What Is Automobile Insurance?

Automobile insurance is simply a contract that helps pay for certain types of financial losses or obligations resulting from the use or ownership of an automobile. To obtain this contract (insurance policy), you pay a specified amount of money called a premium. In return for the premium paid, the insurance company agrees to pay certain expenses and legal liabilities depending on the terms of the insurance policy. Having the right insurance coverage may prevent you from suffering a large financial loss in the event of an automobile accident.
 

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What are California’s Legal Requirements for Financial Responsibility?

if you drive an automobile in California, state law dictates that you must be financially responsible for your actions. All drivers must show their ability to pay for damages or injury to others resulting from the ownership or operation of a motor vehicle.

California’s Compulsory Financial Responsibility Law requires every driver and owner of a motor vehicle to be financially responsible for their actions. The statutory minimum limits of liability insurance in California are as follows:

Bodily Injury ~ $15,000 for death or injury of any one person, any one accident; $30,000 for all persons in any one accident.

Property Damage ~ $5,000 for any one accident.
 

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There are four ways to accomplish financial responsibility:

1. Coverage by a motor vehicle or automobile liability insurance policy;

2. A cash deposit of $35,000 with the Department of Motor Vehicles;

3. A certificate of self-insurance issued by DMV to owners of fleets of more than 25 vehicles; or,

4. A surety bond for $35,000 obtained from an insurance company licensed to do business in California.

All California drivers and owners must have at least the statutory limits of minimum liability insurance or an approved alternative way to pay for injury or property damage they may cause. Penalties are very severe for non-compliance with this section of the vehicle code.

When your car is in an accident for which you are found legally liable, bodily injury (BI) liability covers your liability to others for injuries to them. Property damage (PD) liability covers your liability for damage to someone else’s property..
 

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A policy with BI of $15,000/ $30,000 and PD of $5,000 will pay out as follows:

The maximum limit for one person’s injuries, medical expenses, etc. is $15,000 under the bodily injury portion; If two or more people are injured, the maximum limit for the accident will be $30,000.  The maximum limit for damage to other people’s property (their car, their fence, etc.) is $5,000. Comprehensive coverage (other than collision), uninsured motorist, medical payments and collision insurance are not required by law.
 

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What Could Happen if I Ignore This Law?

The most common way drivers choose to comply with the financial responsibility requirement is by purchasing an automobile liability insurance policy. If you have an accident not covered by insurance, then your license may be suspended. It is your responsibility to provide liability insurance for any vehicle you own regardless of who is operating the vehicle. It is illegal for those vehicles to be operated without meeting the requirements of this law.

*These definitions are to give you an idea of what the type of coverage is; however, it is not in any way a legal or binding definition. If you need further information, please e-mail us or call our office. We would love to discuss.

 

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