Automobile Insurance Basics
San Diego car accident attorney Eugene G. Bruno explains the basics of having a car insurance policy.
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Automobile Insurance Basics

Posted By The Law Offices of Eugene G. Bruno, P.C. Posted in: Car Accident.


Many clients have questions about automobile insurance, which is required under California law in order to register or operate a vehicle. This post is intended to answer some frequently asked questions about California auto insurance requirements.

In California, you must be able to pay for injuries or damages to others resulting from the ownership or operation of a motor vehicle. California’s Financial Responsibility Law requires every driver and owner of a motor vehicle to carry liability insurance as follows: $15,000 for death or injury to any person, up to $30,000 for all persons in any one accident and $5,000 for property damage. There are several ways to show proof of financial responsibility, but the most common is to purchase an automobile liability insurance policy. You must purchase a policy which complies with the minimum liability insurance requirements above. Penalties are very severe for failing to do so.

When your car is in an accident which determined to be your fault, your bodily injury (BI) liability coverage will pay for injuries to others and property damage (PD) liability coverage will pay for damage to other people’s property. A policy with BI of $15,000/$30,000 and PD of $5,000 will pay out as follows: The maximum limit for one person’s injuries is $15,000; if 2 or more people are injured, the maximum limit for all will be $30,000; and the maximum limit for damage to other people’s property (their vehicles) is $5,000.

You must show proof of insurance before DMV will renew your vehicle registration. You must also show proof of insurance when stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation or accident. Your insurance company will provide an insurance ID card with the description of the vehicle(s) covered, the drivers covered, and the policy number and expiration date. This ID card should be kept in the vehicle at all times. If you cannot show proof of insurance, you may be fined or subject to additional penalties.

In California, driving without insurance is a serious offense. Failure to show proof of insurance when requested may result in fines, a suspended license, vehicle impound, or other sanctions. If a police officer asks for proof of insurance and you can’t produce it, you will be ticketed. If you had insurance at the time, but simply could not show your insurance ID card to the officer when he asked for it, you can have the ticket dismissed by appearing at court and showing proof of insurance. You will, however, have to pay an administrative fee to have the ticket dismissed. Providing false evidence of insurance coverage is a crime.

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