Every state within the United States has different laws pertaining to car insurance minimums and requirements. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Public Utilities Commission set the requirements for car insurance within California. These requirements are mandated by law and are required to obtain vehicle registration within the state. If you don't follow the auto insurance laws, you run the risk of having your license suspended, vehicle possessed, high fines, and even criminal charges. This is to say if you don't get in an accident. If you get in an accident and don't meet the requirements, you can face an extreme financial burden and be left holding the full costs of the accident.
In the state of California, private passenger vehicles are required to have minimum liability insurance, as outlined in California Insurance Code (§11580.1b). The minimum 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.
Liability insurance covers a person other than the policy holder in the event of personal injury or property damage. Comprehensive, also known as collision insurance does not cover these types injuries or damages. Comprehensive insurance will cover damages out of your control, such as fire, vandalism, theft or natural disasters.
In California, if you cannot afford the minimum liability car insurance coverage, individuals may qualify for the California Low Cost Auto Insurance Program. Specific details of this program can be found out by visiting your local DMV office.
When registering a vehicle, if involved in an accident, or when requested by law enforcement, you may be required to fully disclose your car insurance coverage. In addition to your insurance card, the DMV may require the following documentation:
- A DMV authorized letter
- California Proof of Insurance Certificate (SR-22)
- Evidence that the vehicle is owned or leased by the individual stated
- A Notification of Alternative Forms of Financial Responsibility
- A statement of facts or affidavit which makes claim of meeting insurance requirements
Following the California insurance laws doesn't have to break the bank, every six months or so, It can be a good idea to get new quotes based on your current record. Every 3 years, accidents and traffic tickets drop off your record. In addition, as you get older, gain more driving experience, change jobs, re-locate, your car insurance costs can decrease. Online websites have made it easy for consumers to compare rates and receive quotes from insurance providers in their area that know the laws and can offer the biggest discounts.
At the end of the day, it's important to be sure you're fully insured based on the state requirements to avoid unnecessary expenses and risk facing civil and even criminal charges.