California Car Insurance Laws – 2020 Update

car insurance

As a California resident, if you have a car, you have an obligation to maintain what the state calls “financial responsibility.” While there are a few ways to meet the state’s financial responsibility requirements, the most common way by far is to purchase car insurance from a reputable insurance company. Not only does buying car insurance help you avoid losing your registration (and facing other penalties); but, in the event that you get injured in an accident, it also provides financial protection and a source of the financial recovery that you can tap with the help of a Glendale car accident attorney.

What is “Financial Responsibility” in California?

Under California’s “financial responsibility” law, all registered vehicle owners are required to have a way to cover the costs of other drivers’ injuries and property damage in the event that they cause an accident. As explained by the California Department of Insurance (CDI):

“You must show financial responsibility for any vehicle that you own, in case of injury to other people or damage to their property. Most people show financial responsibility by buying auto liability insurance. California law states, ‘All drivers and all owners of a motor vehicle shall at all times be able to establish financial responsibility and shall at all times carry in the vehicle evidence of the form of financial responsibility in effect for the vehicle.’”

What are the Minimum Car Insurance Requirements in California?

If you choose to purchase car insurance in order to meet your financial responsibility obligation under California law (as the vast majority of drivers do), you must buy a policy that meets the state’s minimum requirements. These requirements are:

  • $15,000 in bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage for injury or death to one person;
  • $30,000 in bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage for injury or death to multiple people; and,
  • $5,000 in property damage (PD) coverage for damage to other drivers’ vehicles.

What happens if I don’t have car insurance in California?

If you do not have car insurance in California, there are a number of things that can potentially happen. First, you will likely receive a notice from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) notifying you that your vehicle registration has been suspended. Once this happens, you are not legally able to drive. If you drive your car without insurance, you can also face fines, your driver’s license can be suspended, and the state can impound your vehicle.

Driving your car without insurance is also risky because it means you won’t be covered in the event that you cause an accident involving another vehicle. Rather than filing a claim with your insurance company, the other driver (and any other victims) will be forced to file a claim against you directly; and, if you are deemed legally at fault in the accident, you will be financially liable for the victims’ injuries under California law.

What if I can’t afford car insurance in California?

If you can’t afford car insurance but you still need to drive, you may be eligible to obtain coverage under California’s Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program. You can learn more about this program here.

What if I was hit by a California driver who is uninsured?

If you are involved in a car accident involving an uninsured driver, the driver will likely face legal penalties as a result of driving without insurance; but, this will not result in any direct benefit to you. In the case of an accident involving an uninsured driver, your options typically are:

  • Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver directly;
  • Filing a claim under your own uninsured motorist (UM) policy (this is optional insurance that we strongly recommend); and/or
  • Filing a personal injury or product defect lawsuit against a third party (such as a road construction company or vehicle manufacturer) that shares liability for the crash.

Speak with a Top Car Accident Attorney at Megeredchian Law

If you have questions about California’s car insurance laws or your legal rights after a car accident in California, we invite you to get in touch. One of our award-winning attorneys will be happy to speak with you free of charge. To request a free, no-obligation consultation at Megeredchian Law, call 818-530-1300 or inquire online today.

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