Unless you're an insurance agent or an experienced attorney, you may not be familiar with California's car insurance requirements, the ins and outs of personal injury, or car insurance law. Often, this lack of familiarity can lead motorists to assume that they're fully covered by their car insurance policy. Unfortunately, many people have policies with inadequate coverage that can leave them dangerously vulnerable after an accident. An annual review of your car insurance policy can help you identify—and potentially increase—weak coverage areas so you're prepared for all circumstances.
California Car Insurance Requirements
As a fault car insurance state, California mandates minimum requirements for car insurance coverage, and harshly penalizes motorists who fail to comply by imposing hefty fines or suspending vehicle registrations. The purpose is to ensure that in the event of a serious car accident, all drivers have the insurance coverage necessary to compensate their fellow motorists and their affected passengers for medical bills, property damage, and more. In California, people are expected to have liability car insurance coverage in the following minimum amounts:
- $15,000 for injury or death to one person
- $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person
- $5,000 for damage to property
Under California's Proposition 213, motorists who don't have at least the minimum amount of liability car insurance at the time of an accident are prevented from pursuing and collecting general or non-economic damages, also known as pain and suffering damages, in a personal injury lawsuit, even if they weren't at fault for causing the accident. The exemption is if someone is in an accident caused by a driver who was under the influence. Uninsured motorists may also seek and secure economic damages, such as compensation for medical bills, property damage, and lost wages due to missed work.
For the Best Protection, Review Your Policy Annually
Many drivers assume they're fully covered when they carry the minimum amount of liability car insurance coverage required by the State of California. However, during an annual review, you should consider increasing insurance coverage to ensure you're actually protected if you're involved or injured in a serious car accident.
After an accident, car insurance companies only pay out to the maximum amount of coverage on your policy. If you carry the minimum requirement—for example, $15,000 for injury or death for one person—and you cause an accident with personal injuries totaling $20,000, you might be personally responsible for the overage.
An annual car insurance review also gives you the opportunity to add optional coverage that may provide you with better, more comprehensive protection. The greater the amount of your liability car insurance coverage, the more optional types of coverage you'll be able to purchase. Consider some of the following:
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage compensates people in hit-and-run accidents, as well as those who were involved in accidents with drivers who did not have the required liability car insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage steps in to bridge the gap if your injuries are more than what the at-fault driver's insurance policy will cover.
- Medical payment coverage. This policy addition pays for your medical and funeral expenses or those of anyone else driving or riding in your vehicle. It may also protect insureds struck as pedestrians. This coverage pays for dental bills, hospital stays, surgical procedures, and funeral expenses. During an annual review, first, check your personal health insurance policy to see if you already have coverage for these expenses before considering this addition.
- Comprehensive coverage. This option extends past basic auto collision coverage to pay for damage due to theft, vandalism, fire, weather-related incidents, glass breakage, and animal accidents. This coverage usually has a deductible minimum that you'll pay prior to the insurance company's compensation for the claim.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
If you were seriously injured in a car accident, wrangling with car insurance companies to receive the compensation you need and deserve can be exhausting. Working with a team of knowledgeable personal recovery professionals is the best way to ensure that you get the financial award necessary to get your life back on track. Contact the skilled attorneys with the Inland Empire Law Group today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.