If you’ve gotten in trouble behind the wheel in Washington, you may be ordered by the court to file for an SR-22.
Though you’ll hear references to “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 Evergreen State.
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Do I need SR-22 insurance in Washington?
Your state DMV will let you know if you need to file an SR-22. In Washington, you may need to file for an SR-22 if:
- You’re found driving without insurance.
- You’re convicted of, or forfeit bail for, certain offenses.
- You drove or owned a vehicle involved in an accident.
- You failed to pay a judgment from a conviction.
What if I don’t have a car or license?
You’ll still need to file for an SR-22 to legally drive in Washington. 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. Owner-operator insurance is also available if you drive any vehicles, whether they’re owned by you or not.
What if I’m from another state?
If you have an SR-22 from another state, you must maintain it while driving in Washington. Your SR-22 is likely to be sufficient in Washington, but it’s best to verify coverage with your local Department of Licensing (DOL) and your car insurance provider.
How much does an SR-22 in Washington cost?
Once you’ve purchased or renewed a policy, most providers will file an SR-22 for a fee of $20 to $50.
But it’s not the fee that’s most expensive when you file for an SR-22 — you’ll also typically see higher premiums than you’re used to.
The impact of an SR-22 on your car insurance ratesSR-22s are often required after a driving conviction, such as driving without insurance or driving under the influence. After such a conviction, the state and most providers consider you a “high-risk” driver. Car insurance providers typically charge more for high-risk policies.
How to file for SR-22 insurance in Washington
- Find an insurer. Ask your insurer if it issues SR-22s in the state of Washington. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to find another provider that does.
- Pay the SR-22 fee. To finalize your SR-22, you pay a fee to your insurer for the convenience of filing 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.
- $10,000 for damage to property.
These are the minimum coverage requirements for the state of Washington. You may see this coverage listed as 25/50/10 in insurance documents.
- Submit your SR-22. Your insurance agent will file your SR-22 with the Washington Department of Licensing. Verify with them that they have done so.
- Wait for confirmation. You’ll receive a letter from your insurer and the state of Washington that your SR-22 is accepted.
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How long will I need the SR-22 for?
In Washington, most court-ordered SR-22s result in a coverage requirement of three years from the date that you’re eligible to have your license reinstated.
What happens if I let my SR-22 lapse?
Your insurer is obligated to notify the state as soon as your insurance ends for any reason. Once the state receives the report your license may be suspended again. While Washington doesn’t have any reinstatement fees, there are potential fees for getting your license back.
Talk to your provider about how much you can expect your rates to increase to avoid further setbacks.
What happens when I don’t need SR-22 coverage anymore?
It may benefit you to contact the DOL before making any big insurance changes at the end of your SR-22 filing period. Because your insurance company immediately notifies the state of a cancellation, having one go through before your mandate is up can set you back time and money.
After you’re in the clear, you may want to work with your insurance agent to plan the next steps for adjusting your policy.
You’re responsible for keeping up the SR-22 certification. If you’re unsure of your role when it comes to maintaining it your insurance agent should be able to help. In general you’ll need to stay on top of premium payments, renew your policy before it expires and drive within the law.
Higher insurance premiums are likely going to be an unavoidable reality, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck when it comes to finding a company to insure you. Compare your options and shop around to find a policy that provides the coverage you need at a price you can afford.