Even minor car crashes can cause extensive damage to your vehicle. Perhaps more troubling, physical injuries, financial stress, and emotional distress can result. Fortunately, if you have good auto insurance coverage, you can get the help you need in the aftermath of the incident. Recently, California legislation has raised the minimum liability coverage insurance companies in the state must pay for accident claims. The changes take effect in 2025.
Currently, and through Dec. 31, 2024, state law has mandated that drivers carry a minimum of $15,000 for liability coverage per single injury or death, $30,000 for accident coverage, and $5,000 for property damage. However, those requirements are increasing to $30,000, $60,000, and $15,000, respectively. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill, which was introduced by Senator Bill Dodd, a Democrat from California’s Senate District 3. Dodd said the bill aims to provide more financial protection for drivers who face steep vehicle repair costs and medical care bills. He noted: “My bill ensures crash victims get the financial support they need while covering those who might be liable for soaring medical and property damage costs.”
The Downside and Concerns
While higher liability coverages will help in the event of an accident, some detractors of the bill express worry about rising premium costs. Because the liability coverages are going up, so will monthly bills for drivers, many of whom may be at the edge of their budgets already. Insurance Information Institute Director of Strategic Communications Janet Ruiz believes many drivers will consider dropping their coverage due to unaffordability. She said this can have drastic consequences: “Consumers who drop coverage risk losing their driver’s license, fines, and inability to register their car with the DMV.”
A Necessary Move?
However, proponents of the law have maintained that the change is necessary to keep up with the rising costs of repairs and health care. For example, as the Public News Service reported, Consumer Attorneys of California President Craig Peters said that the previous coverage of $15,000 would scarcely cover a ride in an ambulance. Furthermore, Peters noted that other states in the country have made similar changes to car accident liability coverages and that California has been slow to catch up. He said: “California has lagged behind every other state in the union. This will actually put us back into the middle of the pack.”
What Drivers and Accident Victims Can Do
Drivers in California who are struggling to afford auto insurance should shop around and compare rates at several companies. Discounts are often available for safe drivers, students with high grades, military members and veterans, and customers who bundle their auto insurance with other coverage. For those injured in a car accident, compensation may be available to augment what the insurance will pay. If another driver is at fault, you may be able to sue for damages and recover medical costs and lost wages.
If you've been in a car accident and need to speak with a lawyer, contact the car accident attorneys at Kennedy and Associates. Our team has been helping those injured in auto accidents for decades. We would love to give you a free case review.