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    The Ins and Outs of California Auto Insurance Requirements

    By Fernando C | July 28 2020

    You’re finally taking that road trip up PCH1 that’s been calling your name. But before you pack up the car (and kids), consider taking a look at your insurance policy to make sure you’re all set to hit the road safely. 

    We’ve compiled a few of the things to know about California auto insurance requirements and some details on how to make sure you’re covered from Dana Point to the San Francisco Bay.

    Minimum Liability Must-Knows

    It is required by law that drivers carry at least some type of car insurance in almost every state. However, California requires a “financial responsibility” requirement by all residents of the state. Below you will find the different types of coverage required by California state law. 


    • Bodily Injury Liability Coverage: 


    This insurance coverage is designated to pay for the medical costs and lost wages due to certain injuries sustained in the accident that is not the injured person’s fault.  


    • $15,000 per person minimum 
    • $30,000 per accident minimum 
    • Property Damage Liability Coverage: 


    This coverage pays for the damages done to the other person’s property from a car accident. 

        • $5,000 minimum required by law


    • Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage:


        • $15,000 per person minimum
        • $30,000 per accident minimum


    • Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage: 


      • $3,500 minimum 

    Since California is a tort state, meaning the driver needs to be found at-fault for their insurance policy to pay for the damages incurred. Meaning that a witness or investigation report needs to determine the fault before the insurance provider disperses any payments. 

    Did you know– your liability coverage will still work if any family members are driving your vehicle or if you’ve given someone else permission to drive your vehicle. The same goes for getting into an accident with a rental car in California. 

    California: Your Fault- You Pay

    Accidents happen without planning for them. It’s never the best outcome when the accident is your fault too. California is an “at-fault” state meaning that if you are the driver and cause an accident you are financially responsible for the damages.

    If you’ve been injured in a car accident as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian under an at-fault system, the options for taking action are not limited when it comes to getting compensated for your losses. Here are a few:

    • File a claim under your auto insurance policy
    • Enlist a third-party claim through the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage
    • File a personal injury lawsuit against the driver at-fault

    New to the Sunshine State? Read this: 

    You’ve finally made the move to the West Coast- congratulations! Now, its time to crank the engine and explore, right? Not just yet. If you’ve just moved to the state of California, there are a few things you need to know to be in good standing with the rules and regulations. 

    California Deductible Waiver: 

    Let’s say you have preexisting collision coverage on your car. This automatically makes you eligible for the California Deductible Waiver. This waiver determines that your insurance company will pay the predicted collision deductible on your vehicle if an uninsured driver causes an accident.

    Listen Up! 

    Did you just receive a letter that your car’s registration may be canceled? If the state of California can’t confirm that you have insurance on your car, this letter may make its way into your mailbox real soon. Confirming the state has your correct VIN on file in case you coverage lapses is crucial to preventing the disappearance of your car’s existence on PCH1. 

    Proof of Insurance Coverage 

    This may sound like common sense but many people don’t carry this card-like object in their vehicles and incur a very hefty consequence for it. Drivers are required to keep proof of insurance with them when they’re behind the wheel of the car. You’re in luck that California has fortunately allowed for the use of electronic documents to prove insurance coverage through the California Vehicle Code. 

    If you’re involved in an accident or stopped for a traffic violation and you cannot prove you have insurance on your vehicle, the officer can hand you a hefty fine.

    • $100 – $200 1st offense
    • $200 – $500 for each subsequent violation within 3 years of the first. 

    The moral of the story folks- don’t text and drive but do save your documents in your notes on your iPhone. 

    Now, peer into your rearview mirror and continue that drive up PCH1 knowing you have all you need, including adequate insurance coverage in California. Continue to update your policies and check back in with the California Driver Handbook to make sure you’re in good shape to take that next road trip.

    Happy Travels!