When you are cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway in your fancy new convertible, you better have California car insurance or you may have to face the consequences if you are involved in an accident or get pulled over by a police officer. In California, all drivers and vehicle owners are required to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance.
Liability insurance covers bodily image or damage you may be responsible for in the event that you are involved in a motor vehicle accident. It does not cover you, but rather, the other party or parties involved in an accident that was determined to be your fault. California follows tort law, which assigns blame to one party or another for unintentional damage that they may cause as a result of their careless or negligent actions.
Like many other states, California requires a minimum amount of bodily injury and property damage liability coverage. The minimum is $15,000 for injury to a single party and $30,000 for all parties injured in a single accident. Property damage is set at a minimum of $5,000.
There are several other options for covering the state’s minimum financial requirements. You can place a $35,000 cash deposit with the DMV or obtain a surety bond for $35,000 from a licensed California insurance company. Fleet owners with at least 25 vehicles can choose to self-insure as long as they acquire a certificate of self-insurance from the DMV.
Now just because you can get away with minimum amounts of California auto insurance that does not mean that coverage is adequate. If you are involved in an accident in which you are found to have been at fault, any amount of damage above the minimum covered by insurance becomes your responsibility.
A new car can easily suffer $10,000 or more of damage and a serious physical injury to another person might result in a $100,000 or more of medical bills. To protect your assets, a prudent person would buy enough coverage for the worst possible scenario they can imagine.