So let's say that you are a San Jose resident who has been required by the state of California to carry SR22 insurance. SR22 sounds like something out of science fiction. What the heck is it?
SR22 insurance is also referred to as “financial responsibility insurance.” It is a state program aimed at drivers who have repeatedly violated mandatory insurance laws in order to reduce the number of uninsured drivers on the road. If you have been ticketed for driving without insurance, you can be required to carry SR22 insurance. If you are required to purchase SR22 insurance, you must cover all of your vehicles in San Jose, as well as any other vehicles that you may drive that do not belong to you.
To add some confusion, SR22 is actually not insurance. Rather, it is a certificate of proof of insurance that you must file with the State of California. Typically, auto insurance is filed strictly with your insurance company…you hold paperwork verifying proof of insurance and your insurance company also keeps a record of your agreement with them. SR22 requires an insurance company who is authorized to set up an insurance policy that is SR22 specific. Instead of working just with you, the insurance company will send a copy of the SR22 to the state as verification that you are complying with at least the minimum coverage in your state.
Generally, insurance will cover your vehicle right away. However, SR22 insurance must be renewed early; otherwise, your driving privileges may be suspended. If the expiration date on your insurance is 15 days away, and you haven't gone through the motions to renew it, the State of California will begin the process to suspend your privileges. Your SR22 insurance paperwork must be received by the appropriate office at the appropriate time- so it is important that you renew early to avoid penalties by the state. As with any bureaucracy, state offices take some time to process paperwork, so it is vital that you are punctual and stay on top of your paperwork.
SR22 insurance can be a hassle. However, there is no way out of it. If the state has mandated that you carry SR22 insurance, the only way that you can avoid it is with a bond that verifies that you can cover the cost of an accident out of pocket. The amount of money required for such a bond is usually upwards of $50,000.00, and most people do not have that type of money lying around, and since you did not carry coverage in the first place, it is unlikely that you have enough money available to buy the bond.
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SR22 Insurance: What the Heck is It?