What Factors Does California Law Allow in Determining Your Premiums?
Drivers who want cheap car insurance want to know how their premiums are calculated. If you know what goes into a calculation, you can hope to control where your rate lands.
There are many common data points insurance providers use in determining an appropriate car insurance rate for you. Below are some of the most common and influential. Fortunately for drivers in California, insurance providers are allowed to base their calculations on the following factors, but not others that are considered potentially discriminatory.
What is the Penalty for Driving Without Insurance in California?
Because California law requires car owners to have a minimum amount of insurance coverage, there are penalties if you are found driving uninsured or without proof of insurance. You will most likely at least need to pay fines for violating the California law, but you could also have your vehicle impounded and have to pay more to retrieve it.
Driving uninsured and driving without proof of insurance are both violations. Not having proof when asked for it during a traffic stop or accident is an administrative violation akin to driving without a seat-belt. Both will result in a fine. The simple mistake of not carrying proof of insurance is quite steep—it’s a $900 fine. By paying a fine of $25 and showing proof in traffic court, you may be able to get the charge dismissed. Always be sure to have proof of insurance on you and in your car.
Driving uninsured, though, is much more costly.
Even if you are in an accident and not-at-fault, you will still be cited for violating car insurance law, charged a fine, and penalized on your driving record. Plus, you won’t have an insurance provider to advocate on your behalf with the other at-fault driver’s insurance company. You’ll be responsible for retrieving your compensation which could take weeks or months.
There are more complications for uninsured motorists. California operates by a pure comparative negligence system, which means each driver is only liable for their percentage of fault. But it goes by a more specific name, No-pay No-play. Even in a not-at-fault accident, being an uninsured motorist will work against you. No-pay No-play means that you are not entitled to any non-economic damages like pain and suffering because you are uninsured. You may be able to recover the costs of repairs, though.
The exception to the No-pay No-play rule: In California and other states, an uninsured driver can sue an at-fault driver if the at-fault driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident.
Driving without insurance and causing an accident will put a driver in an even worse situation. The driver will have to pay fines associated with violating insurance law. And, because California is an at-fault state, they will also be responsible for the injuries and damages they’ve caused to themselves and the others involved. This could mean expensive health and repair bills.
At this point, if you are uninsured, we ask you to consider the possibility of bankruptcy and your potential of surviving one.
Your first offense driving without insurance will require you to pay a fine of $100-$200 and any penalty assessments. Further, your insurance rate will increase on average by 35%, approximately $650, which is more than having purchased the minimum mandatory insurance from the start.
Still more, you’ll be required to submit an SR-22 form, known as a certificate of financial responsibility, required by the state to verify you are carrying at least the state-mandated amount of car insurance.
Within three years of the initial offense, repeated offenses will fetch a fine of $200-$500 and penalty assessments.
These substantial penalties are there to encourage you to get insurance. Considering the enormous costs of penalties and liability, not having insurance is a very risky position in which to be.
Am I Required to Report an Accident in California to Authorities?
The short answer is: if someone is injured or killed due to a car accident you are involved in, you must make a written report within 24 hours of the accident.
According to California Vehicle Code section 20008, the report must be made with the California Highway Patrol or the City Police where the accident occurred. Although, if you file with any of those agencies, they will forward the matter to the proper jurisdictional authority for appropriate investigation.
Not reporting an accident is a misdemeanor. Failure to report a “reportable” accident could land you in jail for up to 6 months and lasso you with fines of $1,000 or more.
In such cases of injury or death, you will also need to inform the DMV. If no one is injured, but there is more than $1,000 worth of damages to vehicles or property, you will need to notify the DMV within 10 days.
Generally, there are no state laws that require you to inform your insurer about an accident; however, most providers have stipulations within their policies that require you to report any accidents. If you do not report within the timely manner laid out in the policy, then the insurer may have the right to cancel your policy. Likely, they will require a report within 24-48 hours.
Informing your insurance provider can work in your favor. Insurers want to get ahead of any claims that may come out of your accident. In order to give the best defense, they need to be informed as soon as possible. They can even help file the proper reporting paperwork with the state.
What is an SR-1 California Traffic Accident Report?
The DMV SR-1 California Traffic Accident Report is a required form by the California Vehicle Code that reports on the details of a traffic accident that result in injuries, death, or more than $1000 in damages. It can be filed by you, your legal representative, or your insurance agent, and it must be filed within 10 days of the accident, regardless if you are at-fault or not.