Auto Insurance in California (CA)

If You Are Paying More Than $1,051.69 on Auto Insurance in California, You Are Paying Too Much.

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Auto Insurance Industry in California

  • An average consumer pays $1,313.00 on auto insurance
  • 409 of every 100,000 vehicles are reported stolen every year
  • Accident fatality rate of 0.95%
  • Of all accidents: 50% are road-way accidents, 21% are intersection accidents, and 9% of all accidents involve at least 1 truck.

California is known for Hollywood, fabulous beaches, Route 66, nightmarish traffic and treacherous mountains. Couple these things with uninsured motorists and driving becomes more hazardous.

The state of California requires every driver to demonstrate financial responsibility by maintaining proof of auto liability insurance.

California’s Minimum Requirements on Auto Insurance

There are several ways drivers can establish financial responsibility with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and guarantee damages from an accident are covered.

You cannot legally drive on California roads without having a minimum 15/30/5 auto liability insurance policy. These amounts represent:

  • Each accident that causes injury or death to one person carries $15,000
  • Each accident that causes injury or death to more than one person carries $30,000
  • Property damage per accident carries $5,000

If you purchase auto liability insurance from an insurance provider, you should receive an identification card or other documentation to submit to the DMV.

As an alternative, some drivers make a minimum $35,000 cash deposit with the DMV. Others obtain a $35,000 surety bond from a licensed company or self-insurance certificate from the DMV.

California driving laws include penalties for drivers who fail to maintain financial responsibility while driving in the state. One major penalty is related to suspension of your vehicle registration, which may occur for one of three reasons.

First, suspension may occur if you fail to replace a cancelled policy within 45 days. Second, suspension may also occur if your insurance carrier does not report liability coverage for your vehicle within 30 days of issuance. Finally, you could face suspension of your registered vehicle by submitting false evidence of insurance coverage.

Beyond a suspension of your vehicle’s registration, you may also face steep fines. A traffic ticket could cost you $1,000 if you are stopped by a police officer and unable to produce proof of financial responsibility. Additionally, you could face fines and the expense of having your vehicle impounded.

Consumer Car Licensing Information in California

The ability to operate a vehicle legally on California roads also requires having a driver’s license. The state offers the following four different types of licenses that are renewable every four years:

  • Class C
  • Class A or B
  • Class M1/M2
  • Commercial driver’s license (CDL)

Class C is an operator’s license for regular drivers of passenger vehicles such as cars, SUVs, pickup trucks and recreational vehicles (RV) less than 40 feet long. To take the test for a Class C license, you will need to complete form DL 44 which is available at a DMV office.

The application fee is $31. You must show proof of birth date and legal residency status in California. Furthermore, you will need to take a vision test and a DMV representative will take your thumbprint.

Class A is a noncommercial driver’s license that allows you to drive any vehicle listed under Class C plus the privilege to tow any of the following that is not used for business purposes:

  • A travel trailer that has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) > 10,000 lbs.
  • Fifth-wheel travel trailers > 15,000 lbs.
  • Trailer for farmers to transport livestock within 150 miles; must weigh between 10,000 and 15,000 lbs.

Likewise, Class B is also a noncommercial license that gives you the same driving privileges as a Class C license. Additional driving privileges include RVs not greater than 45 feet long. In addition, you can tow a vehicle with 10,000 lbs. or less of GVWR.

For Class A or B, you will need to complete the DL 44C form that is available online. Additional requirements include:

  • Either you or a physician must complete DL 546 or DL 546A, which are health questionnaires for Class B.
  • Pay $31 application fee. The DMV does not accept credit cards.
  • Provide an original or certified copy of your birth date and legal residency status.
  • Provide your social security number and legal name.
  • Take a vision test and get a thumb impression.

If you have an out-of-state license, you will not need to take the driving test. Simply exchange the license for a new California license within 10 days after becoming a resident.

Motorcycle Licensing Information in California

California has two motorcycle license classes: M1 and M2. The M1 license allows you to drive any type of motorcycle. A M2 classification allows drivers to only drive a motorized bicycle.

Every California resident who wishes to drive a motorcycle must receive a learner’s permit before a license is issued. With the permit, you cannot drive at night or on the freeway. Also, you cannot carry passengers. The application fee for the permit is $28 and is good for one year.

Drivers under 18 must keep the permit for six months before testing is allowed. No practice period exists for drivers over 18.

To transfer an out-of-state motorcycle license, make an appointment with the DMV to take the written exam. The fee is also $28 and you will need a passport or birth certificate and the original license.

Commercial Vehicle Licensing Information in California

Drivers must obtain a practice permit before receiving a commercial license in California. With the permit, you can receive formal training to prepare for the skills and driving test. To receive the permit, you will need to:

  • Complete form DL 44C
  • Provide proof of personal information such as legal name, age and social security number
  • take a picture
  • Provide a thumbprint impression
  • Pass the vision test and submit a medical certificate

The application fee for a CDL Class A or B is $69 or $64; CDL Class C costs $39 or $34. There is an extra cost for endorsements. For example, a hazmat endorsement costs approximately $90.

Typically, you may need to complete California’s CDL process even if you have an out-of-state CDL.

More Resources on Auto Insurance in California

1. Applying for Driver License in California

Department of Insurance