California has increased its minimum automobile financial responsibility liability coverage for the first time since 1967. On September 28, 2022, Governor Newsom signed S.B. 1107, sponsored by Senator Bill, which amends section 16056 of the California Vehicle Code to increase the minimum of motor vehicle financial responsibility limits on January 1, 2025, and again on January 1, 2035.
Existing law requires drivers to maintain liability insurance coverage of $15,000 for the bodily injury or death of any one person, $30,000 for the bodily injury or death of all persons, and $5,000 for damage to the property of others resulting from one accident. S.B. 1107 will double these minimum amounts, and then almost double them again in 2035. Specifically, the new minimum coverage limits will be:
Effective January 1, 2025:
$30,000 for physical injury or death for one person
$60,000 for physical injury or death for two or more people.
$15,000 in property damage coverage.
Effective January 1, 2035
· $50,000 for bodily injury for an individual
· $100,000 for bodily injury or death for two or more individuals
· $25,000 for property damage.
Critics of the law argue that increasing mandatory insurance minimums will lead to higher premiums for drivers, which could make it harder for low-income drivers to afford insurance. While it's true that some drivers may see their premiums increase, the benefits of increased coverage far outweigh the costs. The increased minimums ensure that drivers are more likely to have adequate insurance coverage, reducing the likelihood that uninsured or underinsured drivers will cause accidents and financial burdens for others.
Additionally, the existing minimums have not been updated since 1967 and do not account for inflation and rising costs of living. The increased minimums reflect the current costs of medical care, car repairs, and other expenses associated with accidents, which can be significant.
Although the new law is a step in the right direct when it comes to accident insurance coverage, we always recommend the purchase of additional uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage through your own auto insurance carrier. That way, your recovery rights are never limited by what auto insurance a negligent driver just happens to have and you can ensure you are adequately protected in the event of a serious accident.