Compare Rates From Top Providers
Save Up To 46% on Car Insurance
Enter Zip Code:

California Car Insurance

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 09/12/2014

The minimum auto insurance required for California, reporting your coverage to the DMV, and penalties for non-compliance.

State Regulator Information 800-927-4357 www.insurance.ca.gov
Insurance Premium Avg. Annual Premium: $ 1,962 National Average: $1,503
Mandatory Car Insurance Coverage Bodily Injury Liability:$15k/30k
Property Damage Liability:$5k
California Car Insurance: LA at Night

What you need to know when cruising the CA streets.

California car insurance is strictly monitored by the state to make sure that all of its drivers are protected from damage caused by others.

They require minimum insurance to be in place on all vehicles on the road and cars that are not being driven must be registered with the state as in “non-use” or “non-operational” if they do not have insurance in place.  Cars that are being driven without insurance and are not registered as not being used are subject to penalties.

Minimum Insurance Requirements in California

The state of California requires that all of its drivers carry at least liability insurance.  To qualify as acceptable insurance coverage the liability limits have to be no lower than $15,000 in liability coverage for a single person’s injury and $30,000 total for all injuries.  The liability coverage for property damage has to be at least $5,000.

If you are not able to afford liability insurance and still need to drive instead of taking public transportation the state of California does offer a low cost auto insurance that you may be able to qualify for.  For more information on this program visit the website for California Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program at: www.aipso.com/lc

Coverage Reporting In CA

California car insurance policies are required to be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicle electronically by your insurance company.  This is not just something that California asks of the insurance companies that write in their state, it is actually a state law that was put into place so that the state could track their drivers.  It helps the state make sure that if someone is out on the road driving that they have insurance on their vehicle.  They also require drivers in their state to provide proof of valid insurance coverage when they renew the vehicle registration on their vehicle.

Insurance companies are also to electronically report to the Department of Motor Vehicles when an insurance policy has been cancelled.  Once they notify the DMV, the driver of the vehicle has 45 days to report the new insurance that was purchased to replace the cancelled policy.

Penalties for No Insurance in California

If you do not replace cancelled insurance within 45 days, get insurance on a new vehicle within 30 days or California finds that the proof of California car insurance that you provided was not true – they will suspend your vehicle registration.

To get your vehicle unsuspended you will have to provide proof that you placed insurance valid coverage and pay the reinstatement fee.  If your vehicle remains suspended you can get a ticket and could even have your vehicle impounded.  In the worst case scenario, if you get into an accident you will have to pay the liability damages out of your own pocket.

For more information on California auto insurance, contact your local California insurance agent or visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles website at: www.dmv.ca.gov

Car Insurance Deals for Smart Shoppers

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 01/17/2011

Finding car insurance deals by purchasing multiple insurance, getting group discounts, being a good driver and buying insurance directly.

Car Insurance Deals: Road Sign "Savings Ahead"

When you just need a better price - try these tips.

Finding a sale on something that you had to purchase anyway is a great feeling.  Unfortunately, finding a sale in the world of car insurance never happens.  But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t find some great deals on your premiums in other ways.

Multi-Everything Deals

Insurance companies like it when you keep everything you need insured all together with their company.  To encourage this they offer multi-line discounts, in other words, they give you car insurance deals for agreeing to insure other items with them also.

The most common of these discounts are offered for insuring two vehicles together on the same policy (multi-car discount) or placing homeowners insurance with the same company that has your auto insurance.  Some companies even offer discounts for adding your boat, motorcycle or recreational vehicle with them as well.

Group Insurance Deals

Most people know that employers offer health insurance to their employees, but few know that some even offer a discount on their home and auto insurance as well.  The discount is usually through a specific insurance company that is offering a group discount to your employer.

These group car insurance deals aren’t just exclusive to an employer either.  You can possibly qualify for one of these deals by having a membership to certain large warehouse stores, credit unions, athletic clubs and whatever other group that has made a deal with an insurance company to offer its members a deal on their premiums.

To find out more ask the insurance company that you are getting a quote through if they offer any group deals. They may be able to give you a list of participating groups.  Also keep an eye out for advertisements offering this discount with the different groups that you belong to.

Car insurance companies like good drivers.  They like them because they can keep gathering the premiums and only have to pay out on small, if any claims at all.  Being a good driver also qualifies you for one or multiple car insurance deals with your premium.

Get a Deal by Passing on the Agent

Agents live off of the commission that they make on the insurance that they sell to you.  This is why they are always interested in trying to get you more coverage when you ask them for a quote. In general, the more coverage that they sell to you the higher their commission is.

Passing on an agent and buying an insurance policy directly from an insurance company either on the phone or online, can get you a deal on your insurance.  How?  Because in most cases you won’t be paying that extra percentage that goes to paying the agents commission.  The savings can range from 10%+ on your policy. Again, the savings doesn’t always happen, but it’s something to consider.

A word of advice: if you plan on going this route to get a car insurance deal be ready to be going at it alone.  The 10%+ that you pay for an agent also buys you the experience and assistance that the agent can offer you.

The Auto Insurance Claims Process

Written by W. Lane Startin. Posted in Research Last Updated: 01/14/2011

How to file an auto insurance claim, what the claims adjuster does and how you’re compensated in an auto insurance claim.

Your adjuster is never your agent.

It’s the proverbial good news and bad news situation. The bad news is you caught a bad piece of black ice on the freeway and took out a speed limit sign.

Everyone in the car is OK, but your driver’s side door is toast. After a tow back to town, you remember the good news: you have full coverage auto insurance.

But now what do you do?

Starting an Auto Insurance Claim

Given that if it weren’t for claims there wouldn’t be any point to insurance, the claims process itself is nevertheless often overshadowed by constant talk of premiums, discounts and the latest marketing campaigns. Agents are salespeople. When it comes to claims you’ll find many of them know shockingly little about the subject.

Nevertheless, often times your agent is who you contact to start the claim process. Larger insurance companies have a dedicated call center devoted entirely to claims. If yours is one of them, you need to call that number. If unsure, call your agent – he or she will be able to point you in the right direction.

When filing your claim, provide as much specific information as you can. Among other things, you’ll be asked when and where the accident occurred, if any other vehicles were involved, if there were any injuries, if any law enforcement agency responded, and if any citations were issued.

You’ll probably notice on the back your insurance card an admonishment NOT to admit blame to law enforcement in an accident situation. There’s a reason for this. For one, you may not be at fault even if you think you are. For another such statements tend to find their way into police reports, making them much more difficult to contest later.

The Claims Adjuster

Your claim will be handled by an insurance specialist called an adjuster. An insurance claims adjuster is either an insurance company employee or a third-party contractor trained to assess the damage caused in an accident. That way the insurance company can reimburse you in such a manner that you neither gain nor lose financially because of the accident. This concept is called indemnification. It’s a central philosophy behind all insurance, not just auto insurance.

An auto insurance claims adjuster is usually local and has good working relationships with auto body repair shops in your area. Indeed, it’s not unusual to see auto claims adjusters who have prior auto body repair experience in their own right. This is particularly important if you’re unsure where to get your car fixed. The adjuster will know. Take his advice; it’s definitely not in his interest to steer you towards some shady outfit.

A claims adjuster is never an agent. In fact, once a claim is filed your agent may very well be out of the loop on its status. While the claim remains open, keep in touch with your adjuster instead.

Collecting on Your Claim

Once the adjuster looks over your vehicle, he or she determines how much it’ll cost to fix it. Then the auto body repair shop goes to work. In a full coverage situation you may pay the deductible directly to the repair shop while the insurance company pays them directly for the rest. If your car is “totaled,” you may get a cash settlement instead.

Unless you’re in a no fault state, if your car was damaged in an accident in which another party was found at fault, the process is much the same apart from the fact you’ll be working with the other guy’s insurance claims adjuster.

Also before the claim is closed be sure to inquire about any secondary coverages you may have, such as for towing or rental reimbursement. If the adjuster doesn’t have the answer to these questions, your agent certainly will.

It’s possible to hire an outside, independent adjuster to get a second opinion, however this is not commonly seen in an auto insurance claim situation. It’s an added expense to you, and of little benefit unless there’s a serious dispute in a major accident.

Can You Really Name Your Own Price at Progressive?

Written by W. Lane Startin. Posted in Research Last Updated: 12/30/2010

How Progressive’s “name your own price” auto insurance options work, what they don’t do, and why agents and companies charge what they have to anyway.

No, you don't really use one of these.

Recently Progressive launched an ad campaign proclaiming you can name your own price on car insurance. Sounds like a great deal. Now you can buy auto insurance coverage based on your budget rather than by having to sort through confusing liability limits and deductibles, right?

Well, sort of…but not entirely.

How Name Your Own Price Works

Like accident forgiveness, the choose your price feature is primarily a marketing tool. There’s really not anything new about it other than presentation.

When using the feature, which according to Progressive itself is available in “most states” (read: not all states), the company actually has you quote your coverage the old fashioned way first. That is, you provide them with your vehicle information, driving history and desired coverage levels.

After that they give you a premium quote but let you adjust the price. Of course, adjusting the price has an impact on the coverage. For example, if Progressive (or anyone else, for that matter) offers you a 50/100/50 liability only policy for $50/month, it’s still $50/month regardless of the marketing. If you want a policy for $40/month, you’ll get it at lower liability limits.

In short, it’s really little more than a new way to accomplish a very old insurance sales tactic. Agents adjust coverages to fit into their clients’ budgets all the time in the exact same way. Given that the first auto insurance policy was sold in 1897, we figure the practice dates to, oh, 1898 or so. You can “choose” your price anywhere in this manner; it’s just that Progressive found a new way to package it.

When You Can’t Name Your Own Price

Choosing your price doesn’t mean you can just go down to your local insurance agent and get some arbitrary discount. Insurance agents can’t do that. They have to use the approved prices and discounts given to them by the insurance company for a particular driver, vehicle and coverage level.

What’s more, the agent can’t offer you a lower price and offer to make up the difference, even as a charitable contribution. This practice is called “rebating,” and it’s illegal. Agents can lose their license doing this, therefore no reputable agent will do it.

States Help “Name” Your Price Too

Agents can’t just charge what they want for car insurance. In many ways, neither can insurance companies. States require insurance companies to hold a certain amount of money in reserves for claims at any given time. Even for small carriers, this is a substantial amount, easily in the tens of millions of dollars. When an insurance company fails and is taken over by the state, a process called “receivership,” chances are problems with this are a primary reason for it.

To that end, states require insurance companies to charge rates that allow them to sustain these cash reserves. The insurance rates a company charges must also be approved by a state’s insurance commission. Any available insurance discounts are factored into this beforehand. Yes, this means that rates can (and are) different from state to state even within the same insurance company, all other things equal.

Accident Forgiveness: Is It Worth It?

Written by W. Lane Startin. Posted in Research Last Updated: 12/24/2010

How insurance companies rate accidents, how an optional accident forgiveness option can stop auto insurance rate increases, and how it really works.

You don't have to pay more for this ... if you already are.

No doubt you’ve seen the commercials by now. The announcer strolling through a quiet, idyllic suburban scene, telling you how you can protect you and your loved ones with optional accident forgiveness on your car insurance coverage. In other words, if you get in a wreck the insurance company promises not to raise your rates. Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it?

Well, it can be. However, it’s important to know exactly what “accident forgiveness” entails.

How Accidents Factor in Insurance Rates

The philosophy behind charging people who get in accidents more than people who don’t is pretty simple: those who use insurance benefits more should pay more than those who use them less.

That said, not all auto insurance claims result in higher rates. Those that do tend to fall in one of two categories: liability claims resulting from accidents when you’re found at fault, and full coverage collision claims. What’s more, the latter is usually only subject to rate increases if the claim exceeds a certain dollar amount. That exact amount varies from company to company, but is usually in the neighborhood of $750 to $1,000.

Accident claims stay on your record for three to five years, again depending on the company. Multiple claims in that three- to five-year period may result in you being dropped, forcing you to go to a non-standard or “high risk” company.

How Accident Forgiveness REALLY Works

Accident forgiveness simply means that if you’re in an accident that would otherwise raise your rates, the insurance company instead will keep your rates where they are. Here’s the rub, though. Accident forgiveness is an optional feature, and therefore comes at an additional charge. In other words, in many respects it’s easy for the insurance company to keep your rates where they are after an accident … because you allowed them to raise your rates beforehand.

A lot of it is truly in the marketing. With accident forgiveness or without it, the company’s loss exposure remains covered. It’s all motivated by the bottom line, not by altruism.

Accident forgiveness typically applies to only one accident. If you’re in a second accident – particularly if it occurs in the same policy period as the first – you’ll most likely get uprated (premium increase) anyway. You also may still be subject to being dropped for multiple accidents in the same way you would be without the accident forgiveness option. Consult with your insurance agent for details specific to your company, assuming your company offers an accident forgiveness option in the first place (not all do).

Is Accident Forgiveness Right For You?

One could make the argument that those who take the accident forgiveness are assuming they’ll be in an accident in the next three to five years. Indeed, many may scoff at such a sentiment. For people who do, optional accident forgiveness is probably not a good fit for them. However, if you find the knowledge that your rates won’t go up after an accident comforting, perhaps the peace of mind is worth it. Ultimately it’s a matter of personal preference.

Save Up To 46% on Car Insurance
Enter Zip Code: