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There is no set amount that constitutes sufficient automobile insurance coverage across-the-board. Whether your coverage limits are adequate depends on a number of factors, such as your assets and personal wealth, your driving history, your age, your health, who is insured under your policy, and a whole host of other factors that are too numerous to list here.
However, one thing is certain, the minimum requirements for insurance coverage in the State of California are inadequate to protect you and your family. You should not fall into the trap of obtaining a minimal insurance policy in an attempt to save a few dollars on premiums.
California law requires that a private passenger vehicle have minimum liability coverage of $15,000 for injury or death to one person, $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person and $5,000 for damage to property. (Cal. Vehicle Code § 16056; Cal. Ins. Code § 11580.1.) In essence, this means that if you cause an automobile accident, your insurance company will cover you up to these amounts. However, in many cases, an injured party’s damages, which often include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and vehicle damage, can be far in excess of these amounts. Having insufficient insurance could potentially expose your personal assets to judgment in excess of these minimum amounts. Moreover, these minimum amounts provide no coverage when you are not the at-fault driver, and the at-fault driver has no insurance or inadequate insurance to cover you or your passengers. The coverage you need for this situation is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM), which insurers are required to offer in connection with all policies of automobile insurance. (See Discussion on UM/UIM coverage in #1 above.)
At the O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm, we recommend having the following coverages and minimum limits on your automobile insurance policy:
The maximum amount you can afford but no less than $100,000 or more for injury or death to any one personThe maximum amount you can afford but no less than $300,000 or more for injury or death to more than one person
The maximum amount you can afford but no less than $100,000
The maximum amount you can afford but no less than $5,000.
The maximum amount you can afford but no less than $25,000. (this is not collision coverage for damages to your own vehicle; this is coverage to pay for property damage you cause to another vehicle when you are at-fault)
Please note, these coverages and minimum coverage limits are not substitutes for legal advice and in no way constitute legal advice or give rise to an attorney-client relationship. Adequate insurance coverage for individuals and passenger vehicles is fact-dependent and requires independent analysis and inquiry specific to your situation and circumstances. These are provided to explain in general and brief terms certain issues that arise with respect to automobile insurance coverage and serves to provide general information about why the minimum automobile insurance limits required by California law are not adequate under many circumstances. The limits listed above may also be inadequate in your specific circumstance and this article in no way warrants or suggests that these minimum limits will be adequate in the event you are involved in an automobile accident or are otherwise injured or cause injury to person and/or property.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not a substitute for legal advice and in no way constitutes legal advice or gives rise to an attorney-client relationship. Adequate counsel is fact-dependent and requires independent analysis and inquiry specific to your situation and circumstances. This article is simply meant as a guide to explain in general and brief terms certain issues and serves to provide general information. Contact O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm at 916-714-8200 if you require legal help or wish to seek legal advice for your specific legal issue(s).