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Insurance Penalties, Requirements, and Options for Motorcyclists in California

In California, motorcyclists and automobile drivers are required to show that they can be financially responsible in case of an accident.  These requirements must be met no matter the circumstances of the driver – whether civilian, or military such as Marine, Army, or Airman, Navy, or Coast Guard.   However, some insurance companies will offer special incentives for military members.

Basic Insurance Requirements for California

Generally, drivers have the following options when showing responsibility:

•    Making a cash deposit of $35,000 to the California Department of Motor Vehicles
•    Obtaining a self-insurance certificate from the California Department of Motor Vehicles
•    Obtaining a $35,000 surety bond via a company that California has licensed.
•    Purchasing a liability insurance policy.

For motorcycles, the liability insurance policy that is minimally required is often called 15/30 liability coverage.  It is so-called because it includes:

•    $15,000 coverage for injury or death to one person, aka bodily injuries
•    $30,000 coverage for injuries or deaths to more than one person
•    $5,000 coverage for property damage

Additional Helpful Insurance Options

A motorcyclist in California also has the option of purchasing additional insurance to cover damages and losses not covered by the usual 15/30 policy.  These include:

•    Collision coverage:  covers damages that occur from being hit by another vehicle, person, animal, object, or caused by rollovers.
•    Comprehensive coverage:  covers damages caused by non-collision incidents.
•    Uninsured motorist coverage:  covers expenses due to an uninsured driver.
•    Underinsured motorist coverage:  covers expenses due to a driver who did not have sufficient insurance to cover all losses.

Helmets Requirements Still Apply No Matter the Coverage

No matter whether the motorcyclist goes for the minimally required coverage or additional coverage, all motorcyclists will not be considered exempt from the state’s helmet policy.  All drivers and passengers of motorcycles are required to wear an approved helmet no matter what level or type of coverage or financial responsibility.

Penalties for Not Meeting Financial Responsibility Proof

If a motorcyclist fails to provide at least minimal proof of responsibility, the state is prepared to take actions against them.  If the motorcyclist’s insurance company fails to electronically notify California of their policy, false insurance is submitted, or the liability insurance hasn’t been replaced within 45-days of cancellation, the motorcyclist’s registration can be suspended.

Traffic ticket fines over $1,000 can be assigned if a motorcyclist is pulled over by a peace officer and can’t prove that he has liability or sufficient coverage.  Fines can be placed on the vehicle, or the vehicle compounded.  Motorcyclists can also be liable financially for injuries and damages due to an accident and potentially lose their license for up to a year.

The Purpose of Coverage, and What to Do in Case of a Military Related Motorcycle Accident

Most importantly, insurance is meant to somewhat protect the motorcyclists in case of accidents.  Injuries and damages due to accidents can become quite expensive rather quickly no matter who is at fault.  If you or your loved one is the victim of a motorcycle accident due to another’s negligence, you also have the option of hiring a motorcycle accident attorney to represent your interests no matter what level of coverage the other party has.

Michael Ehline, Esq., of Ehline Law Firm PC understands the requirements and lifestyles of motorcyclists intimately as he is a motorcyclist.  As a Marine, he also has the type of drive and ethics that it takes to represent the victim of accidents.  Ehline Law Firm PC has offices conveniently located throughout California, including San Diego, Sacramento, and Los Angeles.  Call 213.596.9642 to learn more.

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