prove they were financially responsible in a court of law, most likely for not carrying the proper auto insurance.
Requesting an SR-22 from your insurance company can be very embarrassing and very costly but it’s something that needs to be done as soon as possible. All that you need to do is call your current insurance company (or if you don’t have one, find a new one fast) and let them know that you now require an SR-22 form. Your insurance company will ask you for the details of why you require this documentation and after you have explained it to them, you can expect your car insurance rates to move steadily toward the sky. It is your responsibility to get this form from you’re insurance company, not the courts so when you give them the details they will undoubtedly increase your auto insurance rates Once you have filed the request with the insurance company they are obligated by law to mail both you and the department of state (the form they mail the department of state is an SR-26 form) the competed SR-22 form. After three years of no problems, the SR-22 form expires and no longer needs to be carried.
Q: Do I need an SR-22 form if I don’t own a vehicle?
A: You better believe it! If you have a valid drivers license and want to keep it, you will need to carry liability insurance in order to keep your SR-22 in good standing. Just because you don’t own a car doesn’t mean you can’t drive one and you will still be required to carry liability insurance.
Insurance companies are required by law to report any lapses in your coverage to the state department so making sure you send your payments in on time and never forgetting to renew is a big deal. This means that if you choose not to get the minimum liability coverage for even a few days, there’s a high chance your license will be suspended and you’ll need to start the SR-22 process again from scratch.
Q: Does every state require an SR-22?
A: No. Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico and Oklahoma do not require SR-22′s. New York and North Carolina do not require the filing of SR-22′s.
If you move from a state that requires an SR-22 to a state that does not require one, don’t think that your responsibilities are finished. The original state of the infraction is the one that takes precedent so you will not be able to escape your past in this instance. Not only does the original state matter if you have to carry an SR-22 form, it also matters with what kind of coverage you need to carry. For example, if you live in California, the minimum liability requirements are 15/30/5 (in thousands of liability coverage). Should you move to Florida, where the minimums are a little less, 10/20/10, you will still be required to meet the California liability requirements. It’s somewhat strange because auto insurance has a lot to do with where you currently live, not where you use to live but SR-22 law is funny that way.
So now that you know what an SR-22 form is and how to get one, you probably also realize that you don’t want one. As long as you always have auto insurance coverage and can afford to pay for damages that you caused with your vehicle then you should never come across this type of form. If you do, make sure you take care of it responsibly and it won’t be as bad as I just made it sound!
Published or updated February 18, 2010.