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A Guide to Automobile Insurance for California Drivers

Auto insurance helps you pay for any injuries and damage that can happen when you are operating a vehicle. It helps cover medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs. In some cases, auto insurance also covers accidents caused by a motorcycle or bicycle. This automobile insurance guide for California drivers will help you make an informed decision when you purchase coverage.

Average California Car Insurance Rates

Finding coverage starts with your premium. Your premium is the amount that you pay to the auto insurance company for your policy. It covers the term of the policy. Generally, the length of a policy is 6 months to a year. The average premium for a full year of coverage in California is $1,700 per year. Several variables determine your auto insurance rates, including your age, driving history, marital status, and credit score.

What Are California Car Insurance Laws?

California law requires drivers to maintain auto liability insurance. If you are ruled to be at fault for an accident, auto liability covers the injured party’s lost wages, bills, and other damages based on the limit of your policy. According to state law, liability coverage in California covers $15,000 for the death of a person, $30,000 if multiple people were hurt in the accident, and $5,000 towards any property damage. If you are considered a high-risk driver, you can increase your coverage.

Driving without at least having liability coverage is illegal. Your license may be suspended, and your vehicle could be impounded. If you are involved in a serious accident, you could potentially lose all your savings and assets if you don’t have insurance. If you don’t have insurance, you will not be able to register your vehicle with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Minimum Requirements

The minimum liability coverage according to California may not be enough to protect you if something goes wrong. To protect yourself and your assets, you should look into a full liability policy. Also, keep in mind that your policies include limits and deductibles. A deductible is an amount that you will have to pay out of your own pocket before the insurance covers a claim. Every policy has limits. The limit is the total amount that the company will pay for a claim. It is important to note that you’ll be asked to pay a lower premium if you opt for a higher deductible.

Important Parts of an Auto Insurance Policy

  • Collision and Comprehensive Coverage
  • California policies often offer collision and comprehensive coverage together. Collision coverage protects you by covering any damage to your vehicle caused by hitting another vehicle or an object such as a fence. Comprehensive coverage is more flexible and covers your vehicle if it’s stolen, vandalized, or damaged by a flying object. Comprehensive coverage takes care of your vehicle if it is damaged due to a natural disaster such as a fire, hurricane, or tornado. The amount of coverage you need depends on the vehicle that you have.

    Also, keep in mind that you will have to purchase extra coverage if you have an expensive navigation or stereo system in your vehicle. This is the only way to ensure that the items are completely covered if something happens to them.

  • Medical Payments Coverage
  • Similar to liability coverage, medical payments cover the cost of your medical expenses if you are injured in an accident. If you have passengers in the car and they suffer injuries, they are covered as well. You can use medical payment coverage to protect yourself regardless of whether you are responsible for the accident or not.

  • Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
  • This type of coverage protects you if you are involved in an accident with someone who either does not have insurance or is underinsured. It takes care of property damage and bodily injuries. This coverage must be included in your policy. However, you can sign a waiver outlining that you were offered the coverage and want to decline it.

    California’s Shared Fault Law

    As you research automobile insurance in California, pay attention to California’s Shared Fault Law. The law explains how you may be partially responsible for the damages caused in an accident and still be able to recover benefits. Your insurer can argue that you deserve the lowest percentage of fault. In this scenario, the other driver will be responsible for the rest of the damages.

    Umbrella Coverage

    If you think you need more coverage than the amount currently on your policy, you can purchase a personal umbrella policy. Personal umbrella coverage can fill in the gaps if you are involved in an accident and the other driver suffers potentially fatal injuries. If the other driver’s medical bills exceed the limits on your policy, you are responsible for the difference. Without an umbrella insurance policy in place, you could potentially lose everything.

    Custom Coverage

    There are multiple custom coverages that you can add to your policy. You can add emergency roadside assistance to cover you if your vehicle suffers engine failure and you need urgent towing service. Perhaps you have a flat tire, or your car battery needs a boost. If your vehicle is seriously damaged in an accident, you can add rental reimbursement coverage. This allows you to drive an alternative vehicle until your car is repaired.

    Finding the right auto insurance policy for your needs can be complicated. This automobile insurance guide should make the process a little easier. The experts at CF&P Insurance Brokers can help assess your specific car insurance coverage needs and close any protection gaps. To learn more, don’t hesitate to call us at (925) 956-7700 today.

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