California auto insurance for all makes and models of vehicles can be very expensive. California has some of the higher liability limits in the nation; in fact, in California, the minimum amount of insurance you must carry on your car is $15,000 in liability per person, $30,000 per accident and $5,000 property damage liability. However, most people choose to carry much more than this. If you own a home or any substantial assets, many insurance advisors will tell you to double the liability limits on your car insurance
to protect your assets.
However you choose to approach the question of liability limits, having insurance on your car is one of the most important things you can do. California has one of the nation’s highest rates of uninsured motorists, with nearly half of all cars fifteen year or older having no insurance coverage at all. Nevertheless, every year, thousands of people are involved in crashes, and the results can be terrible: property damage in the thousands of dollars, physical injuries and emotional damage. Many of these people will find personal injury attorneys to help them sue for damages, so it is vital that you have the proper coverage on your vehicle to protect your assets from seizure in a lawsuit.
How Many California Car Accidents Happen Each Year?
California has thousands of car accidents of each type every year, according to the California Highway Patrols Statewide Integrated Traffic Reporting System. According to the SWITRS, for 2011, the number and type of California accidents was as follows:
|Type of Accident
These numbers all represent victims of accidents who are injured or killed. In every case, unless the victim had access to some type of insurance coverage or private assets of the person who caused the accident, it would be almost impossible to pay for medical treatment, funeral expenses and property damages that result from these accidents. At least 200,000 Californians are affected in some direct way by car crashes each year, making vehicular accidents one of the most common reasons people need insurance coverage.
Types of Car Insurance
When a driver purchases “car insurance,” he or she is not purchasing a single policy. Rather, car insurance is made up of several types of coverage. These policies, added together, are sometimes called “full coverage” and provide the maximum amount of possible protection from financial exposure available to drivers.
However, drivers do not have to purchase every type of insurance. Some drivers buy only liability coverage, while others add coverage such as comprehensive or collision. It is wise for drivers to at least have liability and uninsured motorist coverage, but it is also possible to buy “too much” insurance. A driver who needs advice on what types of insurance to purchase may want to discuss his or her needs with a Gregg Stapp Insurance agent.
The possible types of coverage are:
Liability. California is a tort liability state. What this means is that each driver is responsible for his or her own liability in an accident, as opposed to a “no-fault” state in which each driver takes care of is or her own damages up to a certain point. California requires every driver to carry a minimum of liability coverage on any vehicle that is used on public streets. These minimums are expressed in a numerical form: 15/30/5. This stands for the $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident in the form of liability insurance that is required by the state, as well as $5,000 in property liability that is also required. This is also known as “minimum coverage.” Deciding how much liability insurance to purchase is an important decision, because if you carry only the minimum you can easily exceed your liability limits for a single accident if you are sued. This means that you might have to pay the difference in the judgment amount and your liability limits from your own pocket. Because of this, many people elect to increase their liability limits.
Uninsured motorists. It is a fact that uninsured or unlicensed drivers are three times more likely to cause a fatal accident than insured drivers and that California is full of uninsured drivers. While experts argue on the reasons for this phenomenon, it is clear that you are at risk, especially near large cities, of being hit by an uninsured driver. A driver who carries no insurance is not very likely to have the money to pay for your damages, either, so many people who are hit by uninsured drivers cannot collect anything unless they carry uninsured motorist protection.
Collision. Collision coverage is an optional policy that pays if your car is damaged. It is a good idea to have collision coverage if a single repair will be more than your yearly premium and deductible combined. Newer cars, in particular, are very expensive to fix, so even a small dent can cost thousands of dollars to repair. If your car is financed, you may not have a choice; you may be required to carry collision coverage on your vehicle until it is paid off to protect the lender’s investment.
Comprehensive. Traditional liability and collision policies do not pay if your car is stolen, flooded, burned in a fire or destroyed by some other non-accident means. In order to replace your car, you must have comprehensive insurance. This means that if your car is damaged in any way other than an accident, your insurance company will pay to fix or replace it. This is also optional coverage but is required by many lenders until the car is paid for.
Optional riders. Towing insurance, rental car reimbursement and other forms of coverage are available through your insurance company. Some of these policies are very inexpensive, but you may not need them if you have AAA or some other form of protection.
Medical coverage. California law allows you to add medical coverage to your policy. A medical coverage policy pays your medical bills for hospitalization, physical therapy, medication and other medical expenses incurred due to an accident.
Talk to one of the professionals at Gregg Stapp Insurance Services today to learn how you can protect yourself, your family and your property with the right car insurance policies.