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California Car Insurance Types and Minimum Coverage Requirements

California car insurance minimum requirements are coverage limits that every driver must be aware of. In addition to these minimum standards, you will probably want to add some additional riders (coverage options) to fully ensure that you are able to take the financial hit in the case of an accident. Here are the facts you need to know in order to make sense of the auto insurance policies you are offered.

California Car Insurance Coverage Requirements
You may see the minimal requirements for CA coverage listed as 15/30/5. What this translates to is that you must have insurance in place that will cover $15,000 per person for any bodily injuries to those in the other vehicle, $30,000 in bodily injury per each accident, and $5,000 worth of property liability coverage to cover the car and possessions of the other party. Due to today's extremely high repair costs, if you damage a 2010 Infiniti QX56 that would eat right through the $5,000 minimum coverage for damage to the vehicle. Today's economy calls for obtaining more than the minimum insurance coverage.

Clearly, none of this does anything for your car, or for injuries to you or anyone else who is riding with you. That's one good reason that you should have coverage above this basic amount. To cover your own car and medical expenses in the case of an accident you will need to obtain collision and comprehensive insurance. We'll also discuss the value of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

  • Collision will cover damage to your car or vehicle. This is the current value, not replacement value. So, if your car is old and not worth much money you may want to forgo this one. Of course, if you have a loan out on the vehicle, the bank will probably require you to have collision on it.
  • Comprehensive coverage will help you pay for damage to your vehicle from some acts of nature as well as things like theft or getting hit by a deer.
  • Uninsured Coverage- There is also no requirement for California drivers to have uninsured or underinsured Motorist Coverage. So if you are hurt or your car is damaged by a driver without the proper protection, don't look to your insurance to cover the costs.

However, because California is a tort state, as opposed to a "no-fault" state, you do have the right to sue the driver who caused the accident. Of course, this can work against you as well. If you or someone on your insurance plan causes an accident then the injured person can file a claim against you for things like lost wages and additional injuries that are not covered by your mandatory liability coverage. That is why experts recommend that most people should have liability insurance amounts in place far above the required minimums.

The laws governing California car insurance say that you have to prove you have the means available to pay for the damages that result from an accident you cause. Without insurance your options are to give the California Department of Motor Vehicles a deposit of $35,000, to give them a surety bond in that same amount, or to own a fleet of vehicles that will make you eligible for self insurance. For most drivers, auto insurance makes the most sense.

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