A Quick Guide to California Minimum Car Insurance
In California, drivers are financially responsible for the consequences of the accidents they cause. To comply with California’s financial responsibility requirements, most motorists choose to carry liability insurance. The state requires vehicle owners to carry specified minimum liability coverage. Your liability insurance will compensate passengers, pedestrians, or other drivers who suffer personal injury or property damage in a crash you’ve caused or a crash caused by others who are covered under your policy.
Here are the minimum coverage requirements for car insurance in California:
- $15,000 for death or injury to one individual
- $30,000 for death or injury to more than one individual
- $5,000 for property damage
Take note that you can use alternative ways to prove financial responsibility. For instance, you can:
- Make a $35,000 deposit to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles
- Obtain a $35,000 surety bond
- Provide your certificate of self-insurance to the DMV
If you don’t have insurance coverage, you will not only be personally responsible for the damage you cause, but the California DMV can also impound your vehicle or suspend your license.
Moreover, in California, there are limits to what anyone who’s injured in a crash can do while suing the at-fault party or pursuing a claim. If you’re injured in an auto accident, you can pursue compensation for your loss or injuries by taking the following steps:
- File a claim through your insurance policy
- Seek a third-party claim
- Sue the at-fault driver for personal injury
It is important to note that in California, you don’t need to meet a given threshold to take any action outside the no-fault auto insurance system, which is the case in“no-fault” states.
Other Types of Insurance Coverage to Consider
The limits mentioned above are the minimum requirements for California car insurance liability coverage. However, meeting these minimum requirements may still leave you exposed to liability claims in the event of an accident, especially if you’re the at-fault party. Therefore, you should increase your coverage limits well above the minimum limits. Take note that if the claims exceed your policy’s limits, you’ll be personally responsible for the extra costs, meaning you could end up losing your personal assets and savings.
It is worth noting that the aforementioned minimum liability coverage limits exclude damage to your car and your own injuries resulting from an accident. For this reason, you should also carry other key supplemental insurance policies, including, among others:
- Collision coverage – covers the cost of repair or replacement of a damaged car after an auto accident
- Underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage – Provides financial protection if you’re involved in an accident with an individual whose coverage won’t cover your losses or someone who doesn’t have car insurance
- Medical payments coverage – Pays for medical expenses that are not covered by any of your other health insurance policies
- Towing/roadside assistance – Covers towing expenses resulting from a car crash
- Physical damage coverage – Pays for the damage to your vehicle regardless of who caused the accident. This includes both comprehensive and collision coverage. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage caused by non-accident incidents, like vandalism, whereas collision insurance covers the damage caused by a crash.
How to Get the Best Car Insurance Rates in California
Whether you choose to carry the minimum coverage or a more extensive policy, you should work with the experts to get the best rates. Here are a few useful tips on how to get the best rates:
- Good driver discount: You may get a good discount if you have a great driving record.
- Adjust deductible: You can decrease your monthly payments by increasing your deductible (that is, the amount you need to pay out of pocket before your policy kicks in).
- Consider your needs: Depending on your needs, you may not need full coverage.
- Maintain a clean driving record: Factors like DUI, speeding tickets, etc., can increase your car insurance rates.
Keep in mind that insurers charge different rates, and sometimes even policies offering similar coverage may have different prices. Furthermore, some insurance companies charge broker fees while others don’t. It’s therefore important that you compare quotes when looking to purchase insurance. It is worth noting that you don’t necessarily have to stick with the same policy forever. As your insurance needs change, you should compare the quotes offered by various providers again. Insurance rates often shift based on the claims made in the preceding year and the number of policyholders present in an area.
What Is California Low-Cost Program?
The law requires every driver in California to have liability insurance. However, if your income is low, you may be incapable of paying premiums for an auto liability insurance policy. The California Low-Cost Program helps drivers who can’t afford to pay for the state-mandated minimum liability insurance. To qualify for this program, you should meet the following requirements:
- The value of your vehicles should be $25,000 or less
- You should have a state-issued driver’s license
- You should be 16 years old or older
- Your annual income should be 250% or lower than the federal government’s specified poverty level
The liability limits of the low-cost program are lower than California’s minimum coverage limits, but they are in line with the state laws as long as you’re eligible for the program.
While this car insurance guide offers valuable insights on how to get a policy that’s ideal for you, you still need to work with experienced professionals who will help you find a policy that suits your specific budget and needs. For auto insurance in Beaumont, CA, that adequately protects you, contact our experts at Little & Sons Insurance Services today!