California Auto Insurance Minimum Requirements

Article Summary

  • California law requires drives to insure their cars with a minimum liability coverage of 15/30/5.
  • $15,000 worth in liability coverage must be obtained per person involved in the accident
  • $30,000 worth in liability coverage must be obtained to go towards all damage done in the accident.
  • $5,000 worth of liability coverage must exist to pay towards property damage.
  • For low-income drivers, a 10/20/3 option exists, wherein only $10,000 is required per person involved, $20,000 total, and $3,000 for property damage.

If you’re planning to drive a car, you should know that you’ll need to have yourself insured. Automobile liability insurance is required by law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

State laws regarding the minimum insurance required to operate a vehicle vary, but most states require your insurance to cover bodily injury (BI) as well as property damage (PD).

In California, the minimum liability limits are $50,000 in total during an accident, including $15,000 for each individual and $5,000 in coverage for the other car to which you’ve caused damage. This requirement is often written 15/30/5, where the first 15 refers to the $15,000 in coverage required for each individual of the other party involved in the accident, the 30 refers to the total of $30,000 total in coverage required, and the 5 refers to the $5,000 in property damage coverage required.

California also has alternative low-limits for low-income drivers under the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan. Those less restrictive limits call for $20,000 in total coverage for an accident, including $10,000 for each individual and $3,000 in damage to the vehicle, or 10/20/3.

To protect yourself more completely from damage sustained to yourself or to another party during a traffic accident, you can also purchase higher amounts of liability insurance coverage or full coverage. If your car is expensive, or depending upon how good your health insurance is, it is probably a better idea to have full coverage to mitigate how much financial damage you’d suffer in the case of a car accident.