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Auto Insurance Guide to California by

Car insurance quotes for the state of California have to comply with the following legal requirements:

California requires the following insurance coverage or financial responsibility at a minimum:

15/30/5 – This is shorthand for the liability policy limits required which means you need a minimum coverage of:

  • $15,000 for death or injury to one person;
  • $30,000 for death or injury to two or more people; and
  • $5,000 for property damage to others

Nearly all car insurance policies have a provision that will adjust your coverage from the minimums required in your state to the minimum insurance or proof of financial responsibility in another U.S. state. So you do not need to get a new insurance policy for each state you are driving through. However, if you buy a policy in a low limits state (like California) but live in a high limits state (like Alaska), insurers will only write a policy where your car is principally garaged. So if your home is in Alaska, you should buy the minimum limits for Alaska.

California’s required insurance limits are low, considering the cost of repair and damages likely to occur in an accident. If you are in a serious collision and the damages you caused are greater than the coverage limits you purchased, you may be personally liable to pay for those damages that exceed your insurance coverage.

Car Insurance Law in California

California is a comparative negligence state. A comparative negligence legal defense is one that reduces the amount of damages that a claimant/plaintiff can recover for an injury due to negligence based on percentage of which the claimant’s/plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to cause the injury. So, if you have an accident, you and the other driver could be each at fault for 50% of each others’ damages. However, just because you have the same percentage of fault, does not mean you “cancel” out each other damages. You will have to pay for 50% of the other driver’s damages. So if you total their $50,000 car, you will be liable for ½ of the damage you caused – $25,000.

Driving Under the Influence

In California, Driving Under the Influence (or DUI) is a misdemeanor. It obviously applies to cars and motor vehicles but it also applies to bicycles too. If you are 21 years old or older, if you have a Blood Alcohol Contact (BAC) of .08% or higher while driving, California law presumes that you are driving under the influence. If you are under 21, a lower BAC may apply to you.

1st DUI

You will automatically have your license suspended for 4 months (although you can apply for a restricted license for work or school) and have 48 hours of mandatory jail time. If you are younger than 21 and have a BAC of .01% BAC or higher, your driving privilege will be suspended for 1 year. Fines can vary from $1,400-$1,800. Some jurisdictions require an Ignition Interlock Device (a breath tester) on your vehicle after your first offense. SR-22 required.

2nd DUI

You will automatically have your license suspended for 2 years. After one year, you may be able to apply for a restricted license. You will also have to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. You will have 96 hours of mandatory jail time (possibly longer in some jurisdictions) and fines ranging from $1800-$2800. SR-22 required.

Top Ten Car Insurance Companies in California

Here are the top insurances companies rated by market share in the state are:

  1. State Farm
  2. Interinsurance Exchange of the Automobile Club
  3. AAA Northern California, Nevada, & Utah Insurance Exchange
  4. Allstate Indemnity Company
  5. Mercury Insurance Company
  6. Mid-Century Insurance Company
  7. 21st Century Insurance Company
  8. Farmers Insurance Exchange
  9. Infinity Insurance Company
  10. Progressive Choice Insurance Company

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Disclaimer: Information Current as of 2011