California car insurance: Optional coverages
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California car insurance: Optional coverages

An important thing to note about insurance coverage is that the insurance coverages required in California only cover you if you injure someone else. They do not pay for damage to your car or your injuries after a car accident. "That shouldn't matter," you might think, "everyone else needs to carry car insurance, so their insurance will cover my injuries."

Yet:

  • What if you are at fault in the accident?
  • What if the other driver was at fault but does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries?
  • What if you are injured by a hit-and-run driver?
  • What if your health insurance is not enough to cover your injuries?

There are far too many "what if's" to ignore the other options you have for insurance coverage.

Here are some of the common types of insurance that you can purchase to protect yourself in any of the above scenarios:

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury: This insurance covers you if you are injured by a driver who does not have insurance, or does not have enough insurance, to cover your injuries.
  • Medical payments: This insurance coverage, called "med-pay benefits," covers your bodily injuries if you are or are not at fault in an accident. Med-pay is valuable when you do not have health insurance or your health insurance does not cover your medical care.
  • Collision: Required by many car lenders, collision coverage pays for repairs to your vehicle if you are at fault in the accident.
  • Comprehensive: Comprehensive car insurance coverage is also required by car lenders. It covers your vehicle if it is damaged in a way other than a car accident, such as a natural disaster or vandalism.

While it is up to you if you want to purchase these types of car insurance, we strongly recommend considering each one based on your unique situation. For example, while collision coverage may not make sense for an older vehicle, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is almost always a good option.

Source: California Department of Motor Vehicles, "Insurance Requirements for Vehicle Registration," 2012

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