Receiving a conviction for a serious driving offense such as a DUI or reckless driving will result in you needing to get a California SR22 insurance policy. Unfortunately, these insurance policies tend to cost more than the average auto insurance policy, but there are ways to reduce the cost of your policy.
You can’t just avoid this policy, especially if the court mandates you to get one after your conviction. If you were recently ordered to get a California SR22 insurance policy but aren’t sure of your options or where to look, continue reading below. This brief SR22 insurance guide will cover all you need to know about this type of policy and who you can reach out to for more information.
What is California SR22 Insurance?
Unlike the name suggests, California SR22 insurance isn’t actually an insurance policy. Instead, it is a certificate filed on your behalf by your insurance company to prove to the state that you continuously carry the state minimum for auto insurance.
SR22 insurance is typically required for those who commit a serious traffic offense. This could be something like a DUI or some other serious traffic violation. Unfortunately, because most drivers who get an SR22 obtain one because of a DUI or something similar, they have higher rates than the average driver.
Who Needs SR22 Auto Insurance?
As mentioned above, people who commit serious driving offenses may need to get an SR22. This doesn’t mean you must immediately get one if you receive a ticket for an auto accident or because you ran a red light. Most people who need SR22s receive a court or state order advising them they need to do so.
Common reasons you may need an SR22:
- Driving and driving under the age of 21
- DUI or DWI conviction
- Reckless driving
- Not reporting an accident that resulted in over $1,000 in damages
- Not reporting an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury or death
- You caused an accident, but you don’t have insurance
- Not paying what you were court-ordered after an accident
In certain instances, you may receive a notice to get an SR22 even if you weren’t the driver involved in the accident. If local authorities cannot locate the driver, but you are the listed owner of the vehicle involved, and you don’t have insurance, the state may suspend your license.
Types of SR22 Insurance
Depending on your situation, you can purchase two different kinds of SR22 insurance. One of those two options is the traditional SR22 which covers your own personal vehicle. If you get into an accident with a traditional SR22, your insurance policy will act like a standard auto insurance policy. If the accident were your fault, your insurance would take care of the other driver’s damages.
If you have any damage to your vehicle, you can use your collision coverage to handle your repairs. If you don’t carry collision coverage on your policy, you will have to handle the damages out of your own pocket.
Non-owner SR22 California
A non owner SR22 insurance policy comes in handy if you still need to drive but you don’t own a vehicle to operate. If you borrow a friend’s car or rent one to get to work or run errands, you can use a non owner SR22 insurance policy. If you don’t plan on driving, you still need to have a non owner SR22 insurance policy to meet your court-mandated requirement.
What Is Covered under a Non Owner SR22?
It is imperative to note that non owner SR22 policies act a bit differently than a traditional SR22. Unlike the traditional SR22, non owner SR22s act as secondary coverage.
This means that the vehicle that you drive most likely already has an active insurance policy. So if you were to get into an accident, the auto insurance policy on the car would kick in first before your SR22 insurance would.
Another thing to note is that your SR22 non owner coverage does not extend to anyone’s vehicle parked at your house. For example, if you live with your parents and they own cars parked at the property, you must get a traditional SR22 insurance policy. This is because the vehicle is readily available for your use, unlike a rental vehicle or a friend’s vehicle who lives in a different part of town.
Ignition Interlock Device
If the court orders you to get an ignition interlock device, you can’t purchase a non owner SR22 policy. You must install an ignition interlock device on a vehicle you own, not a vehicle you borrow.
How Much Insurance Do You Need in California?
In the state of California, the state-required minimum for property damage is $5,000. For bodily injury, you must at least carry $15,000 per person with an occurrence amount of $30,000. Even though the state requirement is only $5,000 in California, you may want to increase the limit to ensure that you have enough coverage if you ever get into another accident. If you exhaust your property damage limit, you will have to come out of pocket for the rest.
Coverages Available on an SR22
In general, most SR22 policies carry liability coverage. This means that the standard first-party coverages, such as collision and comprehensive coverage, do not come with the policy. If you decide to add them to your policy, you will have to pay more.
If you get into an accident and cause damage to your own vehicle, you can use collision coverage to pay for your damages less a deductible. The deductible is the portion of the repair payment that you must pay.
Most drivers carry a deductible of $500 to $1,000, but you have the option to increase or minimize that amount. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the deductible, the less your insurance will cost. Only opt for a higher deductible if you are sure you can pay out that much money to handle your damages.
Comprehensive coverage kicks in when you hit something other than another vehicle, person, or property. Most comprehensive losses are considered “acts of God,” including theft and vandalism.
Other types of comprehensive claims:
- Animal accidents
Even though hitting an animal is technically you colliding with something, it is still considered an act of god. Just like collision, comprehensive comes with a deductible of your choice as well.
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage
In the event you cause an accident where there are third-party injuries, you can count on your bodily injury coverage to take care of those injuries. If the other party decides to get an attorney, your auto insurance will also cover the settlement and applicable attorney fees.
Property Damage Coverage
As mentioned earlier, if you cause an accident involving property damage, you can use your property damage liability coverage to pay for the other party’s damages. To ensure that you have more than enough coverage, be sure to add more than the required state minimum.
Because this is considered a liability coverage, you won’t have to pay a deductible for this coverage. Instead, your auto insurance will take care of that for you.
How Much Does California SR22 Insurance Cost?
The cost of your California SR22 insurance policy depends on the insurer you decide to partner with. If you choose to go with a bigger and well-known brand of insurer, such as GEICO, you can expect to pay more than you would if you were to partner with a company such as E-SR22Filing.com. Most big box auto insurance companies don’t take on too many people who need an SR22; when they do, they charge the most out of anyone else.
Of course, in general, SR22 policies cost more than the average auto insurance policy, but there are still ways you can save on your costs. Depending on several different factors, some people pay an average of $300 to $400 each month for their California SR22 insurance.
Ways to Reduce SR22 Auto Insurance
One way to reduce the cost of your policy is to take a defensive driving class. A defensive driving class may be court-ordered to you anyway, but if it isn’t, you may want to sign up for one. This is because potential insurers will see you as someone who is more likely to practice safe driving techniques after you take the course.
Get Quotes from Different Places
As mentioned earlier, the cost of your premium depends on who you decide to use as your insurer. To ensure that you are getting the best possible rate, it would be best to get quotes from several different insurers before you decide on one.
Depending on your charges, you may have to pay for the cost of the entire premium upfront instead of paying monthly like other auto insurance policies. If you cannot make the payments upfront, be sure to talk to your insurer. They may be able to help you with a different payment plan.
Do I Need a New SR22 if I Move States?
While there are a few states that don’t require you to file an SR22, most of them do. It is important to note that your California SR22 is only suitable for the state of California. So if you were to move to Texas, you would have to get a new SR22 policy. Of course, everyone’s situation differs, so before you cancel your policy and purchase a new one in the new state, reach out to your attorney or the court that mandated your SR22.
Once they are aware of you moving and they advise that you just need to get a new policy in your new home state, be sure to obtain that policy first before canceling your old policy. If you fail to do so, your California record will reflect a lapse in coverage, which could lead to license suspension.
How Long Must I Maintain My SR22?
In general, you must keep your SR22 for at least three years. You don’t have to refile the SR22 each year. Instead, you must keep your SR22 insurance policy active for those three years or for as long as the court mandates you.
If you decide to cancel your policy or allow it to lapse, your insurer is obliged to let the state know your policy status. As mentioned earlier, if you cancel your policy prematurely, you can risk your license being suspended.
How Long Must I Keep a Non Owner SR22?
Similar to the traditional SR22, you must keep your non owner SR22 for as long as the court mandates you. Again, this may be for three years, but depending on your charges and your current situation, it could be longer. Be sure to check in with your attorney or the court that mandated you to get an SR22 to ensure that you don’t accidentally cancel your policy too soon.
Not only do you risk losing your license, but you risk having to start the SR22 clock over. This means if you had an SR22 policy, traditional or non owner, for about two years and you decide to cancel the policy, you will have to get a brand new policy. With this new policy comes another three-year timeframe or longer, depending on what the court orders for you.
Affordable California SR22 Insurance
In general, California SR22 insurance is expensive because the drivers who get these policies are seen as high-risk drivers. Of course, there are ways for you to minimize the cost of your policy. For example, you can shop for the best rates or take a defensive driving course. If you need an affordable SR22 insurance policy, contact us. We have the most competitive rates in California and are here to answer any questions you may have.