Under- and Uninsured Motorists Still a Problem in California Despite Low-Cost Liability Coverage


California uses fault rules in car accident cases, meaning that a party who causes an accident is expected to be financially responsible for losses. Having liability insurance is thus very important, but, unfortunately, despite programs to provide insurance for low-income individuals, many Californians remain uninsured or underinsured, explains a California personal injury lawyer.

The state requires motorists to carry liability coverage to ensure they will have the financial means to compensate parties to whom they cause harm in accidents. Under state tort laws, those involved in traffic collisions may seek compensation from the at-fault driver for expenses arising from the loss or repair of property, the treatment of injuries, lost earnings during recovery, and pain and suffering.

Motorists in the state are legally required to carry a liability insurance policy of at least $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person; $30,000 in bodily injury coverage to be divided among all parties injured in the accident; and $5,000 in property damage coverage.

Purchasing a policy for the minimum liability coverage proved too expensive for many low-income Californians, prompting the state to design a program offering more affordable premiums for such residents with good driving records. Despite the creation of low-cost liability coverage, many drivers in the state remain under- and uninsured.

According to the Merced Sun-Star, the low-income insurance program is a good thing for California. The newspaper indicates that other states are interested in trying to institute their own similar programs.  Despite the positive commentary, however, the Sun-Star does report that only a few hundred people from the region are taking advantage of the low-income insurance option.  This limited number of drivers taking advantage of the program may be because few people are aware of it.

Even when individuals do take advantage of the program and purchase insurance, their coverage is limited because of lower policy maximums. California’s Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program only allows for $10,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person; $20,000 in bodily injury coverage to be shared among all parties injured in the crash; and $3,000 in property damage coverage.

Someone involved in a serious collision with a driver carrying low-cost liability coverage could easily sustain more than $10,000 in medical expenses. If the driver lacks the resources to personally compensate the accident victim for expenses related to the injury, the burden of paying such debts may fall on the victim unless he or she carried underinsured motorist coverage at the time of the crash. Given that many drivers in California are under- or uninsured, purchasing additional insurance coverage is crucial to ensuring recovery after an auto accident.

Additional information on auto insurance, accidents, and the injury claims process is available to the public free of charge through our Preferred Friends and Clients Program.

If you would like to request one of these free resources, or to speak with a California personal injury lawyer, feel free to call 1-888-834 5055.


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