Is there Liability Insurance on filing SR 22 in California?

Posted on: 15Jan,2016

As with so many other states, California requires that you have minimum liability coverage in order to drive legally. Additionally and by law, insurance companies operating in this state are required a vehicle’s status regarding their coverage while the drive must show evidence of financial responsibility, a.k.a. proof of insurance. This is required every time a new vehicle gets registered or whenever that registration is being renewed.

Under California law, the following standards apply to the state’s minimum insurance coverage requirements (evidence of financial responsibility/proof of insurance). However, you can always purchase higher amounts should you be concerned about not having enough liability coverage:

• $15,000 – maximum BI or bodily injury coverage
• $30,000 – the total amount your policy pays for all bodily injuries to every person
• $5,000 – the total amount of PD or property damage that your policy will pay for

Additionally, should you opt for higher amounts of coverage and have an accident in a different state, your policy may increase to cover that state’s minimum requirements.

When is an SR-22 required?

The “SR” in SR-22 is the abbreviation for “safety responsibility.” This document is prepared by an insurance company, filed with the California DMV, and verifies that you have auto insurance. However, this is evidence that you do have insurance coverage but is not an auto insurance policy. You will be required to have this document if you wish to have your driver’s license reinstated after you have been convicted of:

• a DUI/DWI
• driving without insurance
• reckless driving
• other driving violations resulting in a suspended license

If you own a vehicle you will be required to have an owner SR-22. Conversely, a non-owner SR-22 is required when you do not own a vehicle but you still drive.

In addition to these, the SR-22 could be required for several years. For example, if you were convicted for a DUI/DWI, you will need an SR-22 for 5 years after the conviction occurs. If for any reason you do not pay your premiums, your SR-22 will be cancelled and you will be required to file an SR-26 with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Once the DMV receives the SR-26, they will suspend your driver’s license until you file for a new SR-22.

Full Coverage SR-22 vs. Liability Coverage

There are a number of important differences between full coverage SR-22 and liability coverage with the primary one being that liability will only cover injuries to others and damages to their property. On the other hand, full coverage SR-22 covers and protects the people, property, and vehicles that get involved in an accident. More importantly and in addition to liability coverage, multiple elements are involved in full coverage SR-22 such as:

• Collision – pays for your vehicle repairs in the event of a covered loss (varies by policy)
• Comprehensive – pays for non-collision related damages resulting from hail or vandalism
• Medical payments coverage – no matter who is at fault in the accident, this helps to pay medical expenses for you, your family members, and your passengers whether anyone who is injured in an accident whether they are driving or riding
• Uninsured/underinsured motorist – protects you from drivers who do not have sufficient insurance coverage or have no insurance at all and covers expenses from damages to your vehicle, covers your injuries as well as your passenger’s, and all related repairs

It is recommended that you include these coverages anyway in your policy as well as at least the required liability minimums.

Conversely, the first thing you need to learn regarding liability coverage is that all 50 states now have minimum limit requirements that must be adhered to by law. However, this will only pay for those damages that are done to property and injuries to persons that you are responsible for. In other words, the policy contains a separate bodily injury and property damage clause.

The bottom line is that full coverage SR-22 policies will include liability coverage, whereas there are no other coverages when you are only paying for liability coverage. If you are still in need of information, you should research more about these coverages online or sit down with your current insurance agent. Additionally, you should determine whether or not you qualify for California’s low-cost insurance premium programs.