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What are the auto insurance requirements in California?

If you live in California, you are required to be a financially responsible driver. The requirements of “financial responsibility,” or insurance, are enumerated in the California Vehicle Code and issued as regulations by the State of California. According to the DMV, a motorist may be required to provide proof of financial responsibility, as a result of an accident, if requested by a police officer or at the time a person renews registration on a vehicle. There are different types of financial responsibility that may satisfy the statutory requirement.

The most common form of financial responsibility is liability insurance. In order to satisfy the financial responsibility requirement, the liability coverage must at a minimum cover $5,000 property damage, $15,000 for in the event of injury or death to a person, and $30,000 in the event of injury or death to more than one person.

Alternative forms of financial responsibility include: a cash deposit with the DMV of no less than $35,000; a certificate from the DMV that shows the driver is self-insured; or, a promise to pay $35,000 from an authorized surety company, which is commonly referred to as a bond. The DMV requests direct contact if these other forms of financial responsibility are to be used.

Not all motorists in California are “financially responsible.” According to the Insurance Information Institute, as of July 2012, California was ranked thirteenth highest in the United States for uninsured motorists. At that time, a little less than one in six residents in California were estimated as not having insurance for bodily injury and property damage.

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