California Car Insurance Laws

Learn how much property and bodily liability insurance is required to operate a motorized vehicle in California. Discover if you have proper coverage and if not what the penalties and fines are for continuing to drive without the minimum insurance coverage ...     read more

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Department of Insurance Contact Information

California Department of Insurance / Consumer Services Division
300 South Spring Street, South Tower
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Consumer Hotline

1-213-897-8921 or
Toll Free: 1-800-927-HELP (4357)

State Department Website

File Complaint Website

State Regulation

All registered vehicles must be insured: If you have a vehicle and that will be operated on a public road, it must be registered and insured.

You must carry proof of insurance at all times in the vehicle: If you're pulled over and cannot prove that you have liability insurance, you run the risk of a minimum $500 fine, and possible suspension of your car plus court costs.

Minimum liability insurance is required: For California, the minimums are $15,000 for injury or death of one person and $30,000 for injury or death of more than one person; and at least a $5,000 property damage maximum for one accident.

Under the California Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, insurance companies are obligated to report private -vehicle policies to the state. This means the state will know if there is a lapse in your coverage.

Get coverage immediately: When you first register a vehicle, you have 30 days to provide insurance information. If you change or cancel policies, you have 45 days to obtain replacement insurance. Failure to comply with these deadlines may result in the suspension or termination of your registration, a citation of at least $1,000 or vehicle impounding. If you get into an accident while your coverage has lapsed, you will be liable for all damages.

Insurance is NOT required on:

Off-highway vehicles


Vehicles registered to a government entity (city, county, state, federal)

Vehicles registered under a planned nonoperation (PNO) status


You could receive a traffic ticket ($1,000 or more) if you get pulled over by a peace officer and cannot provide evidence of financial responsibility. If you are ticketed you'll have to go through the court system (and not the DMV) to clear or sign such a citation.

Your vehicle could be impounded and you could be fined.

You could be financially responsible for damages associated with an auto accident you had any part in causing. That means being personally liable and forced to pay for any injuries or damage.

Your vehicle registration could be subject to suspension if the following occurs: You fail to replace your liability insurance policy within 45 days once it has been canceled. Your insurance provider fails to electronically provide evidence of insurance within 30 days after the state issued you a registration card on a vehicle that has never before been registered in California. You submit false evidence of insurance.

Requirements Regarding Proof of Insurance: Proof Required - When Obtaining Registration, If Involved In An Accident, If Stopped By Authorities When Driving

Penalties For Not Carrying Mandatory Insurance: First Offense = Fine of up to $200

Min Coverage:

$15,000 for injury/death to one person

$30,000 for injury/death to more than one person

$5,000 for damage to property

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