You want to find the right auto policy, and navigating SR-22 insurance in California can seem like a mystery. Whether you have a few too many speeding tickets or a more significant infraction like a DUI, you’ll need to show the state proof of financial responsibility. Use our guide and learn everything you need to know about SR-22 insurance.
What Is SR-22 Insurance in California?
SR-22 isn’t technically insurance. It’s a form that certifies your financial responsibility. Moreover, it’s proof that your auto policy meets specific requirements. You must obtain SR-22 insurance in California from a licensed SR-22 provider.
Your agent will submit it to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to confirm that your coverage meets state-mandated minimum insurance requirements. You may have to purchase a non-owner SR-22 policy to continue driving if you don’t own a car, even if you use your vehicle for work.
What Violations Require SR-22?
You may lose your driving privileges after a motor vehicle offense in California. However, the state may let you keep your license by obtaining SR-22 insurance in California. The following conditions commonly require this type of court filing:
- Getting a DUI conviction
- Failing to report an accident
- Driving recklessly
- Causing an accident while uninsured
- Committing more than three traffic violations
- Underage drinking and driving
- Not paying your court-ordered fines
Cost of SR-22 Insurance: California Fees
The SR-22 filing fees are usually quite affordable. According to Insurance.com, this one-time fee generally costs approximately $25. However, you’ll find that your expenses won’t end here. The cost of getting your license reinstated in California is another $125, and your policy rates will go up because of the violation that led to the insurance requirement in the first place. Once your carrier classifies you as a high-risk driver, your premiums can jump to $1,300 per year. Check out this article to learn more about how various factors affect coverage rates and how to account for them.
Cheapest Companies for SR-22 Insurance
Whether or not your current insurer will file SR-22 on your behalf should be your first question, because not all of them do. You’ll probably want to get quotes from multiple companies to compare rates and coverage options, especially if you have a more serious offense, like a hit-and-run collision. If you’re looking for a good insurance plan from a reputable company, you can start by reading this article where we list top-rated car insurance providers.
We recommend starting with major California insurers such as Geico, which charges an annual average cost of $992. State Farm is one of the most expensive carriers, billing its SR-22 customers $2,741 per year. Where in California you live makes a difference too. For example, a Los Angeles resident with a DUI and an SR-22 requirement may get a better rate with Progressive.
Can California Law Protect Your Rates?
California law prohibits insurance companies from canceling your policy or increasing your rates before your term expires. However, this protection ends when you come up for renewal. Having an SR-22 insurance requirement may likely lead to higher payments or cancellations.
The Golden State also prohibits insurance companies from providing good driver discounts to anyone with a DUI conviction. Even if your insurer renews your policy, you won’t be able to take advantage of this cost break for a decade.
If you can’t find insurance, we suggest looking into California’s Automobile Assigned Risk Plan. You can visit their website by clicking here.
The state legislature created this program in 1947 to make sure everyone on the road has auto insurance. These nonstandard motorists must meet specific guidelines and be unable to afford standard market rates.
Alternatives to SR-22 Insurance in California
You can find a few alternatives to buying SR-22 insurance in California. One common alternative you can pursue is a bond. You can post a $35,000 cash deposit or security bond with the DMV. This certificate demonstrates proof of your financial responsibility if you cause an accident. However, these products often come with high upfront costs, making them a less-than-popular option for most residents.
California’s Minimum Insurance Requirements
According to California Insurance Code §11580.1b, residents who drive a car must obtain minimum liability insurance. This policy aims to protect and compensate anyone (other than the insured) for injury or damage to one’s property. For example, your liability insurance pays for damages if you rear-end someone road tripping down Route 66. Visit our article here to learn about the Mother Road’s brief history. California’s requirements for vehicle financial responsibility include:
- $15,000 for injury of an individual
- $30,000 for the injury to more than one person
- $5,000 for property damage
Other SR-22 Factors
You may need to purchase SR-22 insurance in California, even if you didn’t cause a collision. When you own the vehicle and authorities can’t identify who was driving at the time of an accident, you could be held financially responsible. If you didn’t have insurance on the vehicle, even if you weren’t behind the wheel, you may lose your driver’s license and have to provide SR-22 to the state.
The same SR-22 requirement may also apply if your uninsured automobile rolls away unoccupied from its parking spot and causes an accident. A DUI-related offense generally comes with an SR-22 requirement and stiffer regulations. You may have to use an ignition interlock device that prevents you from starting your car unless your breath is alcohol-free.
What if you don’t own a vehicle and are required to provide California with an SR-22? We suggest you consider purchasing a non-owner policy. Drivers who frequently rent cars or may need to drive a company vehicle to a meeting may find this insurance coverage the most cost-effective way to satisfy court-ordered sanctions.
SR-22 Insurance Term Length
You probably want to know how long you need to provide SR-22 insurance in California. The answer isn’t that simple. The state requires a term based on the severity of your conviction. However, three years seems to be the most common duration. If the court revoked your driving privileges, too, the clock starts ticking after the DMV reinstates your license.
If you’re a California resident convicted of serious traffic violations, you may have to file an SR-22 form before driving. If you have any questions about your requirements, call your insurance agent for assistance right away. You don’t want to hit the gas without the proper coverage.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.