What Coverage Is Require Under California Insurance Laws?

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Perhaps you have just moved to California. Maybe you bought a car for the first time. Whatever your driving situation is, you probably know that you have to have insurance coverage. Not only is this required by California law, but it offers you protection in the event you are involved in an accident.

Understanding what kind of auto insurance is required by the state of California can be complicated. If you search the internet for the answer, you may find five or six different answers. Many of the responses are from the insurance companies themselves, though they use tactics to convince you the requirements are more than they really are.

What the law says about car insurance in California

In order to comply with the law in California, drivers are required to carry only liability coverage that is meant to compensate other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians who are injured or suffer from property damage by a car accident you cause.

The minimum requirements for coverage in this state are as follows:

  • $15,000 for injury or death to one person in an accident you cause
  • $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person in an accident you cause
  • $5,000 for damage to property in an accident you cause

This coverage will usually cover family members who are driving your vehicle or another person you give permission to drive your car. This coverage will also likely cover you in a rental car accident in California.

Why you may want to consider additional coverage

The minimums mentioned above are low. Though having that coverage will keep you legal, it may not be enough protection in the event of an accident.

What do we mean by that?

Simply put, car accidents can become expensive. During the latest reporting year in California, there were more than 273,000 total crash injuries, according to the state’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). It is not uncommon for accident victims to suffer from the following injuries as a result of the crash:

  • Broken and dislocated bones
  • Severe lacerations
  • Internal organ damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Whiplash injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Concussions

These personal injuries all require medical attention. Even relatively minor injuries can lead to thousands of dollars in medical bills. You may want to purchase additional liability coverage to cover any accident injuries and property damage in an accident you cause. Once your policy limits are exhausted in an accident, you are personally on the line for financial responsibility for a person’s medical expenses and property damages. You could face a personal injury lawsuit. For example, suppose you have the minimum coverage required by the state. If you cause an accident and injure two people and their medical expenses rise to $70,000, you could be on the line for the $40,000 that is over the bodily injury liability coverage you purchased.

You may also want to purchase collision coverage and medical payments coverage to pay for your own property damage (vehicle repair or replacement) and medical bills if you are in an accident. You will not get this coverage by paying for just the required liability minimums required by the state. California minimums for auto insurance offer no protection for a person who may cause an accident.