While there are number of prerequisites to establish when filing an occupational license, the most important yet unclear requirement regards insurance. The Texas Transportation Code requires that a judge order the petitioner to establish proof of insurance in accordance with Chapter 601 of the Transportation Code (the insurance statutes). This seems relatively clear and straight forward. However, Chapter 601 encompasses a range of ways and manners in which a person can establish insurance. Therefore, we have found that any particular judge could order any of the insurance requirements under Chapter 601 and still be within his/her powers to do so.
Chapter 601 requires that a person not operate a motor vehicle without first establishing proof of financial responsibility. There are many ways to establish this requirement such as purchase an automobile insurance policy from an insurance company. A person could file a surety bond that is approved by the state. A person could deposit cash or securities with the state comptroller or a county judge in an amount which meets state requirements for liability insurance. Or, a person could become a self-insurer if he qualifies under the law.
The insurance requirement for an occupational license could be satisfied with any option listed above if the judge approved. However, most judges we have been in front of requires that the person provide proof of SR-22 insurance. SR-22 insurance is often mislabeled as “high risk” insurance because in large part, the insurance is usually purchased because of a person’s past criminal behavior. In reality, SR-22 insurance is just another type of liability insurance which establishes state minimum coverage. The real difference between SR-22 and other types of insurance is that SR-22 requires that the insurance company directly notify the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) when the coverage is established and if and when changes occur to the policy. In other words, the insurance company has to do more work with SR-22 and therefore charges more money.
SR-22 is often a requirement for anyone whose license has been suspended due to failure to maintain financial responsibility, a.k.a. no insurance conviction. Or, a suspension for a judgment against the driver which was filed with the state for nonpayment. Therefore, some people will have to obtain SR-22 regardless of a judge’s personal preference.
Our advice is to obtain SR-22 insurance as soon as possible. We typically will not file a petition for an occupational license without a copy of SR-22 included in the file. The longer it takes a person to obtain SR-22 then the longer it takes to file for the occupational license. Get SR-22 insurance now and avoid any potential conflicts with the judge’s personal requirements.
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