You look up to the dreaded sight of flashing red and blue lights in the rear view mirror and the sound of a siren. Your stomach lurches, and you pull to the side of the road, hoping that the lights pass you by and do not follow you to the shoulder of the road. Not this time. Instead, the car stops behind you. The officer gets out of the car and walks to your window. A line you have only heard in the movies is suddenly directed at you: “License, registration, and insurance please.” “But wait,” you think, “proof of insurance? He can’t ask me for THAT, can he?”
It seems like an easy question—whether California drivers need car insurance or not. And the answer is simple. No, California drivers are not required to have car insurance: to obtain a driver’s license in California, you do not need to provide proof of car insurance. The vehicles that are driven in California are a different story, however, and proof of financial responsibility is required for all vehicles that are registered in California. But does this mean your vehicle needs car insurance? Like so many questions, the answer to that is “Not necessarily.”
For most of us, car insurance is required for any vehicle that we own that is operated on or parked on roads in California. The law, however, does not specifically require car insurance—instead, it requires proof of financial responsibility. What that means to the majority of individuals is that they will obtain insurance from an insurance company.
There are some people in California who will meet the proof of financial responsibility requirement not by obtaining car insurance from an insurance company but instead by meeting the alternate method provided. They can do this by posting a bond in the amount of $35,000.00, depositing $35,000.00 with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), or by receiving a DMV certificate of self-insurance.
Not only is proof of financial responsibility required, it is necessary that the proof of financial responsibility meet the legal minimums of at least $5,000 for property damage for one accident, $15,000 for one person injured or killed in an accident, and $30,000 for two people injured or killed in an accident.
For some people, meeting the financial responsibility requirements can cause an extreme financial hardship, and in those cases, in a few counties in California, there is a state-sponsored low-cost liability insurance option.
The requirement for having proof of financial responsibility is a serious one, and failure to maintain coverage can lead to unintended consequences should proof be requested but not provided. When it is time for your vehicle registration to be renewed, you will need to provide proof of financial responsibility.
When you see the blue lights in your rearview mirror or when you have an accident, you need to provide the responding officer with proof of registration if requested. If you don’t, you could find yourself without your vehicle—when the police officer impounds it—and facing a fine to retrieve it. Even worse, if you have an accident and cannot provide proof of insurance, you may lose your driver’s license. The best bet is to carry and provide proof of financial responsibility whenever requested.
If you or a family member was involved in an accident resulting in serious injury or death due to a faulty ignition switch, contact us at the Alexander Law Group, LLP or call 888.777.1776. We believe that auto manufacturers should be held accountable when their products hurt or even kill people. All calls are free and confidential.