California's auto insurance law

All California drivers and owners must have at least the statutory limits of minimum liability insurance or an approved alternative way to pay for injury or property damage they may cause. Fines are high for non-compliance if you are ticketed for no proof of insurance and then cannot substantiate that you had insurance in court.

California’s Compulsory Financial Responsibility Law requires every driver and owner of a motor vehicle to be financially responsible for their actions.  The statutory minimum limits of liability insurance in California are as follows:

Bodily Injury

Property Damage

Establishing Financial responsibility (Doesn't have to be with auto insurance)

There are four ways to accomplish financial responsibility:

  1. Coverage by a motor vehicle or automobile liability insurance policy;
  2. A cash deposit of $35,000 with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV);
  3. A certificate of self-insurance issued by DMV to owners of fleets of more than 25 vehicles; or
  4. A surety bond for $35,000 obtained from an insurance company licensed to do business in California.

All California drivers and owners must have at least the statutory limits of minimum liability insurance or an approved alternative way to pay for injury or property damage they may cause.  Penalties are very severe for non-compliance with this section of the vehicle code.

When your car is in an accident for which you are found legally liable, bodily injury (BI) liability covers your liability to others for injuries to them. Property damage (PD) liability covers your liability for damage to someone else’s property.

A policy with bodily injury of $15,000/$30,000 and property damage of $5,000 will pay out as follows:

Comprehensive coverage (other than collision), uninsured motorist, medical payments and collision insurance are not required by law.

Automobile Insurance Resources - Where to Call When You Need Assistance

California Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program
For more information about this state-sponsored plan for low-income drivers, call (800) 622-0954

California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP)
For more information about the State’s insurance plan for high-risk drivers, call (800) 622-0954

California Department of Insurance
300 South Spring Street, South Tower
Los Angeles, CA 90013
800-927- HELP (4357)

California Department of Motor Vehicles
2415 1st Avenue Mail Station F101
Sacramento, CA 95818
800-777-0133

California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan
595 Market St., #1250
San Francisco, CA 94105
(800) 622-0954 Toll-free within California only.

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