In September 2022, the state government officially passed the Protect California Drivers Act (SB 1107), an important piece of legislation that impacts your California car insurance. The act doubles the amount of the minimum liability coverage that you need to obtain.
Although this means pricier insurance premiums, the new requirements provide greater financial protection for injured drivers, and the act is part of California’s ongoing efforts to have residents carry more robust coverage to protect themselves and others from debt.
Here’s what you need to know about California minimum car insurance coverage and how the Protect California Drivers Act will affect you.
California’s Car Insurance Liability Limits
California calculated its mandatory minimum liability insurance requirements in 1967, and shockingly, the minimum coverage amount has stayed the same. Most states have surpassed California’s minimum coverage requirements, making us 46th in the nation.
Currently, the mandatory amount of minimum coverage for California drivers includes the following:
- $15,000 for bodily injury or death of a victim
- $30,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more victims in a single accident
- $5,000 in property damage
The California State Legislature made these minimum requirements mandatory in 1974. But, of course, medical expenses and vehicle repair costs are astronomically higher now than they were in the 1970s, leading the state government to increase mandatory liability insurance coverage.
The Protect California Drivers Act’s New Mandatory Liability Insurance
The Protect California Drivers Act’s new insurance requirements will take effect on January 1, 2025, and the minimum coverage will increase again on January 1, 2035.
If you’re a California driver, you’ll need the following minimum liability coverage starting in 2025:
- $30,000 for bodily injury or death of a victim
- $60,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more victims in a single accident
- $15,000 in property damage
Starting in 2035, your required minimum liability coverage will increase to:
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death of a victim
- $100,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more victims in a single accident
- $25,000 in property damage
You’ll need to increase your liability coverage before these deadlines in order to continue driving legally. In addition to being illegal, driving without sufficient liability coverage could leave you vulnerable to a personal injury lawsuit.
Why Did Liability Minimums Increase?
Many opposed the Protect California Drivers Act due to the increased financial strain it will likely put on California drivers. Granted, California car insurance premiums will increase for many, but the increased mandatory minimum liability coverage will provide more financial protection for car accident victims.
The current minimum liability insurance doesn’t sufficiently cover injured drivers and passengers. For example, if you sustained a severe arm fracture due to a driver’s negligence, your cost of treatment will likely surpass $15,000, possibly forcing you to pay out of pocket for your medical bills. The new $30,000 minimum coverage for individual victims is far more likely to cover the cost of your medical bills.
This new law is essential for the many California residents who lack sufficient medical insurance to cover accident-induced personal injuries and protects them from going into debt while they recover.
Of course, your medical bills and related damages after a crash may surpass $30,000, so obtaining uninsured/underinsured coverage is beneficial as well.
Why Do I Need Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage?
Although California’s new legislation will increase mandatory liability coverage starting in 2025, you may still struggle to recover the compensation you deserve after a crash due to the at-fault driver’s car insurance policy limits.
Sadly, car accident victims often suffer from more than just vehicle damages and medical bills — their injuries can impact their ability to work and enjoy life. Plus, if their injuries require ongoing treatment, including prescriptions, surgeries, and physical therapy, their expenses will likely surpass $30,000.
For that reason, obtaining uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage is ideal, even though it’s not a legal requirement. When you have this optional coverage, your insurance company should pay the difference between your expenses and the at-fault driver’s minimum liability coverage.
Let’s say you suffer from a herniated disc in your accident, and your total damages amount to around $50,000. Starting in 2025, the negligent driver’s insurance company should pay at least $30,000, assuming the at-fault driver has mandatory minimum liability coverage. Your insurance company will then be responsible for the remaining $20,000.
Additionally, this coverage will protect you in case the at-fault driver is uninsured or lacks the state’s minimum liability coverage.
In the event that you struggle to recover damages because the negligent driver is uninsured or has strict car insurance coverage limits, you can also file a personal injury lawsuit against them.
Contact a California Car Accident Attorney
Although California drivers will soon need to carry significantly more liability coverage, the insurance companies supplying this coverage often dispute claims. This is because insurance companies are private businesses whose primary aim is to make and save money. This means that they’ll do whatever they can to undervalue or outright reject your personal injury claim if you’re hurt by one of their clients.
If a negligent driver injured you, it’s best to contact a car accident personal injury attorney who can deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance company on your account.
Here at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we have many years of experience holding negligent drivers and their insurance companies accountable for victims’ medical bills and other damages. If you’ve been injured in a collision, you can schedule a free case evaluation today online or by calling 877-380-8852.