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Liability Auto Insurance in California

Illustration of Liability Auto Insurance in California

California drivers must have auto insurance and carry proof of coverage. Law enforcement will request proof of insurance if you are in an accident or at the Department of Motor Vehicles when renewing vehicle registration. It’s best to keep a copy of your coverage with you at all times.

Drivers receive penalties for driving without insurance in California and other states across the country. For first-time offenders, penalties from $100-$200 will be applied, along with additional fees that could total $450. Second-time offenders may face fines from $200-$500, again with other possible penalties.

Paying fines and additional penalties for driving uninsured my very well cost more than paying for an actual car insurance premium. The links below provide information regarding California’s auto insurance requirements.


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Know the Law About California Liability Auto Insurance

Stay informed. Review the latest California driving laws:

What is the Minimum Liability Car Insurance You Need in California?

Should you be in an accident and found to be at-fault for causing the crash, liability coverage protects you against claims from other drivers involved. If you are uninsured, you may be responsible for repairs and or medical bills.

Liability coverage is the minimum car insurance requirement in the state of California. Drivers must have coverage that meets or exceeds $15,000/$30,000/$5,000.

    • $15,000 for injury/death to one person.
    • $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person.
    • $5,000 for property damage.

Full coverage, which includes comprehensive collision and liability, is not required in California. Liability insurance coverage fulfills the state mandates for drivers. However, is liability coverage enough protection? Most likely, it is not.

Is the Minimum Liability Car Insurance in California Enough Protection?

Many drivers struggle with the cost of insurance premiums. But the benefits far outweigh the consequences of driving uninsured. The average California minimum car insurance policy, 15/30/5, costs $611.

Instead of focusing on what you’re paying, look at what you’re protecting. Is $611 still too much? To understand the benefits of holding car insurance, let’s look at the protection you’d have with coverage and two worst-case scenarios with no insurance.

Over a lifetime, even cautious drivers will have fender-benders. Distractions, road hazards, and other drivers not following the rules-of-the-road can result in major and minor accidents. If everyone walks away without injuries, medical bills will not be a concern in a minor collision. If the property damage is slight and the vehicle is not a high-end automobile, damages may be less than California’s $5,000 minimum coverage.

In this case, the minimum coverage looks adequate. However, according to the 2019 Insurance Information Institute, the average property damage claim was $4,525. They based the costs on repairs done on a Chevy Malibu. Since that report was published, trending costs have doubled since 2010. Imagine if the accident had involved a Ferrari or BMW. The repair costs would most definitely exceed the liability minimum.

Now, let’s look at an accident where your minimums exceed your policy, and there are injuries and property damage involved. Bodily injures accompanied by damage to property can result in high medical bills and costly repairs. ICU stays alone are $3,000 or more per night. You’d be held responsible for any expense above the insurance coverage limit. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average bodily injury claim is $18,417. Minimum coverage will help, but you will still be held accountable for the remaining $3,417.

There are several expenses you should be aware of: fees and penalties associated with the collision, costs for repairing your car, and any medical expenses generated as a result of the accident. To determine how much car insurance coverage you need, consider the following:

    • What are the associated costs if you’re held liable for the other driver’s car repairs or property damages?
    • If there are bodily injuries, will you have enough coverage?
    • What are the average court fees, traffic ticket fines, or other expenses associated with an accident?
    • What would it cost to repair or replace your car?
    • Will you be able to cover your medical bills?
    • If you have to be out of work, how much will you lose in the way of salary?

Insurance premiums do not cover state fines or penalties. Also, under the minimum protection, your car repairs and medical costs will not be covered by the policy. Do you have enough in your bank accounts to pay what becomes out-of-pocket expenses?

It makes good sense to carry the best possible car insurance coverage. It may cost more than the minimum limits, but in the long run, it’s worth the peace of mind of knowing you’re protected. After reviewing the worst-case examples provided, you can see that you are putting your finances at significant risk without that protection.


Get a Custom Liability Auto Insurance Quote in California Today!

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Insurance is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and other drivers while on the road. More than just a legal requirement, great coverage from Freeway will keep you from being held responsible for costly medical and car repair expenses should you be involved in an accident. Get started with a quote online, visit us at a California office near you, or call us at (800) 777-5620 for a quote.