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What Are the Requirements for Car Insurance in California?

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Obtaining insurance in California can be a daunting task. You need it because it's required by the state. You want it because you know accidents happen no matter how careful you are. Yet, going through the process of actually obtaining it feels like more trouble than it's worth.

The first step to making the whole process easier and hopefully a little less scary is to fully understand what's required of. When you know the bare necessities, you can start there as a foundation and build on it if you wish.

What Is Required

The state of California requires that you cover the costs incurred from an accident, both in damage and injury. Therefore, liability insurance is the simplest and most common place to start off. Liability insurance is a narrow blanket which covers injury and death to one person ($15,000), injury and death to more than one person ($30,000), and damage of property ($5,000). Therefor, your insurance will claim liability and coverage on damages at a minimum of those amounts. These minimums will sometimes be referred to as 15/30/5.

What you need to understand about these price limits is that insurance has the duty to defend and cover you for damages (property of bodily) that you are responsible for UP TO the limit you pay. Therefore, by purchasing the minimum liability coverage, you run the risk of having to pay more money out of pocket in the event the damage totals surpass that of your policy amount minimums.

Recommend Vs. Required

Therefore, even though those policy amounts are known as the required minimums, they are the maximum amount of money your insurance company will pay in the event of an accident. For this reason, minimum coverage is not recommended unless it is all you can afford. However, if you are on a tight budget, imagine the financial stress should you be responsible for surpassing the minimum amounts.

Outside of the required property and bodily harm liability minimums, you have the option to expand your coverage, increasing monthly payments but decreasing your potential liability in the event of an accident.

Some options that exist for you but are not required by state law are as follows: comprehensive coverage for damages incurred in non-accidents, expanded collision coverage for your vehicle, medical and funeral coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in the event that the other party in the accident is not prepared, rental car coverage and towing and labor coverage.

It is required to have insurance for your vehicle in nearly every state. This may give you peace of mind as you shell out monthly payments. It's not an unfair California treatment but rather a baseline of safety for all driver's on the road.

Proof Of Insurance

Make sure you also keep proof of insurance with you in your vehicle at all times. This will be necessary if you are ever involved in an accident or pulled over for a traffic violation. It is also useful to have if your vehicle breaks down. Insurance companies have helplines available to call for advice from your agency on how to handle certain situations.

Images in order of Appearance: Unsplash, Unsplash

Krista Doyle