One of the more confusing auto insurance forms that exist in New York is known as the SR-22, which is the filing that proves that an individual has financial responsibility for themselves when driving on the road, typically in the form of auto insurance. However, not all drivers need the SR-22 and most drivers will never see one in their lifetime. Let’s take a look at how SR-22 insurance works in New York, including who will need the SR-22 and what it means if they aren’t carrying it when stopped by the police.
What is the SR-22?
The SR-22 is essentially a document that proves that a driver is financially responsible and has purchased the required amounts of auto insurance to be legally allowed to drive in New York. SR-22 insurance is not mandatory, and will only be required for those who are deemed to be “very high” or “maximum” risk by the state and by insurance companies. Those who are required to carry a SR-22 will need to have it with them at all times while driving a vehicle, and failure to produce the SR-22 can mean significant legal trouble.
Who Needs a SR-22 Filing or SR-22 Insurance?
In New York, SR-22 filings are generally required for drivers who commit the following infractions:
- Driving without adequate insurance coverage
- Driving without a driver’s license, or driving with an expired license
- Repeat offenders who constantly break the law
- Drivers convicted of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Drivers who cause accidents while underinsured or uninsured
As of September 2010, SR-22 filings are no longer required for those drivers who have been charged or previously convicted of a driving offense that occurred within the state of New York; if a driver is required to file a SR-22, they will be notified by the state. However, if you are unsure about your SR-22 or whether or not you need SR-22 insurance, it’s best to contact the state or the Department of Motor Vehicles to be certain.
Where Do I Get a SR-22 if I Need One?
The SR-22 filing is nearly always handled by an individual’s auto insurance company. SR-22 filings exist in some form in nearly all states, and insurers are very familiar with the form and the requirements involved. Note that if you are a high-risk driver that is required to carry SR-22 insurance, you will likely end up paying far more for auto insurance than a traditional customer would. This reflects the additional risk that you as a customer present to your insurer. Generally once the SR-22 expires the higher rates will be reduced.
How Long is the SR-22 Needed?
The length of time that the state will require a driver to have a current SR-22 filing along with their auto insurance depends on the severity of the infraction. Generally speaking, most New York SR-22s will be required no longer than three years in total, with some being significantly shorter. Once the state determines that the driver is no longer considered a “maximum” risk driver, they will remove the SR-22 insurance requirement and the driver can purchase auto insurance like anyone else.
Moving to New York State with a SR-22
If you have a SR-22 with another state and decide to move to New York, you won’t be required to file an additional SR-22 with the New York DMV. However, the state that you left may suggest or require that you keep the SR-22 up to date. If this is the case, you can check with the DMV or your auto insurance company to determine the best course of action.
What Happens if I Drive Without SR-22 Insurance?
If you have been required to drive with a SR-22 filing by the State of New York, you must keep the filing current and drive with it at all times. Failure to drive with SR-22 insurance can mean fines, license suspension or removal of driving privileges altogether. The law doesn’t go easy on those that “forget” or “misplace” their SR-22, so it’s best to keep it in a safe place inside of the vehicle so that it can be quickly found when needed.
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