Getting to know the laws and regulations in a state is vital as it helps you to maintain your driving privilege. These rules vary from one state to another. In this article, we will be covering the state of California.
Are you planning to move to the great state of California, or you are already a resident and intend to drive? Well, it is a must for you to prove that you are capable of taking the financial obligation for any accidents you may be involved in or may cause. The four ways to do this include:
- Buying an auto insurance policy. The amount chosen for a collision or comprehensive varies. However, there are minimum charges set for this liability. They are:
1) $5,000 for property damage for an accident.
2) $30,000 for each individual in any one accident.
3) $15,000 for the injury or death of any individual in one accident.
- Offer the Motor Vehicles Department a cash deposit of $35,000. The deposit is held and used when an accident occurs. In case the entire deposit is used through an accident, it must be paid again.
- People with fleets of over twenty-five cars can get a certificate of self-insurance from the Motor Vehicles Department.
- The last option is to obtain a $35,000 security bond which can be bought from any insurer who is licensed to do business in California.
Operating a vehicle without meeting any of the above methods for showing financial responsibility is considered illegal. One offense can cause you to get your driver’s license suspended. But, not many people can afford to pay $35,000 (they prefer to invest it). So, purchasing an insurance policy is always the most suitable solution.
Things to know about auto insurance in California
In California, the damages caused by accident are paid by the insurer of the person who is at fault during the accident. Some states are no-fault states and the insurance of each driver usually pay for the damages; but that’s not the case here.
A driver needs to maintain liability coverage. The minimum coverage requirements are $ 30,000 for injury in one accident, $15,000 for injury on each person, and $5,000 for any damaged property.
This state has some of the most expensive auto insurance rates in the country. Premiums average at $1,433. This is the main reason it’s important to get a great deal. You have to compare the rates offered by top insurers and opt for the policy that will suit your needs.
Insurance rates will vary from one city to the other and even from a zip code to another. For instance, the auto insurance rates in Los Angeles are very expensive. An average premium can be worth $2,400.
Uninsured drivers and their penalties
Even though it is forbidden to drive without insurance in the sunny state of California, research has shown that almost 15% of drivers in the state are uninsured. As a result, many drivers purchase uninsured motorist coverage so that they can protect themselves in case an uninsured driver hits their car.
An uninsured driver faces severe penalties such as suspension of license, fines, and vehicle impounding. The uninsured driver can’t sue for pain and suffering according to the California Proposition 213 even if the accident wasn’t their fault. It’s always better and safe to pay for insurance.
Many states use your credit history to determine the auto insurance premiums. This practice is banned in California, and that’s why an insurer cannot use credit history to dictate the car insurance premiums.
When buying an auto insurance policy, it is crucial for you to understand the terms used. Some of the most important ones are:
Auto policy – this is the contract between you and the insurance company. The contact explains your costs, coverages (things covered by your policy) and exclusions (things not covered by your policy).
Property damage – this is the coverage amount available if you happen to be liable for the accident and the other driver’s property is damaged. This may include their vehicle or any other property.
Bodily injury – this is the coverage amount available if you happen to be liable for the accident and the other driver is injured.
Medical payments – this is the coverage that includes medical expenses regardless of the person who was at fault in causing the accident.
Underinsured/uninsured – this coverage is for you if you happen to be in an accident caused by a driver who isn’t insured or doesn’t have enough coverage.
Comprehensive – this is the coverage amount available for your own car for any other reason like theft, fire, hail and flood. Most insurers offer deductibles for Comprehensive coverage.
Collision – this is the coverage amount available for your own vehicle, irrespective of fault. It is only meant for your car and will not cover bodily harm or another vehicle involved in the accident.
Factors to consider when buying your insurance
Vehicle policies will differ a lot depending on your driving experience, age, the number of accidents you have been involved in or whether you have any military connection. Different insurers will offer different rates for each category. So, conduct a thorough research to know the best option you should take.
If you are not sure of what is best, consider discussing your insurance needs with your agent, broker or insurer openly. They will help you understand each policy, but it’s your responsibility to make the last choice. Your broker or agent must be licensed to sell insurance by the state.
Understand your auto policy before buying it. Read it carefully to know what is covered and what isn’t.
Before you can settle on any policy, ensure that you get several quotes. A quote will estimate your premium cost. Be sure to compare the quotes before buying a policy.
Lastly, review your policy after buying it. The information should be correct and what you needed. In case you find an error, contact the insurance company immediately to rectify the problem. Share this report with your broker or agent by giving them a copy of the documents you get.