California Auto Insurance Requirements

california auto insurance

All drivers in California are required to show proof of financial responsibility. Most drivers do this by purchasing liability insurance. There are also a number of other ways to meet these requirements in California.  You must be able to show proof of financial responsibility when you are asked by a police officer, register your vehicle, and when you get in to an accident.


Ways to Meet Financial Responsibility Requirements

  1. Purchase an auto insurance policy with the state required minimum coverage
  2. Self insurance certificate issued by the California DMV
  3. $35,000 surety bond from a company licensed to do business in California
  4. $35,000 cash deposit with the DMV

The following types of vehicles are not required to provide proof of insurance to the DMV:

  • Special equipment vehicles
  • Trailers
  • Vehicles registered to a government entity
  • Off-highway vehicles
  • Vehicles registered under a PNO status


Minimum liability insurance requirements in California

  • $15,000 for bodily injury/death to one person in an accident 
  • $30,000 for bodily injury/death to 2 or more people in an accident 
  • $5,000 for property damage 

California liability insurance only provides coverage for other people/property involved in an accident.  It does not provide coverage for the policy holder’s vehicle.  If you want coverage for your vehicle you will need to purchase full coverage auto insurance which consists of collision and comprehensive coverage. 

Changes to California Financial Responsibility Laws

In 2006 there were changes to the way that the California DMV verifies auto insurance for vehicles.  These changes were enacted to help reduce the amounts of uninsured drivers on the road.  Basically, this law requires auto insurance companies to report private-use vehicle car insurance information to the DMV.  This allows police offers to be able to tell if a vehicle on the road has insurance through the computer database.

Penalties for driving without car insurance in California

If you are caught driving without liability insurance you could face the following penalties:

  • Suspension of your vehicle registration
  • Your vehicle may be impounded
  • You may ticketed and required to pay fees of $1000 or more
  • You will be responsible for any damages your injuries you cause in an accident