What Is The Minimum Car Insurance Required In California?

Close up of the front of a white car

Whether you're a seasoned driver or a newcomer to the open road, understanding the car insurance requirements for where you live is crucial for keeping yourself and others safe in the event of an accident. In this blog post, we'll outline the specifics of what you need to know about the minimum car insurance required in California, ensuring you're prepared for whatever may be ahead.

What is car insurance?

Car insurance is essentially a contract between you and an insurance company that helps to cover financial losses in case of an accident, theft, or other unexpected events involving your car. In exchange for paying a premium, the insurance company agrees to provide financial protection as outlined in your policy. This protection typically includes coverage for property damage, bodily injury liability, and sometimes medical expenses or legal fees. Car insurance is not only a legal requirement in most places but also a practical necessity for protecting yourself, your passengers, and your vehicle on the road.

What are the car insurance requirements in California?

Under California law, vehicle owners must carry auto liability insurance to cover potential accidents they might cause. In such an event, the insurance pays the medical bills, lost wages, car repair expenses, and other damages incurred by the other party up to the limits specified in the at-fault driver's policy.

The minimum liability insurance requirement (per California Insurance Code §11580.1b) is 15/30/5. This means the insurance will pay up to:

  • $15,000 for the death or bodily injury of any one person
  • $30,000 for the death or bodily injury of any two or more people
  • $5,000 for property damage

Many car insurance companies in California provide liability insurance with limits that exceed 15/30/5. This extra coverage is optional, meaning you can opt for it. While the higher the limits you choose, the more expensive the policy becomes, you get more protection and are at far less risk of large out-of-pocket expenses. Most insurance companies offer additional coverage options protecting drivers, passengers, and vehicles.

What are the consequences of driving without insurance in California?

Driving without insurance in California can lead to severe consequences. If you're caught driving without insurance, you may face fines, the suspension of your driver's license, and even the impoundment of your vehicle. Additionally, if you're involved in an accident while uninsured, you could be held personally liable for any damages or injuries resulting in significant financial hardship. 

Other Types of Coverage You May Want:

In addition to liability coverage, car insurance providers typically offer various additional coverage options to increase protection for drivers and their vehicles. Some common types of additional car insurance coverage available in California include:

  1. Collision Coverage: This coverage helps pay for repairs to your vehicle if it's damaged in a collision with another car or object, regardless of who is at fault.
  2. Comprehensive Coverage: Comprehensive coverage protects damage to your vehicle caused by events other than collisions, such as theft, vandalism, natural disasters, or hitting an animal.
  3. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: This coverage helps pay for your medical expenses and property damage if you're involved in an accident with a driver without insurance or insufficient coverage. *We strongly recommend this coverage, especially in California.
  4. Medical Payments Coverage: Medical payments coverage helps cover medical expenses for you and your passengers if you're injured in a car accident, regardless of who is at fault.
  5. Personal Injury Protection (PIP): PIP coverage is similar to medical payments coverage but may also cover other expenses, such as lost wages and funeral expenses, depending on the policy.
  6. Rental Reimbursement Coverage: This coverage helps pay for the cost of renting a vehicle while your car is being repaired due to a covered loss.
  7. Roadside Assistance/Towing Coverage: This coverage provides assistance if your vehicle breaks down or you need towing services while on the road.

These additional coverage options can provide valuable financial protection and peace of mind in various situations beyond the basic liability coverage required by law. Reviewing your insurance needs carefully and considering adding these coverages based on your circumstances and preferences is essential.

Changes in Car Insurance Auto Minimum Requirements

Recently passed Senate Bill 1107 is making a significant change in the California minimum limits for auto insurance. Signed by Governor Newsom in late 2023, SB 1107 will increase the minimum car insurance limits on January 1, 2025, to $50,000 for bodily injury or death per person. It will change the minimum global limit to $100,000 for injury or death per accident, and property damage will increase to $25,000 per accident. These limits will remain in effect for ten years. Then, on January 1, 2035, they will increase again.

This marks progress in the outdated insurance laws that now inundate California. Before the enactment of SB 1107, the minimum limits were $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident, and $5,000 for property damage. As one could expect, $15,000 barely covers any medical treatment in today's economy. Likewise, $5,000 in property damage auto coverage won't cover a new car's rear bumper. This increase in auto liability coverage will help all drivers on the road remain protected when a car accident occurs.

Contact Chandler Law for a free case evaluation.

Our commitment is to provide compassionate and expert legal guidance to those in need. If you are in a situation where you require assistance after an accident or are facing difficulties with your insurance company, don't hesitate to reach out to us for a free evaluation of your case. Our experienced team is here to advocate for your rights and help you navigate the complexities of personal injury law.

Schedule a free case evaluation with a Fresno personal injury accident attorney at Chandler Law by contacting us at (559) 825-2318. Hablamos español.

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