What is SR 22 Insurance? How Long do I need It?
SR 22 Insurance is a certificate of insurance. It proves that your car is insured following your state's car insurance coverage requirements. It is also known as SR 22 car insurance or a certificate of financial responsibility.
The state of Washington is very strict with traffic laws and reckless driving. No matter how slight the misdemeanor may be, the consequences are usually significant enough that they can affect you and your ability to drive for a very long time. However, if you want to reduce the amount of time in which you won't be able to drive, the SR 22 insurance certificate is one way to go.
SR 22 certification is filed with the state. It is different from your regular car insurance. It verifies that you are carrying at least the state-mandated amount of car insurance. What this means is that if you are routinely pulled over by a traffic cop and you present the SR 22 certificate, you are telling the cop, and invariably the state, that you have the guarantee of your insurance company. The insurance company guarantees that you are maintaining insurance coverage and are financially responsible if any accident occurs. They also guarantee that they will inform the state if you do not maintain your coverage.
Why do I need SR 22 insurance?
Most times, people feel that you need SR 22 insurance when you have a DUI on your record. The truth though is that you can need SR 22 insurance for different reasons such as:
- Driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI) or some other major alcohol conviction
- Reckless or negligent driving
- You were caught not carrying your car insurance in your registered vehicle
- You were involved in an accident while driving without insurance
- You committed several traffic offenses in a short period
- A driving without insurance conviction
- The state requires you to obtain a hardship or probationary license
- Your license had been earlier suspended or revoked
What happens if I was in an accident and I did not have auto insurance?
If the accident injured anyone or caused at least $1,000 in property damage, you could have your license suspended by the Department of Licensing. You will be sent a notice of suspension if the DOL decides within 180 days of the accident that a court might hold you responsible.
The notice will inform you that the DOL intends to suspend your license in 60 days. It will also tell you how to avoid the suspension and your rights to appeal the suspension.
How to stop the suspension
You can make a security deposit in the amount you owe because of the accident and also provide an SR 22 insurance certificate. The suspension notice you get will let you know how much you owe. You can request instructions on how to make the deposit from the DOL. Your money will be returned to you if no one sues you within three years of the accident.
You can get a signed statement from everyone involved in the accident, which releases you from any sort of liability. A contact list usually accompanies the suspension notice sent to you by the DOL. This is the list you will use to get a statement from all parties involved in the accident.
You can admit you owe money and sign an agreement with the others involved in the accident to pay the money. You will give the DOL a copy.
What are the requirements for getting SR 22 Insurance?
Suspension or revoking of licenses is usually done by the Department of Licensing (DOL), either through its “administrative suspension/revocation” process or because of a conviction for DUI. Before your license can be reinstated, the law requires that you provide proof of “financial responsibility.” This is to be filed with the department of licensing and it extends for three years.
One way to satisfy this requirement is by filing SR 22 insurance.
To buy an SR 22 insurance policy, you need to file with a car insurance company. The company will file the SR 22 certificate on your behalf.
Washington's DUI laws are complex, and proof of financial responsibility is no less so. Some of the laws are listed below:
RCW 46.29.260 – Proof of Financial Responsibility For The Future
This means that you can respond in damages for liability for any accidents that occur arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a vehicle under state laws.
You will pay
- Fifty thousand dollars if two or more people were injured in the accident.
- Twenty-five thousand dollars if there was any bodily injury or death of a person in the accident.
- Ten thousand dollars if there was an injury to or destruction of other people's property in the accident.
RCW 46.29.280 – Suspension Continues Until Proof Is Furnished
This means that if your license was suspended or revoked by the DOL for any reason, the suspension will remain in effect until you provide proof of financial responsibility. The department will not issue any new or renewal of your license until you give and maintain proof of financial responsibility for the future. If you cancel or terminate your insurance at any time before the specified deadline, the DOL will re-suspend your driving privileges until you come back again with proof.
Other methods of providing proof of financial responsibility
While filing an SR 22 form with your insurance company satisfies the requirement of proof of financial responsibility, you should know that it is not the only option you have. There are four other methods of filing proof of financial responsibility as outlined under RCW 46.29.450. They are:
- A certificate of insurance (RCW 46.29.450 or 46.29.470)
- A bond (RCW46.29.520)
- A certificate of deposit of money or securities (RCW 46.29.550)
- A certificate of self-insurance (RCW 46.29.630). This is usually supplemented by an agreement by you, the self-insurer that, if any accident occurs while the certificate is in force, you will pay the same amount that an insurer of motor vehicle liability would have paid.
RCW 46.29.520 – Bond as Proof
With this kind of proof, you need to have a bond with a surety who is authorized to transact business in Washington or a bond with at least two individual sureties who each own real estate in the state. The value of their equities must be at least twice the amount of the bond and be available whenever the bond needs to be used for payment. The bond will be filed with DOL and cannot be cancelled except after ten days written notice to the department.
RCW 46.29.550 – Money or Securities as Proof
This proves that the bearer whose name is on the certificate has sixty thousand dollars cash or securities that can be legally purchased by savings banks or trust funds, whose market value is sixty thousand dollars. Also, the state treasury will not issue the certificate unless there is a guarantee that there are no “unsatisfied judgments of any character against the depositor in the county where he or she resides.”
RCW 46.29.570 – Owner May Give Proof for Others
The owner of a vehicle can give proof of financial responsibility on behalf of an employee or family member instead of having the person give proof by him or herself. The proof will permit the person to operate only a vehicle covered by such proof. The DOL will endorse the required restrictions on the license held by the person, or issue a new license based on those restrictions.
We can be of legal assistance
The different types of proof of financial responsibility and their varying functions can be confusing. At the Curtis Firm, LLC, we handle everything for you and spare you the confusion.