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What are the Car Insurance Requirements in California?

December 21, 2021 Car Accidents

All drivers are required to carry insurance to remain legal on the roadways of California. In fact, drivers in every state are required to carry insurance. Here, our personal injury lawyers in San Diego want to look specifically at the types and amounts of insurance that every driver must have before they get behind the wheel of their vehicle. Insurance is incredibly important and can help protect a person’s financial interests in the event an accident occurs.

California Car Insurance RequirementsCalifornia Car Insurance Requirements

Before you head out on the roadway, you have to have insurance. This should not come as a surprise to any driver in California. However, what may surprise individuals is how low the insurance requirements are for this state. In California, individuals must carry and maintain the following auto insurance types and minimums:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident minimum
  • Property damage liability coverage: $5,000 minimum

These numbers are relatively low and will not provide an extensive amount of coverage in the event an accident occurs. We strongly recommend that you examine your particular needs and acceptable levels of risk when working to determine how much auto insurance to purchase.

We do want to point out that California does not require drivers to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, though both of these types of coverages are incredibly beneficial.

  • Uninsured motorist coverage is designed to help pay expenses if you are struck by a driver without insurance.
  • Underinsured motorist coverage helps pay you if your injury and property damage expenses rise above the insurance limitations of the at-fault driver.

When you are purchasing auto insurance in California, we strongly suggest that you examine the costs of obtaining uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage as a part of your policy.

Penalties for Driving Without Auto Insurance in California

In California, drivers can face significant penalties if they operate vehicles without the required insurance. If an individual is pulled over and cited for your first offense of driving without insurance in this state, they will be ordered to pay a minimum fine of $100. However, this is not the only cost they will incur. Additional fees and penalty assessments could raise the fines to more than $450.

If an individual is convicted of a second or subsequent offense of driving without insurance within three years, they could face a minimum fine of $100 and a maximum fine of $500. With the fees and assessments on top of this base fine, the total costs could reach as much as $2,500.

In addition to these monetary funds, the police have the right to impound your vehicle. Getting your vehicle after it has been impounded will add to the costs.

The California DMV could suspend your driver’s license for operating without insurance. If this occurs, you will also have to provide an SR-22 form after you have been cited for driving without insurance. This is a proof of insurance certificate provided to the DMV by your insurance carrier if you seek to reinstate your license after it has been suspended or revoked. Unfortunately, paying for an additional SR-22 can be costly.

Finally, if you operate your vehicle without insurance and cause a vehicle accident, this could open you up to major civil penalties. You could face a personal injury or property damage civil lawsuit from the other party involved. If a lawsuit against you is successful, you may be ordered to pay significant damages out of your own pocket to the other party.