What Is FR 44 Insurance? Florida & Virginia High-Risk Drivers
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In Florida and Virginia, an FR-44 form is a document of financial responsibility and proof that a driver has car insurance. An FR-44 is used for severe driving offenses, like a DUI or DWI, that require a driver to maintain higher liability coverage limits than the state minimum. In Florida, for example, the minimum liability requirement is $10,000 for property damage liability and $10,000 in personal injury protection while bodily injury liability can be waived. If a Florida resident needs to file an FR-44, they must carry liability coverage for $100,000 minimum per person and $300,000 per accident as well as $50,000 for property damage liability. As you can see, needing to file an FR-44 is expensive. It is also usually required for three years. Sometimes, insurers require the insurance to be paid in one lump-sum payment upfront. They also charge a filing fee for each month of the three years the FR-44 form must be filed.
Who Needs an FR-44 Form?
The FR-44 form is used only in Florida and Virginia, where a court-ordered FR-44 requirement results from a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, whether prescribed or illegally obtained.
The following convictions warrant FR-44 certification, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (VDMV):
Maiming while under the influence
Driving while under the influence of intoxicants or drugs
Driving while the driver's license has been forfeited for a conviction
Violation of the provisions of any federal law or law of any other state or any valid local ordinance similar to the above
If you are pulled over by law enforcement, you should have your FR-44 documentation in your possession. So, keep it in your glove box, along with your insurance ID card and registration. If you are unwilling to keep any documentation in your car because you're worried about identity theft, you can use your smartphone to take and store pictures of your FR-44 certificate, insurance card and registration. Make sure all three documents are clear and legible so that law enforcement can document your information.
FR-44 vs. SR-22: What's the Difference?
FR-44 and SR-22 forms serve the same function: Both confirm that a policyholder has the minimum amount of auto insurance required after a conviction. The "FR" in FR-44 stands for "financial responsibility," and the "SR" in SR-22 stands for "safety responsibility." Both forms represent what is formally called a "certificate of financial responsibility."
In Florida and Virginia, an FR-44 requirement relates to a DUI charge, while an SR-22 requirement relates to other offenses. Auto insurance under an FR-44 requirement is more expensive than auto insurance under an SR-22 requirement because the FR-44 requires the purchase of a higher level of coverage than an SR-22 requires.
During the FR-44 or SR-22 compliance period, convicted drivers should be aware of the following:
By law, your insurance carrier must file your FR-44 or SR-22 certification each and every month that you are in the program. So, if your insurer charges $10 or $50 for an SR-22 filing, you will pay that fee each and every month. However, some insurers, such as Dairyland, do not charge a filing fee. However, you are still required to pay the state's yearly FR-44 or SR-22 fee.
If your auto policy lapses, you will have to re-apply to the FR-44 or SR-22 program. Re-applying means you'll have to start the whole program over again.
You can change your auto insurer, but you must inform your new insurer about your FR-44 or SR-22 requirement.
You can move to another state, but you must inform your new state's DMV about your FR-44 or SR-22 requirement.
SR-22 Insurance in Florida and Virginia: Traffic Violations and Uninsured Driving
In Florida and Virginia, an SR-22 is required for drivers who have been charged with a serious traffic violation and other offenses:
Driving or causing an accident without having auto insurance
Falsifying proof of insurance or other auto insurance documents
Fleeing the scene of an accident after hitting an occupied vehicle
Driving with a suspended license
Receiving a significant number of traffic tickets in a short time
Failure to pay court-ordered child support
All SR-22 drivers can benefit by demonstrating safer driving behavior. If you change your driving habits, you will reduce your risk profile and the chance of extended penalties. What's more, many insurers will give you a discount on your premium for taking an approved defense-driving course. In fact, the state may waive the SR-22 requirement if you take an approved course.
FR-44 Insurance in Florida and Virginia: DUIs and DWIs
While other states charge intoxicated drivers with a DWI, or "driving while intoxicated," Florida and Virginia both charge intoxicated drivers with a DUI, or "driving under the influence." DWI and DUI describe the same condition and are often used interchangeably.
Driving while intoxicated can deal a serious blow to your financial stability. The law may consider your DUI conviction to be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on how many times you've been convicted of DUI and whether your accident caused injury or death. You will have to enroll in mandatory DUI classes and pay some stiff fines. You'll also need to figure out how to get your criminal record in order, with or without a DUI attorney.
Of course, the worst-case scenario is that you go to jail, your vehicle is impounded, and your driving privileges are permanently revoked. However, if you are somehow allowed to retain your driver's license after a DWI conviction, you can be sure you'll be paying a much higher insurance rate.
At the very least, a DUI conviction means fines, fees, DMV points, a higher insurance rate, court expenses, mandatory classes and probably an SR-22 requirement.
How Do I Submit an FR-44 Form?
If you need to file an FR-44 or SR-22 form, you will be officially notified by either the court or your department of motor vehicles. Your insurance company will not inform you.
Florida and Virginia do not permit the convicted driver to submit the FR-44 (or SR-22) document—that's the auto insurance carrier's duty. You can expect your carrier to charge you a filing fee, from $10 to $50, every month the FR-44 form must be filed.
When you receive your official notification, immediately contact your insurance company or insurance agent and tell them you need to get an FR-44.
In Which States Are FR-44s Required for Insurance?
No state requires an FR-44 form to buy auto insurance. However, Florida and Virginia drivers who have been convicted of a DUI-related crime must purchase a level of auto insurance that exceeds the state's mandated minimum amount of auto insurance coverage. An FR-44 form is not the auto insurance itself but proof that the policyholder has purchased the required coverage.
Non-owner FR-44 and SR-22 Insurance in Florida and Virginia
A non-owner FR-44 or SR-22 filing fulfills the requirements of the pertinent program, but there are two steep, painful conditions: You are not allowed to own a vehicle, and you are not allowed to drive a vehicle belonging to someone who lives in your household.
The upside of the non-owner SR-22 is that it allows you to still drive, albeit only a rented car or the car of someone with whom you do not share a domicile. If you cause a serious accident while driving someone else's vehicle, your non-owners policy will pay off the balance of the claim when the owner's policy has reached its liability limits.
The other attraction of the non-owner SR-22 is that it costs much less than going the straight SR-22 route: Your liability insurance rate will be much, much lower because, as a vehicle non-owner, you will be behind the wheel much, much less. Finally, a non-owners SR-22 is not permitted if you are required to install an ignition interlock device.
Do I Still Need To Buy Auto Liability Insurance with a Non-Owner FR-44 or SR-22?
Yes, you still have to buy your state's mandated minimum liability coverage. The non-owner FR-44 and SR-22 is only proof of insurance, not the insurance itself. However, since you'll be driving far fewer miles because you don't have a car of your own, your premium will not be nearly as high as the auto insurance rate associated with an FR-44 or SR-22.
Cost of FR-44 and SR-22 Insurance in Florida
FR-44 and SR-22 drivers are high-risk drivers. According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (HSMV) department, any driver whose vehicle is registered in Florida must have two types of auto insurance in the following coverage amounts:
$10,000 of property damage liability
$10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP)
When a driver is tagged with an SR-22 requirement, the state demands that the policyholder purchase additional insurance:
$10,000 of bodily injury per person
$20,000 of bodily injury per accident
$10,000 of property damage liability
$10,000 of personal injury protection
When a driver is tagged with an FR-44 requirement, the state demands that the policyholder to purchase much, much more insurance:
$100,000 of bodily injury per person
$300,000 of bodily injury per accident
$50,000 of property damage liability
$10,000 of personal injury protection
Because an SR-22 or an FR-44 requirement entails purchasing a higher level of insurance than the state-mandated minimum, SR-22 will cost a little more and FR-44 will cost a lot more than Florida's average cost of auto insurance, which is $206.
Cost of FR-44 and SR-22 Insurance in Virginia
According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (VDMV), any driver whose vehicle is registered in Virginia must have three types of auto insurance in the following minimum coverage amounts:
$25,000 of bodily injury per person
$50,000 of bodily injury per accident
$20,000 of property damage liability
In Virginia, the SR-22 requirement is proof that the policyholder has, in fact, purchased the state-mandated minimum amount of auto insurance, as listed above. That is, unlike Florida, Virginia does not raise the minimum amount of required auto insurance coverage for an SR-22 driver. However, an FR-44 brings a hefty hike:
$50,000 of bodily injury per person
$100,000 of bodily injury per accident
$40,000 of property damage liability
While the state-mandated minimum is required of all licensed Virginia drivers as well as SR-22 drivers, the SR-22 drivers will end up paying more for auto insurance because they are considered to be high-risk drivers. Of course, the DUI-related FR-44 will cost a lot more than Virginia's average cost of auto insurance, which is just $88.
Some Auto Insurance Carriers May Refuse an FR-44 or SR-22 Customer
Not all carriers will insure or continue to insure an FR-44 or SR-22 customer, and your carrier may be one of them. All insurance companies are in the business of mitigating risk, and some of them consider an FR-44 or SR-22 customer to be too much of a financial risk for the company's bottom line.
If an insurer rejects your application for auto coverage, your department of motor vehicles and, in some cases, the court itself may proffer a list of recommended insurance providers that can assist you in your FR-44 or SR-22 compliance.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners can also help you to find a licensed insurance agent in your particular state who will hook you up with a carrier that obliges FR-44 or SR-22 customers. To find out more, go to naic.org or compare rates with carriers who offer FR-44 or SR-22 filing.
High-Risk Drivers Can Lower Their Auto Insurance Rate
In Florida and Virginia, an FR-44 requirement relates to a DUI conviction and an SR-22 requirement relates to other offenses. After a conviction, drivers with a court-ordered FR-44 or SR-22 requirement are considered by the insurance industry to be high-risk drivers, and high-risk drivers always pay more for their auto insurance than low-risk drivers. They may also have to buy additional coverage.
Of course, an FR-44 and SR-22 requirement brings other costs, including monthly filing fees and yearly state fees, not to mention license and registration reinstatement costs, legal costs and lost wages. However, you can always switch auto insurance carriers and save some money.
SmartFinancial can do the comparison-shopping for you, by sorting through hundreds of auto insurance policies in your area to find an insurer that fits your profile and budget. SmartFinancial's network of licensed insurance agents may save you up to 40% on car insurance. Just enter your zip code or call 855-214-2291 for a free quote.