Think drinking is cheap entertainment? Think all you need to do is find a good old dive and hang out with your buddies, shelling out the $$ on the Bud Lights? It may be affordable fun—until you reach that point where you have to look into getting quotes for SR22 insurance. You’re an adult (hopefully) so we’re going to assume you know about the costs of a DUI. Of course, there’s the fines and the fees and the on-time penalties. But have you also considered that a DUI violation will have you facing recurring costs, much higher now than before?
In most states, driving under the influence, as well as driving without insurance, will saddle you with higher coverage premiums and SR22 fees. On average, NerdWallet explains, drivers found guilty of DUI violations can face higher premiums by an average of $857.53 per year. And they can be looking at those higher costs for 7 to 15 years, depending on how long that DUI stays on record, based on the laws of the state they’re based in. And, yes, there’s a big difference between Florida and Tennessee, Arizona and South Dakota.
NerdWallet has actually run a very interesting analysis, in which they correlate parades and events that occur in big cities across the U.S. for St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), DUI incidents, and insurance premium increases for DUIs. You can find their results in the chart below.
In San Francisco, California, there’s an excess of sobriety check points and far more patrols in the Bay Area than usual. And the DUI penalties are equally impressive, too. With an average yearly car coverage premium of $1,146.26, San Franciscans face a whopping $1,709.98 increase after a DUI.
In Chicago, Illinois, for instance, the event is so big that the river gets dyed green and there’s extra police in the streets. The average car insurance premium is $1,321.50, but it increases by $940.39 after a DUI violation. Ranked right below Chicago is Denver, Colorado. In 2014, 471 people got arrested for suspected drunk driving. Car insurance premiums are $1,262.14 per year on average, but they go up to $839.85 after a DUI. And Dallas, Texas, despite its 2014 no-refusal DWI policy, still witnesses a post-DUI violation premium increase of $701.59 (from $1,150.20 to $1,851.79).
Data from full-table-st-patricks-day-parties.silk.coThe conclusion of the above facts and figures: it all boils down to the cost of SR22 insurance, as well as to the span of time during which a DUI will stay on a perpetrator’s driving record. Since we discuss the latter issue in another post, let’s try to answer the former question: ‘How much does an SR22 insurance cost?’
How much is SR22 insurance?
The above question, for all its straightforwardness, is difficult to answer. That’s because there are numerous variables influencing the cost of SR22 insurance. Let’s try to break these down into major cost categories:
- The SR22 filing fee. Your insurer is going to ask you to pay an extra fee, because the filing process for an SR22 will involve extra paperwork on their part. In most states, the insurer is the one who needs to process the filing and send it to the DMV. Generally, that’s around $15-$25, which you need to pay upfront.
- The car insurance policy per se. The premium rate on this will vary based on the regular factors:
- Your age. Very old and very young drivers pay more.
- Your car. The more expensive the car, the higher the premium
- Where you live. Insurance liability minimums vary from one state to the next.
- Mileage per year. The more you drive, the more experienced of a driver you are—but, still, the bigger risk, too.
- The liability you want to be covered for. Do you want to be covered just for the standard liabilities, like bodily injury and physical damage, or do you also want insurance against damage to your own car, theft, etc.
- Your driving track record. If you’ve got a few other violations (but none as serious as a DUI), you’re probably already paying a High-Risk/Non-Standard premium. In this case, you’ll only be facing a surcharge for the violation which prompted the SR22 requirement. Though these usually are serious, High-Risk drivers needn’t worry about too much of an increase.
There’s also the possibility that you don’t actually own a car and have never had car insurance before—you probably only need the Named Non-Owner bond. That should cost you about $500-$1,000/month for some six months.
Bear in mind that if you shop around and decide to switch insurance providers during the time you are mandated to hold an SR22 Insurance Certificate, you will want the new policy active and in use before you cancel the old one. Gaps in your SR22 stand to reset your month count until you are released from this obligation.
Finally, it’s also worth mentioning that some insurers will recommend that you buy coverage that goes above the minimum threshold required by the state. Typically, basic costs are $50,000 per person, with a total cost of $100,000 per aggregate. Since medical costs are on the up-and-up, even in spite of Obamacare, that kind of money is not going to go a long way in terms of paying for the charges, in the event of an at-fault accident. Incrementally increasing your premium, especially when you’re a High Risk driver, doesn’t really add that much to the total cost of your premium.
Who has the cheapest SR22 insurance?
As is the case with most things insurance-related, the cheapest is not always the best. Some providers, such as Serenity Insurance, actually advertise their coverage as the most affordable SR22 you can get. Then, there’s the plethora of aggregators, comparison websites, and quote providers online. Shop around, but bear in mind that most of them have deals with specific coverage providers. If they bring in clients, as affiliates, they also rake in a sales commission. So, that Google snippet advertising $15/month SR22 insurance? Probably not that true. Why? Because calculating the true cost of SR22 is something only an insurance agent can do. Until you get an actual person to analyze your specific situation, all you’ve got is ratios and percentages.
That being said, here are some pointers to bear in mind when shopping around for an SR22 insurance provider.
- If your car insurance was affordable before the traffic or insurance violation that prompted the SR22 requirement, your best bet is to stick with them. That’s all the more true in situations in which the offense was not very serious (e.g.: a first-time DUI) and you’re already a High Risk policyholder. In such a scenario, the SR22 won’t add much by way of extra costs.
- Consider shopping for discounts from specialized insurers. Some insurance comparison websites recommend this, as it tends to be the more economical option—at least when compared to conventional insurers. For instance, if you own several cars, you might get a multi-car discount. Also, you might be eligible for a safe driving discount (with a previously spotless DMV record), discounts based on good credit scores, etc.
Where do I get SR22 insurance?
It’s all up to you, of course, but here’s what we recommend, before signing on with any one insurance provider:
- First off, if you already own car coverage, check with your current service provider. Bear a few things in mind though:
- Your current insurer might not even provide SR22 insurance. This is the case with many typical, non-specialized insurers.
- Even if they do offer SR22, they may charge higher rates than other providers, which is why using a legitimate insurance comparison website is always a good idea.
- Finally, even when their rates are all right, a car insurance company might not be authorized by the state to sell SR22 insurance. Make sure to visit your local DMV website and get the list of authorized providers.
- Expect to have your old insurance policy canceled, especially if you’ve been working with an insurer that doesn’t offer SR22 certificates.
- If you do switch providers, under an SR22 mandate, you need to be fully transparent with both companies. There’s no other option but full disclosure here: on the one hand, the law prohibits dual policies. On the other, even if you move out-of-state, the DMV will transfer your record from one location to the next. Your DUI/traffic violation/insurance violation will follow you around and you may find that a failure to comply with SR22 requirements will have your driving and licensing privileges revoked.
- Understand the costs. If you’re not a High Risk policy owner, you can expect substantially higher car coverage premiums. Then, you will need to pay a filing fee of around $20-$50, plus a reinstatement fee for the drivers’ license itself (around $50).
What is the best SR22 insurance?
The best SR22 insurance provider is reliable, transparent, claims no hidden fees, and helps you cope with this difficult time in your life. They are willing to offer you the best car coverage fees, based on your driving history, track record, and location. That being said, there are a few names in this industry which are usually sure-fire bets.
AARP. The main perk of working to AARP is that they don’t always implement conventional underwriting procedures. That may not strike you as much at first, but trust us when we tell you that you could be saving a lot of money in the long run.
Allstate. Usually praised for their quick turnaround times and great customer support, Allstate have generated a lot of brand loyalty in their years on the market. This is also due to the way in which they treat their older customers: check them out, you may be eligible for a loyalty discount.
Esurance. Not an insurance provider per se, but an online quote provider and insurer comparison tool. They boast a very user-friendly interface, quick filing process, and comprehensive quote providing services.
Farmers Insurance. You won’t waste too much time filing for the SR22 with Farmers and heir rates are usually cheap. They come with a lot of great recommendations, verifiable online, so that’s always a good sign.
GEICO. Everyone’s heard of the GEICO gecko. Possibly the most popular insurance company out there, GEICO boasts strong brand visibility, as well as a long-standing history of providing great services to their clients.
Nationwide. Nationwide have long since been marketing themselves as the best priced car insurer on the U.S. market. If affordability is your main concern (and are willing to overlook comparatively weaker customer support ratings), then you might want to try them out.
State Farm. According to current data and their own marketing efforts, State Farm are the largest auto insurer on the current U.S. market. Their whopping market share of over 20 per cent means they literally work with millions of policyholders. Size in itself is not a foul-proof guarantee, but it might be indicative of their trustworthiness.
USAA. If you’re a member of the U.S. Army (or related to one), if you’re retired and a veteran, then USAA is by far your best shot. It’s not even worth looking at other providers, because the type of exclusive perks they have to offer are unrivalled.