New car owners like you might live in of San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Nothing is more exciting than discovering California on the road through food, culture, tourism, or history. While these types of activities sound amazing, getting car insurance is an important and often overlooked first step.
In California, all motorists must carry proof of liability insurance anywhere they go. This legal requirement gives you financial protection from personal injury lawsuits and compensation claims if ever you get involved in a vehicular accident. Learn the know-how about California auto insurance coverage laws, requirements, and discounts in this article.
California Car Insurance Requirements
Below are the required minimum car insurance coverages in California:
Bodily injury – $15,000 per person
Total bodily injury – $30,000 per accident
Property damage liability – $5,000 per accident
California government offers a Low-Cost Auto Insurance Program so drivers-on-budget can get proof of liability insurance in the cheapest way possible. You may qualify for one if you meet the following requirements:
- Must have a maximum income of $29,425
- At least 19 years old
- Car’s value is $20,000 – $25,000
- Must hold a valid driver’s license in California
- Rules and Regulations
Fines and Penalties
Getting pulled over in California may end with a police officer requesting you to show your proof of liability insurance along with your vehicle registration and driver’s license. Otherwise, you may be charged with these violation fines:
First offense: $100 to $200
Second and succeeding offenses within 3 years: $200 to $500
Suspension of your Car Registration
The Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend your car registration if:
Information about your car insurance coverage is not submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles within one month since your car’s first registration.
You fail to replace your previous insurance coverage within 45 days after notifying the Department of Motor Vehicles of your insurance cancellation.
You commit insurance fraud.
Other Types of Proof of Financial Responsibility
Haven’t found the right insurance company yet? One way to meet the financial responsibility requirement in California is by preparing a $35,000 cash deposit to the Department of Motor Vehicles. This option allows you to obtain self-insurance certificate from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Another legal option is to get a $35,000 bond from a licensed issuer in California.
Optional Car Insurance in California
California is an “at-fault” state and applies the tort system when it comes to insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits. People who have sustained injuries from an accident may file claims to acquire compensation for their financial losses. Fortunately, Californians have multiple options as to how they can get their car insured extensively.
Here are several types of optional auto insurance coverage in California:
- Medical and funeral services
- Rental car
- Towing and labor
*Uninsured bodily injury and property damage
*Although not required in California, this type of coverage gives significant protection in the event of multiple collision. If you are an insured motorist, your insurance covers the following people:
- Person(s) driving or riding in your car
- Person(s) riding in a car you’re maneuvering but do not own
- Pedestrians hit by your car
- Factors that can Influence Rates
- The legal factors that can influence your car insurance rate include;
- Driving record
- Geographical location
- Age, gender, and marital status
- Car’s make/model
Vehicle usage (i.e. commute, personal use, business)
If your insurer is trying to charge you with higher premiums because of your bad credit history, know that it is illegal in California. You must report it to the Department of Insurance immediately.
California Car Insurance Discounts
Save money on your auto insurance purchase through the following discounts:
Defensive driving discounts – If your car is;
- Equipped with anti-theft devices (e.g. alarm system, vehicle recovery devices, etc.)
- Installed with anti-lock brakes
- Factory-installed passive restraint devices (e.g. seatbelts, air bags, among other safety features)
- Installed with Electronic Stability Control
Senior Defensive Driving – Drivers who are over 55 and have completed a Driver Safety Course approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles
Good Driver discount – You are qualified for a 20-percent discount if you;
- Have been holding a driver’s license for 3 years or more
- Have no claim record in the last 3 years
- Have not tallied more than a point in your driving record in the last 3 years
Multi-car – Insure 2 or more vehicles
Good Student – For students who have
- Less than nine years of driving experience
- Maintained a “B” or better grade
- Secured a Dean’s List slot
- Ranked among the top 20-percent of the class
Home insurance – Insure your home with insurance coverage and install safety features
California Car Insurance Quick Facts
Car theft – California is infamous for being the ‘car theft capital’ of the country. In 2011, California had suffered an economic loss of approximately $1 billion due to hundreds of thousands of stolen vehicles, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Most Stolen Cars for 2012 – Below are the ten most stolen cars in California:
- 1994 Honda Accord
- 1998 Honda Civic
- 1991 Toyota Camry
- 1994 Acura Integra
- 2004 Chevrolet Pickup full size
- 2006 Ford Pickup full size
- 1994 Nissan Sentra
- 2010 Toyota Corolla
- 1997 Nissan Altima
- 1988 Toyota Pickup 4×2
Proof of Insurance – Police officers do accept digital ID cards or insurance ID cards as proof of insurance. Make sure that your ID shows the following information:
- Car’s make/year/model
- Car’s safety rating
- Car’s market value
- Your name
- The name of any other person(s) who are also covered under your insurance policy
- Insurance policy’s expiration date
Insurance providers are also required to submit your complete insurance information electronically to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Once your information is retrieved, officers can then verify your records regularly.
Teen Drivers – At 15 and a half, teens in California may start learning how to drive. They must complete a driver training course before they become eligible for a provisional permit. At 18, teens may finally apply for a driver’s license through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Use of Mobile Phones – Texting while driving? A no-no in California, specifically for minors! You must be at least 18 or above to legally answer or make phone calls on hands-free mode while driving.