Here’s a basic and simple explanation of the main coverage options associated with auto insurance in California.
Liability Car Insurance basically covers what you’re liable for. If you caused damage to another vehicle, person or property then your insurance company will pay for what you were held liable for up to your policy limits. The minimum limits required in California for auto insurance are 15/30/5. 15/30/5 is short for $15,000 per person for bodily injuries, $30,000 max per occurrence for bodily injuries, and $5,000 max for property damage. You are still liable for damages above what the insurance company pays so be sure to protect your assets. For homeowners, a minimum of 100/300/50 is recommended. Also, if you vehicle is leased, your leasing company is likely to require that you have a minimum of 100/300/50 liability insurance coverage.
Uninsured Motorist (UMBI & UMPD)
Uninsured motorist is an optional but highly recommended coverage. Even with it being a law to carry liability car insurance, many motorists simply can’t afford it. Uninsured motorist coverage will protect you up to the policy limits in the event an uninsured motorist collides with you. For uninsured motorist to provide coverage it is required that someone be held liable for hitting you. In the event of a hit and run, at least a license plate number must be obtained for this coverage to kick in. Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI) starts off at limits of 15/30, $15,000 per person with a maximum of $30,000 of coverage per accident… higher limits are available. This means that if an uninsured motorist is held liable for the accident, your insurance company will pay you and your passengers for bodily injury incurred up to your policy limits. Your company may also provide this coverage for under insured motorists which means that if the person that hit you doesn’t have enough coverage to cover your injuries; your company will come in as the secondary and cover the difference up to their limits.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD) is usually $3500 in coverage. If an uninsured motorist was held liable for your accident, your company will pay up to $3500 for repairs to your vehicle. If you have purchased collision coverage on your policy then your UMPD coverage becomes a collision deductible waiver which means this coverage will pay the deductible on your collision coverage.
Medical Payments provide coverage up to the policy limits for medical bills resulting from an accident regardless of fault. You can purchase medical payment limits from about $1,000 to $10,000. Let’s say you chose to buy $1,000 medical payment limits, each person in your car would be covered up to $1,000 per accident. Medical payments are optional and not required.
Comprehensive & Collision (Comp/Coll)
Comprehensive and Collision coverage on your auto insurance policy is the part that covers your vehicle. Collision coverage covers your vehicle in the event of an accident while you’re driving. Comprehensive coverage also know as other than collision coverage covers your vehicle for damages that may happen when you’re not driving your vehicle such as fire, theft, vandalism, tree falling on your car, etc. These coverages don’t have limits to purchase; they work with choosing a deductible. A deductible is the amount you pay first, and then the insurance company covers the rest. The most common deductible options chosen are $500 and $1000. The lower your deductible, the higher your premium will be since the insurance company covers more. If your vehicle is financed or leased, your financing company will require you to carry these coverages until the car is paid off.
Rental & Towing
Rental coverage will cover the costs of renting a car up to the policy limits in the event your vehicle is undrivable or in the body shop resulting from an accident. You’ll usually see numbers such as 20/30 or 30/40 when it comes to choosing the limits for this coverage. The first number is how much they will cover per day, the second number is the maximum number of days they will cover for. 20/30 means that your auto insurance company will pay $20 per day up to a maximum of 30 days. Towing coverage will cover you for towing your car as a result of an accident up to the policy limits. Limits are usually listed as a dollar amount of $50 or $100 which means that you’re covered up to that amount for towing per disablement. Remember that these coverages only take effect in the event of an accident and are not a roadside service. Most companies now offer roadside service as an optional coverage.
Other coverages and options
Other coverages and options vary company to company. Please check with your company or agent to see what options are available to you.