Most states, including Georgia, require drivers to carry car insurance. Failing to do so will result in a variety of legal penalties. First among them might come the Georgia SR-22 requirement. What is this penalty? More importantly, why do you have to manage it?
The SR-22 is a driving certificate required of drivers who commit severe offenses. The SR-22 relates directly to the driver’s insurance coverage. Thus, it stands to reason that those who drive without coverage might face this penalty. It is in your best interest to maintain continuous coverage all the time.
SR-22s in Brief
An SR-22 is a certificate or form that links to your insurance policies. Sometimes, it is a physical piece of paper. In other cases, it is an electronic notation. It is a state’s way of forcing a driver to prove to them that they have car insurance.
The SR-22 only applies to certain drivers. It might result from a variety of driving infractions, like DWI charges or frequent tickets. It can also pop up if a driver doesn’t carry active car insurance.
Those who fail to carry active, unexpired car insurance put themselves and others at risk. If you don’t carry a policy and cause an accident, you might lack the money to repay another party for their losses. You also might not have the ability to pay for your own vehicle damage. Examples like this one illustrate how important insurance coverage is for driver protection. So, if you show you are unreliable in carrying coverage, then the SR-22 form might result.
The Impact of an SR-22 On Your Insurance
You will have to turn to your auto insurance agent to get an SR-22 form. If you got the penalty because you drove uninsured, you will also have to restart coverage at that time. However, policy challenges might arise because you have driven without coverage.
- Driving uninsured increases your operating risks to others. Causing accidents while uninsured might make it hard for you to cover the harm you might cause them. That's a cost risk in and of itself. Insurers might thus find it risky to offer you coverage.
- Driving uninsured could show insurers that as you haven't carried coverage before, you might not again. They thus run a risk of losing their investment in you. Therefore, they will likely have to charge you a higher premium than they would other drivers. You’ll likely encounter more cost burden than someone who drives with insurance.
- In some cases, insurers might view SR-22 recipients as too much of a risk to insure. They might refuse to offer you a policy. This could make your search for a policy a lot harder than you might think. Even so, you must get auto coverage to get an SR-22 at all. Insurers exist who will cover SR-22 drivers, even though they might charge more.
Why Policies Lapse
Once you get a policy and SR-22, you have to keep them active. You must not let your coverage lapse for the duration of the penalty phase. If you do, the penalty might get worse.
Insurance coverage lapses for a variety of reasons. Some of the causes might include:
- Failure to pay your insurance premium.
- Failure to renew your policy before it expires.
- Failure to notify your insurer if you receive tickets, have wrecks, or receive SR-22s.
- Failure to update your policy to reflect new vehicles, addresses and other information.
So, if you have an SR-22 insurance policy, and you let it lapse, then you will likely face further penalties. At minimum, the SR-22 penalty phase will likely start over or lengthen.
Thus, in most cases, you are the party responsible for keeping the policy up-to-date. If you fail to do so, you might face the consequences. Your insurer will often notify you if you have outstanding bills or if your policy needs renewal. Yet, don’t rely solely on them. Review your policy, and update it as needed.
Maintaining Coverage After You Get an SR-22
Once you get the SR-22, talk to your insurer about how to keep your policy active. They can often offer various incentives to help you do so.
- Many insurers offer automatic payment or automatic renewal options. Your premium will deduct from your bank account at regular intervals. When your policy renews, it will automatically change to the new coverage, provided you don’t choose to switch policies. Let this incentive help you.
- If you buy a new car, move or experience any further driving charges, call your insurance agent. They will likely need to know about this information. Keeping your policy up-to-date can ensure you always have protection.
- If you move out-of-state to a state that does not require SR-22s, the existing SR-22 will likely remain active. You usually must continue to maintain the coverage. If you don’t, you might not be able to get a new license in your new state.
SR-22s can take several days, even up to a month, to obtain. So, as soon as you receive a requirement, contact your Georgia insurance agent. They can help you determine your next steps.