What Is SR-22 Insurance in California and How Much Does It Cost?

After a serious traffic violation conviction — and likely driver’s license suspension — the California Department of Motor Vehicles (CA DMV) will require you to purchase car insurance with an SR-22 filing requirement. This filing requirement is around $25, but the car insurance premiums themselves are more expensive than basic auto coverage premiums. Most drivers must maintain SR-22 filing for 3 years.

What Is SR-22 Insurance in California?

Drivers often call it “SR-22 insurance,” but SR-22 isn’t a type of auto coverage. Instead, it’s an insurance filing requirement that proves to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (CA DMV) you’ve purchased and are maintaining the state’s minimum liability insurance requirements after being convicted of a serious traffic violation.
Expect to pay around $25 for the SR-22 filing fee, as well as increased car insurance rates. You’ll need to maintain SR-22 for 3 years or more, depending on your specific situation.

When Do You Need an SR-22 in California?

Californians often call SR-22 insurance “DUI insurance,” because DUI convictions are a common reason for drivers to need SR-22 filing.

However, the CA DMV requires SR-22 filing for other serious traffic offenses, such as:

  • At-fault accident.
  • Significant speeding.
  • Careless or reckless driving.
  • Driving with a suspended license.
  • Driving with no insurance.
  • Car accident with no insurance.

These are the kinds of offenses that lead to driver’s license suspension and revocation and mark you a high-risk driver. The CA DMV will reinstate your license once you complete your SR-22 filing and other license reinstatement requirements.

How Much Does SR-22 Insurance Cost in California?

Have you heard that carrying SR-22 coverage is expensive? Well, you’ve heard right — sort of.

SR-22 itself isn’t that bad. Generally, the filing fee is around $25. Also, you don’t have to purchase more coverage than you would otherwise; The CA DMV requires the same minimum liability insurance amounts for SR-22 drivers as for any other driver.

What hurts your wallet are the increased annual car insurance premiums.
Car insurance companies charge high-risk drivers more expensive premiums simply because it’s a bigger risk to insure them. How much more expensive depends on the specific traffic offense. For example, the insurance premium for an at-fault accident will be higher than a basic premium, but an insurance premium for a drunk driving conviction will be even higher than that.

Here’s a look at some of the current average annual rates for high-risk drivers based on the traffic violation:

OffenseAverage CA Annual Rate% Increase
At Fault Accident$2,36837.6%
DUI$4,988185.3%
Speeding Ticket$2,38138.3%

Rates After a DUI

Furthermore, these are the average rates you can expect from a few reputable car insurance companies if you need SR-22 filing due to a DUI conviction:

Insurance ProviderAverage CA Annual Rate After DUI
Mercury$3,001
GEICO$3,267
21st Century$4,106
Farmers$4,289
State Farm$4,346
AAA$6,448
CSAA$6,688
Allstate$6,810

Mercury is the most affordable insurance provider if you have a DUI, followed by GEICO. 21st Century is the next cheapest in the state of California if you have a DUI. Here are other insurance providers to consider if you have a DUI.

As you’re shopping for the most affordable SR-22 coverage you can find, it’s a good idea to also consider how the car insurance providers are rated for other important factors like coverage options, claims and customer satisfaction, and financial strength. We’ve compared some of the highest rated insurance companies for high-risk drivers for you.

How Does SR-22 in California Work?

Buying SR-22 insurance is just like buying any other auto coverage — with a couple extra steps.

Once the CA DMV notifies you of your SR-22 filing requirement, you can either notify your current car insurance provider or shop for a policy with another company. Most reputable auto coverage providers are authorized to provide SR-22 filing services, and you might find more affordable rates with another company. Be sure to tell the provider you need a Non-Owner SR-22 Insurance policy if you don’t currently have a car.

Once your policy is squared away, you need to file the SR-22 certification with the CA DMV. Typically, the car insurance company does this on your behalf. You can’t legally drive until the SR-22 certification is filed and your driver’s license is restored.

You must maintain SR-22 for a certain amount of time — usually 3 years, but the CA DMV might order it for up to 10 years under extreme circumstances — and after that you can start comparing auto insurance quotes to find a more affordable car insurance policy.

Once you’ve completed your SR-22 coverage period, you can start comparing auto insurance quotes to find more affordable coverage. Also, be sure to use our guide to find the best cheap car insurance in California.

Final Thoughts

No one wants to deal with an SR-22 filing requirement, but it’s better than having your license suspended. Filing fees generally fall around $25, but expect your annual car insurance premiums to increase for as long as you have SR-22. Once you’ve maintained SR-22 for 3 years (or longer, if the CA DMV determines), you can begin shopping for more affordable auto coverage.

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