Financial Responsibility Insurance Laws

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California's Compulsory Financial Responsibility Law requires every driver and owner of a motor vehicle to be financially responsible for their actions. The statutory minimum limits of liability insurance in California are as follows:

Bodily Injury:

  • $15,000 for death or injury of any one person, any one accident
  • $30,000 for all persons in any one accident

Property Damage:

  • $5,000 for any one accident

What If I Ignore This Law?

The most common way drivers choose to comply with the financial responsibility requirement is by purchasing an automobile liability insurance policy. If you have an accident not covered by insurance, then your license may be suspended and you may be fined. Judges can impound the vehicles of frequent, flagrant violators. If you provide false evidence of insurance coverage and your driver's license is suspended, the suspension cannot be lifted until you demonstrate genuine proof of insurance. Remember, driving is a privilege...not a right.

If you are stopped by an officer of the law and asked for proof of insurance and you can't produce it, you may receive a citation. You can have the ticket nullified by showing proof in court that you had insurance at the time of the citation. You could, however, still be assessed an administrative fee for expenses.

It is your responsibility to provide liability insurance for any vehicle you own regardless of who is operating the vehicle. It is illegal for those vehicles to be operated without meeting the requirements of this law.

Proof of Insurance

Proof of financial responsibility must be shown when you:

  • Are asked for it by a law enforcement officer
  • Have an accident
  • Register your car or renew its registration
  • Get your car inspected

Your insurance company will send you proof of insurance card(s) listing the covered automobiles and drivers and showing the policy number and expiration date. You should keep this card in your car at all times, in case you are stopped or get in an accident. Many people also carry a copy of the card in their wallet. Your policy or a temporary binder also is acceptable evidence of insurance.