Like many states, California requires all vehicles to be covered by a minimum amount of liability insurance. Insurance companies in California are required by law to report to the state the insurance status of a vehicle and the driver must provide proof of insurance in California during the first-time registration of a vehicle, or when a vehicle registration is renewed.
Insurance coverage requirements in California
The standards below indicate the minimum coverage required under law in California. Naturally, higher coverage can be acquired for policyholders concerned about liability.
This is the maximum amount per person paid for bodily injury (“BI”) injuries.
This the total amount paid by the policy for all bodily injury to all persons. Therefore if several people are injured, those who file first would receive payment as defined above, and once the total payment was reached, the remaining parties must pursue the policyholder for any sums over these amounts.
This is the total amount paid for property damage (“PD”).
SR-22: When do you need it?
SR-22 (the “SR” stands for “safety responsibility”) is a document that verifies that someone has automobile insurance. The SR-22 is prepared by an insurance company and then filed (by the insurance company) with the department of motor vehicles (DMV). The SR-22 is not an insurance policy. It is evidence that you have a policy.
Typically, an SR-22 is required when a driver seeks to reinstate a driver’s license after being convicted of a DUI, reckless driving, driving without insurance, or some other driving violation that’s resulted in a suspension. The SR-22 may be required whether you own a vehicle (owner SR-22) or not (non-owner SR-22). The SR-22 is usually required for a number of years – for example, five years following a DUI conviction. If the policy holder fails to pay the premiums, the SR-22 is cancelled and an SR-26 is filed with the DMV. When the DMV receives the SR-26, the policy holder’s license is suspended until a new SR-22 is filed.
State of California Website Insurance Links
- State of California Insurance Requirements
- State of California Actions Resulting in Loss of License
- State of California DUI Reportability Requirements
What if you’re involved in an accident in a state other than California?
The good news is that most policies will increase to match the minimum requirements of the state in which the accident occurred. The 12 states with no-fault insurance systems require that your insurer pay for your damages (as if you had a no-fault policy).
How are premiums determined?
An insurance company takes many factors into consideration when determining your insurance rates (premiums). Some factors may seem unfair. For example, drivers with higher education or who are married will generally receive better rates than a driver with a similar driving record. Below are the major factors affecting rates
- Driving record and accidents. Moving violations, DUIs, and accident claims trigger higher rates.
- Credit score. Bad credit scores trigger higher rates.
- Miles driven. Drive less, pay less.
- Occupation. Jobs involving driving or heavy commutes may trigger higher rates.
- Location. Higher crime rates in your neighborhood or a density of population (cities) will cause rates to rise.
- Age. Drivers under 25 pay more; drivers between 50 and 65 pay less.
- Gender and marital status. Women have fewer accidents and pay less than men. A married person is considered more stable and will receive a lower rate than a driver with a similar record.
- Type of car. The more powerful or expensive, the higher premium because high performance cars attract riskier drivers and expensive cars are more costly to repair.