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FR44 - Everything you need to know

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FR44 insurance is not actually insurance -- it is simply a document that proves you are carrying the proper car insurance coverage. In some cases, it is called a Certificate of Financial Responsibility, or CFR.

An FR44 comes into play when you have been convicted of a serious traffic violation or been caught driving without car insurance. In most cases, your license has been suspended and in order to get it reinstated you will need to prove to the state that you are carrying the required car insurance, which is what an FR44 does.

In most states, the form that proves you are carrying car insurance is called an SR-22. There are only two states that require an FR44. Both Florida and Virginia use the FR44 form, which comes with stricter requirements than an SR22 and in most cases, sky-high premiums.

What is an FR44?

An FR44 is a form that ensures you are carrying the proper car insurance out on the road.

Florida and Virginia are the only two states currently using the FR44 form which comes with higher liability coverage requirements than the SR-22.

If you are required to submit an FR44 form you will need to contact your car insurer as it will be submit the form to the state, after you purchase the required amount of car insurance. Your insurer submits the form to your local DMV who will then reinstate your driver's license.

However, if you fail to pay for your coverage or let the policy lapse for any reason, your insurer will revoke the FR44 and let the DMV know, which will suspend your license. You could end up facing further restrictions on your driving. DMVs take it pretty seriously if you drive without insurance --  and even more seriously if you are caught a second time.

If you are currently between insurance companies, you will need to notify them that you are looking for an FR44 form when shopping. While most major insurance companies will write a policy with an FR44, expect your rates to go up dramatically. In some cases, it may make financial sense to go with a second-tier insurer that specializes in high-risk drivers. As always, check the financial strength of any insurer you are considering and read reviews.

How long will I need an FR44?

As long as your state law decides is the quick answer. The amount of time you have to carry an FR44 will vary depending on the state you live in as well as the moving violation that triggered the FR44 requirement.

In general, expect to have an FR44 requirement for at least a year and up to four years. It could go even longer if it is a second offense. If you cancel your policy after getting your license back or let your insurance lapse for any reason, the FR44 will be revoked and your license will be suspended again, in many cases for a significant amount of time.

In most cases, if you are picked up for any additional driving violations during your FR44 time there is a good chance your FR44 requirement will be extended.

Once you have fulfilled the necessary requirements to get your full license reinstated you can usually drop your FR44 but it is best to check with your DMV before shopping for new insurance to make sure you are in the clear.

What violations require an FR44 form?

If you are required to have an FR44 form attached to your policy, there is a good chance you committed a fairly serious driving violation. In most cases, an FR44 is required for major moving violations such as:

  • DUI or DWI conviction
  • Driving without insurance
  • Causing an accident without car insurance
  • Driving with a suspended license
  • Reckless driving

Your local DMV or court will notify of the requirements to get your licensed reinstated after a conviction. This should include information in regard to an FR44 requirement and how long that requirement will last.

What is the FR44 insurance average cost?

The FR44 is not going to cost much, it's your insurance premium that is headed up dramatically. While it can vary between insurers, the fee for filing an FR44 is usually around $25, but the increase in your insurance costs will be much more dramatic.

You are now considered a high-risk driver by insurance companies and that will result in a sky-high premium. Insurers consider a wide variety of factors when setting a premium, everything from your driving record, address, type of car and even your credit score will be considered, but a major violation on your driving record and an FR44 request is never good news.

"If you need to file an FR-44 due to a DUI or other serious offense, expect your rates to go up quite a lot. The average rate increase for a DUI is around 90% with some state averages over 300%. Infractions like a DUI show you to be a serious risk to a car insurance company so they hike your rates to cover that risk," says Penny Gusner, senior consumer analyst with Insurance.com.

The FR44 moves you out of the standard pool of drivers and drops you in with other high-risk drivers. Insurers hate risky drivers (they file more claims) so you will absolutely be spending much more on car insurance than did before the FR44. In addition to the higher premium, you may be required to carry higher coverage limits than you did before which will also push up costs.

In Florida, an FR44 form requires that you carry $100,000/$300,000 worth of bodily injury liability and $50,000 of property damage liability insurance. Non-risky drivers are only required to carry $10,000 in personal injury protection insurance and $10,000 in property damage liability.

Virginia, the other state that uses a FR44 requires 50,000/$100,000 worth of bodily injury liability and $40,000 of property damage liability insurance. The normal limits are $25,000/$50,000 in bodily injury and only $20,000 in property damage.

The increase in your insurance costs will vary depending on a number of factors but expect your car insurance cost to at least double and if it's a second offense the pain will be much worse. There is also a good chance that your insurer will now require you to pay your entire premium upfront instead of allowing monthly payments.

What is the difference between SR22 and FR44

The biggest difference between the two is the amount of insurance required and the states that use it. As we mentioned before, only Florida and Virginia currently use the FR44. The other big difference is the amount of liability insurance that is required. As an example, the required amount of FR44 insurance Florida is $100,000/$300,000 worth of bodily injury liability and $50,000 of property damage liability insurance.

In contrast to that, an SR-22 in Florida only requires a driver to carry $10,000 of bodily injury liability per person/$20,000 of bodily injury liability per accident and $10,000 of property damage liability coverage per accident. This is a major difference in coverage levels which will result in a significant price increase.

The FR44 is used for drivers who have committed a fairly serious offense while an SR-22 is reserved for more minor incidents such as having too many tickets on your record. The FR44 is not typically required until you move into the big leagues of traffic infractions such as a DUI, driving on a suspended license or reckless driving.

How to find (somewhat) affordable FR44 insurance

Make no mistake, you will be paying significantly more for car insurance for the next few years but there are a few tips that can help you lower your insurance costs:

Shop around: This is solid advice whenever you want to lower your insurance costs. Insurers rate risk differently and it can result in major premium quotes so be sure to shop your coverage regularly, especially if you are required to have an FR44 attached to your policy.

"The best way to get lower rates is to shop around with multiple insurers and bide your time. In time, when the DUI falls off or you've at least kept a clean driving record for three years, your rates should start to decrease," says Gusner.

Always be upfront when shopping for insurance and let the agent know you will need an FR44. They may deal with a variety of insurers and some may be more friendly to high risk drivers then others. Get quotes from at least five different insurance companies before making a decision.

Consider insurers who cater to high-risk drivers: In many states, the large insurance companies have subsidiary companies that provide insurance after a DUI and coverage to motorists with poor driving records. In addition to getting quotes from the major carriers, you should also consider smaller car insurance companies that specialize in high-risk, or "non-standard," coverage. Here is a list of some well-known ones to consider:

This isn’t a complete list, but will give you a spring board if you are researching SR-22 insurance companies.

  • Dairyland
  • Safe Auto
  • Infinity
  • Direct
  • Progressive
  • Geico
  • The General
  • Allstate
  • State Farm
  • Nationwide

Raise your deductible: One way to lower your insurance costs is to put more skin in the game. If you can afford to double your deductible you should see a rate cut. Make sure you choose a deductible that you can easily afford in the event you have to make a claim on your policy.

What is non-owner FR44 insurance?

If you live in Florida or Virginia and your license has been suspended for a major driving violation, you will be required to provide an FR44 policy before they reinstate your license, regardless of whether you own a car or not, which is where non-owner insurance comes in.

Non-owner car insurance provides liability coverage up to the policy limits but doesn't offer coverages such as collision or comprehensive coverage because there is not a vehicle attached to the policy. Your insurer will file an FR44 with the non-owners policy which should let you get your license reinstated. As mentioned before, if you fail to make a payment, cancel the policy or let it lapse for any reason the FR44 will be revoked and your license will end up suspended again.