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California Auto Insurance

The Complete Guide To California Auto Insurance

California requires all drivers to be financially responsible while operating a motor vehicle and most motorists meet this requirement by purchasing California car insurance. Drivers who do not wish to purchase auto insurance are required to either purchase a surety bond in the amount of $35,000 from a company licensed to do business in California, or leave a cash deposit with the California Department of Motor Vehicles in the same amount. The California DMV will then issue the driver a self insurance certificate, which can be presented to a Police Officer in the event an accident occurs, as proof of financial responsibility. Most California drivers prefer to meet the financial responsibility requirement by purchasing California auto insurance, and the minimum standard that all California liability insurance policies must meet is:

*$15,000 for injury/death to one person.

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

*$5,000 for damage to property.

Low-Cost California Auto Insurance

A cursory internet search for California car insurance quotes will quickly reveal that California auto insurance is relatively expensive, yet still less expensive than the national average. The process of finding cheap California auto insurance is not always easy, but it does help to know what the average policy costs are in order to negotiate the best deal. The average car insurance premium in California is $1,215.85; the average car insurance premium in the United States is $1,677.92. In order to minimize the number of uninsured drivers, the California insurance regulator, which may be found at this address:, has implemented a low cost auto insurance program. A driver can qualify for cheap California car insurance, which is often less than $400 annually, if they pass an income test and also meet the following qualifications:

*The driver must be at least 19 years of age and a resident of the State of California.

*The driver must be a "good driver," which means no more than one at-fault property damage accident, or no more than one "point" for a moving violation, but not both. The driver must have had no at-fault accidents involving bodily injury or death in the past three years and no felony or misdemeanor convictions for a violation of the California Vehicle Code.

*The driver must have been continuously licensed to drive for the previous three years; 18 months of out-of-state licensure will count towards this requirement, but only if they were licensed to drive in the United States or Canada for the preceding 18 months.

*The value of the vehicle insured may not exceed $20,000 when the policy is purchased.

*Men between the ages of 19 and 24 who are also unmarried will be assessed a 25% surcharge.

The income limits change annually so it's best to check them before applying. An Adobe document with the current and complete information on income limitations may be downloaded from this address:

The Top Auto Insurance Companies in California

If a driver cannot qualify for the California low-cost auto insurance program then they will need to start shopping for California auto insurance quotes. By examining the California auto insurance ratings of insurers they can get a good understanding of which one may offer them the best deal. The top ten California car insurers as measured by their share of the auto insurance market are:

*State Farm


*California State Automobile Association Inter-Insurance Bureau


*Mercury Insurance Company

*Mid-Century Insurance

*Infinity Insurance Company

*Farmers Insurance Exchange

*21st Century Insurance


Every California driver has different needs and should choose a policy according to their individual circumstances. Drivers with multiple cars, large families, or who use their car for work may all find they are better served by one company than another. Informed consumers will closely examine the best available California car insurance ratings and choose which company provides the ideal policy for their particular needs.

California Drivers and Their Driving Habits

California is unique in that its car "culture" is deeply ingrained and unavoidable. California has thousands of miles of scenic drives and large, sprawling suburbs that aren't served by mass transit, so California drivers spend a lot of time behind the wheel. It is not unusual for California drivers to forego using turn signals, to pass on the right (which is legal in California) and to come to a rolling stop rather than a full stop at intersections with stop signs. California drivers are also apt to perform a dangerous maneuver called the "California Cut" if they are in the wrong position to safely exit from California's huge six lane highways. The "California Cut" is when a driver rapidly and often dangerously crosses over several lanes of traffic to move from the fast lane to the exit ramp in order to avoid missing an exit. Driving in California requires motorists to be constantly alert and have a very defensive, "safety first" mentality.

California Auto Theft and Most Frequently Stolen Cars

The California Highway Patrol reports that motor vehicle thefts in California are declining and have been for several years. More than 50% of reported motor vehicle thefts take place in southern California, but upwards of 80% of stolen cars are eventually recovered. It is a common misconception that only new or very expensive cars are tageted by car thieves, but this is not the case. Most stolen cars are taken to "chop shops," where car thieves disassemble the stolen vehicles and sell them for spare parts to unscrupulous auto mechanics. The following list of California's most stolen cars clearly shows that all of California's most stolen cars are older models:

*1991 Honda Accord

*1995 Honda Civic

*1989 Toyota Camry

*1994 Acura Integra

*1994 Nissan Sentra

*2007 Toyota Corolla

*1995 Saturn SL

*1997 Nissan Altima

*1997 Nissan Altima

*1986 Toyota Pickup 4x2

California Seat Belt Laws and Use Statistics

California seat belt laws are among the toughest in the nation, and accordingly, California drivers are among the most likely to use seatbelts. A telepone survey conducted by the Centers For Disease Control in 2011 found that only Washington state and Oregon drivers report higher rates of seat belt usage and, like California, they have very strict and rigorously enforced laws regarding the use of seatbelts. California law allows a Police Officer to pull over a motorist who is not wearing their seat belt, even if thay have committed no other infraction or crime. A ticket issued in California for not wearing a seatbelt costs $20 for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. The driver may also be ordered to attend a program or school for traffic violators.

California Roads and General Road Conditions

California roads can be summed up in two words; beautiful and dangerous. The legendary Pacific Coast Highway, which runs almost the entire length of California's coastline, is one of the most well known stretches of road in the world. The vast topographical differences found within close proximity create stunning vistas, but can also precipitate some unique problems. Highway 99, for instance, has become a legendary setting for massive car pileups due in part to Tule Fog, a very dense fog that settles over California's Great Central Valley in fall and winter. Weather-related deaths in California are most often the result of accidents caused by Tule Fog.

California road conditions are generally poor, though it should be noted that a road network the size of California's would be difficult for any state to maintain in tip top shape. TRIP, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to study and evaluate surface transportation issues, released a report in 2008 that showed the poor quality of California's roads are "creating additional operating costs for drivers due to accelerated vehicle deterioration, additional maintenance needs and increased fuel consumption." The TRIP group noted that the average yearly cost to a California driver is approximately $650, as compared to the national average of only $413. Certain California cities have even higher average annual operating costs; San Diego's is $684 and Los Angeles' is $778.

California Vehicle Registration and Penalties for not Carrying Auto Insurance

California requires that a motorist be continually insured while operating a motor vehicle with a California registration. If a motorist's California auto insurance should lapse, or if they choose to not pay or renew their insurance policy, the California Department of Motor Vehicles will be notified by the car insurance company and the motorist's vehicle registration will be immediately suspended. Driving a car with a suspended registration is considerably more serious than merely driving without insurance, and the penalties are harsher. If a motorist is caught driving with a suspended registration they may be arrested and their car may be impounded. If they are involved in an accident while driving with a suspended registration they will likely be held personally liable for any damages, as well. If a motorist does not require the use of their car for a period of time and wish to avoid paying insurance during that period, but still maintain the registration, they may submit an Affidavit Of Non-Use to the Department of Motor Vehicles. A vehicle with an affidavit on file will not have it's registration suspended; rather it will be placed "on hold" until its owner notifies the Department of Motor Vehicles they wish to use the car again, at which point they must provide proof of financial responsibility once more.

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