Everything you need to know when shopping for Auto Insurance
Your Guide to Obtaining the Best Auto Insurance Quotes for Your Needs
The importance of carrying auto insurance when driving in California cannot be overemphasized. California drivers who choose to drive without insurance because they want to avoid paying annual auto premiums often fail to realize how drastic the penalties can be. Driving without auto insurance can result in consequences that are far more costly than an annual auto insurance premium and can hinder your ability to drive legally for years. Below is a look at the financial and legal consequences of failing to carry auto insurance, along with some steps to follow to ensure that you choose a reliable auto insurance carrier.
What are the key auto insurance coverage types in California?
Understanding the different types of auto insurance coverage types is vital to ensuring that your needs are met. Before you begin comparing carriers, it is wise to know what types of coverage is required by California law and which coverage types are optional. Below is a look at the most common types of insurance coverage:
- Bodily injury liability: This type of coverage is required and exists to cover expenses that arise when another driver sustains injury or death as a result of an accident that is your fault. The minimum coverage required in California is $15,000 limit per person and $30,000 limit per accident.
- Property damage liability: This type of coverage is needed to cover expenses that arise when you are at fault for an accident that damages another person's property. Examples of property included under this coverage include vehicles, buildings, and homes. The minimum coverage required in California is $5,000.
In addition to the two types of required insurance coverage outlined above, drivers in California often choose to protect themselves by electing additional types of auto insurance coverage. Some of these coverage types are as follows:
- Uninsured motorist coverage: This type of coverage helps to cover your medical expenses if you are involved in an accident that is the fault of a driver who is uninsured. While not required, many people opt to purchase uninsured motorist coverage.
- Underinsured motorist coverage: This type of coverage helps pay your bodily injury expenses that exceed the amount of insurance possessed by a driver who is responsible for the accident that caused your injuries.
- Medical payments coverage: This coverage helps to pay for medical expenses for you or your passengers regardless of who is at fault for the accident. While the minimum limit in California is $1,000, you can request a higher coverage limit.
- Collision coverage: If you are driving and experience a collision with a guardrail, tree, structure or person, this type of coverage will cover any damage that is sustained by your vehicle.
- Comprehensive coverage: This coverage type exists to pay for damage sustained by an event other than a collision. Examples include vandalism, floods, storms, and falling objects. Normal wear and tear are not covered by this type of auto insurance.
What are the financial consequences of failing to carry auto insurance?
Once you have a firm grasp on the types of coverage types available, you should understand the financial consequences that can arise if you choose not to purchase auto insurance. Below are the financial penalties that may apply if you fail to carry auto insurance:
- Monetary fines: First-time offenders are subject to fines ranging from $100 to $200. The fines increase for repeat offenders. Second-time offenders are subject to fines in the $200 to $500 range. These fines do not include penalty assessments, which are outlined below.
- Penalty assessment fees: Penalty assessments are fees that are added to the base fine. The current penalty assessment in California is $29 for every $10 of a base fine. For instance, you can end up paying $290 to $580 in addition to a $100 to $200 fine, resulting in total costs of up to $780 for first-time offenders. Repeat offenders could pay close to $2,000 by the time penalty assessment fees are applied.
- Towing and impoundment fees: Towing fees vary according to circumstances but generally range from $100 to $1,000. Costs may increase depending on the towing company used and the location from which your vehicle is towed. You will also be required to pay any impoundment fees. If you are unable to cover the cost of these fees, your vehicle will be sold to cover them.
What are the legal consequences of driving without auto insurance?
In addition to the steep monetary penalties that apply to people who drive without auto insurance, there are legal consequences that can be damaging to your police record and your ability to legally drive in the future. The legal consequences of driving without auto insurance include the following:
- Potential impoundment of your vehicle: If you are involved in an accident or if you are caught driving without proof of insurance, your vehicle could be impounded at your expense.
- Suspension of your driver's license: If you fail to produce proof of insurance, your driver's license could be suspended for up to four years. In general, the length of your suspension will be longer if you are a repeat offender or if you were engaged in reckless or illegal behavior at the time of an accident or police encounter.
- Your DMV record will be tarnished: If you fail to produce proof of insurance and your licensed is suspended, your DMV record could be tarnished. This could negatively impact your ability to get a job or to travel.
What is the key to finding a trusted auto insurance carrier?
The key to finding a trusted insurance carrier is to thoroughly evaluate available insurance carriers. No two carriers are exactly alike in terms of their quality of service and the format used for their auto insurance quotes. Below are five steps to take before committing to a single insurance carrier.
1) Do your homework. Avoid committing to the first carrier that you encounter. Make sure that you thoroughly evaluate the provider's reputation and all costs to ensure there are no hidden fees.
2) Always request a written quote. Requesting a written quote is vital to ensuring that you know exactly what is included in your coverage. Never commit to a carrier that will only provide you with a verbal estimate.
3) Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Comparing quotes side by side will help you understand the differences in the auto insurance quotes that you receive.
4) Consider online reviews. Before you finalize your decision, you should make sure that your carrier has an excellent industry reputation. Avoid choosing a provider that is not accessible or who attempts to pressure you into optional coverage that you really do not need.
5) Enlist the guidance of an industry expert. The best way to ensure that you choose the right type of coverage for your needs is to seek the expertise of an industry leader. A trained insurance professional can help you save time and money by doing the legwork for you and comparing multiple insurance carriers.
The Bottom Line
Driving without auto insurance in California is a risky undertaking. The financial and legal consequences can mount quickly and you could be without a driver's license for up to four years. Selecting a dependable auto insurance carrier should be a top priority for California drivers. For professional assistance selecting an insurance provider who will best meet your needs and budget, please contact us. One of our auto insurance experts at GM Insurance Services will outline the top insurance carriers in your area and provide you with a comprehensive quotation. Call us today at 877-333-8303 to request a complimentary auto insurance quote. We look forward to becoming your trusted resource for all of your auto insurance needs.