And what happens if you lack insurance?
Picture driving in California and you’ll probably think about a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway, blasting music and soaking up the sun. But driving in California isn’t all tunes and sunshine. Before you drive, you’ll need both auto insurance and registration. We’ll take you through the requirements so you can drive down the coast worry-free.
In California, you’ll need auto insurance to register a car.
You must carry proof of insurance in your car at all times, which you’ll need to provide when law enforcement requests it, when you renew your car registration, and when you’re involved in a traffic collision.
If the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) doesn’t have your proof of insurance, your registration will be suspended, meaning you won’t be able to drive or even park your car on public roadways until you submit your proof of insurance.
So, what is the minimum car insurance required in California?
Forty-eight states require auto insurance, including California. This is the minimum liability required in California:
California’s insurance requirements are relatively minimal and don’t include collision and comprehensive coverage, medical payments coverage, or uninsured motorist coverage. We recommend getting full coverage for events like these:
Penalties for driving without insurance in California can include fines, driver’s license suspensions, or even vehicle impoundments.2 If you cancel your coverage, notify the California DMV and submit an affidavit of non-use to prevent your car registration from being suspended.
Surprisingly, given that the cost of living in California is 33 percent higher than the rest of the country, California is one of the cheapest states for auto insurance.
In California, transportation costs are 37 percent higher than the national average.3 Additionally, the average annual cost of auto insurance in California compared to the national average is $1,051.79—two percent less.4
Take these steps to reduce the cost of auto insurance in California:
If you’re driving in California, getting car registration is a must after you secure an insurance policy.
The state of California requires your vehicle to be registered, whether you’re driving, parking, or even standing on the highway.5
Every driver in California needs to have car registration along with auto insurance.
To register your vehicle with the DMV, you’ll need the following documents:
For registration renewal, you’ll need the following:
Registration fees depend on many factors, including your type of vehicle, its purchase price, where you live, and your car’s declared gross vehicle weight.
We’ve answered all of your California car insurance FAQs, but if you want to learn more about the state’s laws, read our guide to fines for texting and driving in California. It’s important to know not only your insurance and registration requirements, but also the laws about driving itself in order to stay safe and covered.
INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS. California Department of Motor Vehicles. (2022).
Automobile Insurance Information Guide. California Department of Insurance. (2018, Feb).
Cost of Living Data Series. Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. (2022).
2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report. NAIC. (2022).
2009 California Vehicle Code – Section 4000-4023 :: Article 1. Vehicles Subject To Registration. Justia. (2009).