Guide to California Auto Insurance

General Insights

The state of California might have its share of detractors, but one thing is for certain, when it comes to California auto insurance, it is one of the most progressive states in the country.

California not only has low to moderate minimum auto insurance coverage requirements, but it also has a low cost auto insurance program for low income residents. Also, California does not force residents to carry personal injury coverage, placing California as one of the cheapest states in which to maintain auto insurance.

Required Minimum Coverage

The minimum insurance coverage in California is currently:
• $15,000 bodily injury (one person)
• $30,000 bodily injury per accident (two persons or more)
• $5,000 property damage

Compared to other states, which require personal bodily injury coverage or uninsured and under-insured motorists’ coverage, California’s auto insurance laws are fairly lenient.

These minimum coverages indicate the least amount of coverage you can legally buy and carry when driving and insuring an automobile, which means that you can buy more but you cannot buy less. Buying more will of course increase your premiums, but might be a worthwhile investment should you get into a serious accident.

As with most states, you can also choose to carry high or low deductibles for collision and comprehensive coverage (full coverage).


California auto insurance laws require that you be 16 years or older to receive a driver’s license, though you can get a temporary learning permit at the age of 15 years and 6 months.

California Laws

California is also an SR-22 state, which means you will need to show proof of coverage if you receive a certain amount of points on your license, or if you wish to drive while or after your license has been suspended.

California also has strict cell phone and texting laws, including severe fines for doing either while driving. This is covered under the distracted driver law, and bans texting and non-hands free cellphone use while driving.

In California, a DUI is considered driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. They have increased fines and penalties for those driving over 0.15%.

Differences to Other States

As mentioned before, California sponsors a low cost auto insurance plan for low income earners. This program is sponsored by the Department of Insurance and is as cheap as $400 per month, depending on how much you earn.

This coverage provides the basic limits of:
• $10,000 bodily injury or death coverage (per person)
• $20,000 bodily injury or death (per accident)
• $3,000 property damage (per accident)

They offer a variety of payment plans, and several websites also feature a charts explaining both requirements and coverages.


1 What is the income requirement for low cost insurance eligibility?
Between $27,075 (1 person) and $92,525 (8 people).

2 How old do you have to be to get this special coverage?
You must be at least 19 years of age.

3 What type of vehicle is covered?
Vehicles must be valued at $20,000 or less.

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