California laws require all car owners to buy insurance which is the same as almost all states. It is a law that protects the driver, other drivers on the road, pedestrians and property owners. California is known for its harsh punishments for failing to buy car insurance and high insurance rates.
Being caught driving without insurance will mean a fine of up to $1,000, possible suspension of driver’s license and the owner will be required to submit the car’s paper to your local DMV. You will only be able to get the registration papers back once you show proof that you have paid the insurance.
The basic mandatory insurance required by the state of California is $15,000 for individual Bodily Injury Liability/$30,000 for multiple, $5,000 Property Damage Liability, $15,000 for individual Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury/$30,000 for multiple, and $3,500 uninsured motorist property damage.
California has certain protection laws that differ from other states which can cause confusion and shock for drivers from out of state. It is always best to be aware of what these are before driving around the Golden State.
The California Collision Deductible Waiver (CDW)
This waiver is coverage so you do not have to pay the deductible if hit by another driver who is not insured. CDW is an option also valid for hit-and-run motorists provided you can identify the at-fault party or the vehicle. The coverage does not include personal property damage and loss of use of a car.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD)
UMPD is not available in all states but is required in California. It is an alternative to CDW and will pay up to $3,500, or lower if the value of the vehicle does not amount to $3,500, for damages caused by another party who has no insurance. There are conditions to the UMPD such as:
The at-fault driver is uninsured and legally responsible
There is actual physical contact
The victim should be able to provide information about the at-fault party or the other vehicle
There is a 10 day window for reporting incidents like these to your insurance company
California Adolescent Drivers
California allows 15 ½ year old teenagers to start the process of getting a student driver’s permit provided certain conditions are met. They are:
Parental approval (or guardian’s approval)
Must enroll in a driver’s education/training and provide a certificate as proof
Has a Social Security number
At age 16, the young driver can apply for a provisional license with proof of driver’s ed while by age 17 ½, it is possible to apply for a provisional permit without having to take driver’s ed. Of course, like all applicants for driver’s license, these young drivers must pass the written and road tests before being issued their permits.
California State Auto Insurance Program
California has a state car insurance program that provides for discounts to its low income residents. In fact, California residents can avail of mandatory liability insurance for as low as $226 which is very low compared to other states. Interestingly though, according to the Insurance Research Council, about 13% of American drivers are not insured and the hotspots for uninsured motorists are California, Florida, and Texas.