California Car Insurance: Ai Ling Lee of Hacienda Heights discusses 5 policy basics
Los Angeles traffic is a nightmare. But driving without insurance is even scarier.
Like most states, California has minimum requirements for car insurance. As an “at fault” state, drivers must accept financial responsibility for any accidents they may cause. California Insurance Code 11580.1b spells out exactly what this coverage must look like.
Yet you don’t have to be a legal expert to find the right protection. Ai Ling Lee of Hacienda Heights can help. Serving as an independent agent since 1986, she is well versed in the state’s insurance requirements. California is a “15/30/5” state. Below, Ai Ling Lee explains this and other must-haves for any auto insurance policy.
Bodily injury liability
Liability insurance does not apply to the policyholder. It covers other people’s injury or damage. For this reason, California mandates liability protection. Drivers must maintain $15,000 for bodily injury or death for any single person involved in an accident. A total of $30,000 is needed per accident, regardless of the number of people involved. This is commonly referred to as “15/30.”
Property damage liability
Another form of required coverage, property damage liability, protects against any damage or destruction that results from an accident. As Ai Ling Lee of Hacienda Heights points out, this doesn’t just shield another driver’s vehicle. This also extends to buildings or other structures. State law requires $5,000 for any single accident. When combined with bodily injury policies, this makes up the “15/30/5”, which represents the lowest level of protection required by law.
Proof of insurance
Purchasing a policy alone isn’t enough. Under state law, drivers must carry proof of insurance to show during traffic stops or other incidents. This documentation must also be presented when registering a vehicle. Although a digital copy will often be sufficient, Ai Ling Lee can’t stress its importance enough. Failure to show proof of insurance could result in a suspended license.
You do have choices. While car insurance is the most popular amongst drivers, California Insurance Code 11580.1b sets out other mechanisms to comply with the “financial responsibility” law. Rather than buying car insurance, vehicle owners can deposit $35,000 or file a self-insurance certificate with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Obtaining a $35,000 surety bond from a licensed issuer will also work.
State requirements ensure other drivers are guarded. But you need protection too. Ai Ling Lee of Hacienda Heights and other agents always recommend filling in these gaps in coverage with several available options. Medical payment or personal injury protection (PIP) can reimburse any medical expenses incurred by you or your passengers. Although not required, uninsured motorist coverage can be critical too. This kicks in if you are involved in an accident with someone who has insufficient coverage themselves. General collision and comprehensive coverage are also encouraged.