If you’ve done the responsible thing and purchased auto insurance then you’re fully covered for an accident, right?

The answer is often no.

Unfortunately, many drivers find out the hard way that they are not adequately covered for car accident expenses. Keep reading to understand how this happens and what you can do about it.

California Car Insurance Laws

According to the California DMV, the required liability insurance minimums for private passenger vehicles are as follows:

  • $15,000 for injury/death to one person.
  • $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person.
  • $5,000 for damage to property.

What Insurance Companies Often Don’t Tell You

Many drivers think that because they have purchased insurance plans that meet the minimum requirements for California, they are good to go in the event of an accident. But often, insurance companies neglect to explain that even if you have minimum coverage, you’ll most likely still face significant expenses after an accident.


  1. Liability insurance (the only required car insurance in California) covers damage that you caused to another person or vehicle. It does not cover injuries or property damage for yourself or your family. To cover personal injuries, you must buy additional coverage. You can buy medical coverage separately as “MedPay” or buy it included in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) along with coverage for property damage and other accident expenses.
  2. Insurance limits are often too low.

How Can You Better Prepare For An Accident?

Although accidents can come out of nowhere, you can be better prepared by understanding the details of your insurance policy.

  • Discuss and study your plan carefully before signing anything.
  • Pay attention to your policy’s limits for each kind of coverage. The limit is the maximum amount that your insurance will pay. Any costs above those limits will come out of your pocket.
  • Consider how far your limits will go. For example, a property damage limit of $5,000 won’t suffice if the other car is totaled.
  • Consider buying “Med Pay” or PIP. These are additional policies that are not required in California.

Understanding MedPay and PIP

MedPay only covers medical expenses for you and your passengers.

PIP can cover a range of accident-related costs, regardless of who was at fault. Most PIP policies cover:

  • The cost of personal medical treatment.
  • Compensation for lost earnings.
  • In the event of a death, funeral expenses to those covered by the insurance policy.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

When you’re in a serious accident, wishing you had more insurance coverage is the last thing you need! California’s comparative negligence law says that you can claim compensation from the other driver even if you share fault in the accident. However, don’t count on this compensation to cover all your accident-related costs. California law requires that your compensation is reduced based on the percentage of fault that you contributed. Consider a PIP policy that will give you the confidence you need!