Do I need to have car insurance?

Yes. According to California law, the owner of a car must maintain insurance coverage. The minimum insurance coverage required by law is called "liability." Liability coverage pays, up to certain limits, the sum for which you become legally responsible if you injure someone or damage their car. Car insurance can cost between $55-95 a month, for a minimum of six months (cost may vary depending on driver’s characteristics and driving history). Other types of coverage are optional and are as follows:

  • Uninsured motorist:
    • Protects you and your passengers if you are injured by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver, but only if the other driver is legally liable because of negligent driving. (Note that some insurance companies automatically include this coverage in their policies.)
  • Collision:
    • Pays for your losses if your car is damaged in a collision or single car accident. This coverage is valuable if the collision cannot be proven to be someone else's fault.
  • Comprehensive:
    • Pays for your loss if your car is stolen or damaged by fire, hail, hurricane, vandalism, or most other non-collision causes.

For help choosing car insurance, you may want to contact an insurance agent or broker. An insurance agent works exclusively for one insurance company. A broker or independent insurance agent works with many different insurance companies and policies and can compare different rates for you. Before you purchase insurance, make sure the agent/broker and insurer you select are licensed by the California Department of Insurance (1-800-927-4357).