AUTO INSURANCE – CAR INSURANCE
Auto or Car insurance is the most used form of insurance in California.
There different types of auto insurance coverage offered in any auto insurance policy. Here are the major ones.
Liability Bodily Injury and Property Damage: This is the basic coverage required by the State of California for all registered vehicles in case you hit someone with your car, and it’s your fault, then your insurance will pay the other guy some money up to the limits of your policy. In California, the minimum liability bodily injury coverage is $15,000 maximum paid per person, to a total of $30,000 paid for bodily injury to all those hurt by you in the accident, and $5,000 total paid property damage – their car, trailer, house, fence, highway pole, etc. Those limits were established in CA long ago when $5000 would replace a Cadillac.
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury and Property Damage coverage is also required by the State of CA but the state will allow you to waive it by signing a statement that you don’t want it. Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage covers you and your passengers in case you are hit by an uninsured motorist and it’s their fault. Then your uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage does what the other guy’s insurance SHOULD have done, if he had any, and pays you and your passenger’s bodily injury, loss of wages, pain and any other economic or medical losses. Basic Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage pays up to $15,000 per person up to a maximum of $30,000 per accident regardless of how many people were injured in your car. It will also pay up to $3,500 to fix your damaged vehicle.
Comprehensive and Collision: It is also called Physical Damage to Your Car coverage. It is NOT required by the state but may be required by the terms of your loan or finance company. If you do not have a loan on your car, then this coverage is strictly optional for you. It is an important form of coverage which pays for damage to or loss of your car. Collision coverage applies when you have a collision, regardless of who is at fault. Comprehensive coverage applies to everything else (hence the word “comprehensive”: Fire, theft, earthquake, vandalism, glass breakage, falling objects, everything except collision. This coverage package fixes or replaces your car regardless of who is at fault, usually for the market value of the vehicle at the time of the loss.
HERE IS WHAT THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE SAYS ABOUT AUTO INSURANCE
Automobile Insurance 101[Unknown author. Source: www.insurance.ca.gov, official website of the California Department of Insurance.]
Automobile insurance is an often misunderstood insurance product. Since the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires liability insurance in order to register and operate a vehicle, it is of great importance to purchase and to fully understand your automobile insurance policy.
This brochure will provide you with the information to answer the following questions:
- Who requires you to be financially responsible?
- What could happen if you ignore the law?
- When must you provide proof of insurance?
- Why it is all up to you?
- Where do you call if you need assistance?
This brochure provides information to help you understand the various automobile insurance coverages. It will assist you in discussing your automobile insurance needs, asking informed questions, and understanding just what your insurance company or agent/broker is suggesting when you shop for insurance.
Know Your Rights and Responsibilities
The Legislature passed a law requiring motorists to produce proof of insurance before the DMV renews the vehicle registration. The new legislation also requires motorists to display proof of insurance when they are stopped by a police officer for traffic violations. Drivers who can’t do so may be subject to fines and other penalties.
Why Is It All Up to Me?
It is not the responsibility of the company or agent/broker to determine either the type or amount of coverages you need. You and the agent/broker should have an open exchange about the coverages that are available so that you can determine what best fits your needs. The time to discover that you do not have the necessary coverage is before you are involved in an accident, not after.
Now that you know what California Law requires, you should determine whether you need coverage above the legal minimum in order to protect your assets. “How much is this going to cost me?” should not be the only question in deciding how much insurance you need. There are a variety of options regarding types of coverage and policy limits so you should shop carefully.
Ask yourself: Do I need higher limits?
Since you may be personally responsible for damages above the policy limits, you should consider purchasing liability insurance with higher limits than the minimum required by law. With the increased cost of hospital stays, medical care, and car repair, it may be well worth considering the extra premium to purchase higher limits of coverage.