What Happens If I Let My SR22 Insurance Lapse? The Complete Guide

SR22 insurance is required for high-risk drivers to prove financial responsibility and comply with state driving laws. But what happens if you let your SR22 coverage lapse? Unfortunately, the consequences are quite serious.

This comprehensive guide explains everything you need to know about the impacts of an SR22 lapse and how to avoid it.

What is SR22 Insurance?

SR22 insurance gets its name from the SR22 form that high-risk drivers must file with their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). It proves you have sufficient auto insurance coverage as required by state law.

You’ll need SR22 insurance if:

  • Your license was suspended or revoked
  • You’ve been convicted of serious violations like DUI
  • You’ve accumulated multiple traffic violations

SR22 insurance itself is just normal car insurance. But it comes with state-mandated minimum liability coverage levels that are higher than the minimums for standard policies.

For example, if your state requires:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $10,000 property damage liability

With an SR22, that could increase to:

  • $50,000 bodily injury per person
  • $100,000 bodily injury per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability

In addition to higher coverage minimums, SR22 policies require you to file a form with the DMV proving you have active insurance. This SR22 form must be kept on file for a set period of time, typically 3 years.

Why Maintaining Coverage is Critical

The SR22 requirement is placed on high-risk drivers for a reason – to ensure you maintain auto insurance and drive safely. That’s why it’s absolutely critical to maintain your SR22 coverage with no lapses.

If you let your SR22 insurance policy cancel or expire, here’s what happens:

Your License is Suspended

As soon as your insurer notifies the DMV that your SR22 coverage has lapsed, the DMV will immediately suspend your driver’s license. This happens automatically by computer.

Once suspended, you are no longer legally allowed to drive. Doing so can lead to fines, jail time, and extension of your SR22 requirement.

You Must Pay Fines and Fees

On top of your past-due premiums to reinstate coverage, you’ll have to pay fees to have your license reinstated. Fees vary by state but typically cost:

  • License reinstatement fee: $50 – $200
  • New SR22 filing fee: $15 – $50

Additional fines for lapsed coverage and driving on a suspended license are also possible.

Your SR22 Requirement Restarts

In most states, if you allow your SR22 coverage to lapse, your SR22 filing period starts over from day one.

For example, if you were supposed to maintain an SR22 for 3 years, and you lapse after 2 years, that 3-year clock resets. Now you have to obtain SR22 insurance for another full 3 years.

Since SR22 policies cost significantly more than standard insurance, having to restart the SR22 requirement gets very expensive. It’s critical to maintain coverage consistently for your full mandated term.

How Much Does an SR22 Insurance Lapse Cost?

The total cost of an SR22 lapse depends on a few factors:

  • Past-due premiums: To reinstate your policy, you’ll need to pay any overdue monthly premiums. This allows the insurer to backdate the policy so no lapse occurred.

  • Reinstatement fees: You’ll pay the DMV a fee to have your license reinstated, typically $50 to $200.

  • New SR22 filing fees: Expect to pay a $15 – $50 filing fee for your insurer to generate a new SR22 form after a lapse.

  • Increased SR22 rates: Due to the lapse, insurers often bump your rates even higher. A new 3-year filing period also means 3 more years of high-risk SR22 rates.

  • Fines: States can impose fines for driving uninsured and on a suspended license, which commonly start at $200.

In total, you can expect to pay $300 to $600 or more to get your license and SR22 back in order after a lapse. And that doesn’t even consider additional years of pricier SR22 coverage.

How to Prevent an SR22 Insurance Lapse

Clearly, you want to avoid the headaches and extra costs of an SR22 lapse. Here are some tips:

Pay premiums on time – Set up autopay through your insurer to ensure you never miss a payment.

Keep your insurer informed – Alert them right away if you need to change payment dates or are having trouble making payments.

Watch billing cycles – Note when your policy renews and bills are generated so you pay on schedule.

Contact your agent – If you anticipate any issues paying your premium, contact your agent to discuss options.

Maintain documents – Keep records proving you maintained insurance with no gaps. This provides evidence to show the DMV and courts in case issues arise later on.

Check with the DMV – You can contact the DMV periodically to confirm your SR22 requirements are being properly met and no suspensions have been issued.

Appeal wrongful suspensions – If your license is wrongly suspended, you can request a DMV hearing and submit proof you maintained active insurance without gaps.

Compare quotes – Shopping around can often find you cheaper SR22 rates, making it easier to pay premiums on time.

Alternatives to SR22 Insurance

There are a couple alternatives that can satisfy SR22 requirements in some states:

State High-Risk Insurance Pools

If you’re having trouble finding affordable SR22 coverage, see if your state offers a high-risk insurance pool. These programs are designed to provide liability insurance to drivers who can’t get policies through regular markets.

Premiums are still high but may be cheaper than standard SR22 rates. Currently, 18 states have active high-risk pools.

State Bond Filing

Bonds act as a guarantee you’ll be financially responsible for any damages/injuries you cause in an accident. In a few states like California and Florida, posting a cash bond with the DMV can substitute for SR22 insurance.

You’ll pay a non-refundable bond premium, usually $250 – $600 per year. If you don’t maintain the bond and it lapses, the same severe penalties apply.

Non-Owner SR22 Policies

If you don’t own a vehicle, non-owner SR22 insurance may be an option. It provides liability coverage when you drive other people’s cars.

Premiums are comparably lower than standard owner’s SR22 insurance. But you still need to renew on time to avoid a lapse.

Weigh the Risks of SR22 Lapses Seriously

An SR22 insurance lapse puts your driving privileges and finances in jeopardy. Before obtaining SR22 coverage, think carefully about your ability to pay ongoing premiums. Insurance agents can help you find the most affordable policy.

If you’re already carrying SR22 insurance, make on-time payments an utmost priority. Consistent coverage will save you hundreds in fees and fines down the road.

And if you made the mistake of lapsing, act quickly to get caught up. The DMV and your insurer offer some leniency if you correct the issue right away and prove you didn’t actually drive uninsured.

Maintaining SR22 insurance is challenging but essential if you want to legally and safely get back on the road after major violations. Taking steps to prevent lapses will help you avoid compounding an already difficult situation.

What Happens if My Car Insurance Lapses?


How long do I need to keep SR22 insurance in California?

In California, an SR-22 requirement typically lasts three years. Your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked for a few months to a few years, depending on the violation and your driving history, and your SR-22 requirement begins after that.

What happens if my SR-22 lapses in California?

Each policy renewal, the DMV will be updated that you still have coverage. If your policy lapses or is canceled, the DMV will be notified, and you could lose your driving privileges again.

What happens if SR-22 lapses in Ohio?

If you’re caught driving without SR-22 insurance, your license will be suspended. The SR22 is the form that your insurance company will send to the state to notify them of the lapse in coverage. If you’re caught driving during this time, you’ll be driving under suspension.

What happens if SR-22 lapses Illinois?

If the SR-22 expires or is cancelled, the insurance company is required by law to notify the Safety and Financial Responsibility Section by a SR-26 Cancellation Certificate. Upon receipt, the driving record will be suspended. This suspension cannot be removed until the insurance filing has been reinstated.

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