The original law of car insurance in California is; “All drivers and all owners of a motor vehicle shall at all times be able to establish financial responsibility and shall at all times carry in the vehicle evidence of the form of financial responsibility in effect for the vehicle”. So those who do not comply with this law may be fined. Their licenses are suspended and their vehicles could be impounded. Remember, driving is a privilege, not a right.
The easiest way to comply with this law is to have car insurance. So driving without insurance is illegal in California and You cannot register your vehicle without car insurance liability coverage. If you buy auto insurance or stop paying your premium, your insurance company will notify the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). After you take out car insurance, your insurance company will send you a card to show proof of insurance. On that card, it shows the insured vehicles, the policy owner, the names of the people who can use the vehicles, the policy number, and the start-end dates. You need to keep this card in your car.
Apart from car insurance, there are several other ways to demonstrate financial liability. For more information, go to the DMV website
Minimum Car Insurance Liability Coverage and Limits in California
By law, to drive in California, auto policy coverages cannot be less than the minimum limits below. So You may be sued for additional costs and you may lose your savings or even your home as a result of the lawsuit. If you cause an accident that exceeds the liability limit. We recommend that you choose policies higher than these limits.
Minimum Bodily Injury( BI) Liability Limits in CA
- $15,000 for the death or injury of any one person. If one person is injured in the accident, your coverage pays up to $15,000.
- A total of $30,000 for the death or injury of more than one person in any one accident. If 2 or more people are injured, the coverage pays up to $30,000. The coverage will not pay more. The injured people share the money.
- This coverage applies to injuries that you cause to someone else.
Minimum Property Damage (PD) Liability Limits in CA
- $5,000 for damage to the property of other people.
- This pays for damage you cause to someone else’s car, or to objects and structures that your car hits.
Auto Insurance Optional Coverages in California
Uninsured Motorist Coverage ( UMC) / Underinsured Motorist Coverage ( UIM)
Uninsured Motorist Coverage ( UMC) / Underinsured Motorist Coverage ( UIM) covers you if you get into an accident with a driver who doesn’t have any liability insurance or has less than damage coverage. In such cases, if you have UMC or UIM Car Insurance coverage Types, your insurance company will pay you coverage even though the other party is at fault. Under California law, the Insurance company must offer you this coverage. If you don’t want to buy, you must sign a form called a waiver. The form says, they offered coverage, but you didn’t want it.
- Uninsured driver bodily injury ( UMBI): This covers bodily injury to you and anyone else in your car as a result of an accident with a faulty uninsured driver. Its limits are the same as your liability coverage limits.
- Uninsured driver property damage ( UMPD): This pays for damage to your vehicle as a result of an accident in which an uninsured driver was at fault. The limit is $3,500. If you have collision Coverage, You may not need it.
Car Insurance Medical Payments Coverage in CA
Medical Payments Coverage covers the cost of emergency medical care if whoever is at fault injured you or your passengers. The minimum limit is $1,000 for each person injured.
Physical Damage Coverage
Physical Damage Coverage covers, damage to your vehicle that is not covered by liability insurance. There are 2 types, Collision and Comprehensive coverages, These coverages provide compensation based on the market value of your vehicle. If your vehicle value is low, we do not recommend buying it:
- Collision coverage: Collision covers damage to your vehicle when you collide with another vehicle or object.
- Comprehensive coverage: It covers damage to your vehicle due to reasons other than collision, such as fire, theft, vandalism, storm, flood, falling objects, etc.
Extra car insurance Coverages (Endorsements and Riders) in California
- Insurance for extra equipment such as CD players, special wheels, navigation systems, and mobile phones.
- Insurance for Towing and road service.
- car rental coverage insurance while your car is being repaired after an accident.
In California car insurance isn’t cheap. You can insure your vehicle with an average monthly premium of $80. According to NerdWallet’s analysis, the average cost of full coverage car insurance in California is $2,005 per year or about $167 per month, That’s 25% higher than the national average. Of course, your auto insurance cost will depend on many different factors including your age, where you live, and your driving history. In California, you have to pay an average of $629 per year for minimum coverage, but you can find cheaper car insurance policies. For example, Geico car insurance offers car insurance with minimum coverage to a 35-year-old driver with a clean driving record, with an annual premium of $377. click to see detailed Car Insurance Quotes in California.
Car insurance in California for low-income (CLCA)
According to California law, every driver is required to have vehicle liability insurance. However, paying a premium can be difficult if your income is low. In such cases, California has a program to help you. California’s Low-Cost Car (CLCA) Insurance program helps eligible drivers get auto insurance that meets their state’s liability laws. Each policy provides liability coverage for the vehicle’s primary driver and eligible secondary drivers. Each individual vehicle owner can purchase separate policies to insure two vehicles per person under this program.
Requirements for Eligibility to the CLCA Program
- Have a Valid California Driver’s License
- Meet Income Eligibility Guidelines, Your annual income must be 250% or less of the federal poverty level. this level is calculated on your daily income based on the number of households and for this year( 2024) are; 1 person => $34,200, 2 people => $44,550, 3 people => $55,900, 4 people => $66,250 and 5 people => $77,600. your daily income should be less than theirs.
- Own a Vehicle Valued at $25,000 or Less
- Be at Least 16 Years of Age
- Have a Good Driving Record
CLCA Coverages, Rates, Premiums, and Quotes?
The liability coverage that you must buy in a CLCA policy:
- The bodily Injury Limit for each Person/Accident is $10,000/$20,000.
- Property Damage Limit is $3,000
you can also buy additional coverage. For an extra charge:
- The uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Limit for each Person/each Accident is 10,000/$20,000
- Medical Payment Limit is $1,000
With this state-wide program, wherever you live in California, you’ll find these policies more affordable than what most private plans offer. Annual Premiums related to County, driver’s license, and age, the Annual Premiums range from $263 to $966. Click for more information.
The California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP)
The California Auto Assigned Risk Plan is also referred to as California’s non-standard car insurance market. it provides the opportunity to purchase car insurance for those who cannot afford car insurance in the normal market (low-income people or high-risk drivers). Affordable car insurance Quotes are offered within the framework of the CLCA application for people with low income and difficulties in paying normal car insurance premiums(1).
The other service of this institution is to provide car insurance to high-risk drivers that no insurance company accepts them. Each insurer has its own risk assessment method, the more accidents you have had in the past, the higher the risk class they will assign you and the higher your insurance costs will be. If you fall into a higher-than-normal risk category, they will probably refuse to insure you. Drivers who are (but are not limited to) in the following situations may fall into the Risk driver classes:
- Less than three years of driving experience
- Drivers under 25
- Multiple speeding tickets on record
Criteria to qualify for CAARP car insurance in California
That’s where CAARP comes in and lets you buy insurance. CAARP is not an insurer. the non-profit organization AIPSO administrating the CAARP, a government program. The AIPSO organization derives its revenue from a percentage of the revenues of insurance sold by companies that sell car insurance in California. The more car insurance companies sell, the more they pay AIPSO. Unlike traditional insurance programs, the car insurance that CAARP offers is almost exclusively limited to liability insurance. High-risk drivers who want to take advantage of CAARP support, should call or speak to a CAARP representative. There are several criteria required to qualify for CAARP:
- Have a valid California driver’s license
- Owning a vehicle not worth more than $25,000
- be at least 19 years old