Frequently Asked Questions About California Auto Insurance

When do I have to produce proof of car insurance?

The Legislature passed a law requiring motorists to produce proof of insurance before the Department of Motor Vehicles renews vehicle registration.  The new legislation also requires motorists to display proof of insurance when they are stopped by a police officer for traffic violations.  Drivers who can’t do so may be subject to fines and other penalties.

What happens if I get a policy started, then cancel right away, driving around without insurance? 

That is the classic way to get a binder or policy number to get your tags, but long term it won't work. The insurer now is electronically required to notify the DOI. The California Department of Insurance may send you a letter requesting you mail back proof if insurance. If you do not answer the request, that may result in fines or getting your license suspended.

If you are stopped by a police officer and asked for proof of insurance and don't have it, you will probably get a very expensive ticket unless you can send in showing proof of insurance. You would still be responsible for the ticket fee, but not the huge fine. Your vehicle registration may be suspended. Your vehicle may be impounded.

Can I get car insurance with only a learners permit?

Yes, You can get your car insurance or be covered under someone else. If you are under 18, a parent or legal guardian will need to countersign your insurance application for it to be legal.

What are the penalties for driving without insurance? 

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.

What is the penalty if I get into an accident without insurance?

f you are into an accident without auto insurance, your license will be suspended 4 years. If you say out of trouble, You might get reinstated after a year with proof of insurance to the DMV plus a $125 fee. You will also have to get SR-22 Proof of Financial Responsibility.

What are the best tips for getting lower auto insurance?

Increase deductibles, get married, getting homeowners and car insurance from the same carrier, and insuring multiple cars through the same carrier. Also shop around.

How do I prove I have insurance? 

Your car insurance carrier sends you proof of insurance with the covered vehicles and drivers, along with the policy number and expiration. You usually have to pay at least the 1st month's premium. 

When do I have to show proof an SR-22? 

SR-22 Proof of financial responsibility must be shown when you:

How much does car insurance cost?

That really depends on your claims history, driving record, zip code, etc. You should shop at both regional and national companies like Geico, Safeco, Liberty Mutual, Unitrin Direct, MetLife, Travelers. You want a company that has a competitive rate but does not fight claims.

Do I need higher car insurance limits? 

Since you are personally responsible for any damages you cause above the car insurance policy limits The cost of personal injury is very high, and the additional premium is very low when looking at the extra premium to for higher limits.

How many quotes should I get when shopping for car insurance?

At least 8, or as many as time allows. Under California law, each insurer calculates its own rates from past losses and costs.  Since each company’s losses and spends different amounts, rates usually differ. By visiting several car insurance websites, for a rate comparison, you can leverage our time and save money. You may not realize it, but the insurance rates you pay for your car can vary dramatically depending on the insurance company you choose.  You should always compare before deciding on a policy.

What if no company will insure me?

Some car insurance companies specialize in non-standard or high risk auto insurance drivers. Shop carefully because claims payment vary widely.

If you can’t find a company to insure you, you will be forced to get liability through the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP). This is for drivers who are classified as high risk drivers and cannot get insurance from even non-standard car insurance companies.  To apply for the plan, find a CAARP certified insurance agent or call CAARP at .  

Your application would be assigned it to an insurance company. All insurance companies licensed in California must accept CAARP applicants. The amount of CAARP assignments is based on insurance company market size.  The more cars an insurance company covers, the more CAARP assignments they are required to insure.

The rates used by the CAARP plan are the same no matter regardless of insurance carrier and without a broker’s fee. After 3 years of clean driving, consumers with CAARP use a regular insurance company, since their record should be clean (except in cases of DUI).

My car insurance ended up costing more than I was quoted. is that legal?

"Rate ups" happen if either your agent or you made a mistake in the application. Agents are human and make mistakes also. Usually with company software. Also the application info you submitted may differ from your actual driving record. You may also have higher mileage than you claim according to company calculations. If you neglected to tell the insurance company about tickets on your driving record, your insurance company can charge higher premiums than you were quoted.

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