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California Insurance

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California requires every driver to maintain car insurance. At the very minimum, drivers need to have liability insurance on their vehicles. For low-income drivers, there are some alternative options and discounts available.

Basic Auto Insurance

California requires drivers to have at least the minimum amount of liability insurance. The insurance coverage needs to cover:

  1. $15,000 toward any death or injury of a single person
  2. $20,000 toward death or injury to multiple people
  3. $5,000 toward any property damage that took place

There are multiple options for car insurance. While liability is the only necessary insurance, some people choose to have other kinds of coverage such as:

  1. Collision coverage
  2. Rental car coverage
  3. Towing and labor coverage
  4. Comprehensive coverage
  5. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Usually, it’s optional to maintain collision or comprehensive coverage, but if you are leasing your vehicle or have financed it, you may be required to have comprehensive insurance coverage.

Required Insurance Documents

Whenever you drive, you should have proof of insurance. Your insurance company will send you an insurance card that proves that you’re insured. That card renews each time your policy renews or changes.
Your insurance information is automatically reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles by the insurance company you use.

Your Insurance Card

Carry your insurance card with you at all times. This card should include information such as:

  1. Your car’s make
  2. Your car’s model
  3. The year your car was released
  4. The car’s safety rating
  5. The value of your vehicle
  6. The name of those covered on the policy
  7. The expiration date of the policy

You may be asked for this information if you’re pulled over in California. You may also need to present it when:

  1. Requested by law enforcement
  2. You’re involved in a collision
  3. You’re renewing the vehicle’s registration

The acceptable types of insurance include:

  1. Motor vehicle liability insurance policies
  2. DMV-issued self-insurance certificates
  3. Cash deposits of $35,000 with the DMV
  4. A surety bond of $35,000 from a company in California

For more information about insurance requirements, the Department of Motor Vehicles Financial Responsibility Unit can be reached at (916) 657-6520.

Insurance Fraud

Car insurance fraud is a felony in California, and it is one that can result is serious penalties. In fact, insurance fraud is punishable by up to five years in state prison and with fines of up to $50,000.

Insurance fraud is taken seriously, because there is a real personal and economic threat posed by fraud.

How to Report Fraud to the State

If you believe that someone is defrauding the state, you can report that fraud online on the Consumer Insurance Fraud Reporting Form at www.insurance.ca.gov. You can also send the Consumer Insurance Fraud Reporting Form to:

California Department of Insurance

Enforcement Branch HeadquartersIntake Unit
9342 Tech Center Drive, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95826


Download a Consumer Fraud Claims Form, form FD-1, if you suspect fraud. You should return this document to the California Department of Insurance.

Last Verified:
Dec 28, 2022