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California Car Insurance Laws

Sailun Tires

Even if you have never been involved in a car accident before this one, you probably know you are going to be dealing with the insurance company. You might even have some preconceived notions about how the insurance process works and what the insurance company’s obligation to you is.

The good news is an experienced personal injury lawyer in Orange County can help you make sense of the confusion surrounding the specific details of your case. 

But while you are waiting to get in and speak with your lawyer, you may be interested in learning more about what to expect from insurance as a whole after a car accident in California. With that in mind, continue reading to find out what California auto insurance requirements look like, why that impacts your claim, what it means to live in a fault state, and what to expect when you file your claim with the insurance company. 

California Car Insurance Requirements

Nearly all drivers in the state of California are required to purchase auto insurance. This auto insurance policy is designed to protect you in the event you are ever involved in a car accident. Under the law, there are certain types and amounts of coverage you will need to carry. These include:

  • $15,000 per person in bodily injury liability coverage
  • $30,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage 
  • $5,000 per accident in property damage liability coverage

This is just the minimum amount of coverage you must purchase. However, these minimum amounts of coverage are, well, minimal. They are very unlikely to protect you financially if you are involved in a car accident. For this reason, it may be in your best interests to increase your coverage amounts proactively.

Furthermore, you might want to consider adding other types of coverage to your auto insurance policy. Comprehensive and collision protect you if your car is damaged due to a natural disaster or is stolen. Gap insurance can protect you if you finance your vehicle and your car is totaled in the accident. And rental car coverage can cover the costs of your rental car while you are waiting for your vehicle to be repaired or replaced. You might want to consider adding uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage as well. 

Living In a Fault State

California is a fault state for car accidents and insurance purposes. So after your accident, you might know you have to exchange insurance information with the other involved driver. This is because you will need to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Their insurer will then be responsible for compensating you based on the limits of the insured’s policy.

For example, let’s say the liable driver only had the state minimum of $30,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage. But your medical expenses are amounting to over $200,000. The insurer is only required to pay out a maximum of $30,000. You would need to go after the remaining $170,000 in civil court.

What to Expect From the Insurance Company

Just because the insurance company is required to pay out at a certain amount, doesn’t mean they are going to do so willingly. The insurance company will lose money when they settle your claim. And as a for-profit company, it is in their best interest to do whatever it takes to reduce the amount of money they pay out on claims like yours. You can expect the insurer to resort to some pretty unscrupulous tactics in order to accomplish this goal. Protect your injury settlement and have your attorney deal with the insurer for you.


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