California Auto Insurance Requirements

All American drivers require auto insurance to legally drive, and every state has unique insurance requirements for drivers. California drivers need to make sure their policies offer at least the minimum required coverage, but having minimal coverage can be risky, especially in the event of a serious accident.

California follows a fault rule for car accident claims. Unlike no-fault states that require drivers to file insurance claims against their own policies after accidents, in fault states, a driver in a fault-based state has more flexible options. California drivers who suffer injuries or other damages from at-fault drivers may file an insurance claim against their own policies if desired, file a claim against the at-fault driver’s policy, or sue the at-fault driver in a personal injury lawsuit.

Minimum Coverage in California

California law requires that all drivers secure auto insurance policies that include:

  • At least $15,000 in coverage for death or injury.
  • At least $30,000 for injuries to multiple people or multiple fatalities.
  • At least $5,000 in property damage coverage.

Remember, these are the bare minimum requirements. It’s usually best to purchase additional coverage. In the event you are at-fault for an accident, your insurance claim will only cover the limit of your policy coverage. If your damages are more expensive, it will be up to you to pay the difference.

California drivers who do not wish to purchase insurance coverage may still legally drive, but only after making a cash deposit of at least $35,000 to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), obtaining a self-insurance certificate from the DMV, or purchasing a $35,000 surety bond from a licensed issuer.

Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Although not required by law, purchasing underinsured motorist or uninsured motorist coverage can be very beneficial in California. California has more drivers without insurance than most other states, and if you find yourself in an accident with an at-fault driver who has no insurance, you will need to look to your own policy for coverage. Most insurers will allow you to purchase underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage

Risks of Driving Without Insurance

The primary reason for purchasing auto insurance is to avoid incurring legal penalties for breaking the law. Any driver found behind the wheel without insurance faces fines, demerit points on his or her driver’s license, and possibly harsher penalties. Additionally, driving without insurance coverage means that if your car or personal property requires repairs or replacement after an accident, or if you suffer serious injuries, you will need to pay for those expenses yourself.

Additionally, insurance coverage can also help those who cannot return to work for some time after an accident. In most situations, a driver can file a claim against an at-fault driver for coverage and then file a claim against his or her own policy if the at-fault driver’s coverage is insufficient. A lawsuit against the at-fault driver can also help injured drivers recoup their losses after accidents. If you are unsure about your insurance requirements, or have recently been in an accident and are worried about insurance claim issues, reach out to a reliable Bakersfield car accident attorney for help.