Traffic Violation Basics

What is SR-22 insurance and what does it cover?


Driver’s licenses are a common possession among many people over the age of 16. However, it can be easy to forget that driving is a privilege rather than a right. And just like any privilege, there can be consequences for not abiding by the rules set in place.

When you don’t follow traffic laws, you may find yourself labeled a high-risk driver by the state in which you reside. When this happens, you may be forced to look into more extensive coverage for your vehicle, such as SR-22 insurance.

Many people may not fully understand SR-22 coverage and its purpose. Although it can be easy to misunderstand the term, SR-22 is not a full coverage option on its own. Let’s go over what SR-22 insurance is and what it covers.

Why does someone need SR-22 insurance?
Someone can find themselves requiring this specific coverage for a few reasons. The easy answer is that they have been deemed a high-risk driver. However, there are multiple ways they may end up with this title.

Multiple Traffic Offenses
As stated above, driving is a privilege, and there are rules that must be followed. When a driver fails to follow driving laws, they wind up with a traffic violation.

Traffic violations can range from minor to major. Minor traffic violations may include offenses such as speeding or running a red light. Though they seem mild compared to more major crimes, a long record of minor traffic violations can lead to much more significant consequences.

Each state has its own personal driving points system to determine whether you are a high-risk driver. Generally, most will allow you three to four traffic violations within a given time.

Always check with your state’s specific driving regulations to see where you stand with your driving record.

DUI or Reckless Driving
Driving under the influence or driving recklessly are major traffic offenses where the offender will not be given the same leniency as with minor violations. These are much more serious offenses and only take one instance to be deemed a high-risk driver.

These offenses may lead to a suspended driver’s license. Courts may offer driving privileges, but they are typically very slim such as going to and from your place of employment.

Accidents Without Insurance
If you are at fault in an auto accident and don’t have insurance coverage, this is another way to become labeled a high-risk driver. Many people may see no harm in driving without insurance coverage, but all it takes is one accident to be deemed high risk.

Insurance is expected for all drivers on the road since car accidents are sometimes unavoidable and can be very costly. If you cause an accident and don’t have insurance to help cover the damages, you will be seen as a liability.

What is SR-22 insurance?
SR-22 is technically not a type of insurance. You can’t reach out to your agent and ask specifically for SR-22 insurance. Instead, an SR-22 is a type of document added to your existing policy.

After being labeled a high-risk driver, your insurance company will file an SR-22 document with the state. The point of this document is to prove your responsibility. No matter what earned you the need for an SR-22 in the first place, you are now seen as a significant liability to the state.

By filing an SR-22, you are proving to the state you can be responsible for a set amount of time, essentially lowering yourself out of the high-risk category. The amount of time you are required to have an SR-22 may differ depending on the state you reside in and the nature of your incident.

Suppose you fail to renew your insurance policy or make your payments, therefore losing your coverage. In that case, your insurance company is required by law to alert the state to your lapse in coverage.

Adding on an SR-22 may not be the only change in your insurance policy once you have been labeled high risk. Some insurance companies don’t want the liability, meaning they will no longer offer you coverage. Or you may see your rates increase significantly due to your poor driving record.

What does SR-22 insurance cover?
Since there is no SR-22 insurance coverage, your chosen insurance policy will be the coverage you receive. There are many types of auto coverage, so it’s essential to make sure you have a policy that works best for you. Just keep in mind your rates will likely be higher due to your SR-22.

At the minimum, you should at least have liability coverage from your insurance company. This type of policy allows you to cover the costs of injuries and property damage. Though you won’t get much else from this policy, you will at least have the basics covered.

If your vehicle is a lease or loan, you may be required to have more than just liability coverage. Because your car is technically not owned by you, you’ll likely need an option such as comprehensive coverage, which will help repair or replace your vehicle if anything should happen.

Ensuring you have the right coverage is essential, even if the cost increases based on your driving record. Your lender may repossess your car if they find out you dropped your coverage amount due to a price increase.

The good news is that your price increase will only be temporary. Once you have held your SR-22 long enough — in most cases, the average is three years — you will be able to drop back down to your regular rates.

SR-22 and Insurance Coverage Options
While many people may think SR-22 insurance is a coverage option all its own, the truth of the matter is you’re welcome to have any insurance coverage you choose. An SR-22 will simply be filed in connection with your chosen policy.

There are multiple ways you can be labeled a high-risk driver. A multitude of traffic violations, DUIs, or driving without insurance violations are just some instances that can earn someone the title. It can seem daunting to know what to do once this has happened.

Though it’s not ideal to have your insurance company file an SR-22, it is the only option you’ll have once you are labeled a high-risk driver. Following through with proper coverage until you have completed your allotted time will allow you to drop the label and move forward.

Alexandra Arcand writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site,

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