It's rare for anyone to get through their entire driving career without at least one infraction. But when it happens to you, it can seem like the end of the world, particularly if you've been required to get SR-22 insurance. Technically, it goes hand-in-hand with your current policy, and it gets filed to guarantee the state that you're insured. In most cases, you're only required to have it in place for three years. Here are five easy tips for getting your driving record cleaned up ASAP with your SR-22.
Notify Your Insurance Company Immediately
As soon as you find out that you're required to have an SR-22 filed with your policy, pick up the phone and let your insurance company know right away. They don't have any way of knowing otherwise, and skipping this crucial step can eventually result in the loss of your license.
It's important to note that not all insurance companies can file the SR-22 for you. If your insurer is unable to do this, you'll need to find a company that can and cancel your previous policy.
This is generally not a problem for most people, but suppose you're in a delicate situation. Maybe you have an uncle who works as an agent who sold you the policy, and you don't want him to find out about the SR-22. But you also don't want to have to cancel the policy, so you assume that you can just get the SR-22 with a different company. Unfortunately, this situation will cause you to have two concurrent policies, called duplicate insurance, and it's not allowed. You need to have the SR-22 and your insurance coverage with one company and one company only.
Keep Your Certificate In the Car
When you get your SR-22 certificate from a site like http://www.car-ins.com, you need to put it in the car you drive and leave it there at all times. If you get pulled over for any reason and you don't have the certificate with you, it can be treated the same as driving without proof of insurance, causing you to face fines and other serious consequences.
Tell Your Insurance Company When You Move to Another State
Whether you've decided to move out of state for personal reasons or you've relocated for your job, be sure to let your insurance company know.
Here's how it generally works: you need to meet the requirements for the state in which the violation occurred as well as satisfy the remaining time for the SR-22 in the new state in which you reside. This usually entails finding an insurance company that is legally authorized to file the SR-22s in both states.
Keep in mind that the DMVs in each state use a national database to communicate with each other. So if you move to another state with the assumption that you can simply get a new license there with a new policy and leave the SR-22 off the policy, your name will likely come up flagged in the system.
This can sometimes seem a little tricky, but the best way to handle it is to let your insurance company know that you are moving, and they should be able to tell you what to do.
Don't Miss a Payment
Suppose money is a little tight and you need to skip a payment, assuming that you can just double up the next month. Do whatever you have to do to get that payment in on time. If you don't, your insurance company could let the state know and cancel your policy. Then you'd have to start the clock ticking on the SR-22 all over again. There's also a possibility you could lose your license, so it's definitely not worth the risk.
Don't Cancel Your Policy, Even If You Sell Your Car
Canceling your insurance and SR-22 for any reason is not a good idea. It can result in the loss of your license and your insurance, fines from the state, and even jail time if you get in an accident and cause injuries.
And this includes special situations like no longer owning a vehicle.
If you decide to get rid of your car altogether, don't cancel your insurance or SR-22. Instead, find out if your state requires something called a non-owner SR-22 policy. This will give you privileges to drive a friend or family member's car on special occasions. This type of policy will only protect you against liability, meaning that if you get in an accident that's your fault, it won't cover damages to you and your car, but it will cover damages to the other driver and their car.
Keep in mind, you may not qualify for a non-owner SR-22 policy if someone else in your home owns a vehicle or if you have a family member or friend who gives you a car to drive regularly. In these situations, you will probably need to keep your regular SR-22 insurance policy.