California Auto Insurance Claims Laws

Every state in the country requires that drivers carry insurance before they can operate their motor vehicle on the roadway. Insurance can provide coverage for a driver’s injuries and losses, as well as coverage for others injured in a collision in which a driver causes. It is important to understand the California vehicle insurance requirements as well as other laws pertaining to reporting an accident.

California Auto Insurance Minimums

Every state is responsible for setting minimum vehicle insurance requirements for drivers. Under California law, the following minimums apply for every vehicle:

  • $15,000 for the death or injury of a single person in a crash
  • $30,000 for the death or injury of more than one person in a crash
  • $5,000 for property damage

The coverage requirement amounts for motorcycle riders in this state are the same, though motorcycle insurance policies must be purchased separately. Uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage is not required for drivers to carry in California.

How Can Policy Limits Affect an Auto Insurance Claim?

Insurance policy limits can affect whether or not a person is fully compensated for their auto insurance claim. For example, if Driver A is struck by Driver B, then Driver A will likely file a claim against Driver B’s auto insurance policy. If Driver A sustains $25,000 worth of injury expenses, but Driver B only has the minimum coverage required ($15,000 for injury of a single person), then Driver A will be short $10,000 for their total losses.

In this case, Driver A will have to seek alternative options for obtaining full compensation. One of these options could be filing a personal injury lawsuit against Driver B to cover the additional losses.

Because of scenarios like this, drivers should consider carrying more than the minimum required liability coverage in order to prevent being held personally liable for damages they cause in an accident.

Do All Car Accidents Have to Be Reported?

In most situations, all accidents have to be reported In California. Under California law, drivers involved in an accident that meets any of the following criteria must report the crash to the California DMV within 10 days:

  • If there were any injuries, regardless of how minor
  • If there were any fatalities
  • If the crash resulted in property damage totaling more than $1,000

What If a Driver Is Uninsured or Underinsured?

As was mentioned above, California drivers do not have to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage as part of their insurance policies. However, it is highly recommended that drivers have this type of coverage. In most cases, it is relatively inexpensive and will provide tremendous benefits in certain situations.

In the example above, when we discussed Driver A sustaining more losses than Driver B’s insurance policy limits, Driver A would have additional protection if they carried underinsured motorist coverage. In these cases, a driver’s underinsured motorist coverage will kick in to cover additional losses that rise above an at-fault driver’s policy limits.

Uninsured motorist coverage will help cover a driver’s expenses if they are struck by a driver without insurance or if they are in a hit-and-run crash, and police are unable to locate the perpetrator.

Consider Speaking to an Attorney

Dealing with insurance carriers in the aftermath of a vehicle accident can be notoriously difficult. If you were injured in an accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence, consider speaking to a skilled Irvine car accident lawyer to help you maximize the compensation you receive in an insurance settlement.

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