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California Car insurance Coverages

If you live in CA, you'll want to be sure that your car insurance coverage meets the state's required minimums so that you can legally register your car and drive on the roads. The most important policy of California car insurance coverages is that the state law requires all private motorists to carry some minimal amounts of liability insurance and to have proof of this insurance with them every time they drive.

Liability Insurance

Having liability insurance means that your insurance will pay another person who has their person or property harmed in a car accident where you are deemed to be at fault. In California, you must have at least $15,000 of coverage for one person who is harmed in a single car accident. at least $30,000 of coverage for more than one person harmed in a single accident, and at least $5,000 for property damaged in an accident. These are called, respectively, bodily injury liability insurance and property damage liability insurance.

It's important to note that there can always be exclusions involved even in this type of policy, and that it's up to you to check with your car insurance company to determine what exclusions are in your contract and whether or not they can be changed. One common exclusion has to do with your intentions. If you intended to cause harm, whether physical or to property, your car insurance company may not be liable. In addition, many auto insurance companies will not cover damage done to a vehicle or other property that is currently rented or owned by someone who is uninsured. If you do not have the vehicle listed on your policy at the time of the accident, it may not be insured, even if the exclusion is an oversight on your part or on the part of the auto insurance company. Another common exclusion states that your insurance company is not liable if you are receiving payment for transporting people or property in your vehicle at the time of the accident. There are other exclusions, but these examples should give you an idea of what to look for in your policy so that you can make sure you have at least the minimum California car insurance coverage.

While these minimum amounts of California car insurance coverage are all that the state requires, it's important to know that they may not be enough to cover the actual damage done in any accident. Depending on the extent of a person's injuries, bodily injury in an accident can run as high as $250,000 per person injured. Property damage can also run higher, going up to $100,000 in one accident. If your car insurance does not cover these amounts, you can be held personally liable if you are deemed at fault in an accident where this kind of damage is done. This means that the injured parties can sue you for the amount their injuries and property damage takes to repair that is above and beyond what your insurance company will pay.

In California, this is particularly important because California is a tort state. This means that, in a civil case where wrong has been done and there is some sort of financial liability, like with a car accident, one party will be deemed "at fault" and that person and their insurance company is liable for all the damage done. Thus, there is no splitting of hospital bills or car repairs between two insurance companies. There is one caveat to this in California's system, because CA is also a comparative negligence state. This means that a court can decide that both parties were negligent, even if one was moreso. The court then assigns percentages of fault to each party involved in an accident. So one person can be assigned 60% of the fault and the other only 40%. This, then, is also the percentage of total damage that each person and their auto insurance company is also responsible for covering. While a case like this can benefit you even if you are deemed to carry more fault than the other driver, the amount you're responsible for can still easily exceed the minimum California car insurance coverage requirements, so you need to be sure that you have enough insurance coverage to cover all the possibilities.

It may be tempting to get the minimum required liability insurance. It's cheaper than adding on some of the other options, and it allows you to drive on the roads legally. However, on the off chance that you do get into a bad accident and it's determined that you carry some fault, having only minimal coverage can get you into long-term financial trouble.

Other Types of Auto Insurance Available in CA

It's definitely possible to get liability insurance for amounts higher than the state's minimums. How high you go with this depends on the area in which you live. It's worth doing some research to determine average bodily injury and property damage amounts in your part of CA, since these are different depending on where you live. Having at least enough liability insurance to cover these average damage amounts can give you more peace of mind, as you'll know your personal finances are safer than if you only had minimal coverage.

The most common type of auto insurance that people get beyond liability insurance is collision coverage. This means that damage to your vehicle is covered in case of an accident in which you are deemed at fault. With only liability insurance, you would be responsible for covering these damages, so collision saves you from that responsibility.

Beyond collision insurance, there is also comprehensive auto insurance. Having this coverage means that damages to your vehicle are covered even if they are caused in some way other than an accident. If a flood, windstorm, earthquake, or other act of God causes damage to your car, comprehensive insurance ensures that those damages will be paid for and not out of your pocket.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is also popular. It is common especially in California, where illegal immigrants sometimes drive without the required minimum coverage. This insurance means that bodily and property damage done to you, a passenger, or your vehicle by a motorist who cannot pay will be covered, up to the amount specified in your policy.

Finally, most California car insurance companies also offer additional medical coverage. If you are harmed in an accident and you are at fault, the other insurance company refuses to pay, or the other motorist cannot afford to cover your costs, this insurance means that your medical expenses will still be covered.

How you choose California car insurance coverage beyond the minimums is up to you. Some people choose it based on how valuable their vehicle is, or how recently they purchased it. Others determine their coverage based on who will be driving the vehicle or who are the most common passengers. However you choose it, you should make the choice that best fits your needs, desires, and budget. Insurance can give a wonderful peace of mind, and that is sometimes worth paying a little more, even if making those extra payments means cutting back a little in other areas.

 

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