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Why do I need car insurance in order to drive?

In every state in America, the law requires that you have automobile insurance if you own and operate a vehicle on public roadways. California is no exception. California Vehicle Code § 16020 et seq. requires that any owner/operator of a vehicle have the bare minimum of insurance – usually called “liability” coverage – and keep proof of the same in the vehicle at all times. Liability insurance must provide at least the following basic coverage: (1) at least $15,000 in coverage for personal injury to another person; (2) at least $30,000 in total coverage for an accident involving two or more injured parties; and (3) at least $5,000 in coverage for property damage (California Insurance Code § 11580.1; California Vehicle Code § 16056(a)). These minimum requirements are based on the public policy that – in general – all drivers benefit from being insured. This protects the at-fault driver from declaring bankruptcy or otherwise losing their entire savings due to an accident. It also protects safe drivers who are injured by a negligent driver without assets, insuring there will be some insurance coverage to compensate for their injuries.

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