How much car insurance do I need in California?

Learn about minimum insurance coverage requirements for vehicles in California, consequences for driving without insurance, and more.

California, like most states, sets minimum coverage requirements for  car insurance, and those are shown in the table below. You are legally required by state law to carry at least these levels of insurance, for every motor vehicle that is registered and considered "in operation" in the state:

Coverage Type

California Requirements

Bodily Injury Liability

$15,000 per person/$30,000 total per accident

Property Damage Liability


Uninsured Motorist

Not required in California

Underinsured Motorist

Not required in California

Medical Payments

Not required in California


Not required in California


Not required in California

The minimum amounts shown in the table above are merely a starting point for you to use in determining which insurance is best for you. Even if a certain type of coverage is not mandatory, it may still be a good idea to carry it. Fro example, California does not require  uninsured motorist coverage, but adding this kind of protection to your policy can be a financial lifesaver if you're in an accident that was caused by an uninsured driver. (Learn more about  Different Types of Car Insurance Coverage.)

Your local insurance agent is also a good resource who can answer any questions you may have about your insurance options in California, and can tailor those to your specific situation.

You can learn more about car insurance coverage and the law in California in our article  California Auto Insurance Laws and Regulations. You might also want to check out  Automobile Insurance in California  from the California Department of Insurance.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in California

Driving without the requisite coverage means you are breaking the law in California. For a first offense the fine can be up to $200. For a second offense, and each subsequent offense, the fine can be as high as $500. The laws in California also allow law enforcement officers to tow and impound your vehicle if you are caught driving without insurance. If you still fail to provide proof of insurance by the time your court hearing comes around, the judge is required by law to impose even larger fines.

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