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California Auto Insurance

side road in California

California uses a Tort insurance system. If you cause an accident on Californian roads, you (together with your insurance company) will have to take care of everybody’s medical expenses and  property damage costs.

Mandatory car insurance requirements

Californian state laws require a minimum Liability insurance of 15/30/5:

  • $15,000 in medical payments per injured passenger, but not more than $30,000 for all passengers affected by the accident;
  • $5,000 to cover property damage.

Since limits are very low, at least compared to the general level of income in California, insurance experts recommend getting a Liability policy with much higher coverage.

Median insurance costs

Despite being one of the richest states in the country, Liability in California is a bit cheaper than the national average. The mean cost is of $1,574, which is lower than the national figure of $1,678. Here are average premium costs in several major cities: Los Angeles: $1,678, San Diego: $1,318, Long Beach: $1,439, Huntington Beach: $1,431, Fremont: $1,543 and Garden Grove: $1,593.

About the use of cellphones while driving

Several cell phone and texting laws are being discussed by the Californian senate. One of them in particular – the Senate Bill 1475 – proposes much higher fines for drivers caught texting or using their cellphone when driving.

There is currently a ban on voice talks for school bus drivers and new drivers under 18, as well as on texting by all driver categories.

Teenage driving regulations

California uses the Graduated Driver Licensing system and allows all teens between 15 and a half and 18 years old to get a provisional license. By the time they get their Class D license, teenage drivers will face two restrictions:

  • they are not allowed to drive between 11pm and 5am, unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or a licensed driver over 25;
  • they are not allowed to carry passengers younger than 20 unless, again, they are accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or a licensed driver of over 25 years old.

Penalties for driving without insurance

At a rough calculation, getting caught without a valid insurance in California is about to cost you twice as you would have been billed for a one year Liability policy.

  • On a first offense, you will be fined between $100 and $200, plus penalty assessments.
  • A second offense occurred within three years of a previous one would lead to a fine between $200 and $500, plus penalty assessments.

The court may rule the impoundment of the vehicle for which you were unable to show proof of insurance. You – or the legal owner, for financed or rented vehicles – will have to pay for the towing and storage of the car until you are able to show proof of financial responsibility.

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