Is State Minimum Car Insurance Enough Coverage in California?

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by Nick Versaw Updated June 1st, 2022

Driving in California
All states have minimum car insurance limits that you must buy to operate a vehicle on the road. While the minimum coverage may meet the local law requirements, it is unlikely to fully protect you when an accident happens.

If you’re going to drive a car in California, you’ll need to consider more than the minimum, not for the law, but for yourself, your family, and everyone else on the road.

California Insurance Requirements

The State of California requires at least the following coverages:

  • $15,000 for injury/death to one person
  • $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person
  • $5,000 for damage to property

Liability insurance compensates a person other than the policyholder for personal injury and/or property damage. Comprehensive or collision insurance does not meet vehicle financial responsibility requirements.

And you can even ditch the uninsured motorist coverage if you want. This is not required in California.

That’s just crazy!

Why the Minimum is Not Enough

First, let’s look at the property damage liability. It requires a $5,000 minimum.

The front bumper cover – just the part you see – on a BMW 5 Series can cost $600. Just the plastic piece. That doesn’t include all of the stuff in it. A single headlamp for that same car is $250. That’s the lamp, not the whole assembly, installation, etc.

If you rear end a Maserati Levante, you can have $5,000 in just the bumper and liftgate cost alone, before it gets to a custom shop where they charge $300 an hour for labor.

Read this comment posted in a chatroom by a Tesla owner:

“New model S. Turning around on a parking lot at night. Left front side scrapes parking lot guard rail. Walking speed, < 4 mph. No damage to drivability.. Still 100% operable. Tesla says go to Tesla authorized repair shop. Tesla shop estimates cost of repair at $9600.”

In other words, you can’t even start to fix a new car, especially the high-end ones that are all over the place in California, for $5,000.

Now consider the Bodily Injury portion of your insurance. It’s not for you. It’s for the other people.

The minimum is $15,000 per person. In California, the average cost of a single night in a hospital is between $2,100 and $3,500. That’s just to rent the room. Medicine, pain relievers, surgeries, procedures, everything else, is all extra. If someone is severely injured, the cost of the first night in the ER, including the ambulance ride, can easily cost more than $15,000.

Another point to remember, once your insurance coverage runs out, you’re on the hook for the rest of the costs. You might spend the next ten years paying off someone else’s medical bills.

The Big Question is:

How Do You Get Better Coverage and Get Cheap Car Insurance?

Steps to Improving Your Rates

  1. Drive Responsibly. If you’re going to drink, don’t drive. Get an Uber or Lyft. There are a lot of life-saving reasons not to drive drunk, but let’s talk about your insurance. You will pay increased rates for years because there is nothing worse than someone who can’t make smart decisions.
  2. Avoid getting a traffic violation. A speeding ticket may suggest that you drive recklessly. The insurance company will know since there are legal records of your tickets.
  3. Take care of your car. Some accidents happen because of car malfunctions. The best way to avoid this is to make sure that you keep your car in good condition.
  4. Compare insurance rates. We can show you prices from several different companies so you can compare them side by side. All our prices are verified by the insurers so you know that the data is correct.

Staying Out of Trouble with Your Insurance Compay

The best way to stay out of trouble is to obey California driving laws. It might seem like an obvious idea, but if it can be proven that you were speeding (or, worse, drunk), you lose. If you’re breaking the law in other ways, it will make it much harder to prove that you were not at fault in an accident.

Obey rules of the road and save on your auto insurance premium. You’ll never know how much you can save unless you compare rates; start your car insurance quote comparison today!

Compare Car Insurance Quotes

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