If you’ve gotten in trouble behind the wheel in South Carolina, you could be ordered by the court to file for an SR-22.
While it’s commonly called “SR-22 insurance,” an SR-22 isn’t insurance at all. Rather, it’s a document your insurance company files with the state to prove you’re covered by the minimum car insurance required to legally drive.
Here’s a look at how you can get and maintain an SR-22 in the Palmetto State.
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Do I need SR-22 insurance?
Your state DMV will let you know if you need to file an SR-22. In South Carolina, you may need to file for an SR-22 if:
- You have a safety-responsibility or unsatisfied-judgment license suspension.
- You’re convicted of a DUI.
- You’re found driving without insurance.
- The state restricts or revokes your license.
- You’re under mandatory insurance supervision.
What if I don’t have a car or license?
You’ll still need to file for an SR-22 to legally get behind the wheel in South Carolina. If you lose your license because you’re caught driving without insurance, the court could order you to carry non-owner insurance to reinstate your license.
What if I’m from another state?
If you have an SR-22 from another state, maintain it while driving in South Carolina. Call the DMV to determine if your SR-22 is sufficient in South Carolina.
How much does SR-22 insurance cost?
Once you’ve purchased or renewed a policy, most providers will file an SR-22 for a fee of $20 to $50.
It’s not the fee that’s most expensive when you file for an SR-22 — you’ll typically see higher premiums than you’re used to.
The impact of an SR-22 on your car insurance rates
SR-22s are often required after a driving conviction, such as driving without insurance or a DUI conviction. With such severe convictions on your driving record, you’re considered a “high-risk” driver by the state and most providers.
Talk to your provider about how much you can expect your rates to increase. Make sure you understand your role in maintaining your insurance and your SR-22, as a lapse or nonrenewal could set you back a lot of money and time.
How do I file for SR-22 insurance in South Carolina?
- Find an insurer. Ask your insurer if it issues SR-22s in the state of South Carolina. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to find a car insurance company that does.
- Pay the SR-22 fee. To finalize your SR-22, pay a fee to your insurer to process and file it on your behalf.
- Verify minimum liability coverage. If you’re already insured, call your provider to verify your policy includes at least:
- $25,000 for injury or death to one person.
- $50,000 for injury or death to more than one person.
- $25,000 for damage to property.
These are the minimum coverage requirements for the state of South Carolina that you might see listed as 25/50/25 in insurance documents.
- Submit your SR-22. Your insurance agent will file your SR-22 with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Wait for confirmation. You’ll receive a letter from your insurer and the South Carolina DMV that your SR-22 is accepted.
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How long will I need an SR-22?
In South Carolina, most court-ordered SR-22s result in a coverage requirement of three years.
What happens if I let my SR-22 lapse?
A lapse in insurance coverage could cost a lot more than you might think. As soon as the lapse occurs your insurance provider is required to notify the state, which can result in your license getting suspended again.
On top of the license reinstatement fees, your filing period will “reset.” For example, if you’re a year into your three-year filing period and have a lapse in coverage you’ll have to hold the SR-22 status for another three years — rather than just two.
What happens when I don’t need SR-22 coverage anymore?
Once you no longer need SR-22 coverage, you’ll be free to change insurance plans without worrying about one sending the certification before the old one drops. It’s important to be sure you’re completely clear of the mandate though, so you may want to contact your local vehicle licensing office before you cancel your current policy.
Keeping on top of your responsibilities while under an SR-22 mandate can help you avoid getting your license suspended again, costly fees and an even longer filing period. Take care to find out what your new premiums are, when you need to renew your policy and stay within the law while driving to make the process as easy as possible.
A mark on your record doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stuck with the first insurance provider that gives you a half-decent price. Take your time and compare your options to get the most out of your policy.