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California Car Insurance Guide

Navigating the Californian car insurance waters can be hard. To help you on your way, we've compiled this guide that lists everything you need to know so that you can easily get the car insurance plan that fits your personal needs - at the lowest rate. 

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Minimum Requirements In California

In the state of California, you are required to have car insurance to drive. The minimum required coverages will provide protection in the event of an accident. Here we have listed the minimum required car insurance and the limits for California:


Bodily injury to others

$15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident.

Property damage liability

$5,000 per accident.

Beware, the minimum does not cover your vehicle or expenses, just the opposing party.


Do I Need More Than The Minimum?

The answer to this question depends on how much money you want to be responsible for out-of-pocket. Think for a moment about how much it costs to fix a vehicle. In most cases $5,000 could be enough for a small repair, however, for larger repairs, you will be responsible for paying them yourself. Also, factor in hospital costs, if someone is injured and you are at fault an overnight stay in the hospital is in the ballpark of $15,000 depending on the procedures, etc.


What Types Of Policies Are Available in California?

Here is a list of additional policy options with information regarding how they protect you:

  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists- Optional coverage that protects you if you are involved in an accident with a driver who has no insurance or too little insurance to cover the accident.

  • Collision Coverage- Collision insurance will cover repairs to your vehicle in an accident you are at fault for.

  • Comprehensive Coverage- Comprehensive insurance covers you for other situations than a car accident; if you hit an animal, vandalism, fire, hail, flooding, or of your car is stolen.

  • Medical Coverage- Optional coverage that will pay for medical bills when health insurance exceeds coverage amounts and covers medical expenses for you and your passengers. Do you walk or bike? This policy offers additional coverage if you are struck by a car in those instances.

  • Gap Insurance- Optional coverage that will pay if you don’t own your car outright and have an accident. Gap insurance will pay the difference between the cash value of your car and the current balance on your loan or lease. This policy is best for newer non-owned cars.

  • Personal Injury Protection- Depending on your state this type of insurance can be a requirement or an add on. Regardless of fault personal injury protection will cover medical expenses and loss of wages for you and your passengers (up to your limit). It also includes up to $5,000 for funeral expenses.


Do You Have a Teen Driver?

Starting at 15 ½ your teen can get their permit in the state of California. This means they need to be added to your car insurance. In addition, your teen will need to take a knowledge test with a passing score enroll in a driver's education course, proof of the course is required.

As a teen driver, 50 hours of behind the wheel training must be completed before getting a driver's license. There are many more caveats to obtain driving privileges in the state of California: visit the minors section of the website to make sure everyone in your household is prepared.


Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in California

There are penalties in place for a person driving without car insurance. The penalties in the state of California for not having the minimum required car insurance are:

  • First Offense- You will pay a $100-$200 fine plus the penalty assessment fee. The fee will bring your total amount to about $360-$720. Your vehicle can also be impounded, that adds additional expenses.

  • Second Offense-  You will pay ticket and fee totals ranging from $720-$1800. Your vehicle can be impounded on the second offense adding additional fees.

  • Accident Without Insurance- If you are in an accident without insurance, regardless of fault, your license will be suspended for up to four years. Once your license is reinstated, you will have to file an SR-22 in addition to your regular policy.


Savings on Car Insurance in California

Discounts for car insurance in California are heavily dependent upon the company carrying your coverage unless it is mandated by the state. However, almost all insurance companies offer similar discounts:

  • Good Driver- Maintain a good driving record free of accidents, tickets, and any moving violations.

  • Multiple Policy- Most insurance companies will offer a discount for having multiple policies such as car insurance, renters insurance, homeowners insurance, or motorcycle insurance.

  • Good Student- If you are a student enrolled in high school or college curriculum and maintaining a B average most companies offer a discount.


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