The Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, California

If you’ve been ordered by the court or the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to carry an SR-22 form, figuring out how to get it done can be overwhelming.

Drivers who have been convicted of driving-related infringements or have had their driver’s license revoked or suspended, will need to show the state that they have auto liability insurance coverage under California law.

The form that proves that they have undertaken this financial responsibility is called an SR-22.

There are several ways a driver can prove financial responsibility to the DMV:

  • An auto liability insurance policy.
  • Cash deposit of $35,000 with DMV.
  • DMV-issued self-insurance certificate.
  • Surety bond for $35,000 from a company licensed to do business in California.
 

Because the vast majority of people don’t have $35,000 in cash or enough savings to self-insure, most drivers will need to get an auto liability insurance policy.

Key Point: Minimum Auto Liability Insurance Requirements

Almost all U.S states require a minimum amount of auto liability insurance. This coverage helps to pay for any damage you may cause to property or injury/death of a third party while driving.

There are three key components to auto insurance liability:

  • Bodily injury coverage per person.
  • Bodily injury coverage per accident.
  • Property damage coverage per accident.

For drivers who haven’t been convicted of serious driving offenses, all they need to do is meet California’s minimum auto liability requirements.

In this article, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about getting an SR-22 certificate, as well as help you find the cheapest companies that offer SR-22 insurance in the state.

What Is SR-22 Insurance?

SR-22 insurance is frequently referred to as a type of insurance, but it isn’t actually an auto insurance policy.

Rather, it’s a form that proves you have met California’s minimum requirements for auto liability coverage. This coverage protects the policyholder in the event of being at-fault in a car accident that causes property damage, injury, or death to a third party.

Without it, the driver may be held liable for expenses that can include medical costs, property restoration, and lawyers’ fees.

The state knows that most people don’t have a few thousand dollars lying around to cover these costs, so auto liability coverage is a legal requirement that protects both the policyholder and third parties.

California’s minimum auto requirements are:

  • $15,000 for injury/death to one person.
  • $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person.
  • $5,000 for damage to property.

While all drivers in California will need to meet the state’s minimum requirements, only those who have been mandated to carry an SR-22 will need to have a form that proves they have met the insurance coverage requirements.

Your SR-22 form will include the following information:

  • Policy liability limits.
  • Driver information.
  • Vehicle registration number.
  • Confirmation of payment.
  • Policy expiration date.
 

Who Needs an SR-22 in California?

SR-22 insurance is sometimes called “DUI insurance”. This is because drivers will usually need to file an SR-22 in order to reinstate their driver’s license after receiving a DUI conviction in California.

However, getting a DUI conviction isn’t the only reason the state may require you to carry SR-22 insurance.

Some other incidents that may lead to this include:

  • Getting too many points on your driving record in a short timeframe.
  • Reckless driving history.
  • Being at fault in a major collision.
  • Driving without car insurance.
  • Driving without auto liability coverage.
  • Not carrying your car insurance documents.
  • Not reporting an accident that causes over $1,000 in bodily injury.

If you’re found guilty of one of the above incidents at a California DMV hearing or in court, your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked.

If you want the DMV to reinstate your driver’s license, you will first need to file an SR-22 form with your car insurer.

The type of SR-22 insurance you will need depends on your personal circumstances.

No SR-22 insurance

If you will not be driving at all and don’t want to reinstate your driver’s license, you do not need to file for SR-22 insurance.

In this instance, if you are found to be driving, it will be considered a criminal offense.

Non-owner SR-22 insurance

If you do not plan to own a car but may drive, you will need to file for non-owner car insurance. Non-owner SR-22 insurance is for drivers who:

  • Do not own a car.
  • Do not live in the same house as someone who owns a car.
  • May drive a car on occasion (for example, a rental or borrowing a friend’s car).

Owner SR-22 insurance

Owner SR-22 insurance is for people who:

  • Own a car.
  • Live in the same house as someone who owns a car.
  • Have had their driver’s license revoked or suspended and want to reinstate it.
 

Owner/operator SR-22 insurance

If you own multiple cars or are required to drive vehicles for work, you will need to carry owner/operator SR-22 insurance.

How to Get an SR-22 in California

If you need to get an SR-22, you’ll need to contact your auto insurance company and request that they file one with the California DMV.

You won’t be able to obtain an SR-22 directly from the DMV—the request must come from your auto insurer.

Unfortunately, the request will alert your auto insurance to the fact that there has been an incident and they will request further information from the California DMV.

With this information, there are three possible choices that your auto insurer may make:

  1. They will cancel your insurance coverage. In the event of a major traffic violation, they may decide that you’re too high a risk to insure. If this happens, you will have to get auto insurance from another company (usually at significantly higher auto insurance rates) before you can get an SR-22.
  2. Your auto insurance company won’t cancel your policy, but won’t grant you SR-22 insurance. If this happens, you’ll need to find another auto insurance company that will grant you SR-22 insurance.
  3. Your auto insurance company will issue your SR-22 certificate and will likely increase your auto insurance rates.
 

Key Point: Auto Insurance Rates

Your auto insurance is the contract agreed to by you and your insurer. It protects you against financial loss in the event of an accident or damage. Your auto insurance rate is the amount you’ll pay monthly for the coverage, and it is influenced by factors such as:

  • Your age.
  • Your driving record.
  • Your location.
  • Your credit.
  • The value of your car.

How Much Does It Cost to Get SR-22 Insurance in California?

The costs associated with getting an SR-22 will vary from driver to driver. In general, here are some of the costs you can expect:

  • Monthly SR-22 liability coverage premium.
  • Increased auto insurance premium.
  • If your auto insurer offered a good driver discount, you may lose this.
  • A filing fee that’s usually between $25 and $50.
  • Paying any related fines and fees, which are generally over $300.
  • A $125 reissuing fee to the DMV to reinstate your driver’s license.

The cost of getting an SR-22 will depend on which county you live in. We’ve done the research to help you find cheap SR-22 insurance in these California counties:

  • Los Angeles County.
  • San Diego County.
  • Orange County.
  • Riverside County.
  • San Bernardino County.

According to our research, the cheapest California insurance companies are National General and Bristol West.

  • National General is $277.60 on average.
  • Mercury is $346.20 on average.
 

Here’s how much SR-22 insurance costs in California with major insurance carriers:

Insurance ProviderLos Angeles CountySan Diego CountyOrange CountyRiverside CountySan Bernardino CountyAverage
National General$362.00$245.00$258.00$240.00$283.00$277.60
Mercury$434.00$342.00$321.00$310.00$324.00$346.20
Anchor$457.00$305.00$278.00$355.00$337.00$346.40
Bristol West$782.00$395.00$523.00$458.00$537.00$539.00

Not only will the cost depend on where you live in California, but it also will depend on various additional factors, including:

  • Your age.
  • The severity and frequency of your traffic violations.
  • The insured value of your vehicle.
 

How Does an SR-22 Impact Your Insurance in California?

Unfortunately, car insurance companies will see you as a high-risk driver once you have obtained SR-22 insurance and will increase the cost of your car insurance.

The amount you will pay depends on how serious the traffic violation was.

If you had to get SR-22 insurance because of a DUI, your premiums are likely to be raised significantly.

However, if your offense was less serious, your insurance premiums will still increase but by a less significant amount.

If you’re required to carry an SR-22, your car insurance company can cancel your policy. This is because they may deem you as too high risk to insure, and you might struggle to find coverage from another car insurance company.

If you’re unable to find a car insurance company that will allow you to obtain an SR-22, California offers a program that matches drivers to auto insurance companies that will insure them.

You can find out more about this program by contacting California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP) on 1-800-622-0954.

If you are able to keep a clean driving record for the duration that you’re required to carry SR-22 insurance, it will be revoked at the end of the term and you may be able to get your premiums decreased.

 

Cheapest Car Insurers in California after a DUI

Receiving a DUI conviction is one of the incidents that will cause car insurers to raise your premiums by the most significant amount.

Here’s how much good drivers in California can expect to pay for car insurance:

Insurance ProviderLos Angeles CountySan Diego CountyOrange CountyRiverside CountySan Bernardino CountyAverage
21st Century$161.00$131.00$130.00$147.00$140.00$142.00
MileAuto$202.00$141.00$143.00$152.00$159.00$159.00
Kemper Auto$242.00$205.00$188.00$190.00$182.00$201.00
Bristol West$409.00$209.00$273.00$240.00$283.00$283.00
AAA$207.83$158.75$136.75$149.75$160.33$162.68
Dairyland$320.00$212.00$292.00$243.00$243.00$262.00
GEICO$95.00$107.00$110.00$105.00$99.00$103.00

 

And here’s how much drivers who have been convicted of reckless driving or a DUI can expect to pay:

Insurance ProviderLos Angeles CountySan Diego CountyOrange CountyRiverside CountySan Bernardino CountyAverage
GEICO$200$142.70$160$180$140$165
Kemper Auto$540$410$446$360$271$405
Bristol West$715$372$457$398$465$481
National General$701$570$368$431$461$506
Dairyland$885$484$672$565$565$634

 

On average, here’s how much car insurance premiums increased with some of the insurance companies we looked at:

  • Dairyland increased insurance by $372 after a DUI.
  • Kemper Auto increased insurance by $201 after a DUI.
  • Bristol West increased insurance by $198 after a DUI.
  • GEICO increased insurance by $62 after a DUI.
 

Although these figures vary widely based on which county you live in and which car insurance company you’re covered with, you can expect an increase anywhere between $62 and $372.

How Does SR-22 in California Compare to the Other States?

All states in America, except for six, require an SR-22 form after a serious traffic violation. The six states that don’t require it are:

  • Delaware.
  • Kentucky.
  • New Mexico.
  • New York.
  • North Carolina.
  • Oklahoma.
 

To give you a comprehensive idea of how much SR-22 insurance costs across the country, we looked at the cost of SR-22 in four states:

  • New York.
  • Texas.
  • California.
  • Florida.
 

While New York doesn’t require SR-22, auto insurance companies do offer it. This is done for instances where you’ve been required to carry it by another state and have since moved to New York.

Here’s how the cost in California compares to the average cost in New York, Texas, and Florida:

StateAverage
New York$408.37
Texas$428.71
California$377.30
Florida$364.65

 

Alternatives to SR-22 Insurance in California

 

SR-21 insurance

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you will need to ask your insurer to file an SR-21 form with the DMV. This document proves that you meet the minimum auto liability requirements.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, your car insurance premiums may stay the same or increase slightly.

SR-22A insurance

If you’ve violated the terms of your SR-22 insurance, you may be required to carry SR-22A insurance. Only three states may require you to carry an SR-22A:

  • Georgia.
  • Texas.
  • Missouri.

California doesn’t issue SR-22A certificates for failing to meet the terms of your SR-22.

However, if you’ve moved to California from one of the above states and have to carry SR-22A insurance, you will need to file this with your car insurance company in California.

FR-44 insurance

FR-44 insurance is almost identical to SR-22 insurance and is issued under similar circumstances such as reckless driving or receiving a DUI, but it is only used in two states:

  • Florida.
  • Virginia.
 

An FR-44 certificate will double your minimum auto liability requirements, but only if you live in Virginia or Florida.

Because California doesn’t recognize FR-44 insurance, you will need to obtain SR-22 insurance in the state.

SR-50 insurance

SR-50 insurance is almost identical to SR-22 insurance, except that it’s only issued in Indiana.

If you are carrying SR-50 insurance and move from Indiana to California, you will need to obtain SR-22 insurance.

 

FAQs about SR-22 Insurance in California

How long do you have to have SR22 insurance in California?

Typically, drivers in California will be required to have SR-22 insurance for three years.

In some circumstances, you will need to carry it for longer. You can check your SR-22 certificate to see how long it will be in effect for.

How much is an SR-22 in California?

On average, you can expect to pay anywhere between $165 to $634 per month in premiums for SR-22 insurance. Along with that, you will need to pay some additional costs, including:

  • A filing fee that’s usually between $25 – $50.
  • Paying any related fines and fees, which are generally over $300.
  • A $125 reissuing fee to the DMV to reinstate your driver’s license.

What is the cheapest SR-22 insurance in California?

According to our research, the cheapest SR-22 insurance in California is National General at $277.60.

How do I get my license back after a DUI in California?

In order to reinstate your driver’s license after receiving a DUI, you will need to serve your restrictions, suspensions or imprisonment, complete a DUI program, and obtain SR-22 insurance.

How do I check my SR-22 in California?

If you aren’t sure whether your registration has been suspended, you can visit the DMV website here to find out.

Disclaimer:

Cheap Insurance strives to keep all listed information accurate and up-to-date. The costs we provide shouldn’t be considered as the price or amount you will pay for any form of insurance provided by the auto insurance companies discussed on the CheapInsurance.com website. All information displayed on this website is presented without warranty and is nonbinding. Visitors to the CheapInsurance.com website should contact CheapInsurance.com, their insurance broker, or their financial provider for final pricing, offers, and quotes.

Methodology:

Our researchers sourced insurance quotes from auto insurance companies that operate in the regions we investigated. We used a standardized base profile for each section to compare auto insurance offers.

For the following sections:

  • SR-22 insurance

Base profile used:

Gender: Male

Marital Status: Married

Age: 32

Vehicle: The most popular sedan by sales in the state

Vehicle Year: 2017

Model Type: The most basic type/entry-level model.

Mileage: 12000 miles

  • Cheapest Car Insurance for Young Drivers

Base profile used:

Marital Status: Single

Age: 20

Gender: Male

Vehicle: Drives the most popular sedan by sales in the state

Vehicle Year: 2017

Model Type: The most basic type/entry-level model.

Mileage: 12000 miles