California Car Insurance Guide

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Getting an instant California car insurance quote is about the only surefire way of making sure you get a good deal on your policy. Driving around California can sometimes feel like a dream come true, but get caught without proper insurance coverage and that dream could be a nightmare.

With free instant quotes you can feel confident that you’re getting the best rate given you’re situation. It could be your “Eureka” moment. Keep reading to learn more about what you need to know to make sure you buy the proper coverage.

Minimum Auto Insurance Coverage in California

California has some of the lowest liability requirements for auto insurance coverage anywhere in the United States. Since 2006, California’s Vehicle Financial Responsibility and Suspension Laws have been in full effect. It sets out minimum coverage as 15/30/5.

For those who aren’t insurance agents, that means that you have to get at least $15,000 liability coverage for injury/death to one person in an accident, $30,000 liability coverage for injury/death to more than one person per accident and $5,000 liability coverage for damage to property per accident.

You must make sure you have at least this amount of liability coverage because, “Comprehensive or collision insurance does not meet vehicle financial responsibility requirements.”

For those that qualify you may be able to get further reduced coverage from the California Low Cost Auto Insurance Program (CLCA). It sets even lower standards on coverage. Just 10/20/3 liability car insurance is required.

Finally, if even that is too difficult for you to get you can also place a $35,000 cash deposit with the DMV, get a DMV self-insurance certificate or a surety bond worth $35,000 from a licensed company to meet your financial responsibility requirements.

It should also be noted that at the current time California does not require personal injury protection (PIP) coverage or uninsured motorist coverage. However you may still want to add additional these coverage options along with others such as collision or comprehensive insurance to be more fully protected.

Moreover, since the liability insurance limits are so low for California, you should also at least consider getting higher limit coverage. All it takes is one accident and you could be financially ruined if you don’t have enough coverage.

California Car Insurance Laws

Like most states California operates under the tort system, and is not a ‘no fault’ state. Practically speaking this means that whoever is deemed to have caused an accident is liable for all associated costs. This includes medical bills for those injured and means you are responsible for paying the difference between your car insurance policies maximum payout limits and the actual costs.

It is illegal to drive in California without proper proof of insurance. Failure to show proof of insurance can result in a fine, license suspension and a court appearance. You must show proof of insurance (usually an insurance card) under the following circumstances:

  • A law enforcement officer (police, highway patrol, etc.) asks to see it;
  • You are in an accident;
  • Renewing or registering your car with the DMV;
  • Having your car inspected.

If you get caught drinking and driving not only will your insurance rates skyrocket you could also face up to 6 months in jail and/or $3,850 in fines and/or lose of license for up to 6 months just for a first time offense. Other major offenses can also have insurance implications.

For example, your insurance company will have to file an SR-22 form (California Insurance Proof Certificate) with the DMV for 3 years following any of these events: unsatisfied judgments against you, major driving convictions, license suspensions and failure to have liability coverage at the time of an accident. You can of course avoid all this, if you just take a few moments and get the coverage you need.

California Car Insurance Companies

California now offers The California Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program (CLCA) to those that qualify. The Insurance Department also lists all companies that are allowed to offer coverage in the state.

However, the Insurance Information Institute has a list of the most reputable companies. They list the following companies as being allowed to offer car insurance products in California. (In alphabetical order):

Allianz of America, Inc.

Allstate Insurance Group

Chubb Group Of Insurance Companies

Farmers Group, Inc.

GEICO

GuideOne Insurance

The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc.

The Hartford Financial Services Group

Harleysville Insurance

Holyoke Mutual Insurance Company

Kemper Corporation (formerly Unitrin)

Liberty Mutual Group

MetLife Auto & Home

Michigan Millers Mutual Insurance Company

Nationwide

OneBeacon Insurance Group

Safeco Corporation

State Farm

Travelers

USAA

Zurich North America

W. R. Berkley Corporation

If you’re having issues with your insurer you are allowed to file a complaint with the Department of Insurance who may be able to help resolve the situation.

If you can’t get insurance from any company listed here or on the Department of Insurance website, you may have to look into the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP). They work with you and an insurer to get you a policy, although you may find that the rates are pretty high.

Average California Auto Insurance Rates

According to CarInsurance.com, the average driver in California driver pays $1,189 per year for insurance coverage in 2011. This compares very favorably with the national average which is currently $1,440 per year. Better yet, average insurance rates have been falling for the past several years from over $1,650 back in 2009.

One reason why rates are relatively low is because California has low standards when it comes to coverage. So to protect yourself it is a good idea to get more than the minimum. Getting quotes is a great way to keep costs down and get better coverage at the same time.

California Accident And Crash Statistics

California by virtue of being the most populous state also has the highest number of traffic accidents each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 3,000 people die on California roads each year. However, the rate of accidents per vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is actually lower in California.

In the US as a whole, fatalities per 100 million VMT is 1.14 whereas in California it is much lower at 0.95. This means drivers in California have about a 20% lower chance of being killed in an accident than in the rest of the United States. In terms of DUIs the state comes in about average with 31% of accidents being cause by drunk drivers compared to 32% nationwide.

The 6 most dangerous counties to drive in right now according to the NHTSA are Los Angeles County, San Bernardino Count, San Diego County, Riverside County, Kern County and Orange County. These six counties have almost half of all traffic fatalities in the state.

So, take extra care when driving in these counties.

Your Guide To Getting California Auto Insurance Quotes

Whether you’re from Los Angeles, San Francisco or anywhere else in the state, it’s always a must that you think about the welfare of your vehicle as well as yourself. It has to be the initiative of each car owner, whether a resident or a visitor, to provide their vehicles with the right car insurance. Not only is it a legal obligation, but it is also a need for self-protection. No matter how safely you may drive, you can never tell when something might come up on the road.

So when looking for that much needed California car insurance quote, you have to first think about relevant information regarding what you should get. In this case, it is important that you understand the minimum liability for the insurance you’ll get. California law states that a regular liability insurance policy consists of 15/30/5 coverage. For those that have been deemed low-risk drivers under the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan, are allowed to liability insurance of only 10/20/3 instead.

When getting an instant California car insurance quote, it is no longer advisable that you visit the offices of your insurance providers. Rather, the more efficient way to go would be to visit their website online.

Looking for California auto insurance online is something that has already become common these days. With all the possible services that you can get on the Internet, it is no surprise that auto insurance companies have also joined in on the trend.

Compared to getting that car insurance in person, you can save a lot of time and effort when you do it online instead. No more small-talk and annoying sales pitches. All you have to do is give the essential information that the insurance company needs and with a click of a button, you’re all set.

That’s how instant California insurance works.

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