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California Auto Insurance Requirements

Minimum California Car Insurance Coverage

California requires drivers to carry at least the following auto insurance coverages:

  • Bodily Injury Liability Coverage: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident minimum
  • Property Damage Liability Coverage: $5,000 minimum
  • Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage*: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident minimum
  • Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage*: $3,500 minimum

While these are the minimum coverages California requires you to have, everyone’s insurance needs are unique.

California Car Insurance Laws For New Residents

If you’re moving to California, keep in mind that not all car insurance providers are authorized to operate in the state. According to the DMV’s California Driver Handbook, you can avoid being penalized and having your license suspended if all of the following conditions are met:

  • Your insurance company files a power of attorney allowing California’s DMV to act as it’s agent for legal service in California.
  • Your vehicle is insured before you move to California, as you can’t renew the out-of-state- policy once the vehicle is registered in the state.
  • Your liability policy satisfies or exceeds the state’s minimum required coverages, including bodily injury and property damage coverage.

What is the California Deductible Waiver?

  • If you carry collision coverage on your car, then you may be eligible for the California Deductible Waiver. With this waiver, your insurance company will pay the collision deductible on your car if an uninsured driver causes an accident.

What do I do if I get a California Intent to Suspend Registration letter?

  • If the state of California cannot confirm that you have insurance on your vehicle, you may receive a letter stating that they plan to cancel your car’s registration. This can happen if the state doesn’t have the correct VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on file, if your California (or out of state) insurance coverage has lapsed, or if there’s an error in the information that the state of California received

Car Insurance Discounts In California

CA Good Driver Discount

Good drivers deserve a break, and in California, those who meet certain criteria could receive at least a 20% discount on their auto insurance premium. In California, a Good Driver is one who¹:

  1. Has verifiable license experience for at least the previous three years; or
  2. Has been licensed in the United States or Canada for the most recent 18 months, which experience must be verifiable, and certifies the previous 18 months of license experience in any jurisdiction outside of the United States or Canada; and
  3. Has not accrued more than one Department of Motor Vehicles point in the last three years. A point is usually assigned for a vehicle code violation or a “principally at-fault” accident²; and, if the driver was involved in a “principally at-fault” accident, it must not have resulted in injury or death; and
  4. Has not had a conviction during the past ten years for specific driving under the influence (drug or alcohol) related driving offenses or specific felony convictions³.

California Good Student Discount

Teen or young adult drivers can qualify for a Good Student Discount, if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Have eight years or less of driving experience
  • Are enrolled in a full-time academic home study program, high school, college, or university.
  • Have at least a B average or its equivalent.

California Teen Driving Laws

If you’re the parent of a teen who is getting close to the driving age, you and your teen should know that:

  • Before becoming fully licensed, California teen drivers must complete driver training and get a provisional permit, which they must be at least 15½ years of age to obtain.
  • Before applying for a license, drivers in California must be 16 years of age and have had a provisional permit for at least six months.
  • Applicants must then pass the DMV administered driving test before receiving a provisional driver’s license.
  • During the first 12 months of the provisional license, they may drive between 5:01 am and 10:59 pm and only transport passengers over age 21. After that provisional period ends they’re granted full driving privileges.

Check with your local California DMV for more info on California teen driver rules and laws.