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Insurance Requirements in California

To operate a vehicle lawfully in the state of California, you must carry certain types and amounts of insurance. Insurance guarantees a vehicle owner’s financial responsibility for any injuries or damages the person driving the vehicle may cause. It is a crime to operate a vehicle without adequate insurance in the Golden State. If you get into a car accident in California, the insurance of the at-fault driver will pay for damages.

Minimum Insurance for Cars, Motorcycles and Mopeds

Operating a passenger car, truck, commercial vehicle, motorcycle, certain motorized bicycles or a moped in California requires vehicle insurance. This insurance will pay for victims’ losses if an accident occurs. Each state requires different types and levels of insurance. Purchasing at least the minimum in California and having proof of insurance are requirements if you wish to stay on the right side of the law.

If you are operating a Type A motorized bicycle (according to Vehicle Code section 406(a)), you must purchase insurance as you would for a typical vehicle. A Type B motorized bicycle, on the other hand, does not require insurance to operate. Type B bicycles have electric motors while Type A use gas engines with automatic transmissions. A Type A motorized bicycle and a moped are the same in the eyes of California law. You must purchase insurance to operate a moped.

Optional Types of Insurance Coverage

The amounts of insurance required by law are just minimums. You can choose to purchase additional coverage for more than just the minimum protection in an accident. Optional types of insurance could cover more expensive medical bills, totaled vehicles or losses that stem from something other than an accident. Comprehensive coverage, for example, will cover your losses if an act of God or vandalism destroys your vehicle. Typical insurance coverage will only pay for vehicle repairs in a traditional car accident.

Other optional types of insurance coverage include collision, uninsured/underinsured motorist, medical payments coverage and personal injury protection. Purchasing additional coverage could offer better protection in a catastrophic accident, or in an accident you cause. If you cause a crash with only the required types of insurance, your insurer might not pay for your damages – only those you caused to another party.

How to File Your Insurance Claim

California is a tort-based state. Insurance companies will not offer accident settlements unless the claimant can prove the policyholder’s fault. It is your responsibility as a victim to determine who caused your accident. After a collision, you or an experienced personal injury attorney will need to investigate the case and decide who was most at fault. Your damages claim will then go to the insurance company of the at-fault party. You must report an accident as soon as possible to most insurance companies for valid claims.

The insurance company may request evidence of its policyholder’s fault, such as a police report or eyewitness statements. Be careful during conversations with the other driver’s insurance company. It will not be on your side. Do not accept a fast settlement without first talking it over with a car accident attorney. The insurance provider may be trying to take advantage of your lack of representation to convince you to settle for a low amount.

Use an attorney to help you negotiate your insurance claim for the best possible results. If the insurance company refuses to accept your claim, your lawyer may be able to take the at-fault driver to court in pursuit of fair damages. Your case could also involve the fault of another party, such as the manufacturer of a defective seat belt or the City of San Jose for an unsafe roadway. A lawyer can help you navigate California’s insurance rules for maximum recovery. Contact Henshaw & Henry, PC to discuss your legal options during a free consultation.