Car Insurance Policies in California
Car insurance can be a huge hassle, especially if you’re on a budget and aren’t sure what kind of coverage you need. This post is meant to be a basic guide for California drivers to determine what requirements must be met and how to choose the right insurance for your specific needs. Consulting with a personal injury attorney in Sacramento is a great first step in determining whether you have the right insurance or not.
In the state of California, drivers must be able to cover costs relating to property damage of physical injury that may occur in the case of a collision. The easiest way to cover this basic requirement is to purchase liability car insurance. Liability car insurance covers an individual in the case of a collision that is deemed to be their fault. It helps you pay for damage to another person’s car or medical costs should another person be injured in the collision. It is important to understand that liability insurance does not cover any costs of damage or injury to the person that holds this insurance. You must have specific minimums of coverage for various categories of injury and damage in the policy:
- $15,000 for injury or death of a single individual
- $30,000 for injury or death of multiple individuals
- $5,000 for damage to property
These are just minimum requirements for what your insurance would cover. If the damages are more extensive, you may be held liable for that extra cost. Every case is different so before you begin driving on the road, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Sacramento.
Not having car insurance can have serious consequences for the driver and his or her car. A car’s registration can be suspended if insurance isn’t updated or communicated to the DMV in a timely manner. Drivers will receive a letter notifying them of the suspension of a car’s registration. A car can be re-registered with proof of insurance for $14.
To meet the state requirements, you do not necessarily need to have insurance through a private company. Though this is the most common way to gain coverage, there are other options:
- A $35,000 cash deposit with the California Department of Motor Vehicles
- A certificate of self-insurance through the DMV
- A surety bond of $35,000 from any company licensed to do business in California
You also must have proof of whatever insurance you choose with you in the vehicle when driving. If you are pulled over and don’t have documentation proving you hold an insurance plan or are otherwise financially responsible, you could be fined hundreds of dollars and have your car impounded until proof of insurance is provided. A first offense can result in a fine of up to $200. After that, fines can be up to $300 for every subsequent offense within 3 years of a first offense. Proof of insurance is required in order to register your vehicle in the state of California, another thing you are legally obligated to do as a driving resident of California.
The document proving you have insurance will have the following information:
- Your name and the names of any other drivers on the same insurance plan
- The date of expiration of your insurance policy
- Car Make
- Car Model
- Manufacturing Year
- Safety Rating
- Car Value
If you have been involved in a car accident and a driver does not have insurance, speak with a personal injury attorney in Sacramento immediately.
California was one of a few states with no regulation on the insurance industry until 1988. Without regulation, costs for automobile insurance raised steeply and made it difficult for Californians to afford car insurance. Citizens voted for Proposition 103 in 1988, changing the auto insurance industry to cut their rats by 20% and subjecting increases in rates to approval by the Department of Insurance. Prop 103 also requires auto insurance companies to offer good driver discounts and bars companies from using an individual’s credit score to determine his or her insurance rate.
There are several other alternative insurance options in the state of California meant to make it easy for citizens to get and keep reasonable car insurance. The Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program aims to assist low-income individuals to get car insurance, and the California Automobile Assigned Risk Programs can provide insurance to individuals with very poor driving histories, among other assisting programs.
Minimums are just that – the bare minimum of financial coverage an individual is required to have in order to be on the road. Some individuals with specific needs may want to buy additional coverage. Below is a list of some additional insurance options you may find you need depending on your lifestyle:
- Collision coverage- insures against damage incurred during a collision with another car, an inanimate object, or in the case of a rollover. Unlike liability insurance, this insurance helps you cover damage to your own vehicle.
- Comprehensive coverage – insures against damages incurred outside the parameters of a car-to-car collision. This can include hitting wildlife, damage due to theft, vandalism, natural disasters, etc.
- Uninsured driver coverage – covers the cost of damage due to an uninsured driver (as much as 14% of California drivers, according to the Department of Insurance)
- Rental car coverage – personal insurance only covers your own car. This insurance will help cover costs in the case of an incident with a rental car. Usually offered by rental car companies.
Depending on your situation, speaking with a personal injury attorney in Sacramento might be the best first step in determining the best insurance policy.
Call a Personal Injury Attorney in Sacramento at the Weinberger Law Firm
With over 20 years of experience helping victims get the justice they deserve, we have the resources, dedication, and compassion to get you the compensation you deserve during this difficult time in your life.
Call (916) 299-8131 today for a free consultation with our auto accident lawyer in Sacramento regarding your auto accident injury case.