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Understanding the different types of Automobile Insurance can save you a lot of headaches if you are ever involved in an automobile accidents. What is most important is for consumers to know that “one size” does not fit all, and that not all “full coverage” policies are the same. Often times, what is advertised as a “full coverage” policy may not include all six areas of coverage.


In California, all owners and operators of motor vehicles are required to maintain liability insurance with adequate coverage. Currently, the minimum liability requirements are $15,000 per individual and $30,000 per incident for personal injury and up to $5,000 for property damage. Liability insurance protects you and your assets in the event that you are partially or wholly at fault, in an automobile accident. Liability insurance pays for the "other side’s" damages and may cover your passengers as well.

While maintaining minimum liability insurance will satisfy California’s legal requirements, minimum liability is often inadequate to fully compensate the victims in the event of a loss. This is usually true with multi-vehicle and multi-party accidents, where all must share the one $30,000 limit for personal injury expenses. In addition, with the increase of higher end vehicles on the roadway and the soaring expense of vehicle repairs, a single $5,000 limit may not be sufficient to cover all the damages resulting from a car accident. This leaves the responsible parties liable for damages that exceed the policy limits.


“Excess” or “Supplemental” Liability Insurance protects you in the event of a major car accident. These policies usually have higher limits than standard liability insurance, and protect you and your assets in the event of a major car accident. These policies are available with different limits to suit your personal circumstances. The most common is the “$100,000/$300,000” policy that provides up to $100,000 of coverage per individual and $300,000 per incident, and up to $50,000 for property damage. Like standard liability insurance, Excess Liability policies pay for the “other side’s” damages and may cover your passengers as well.

Excess liability insurance is often available for a nominal fee in addition to your standard liability premium and is highly recommended for those that wish to protect themselves and their assets against liability in the event of a major car accident.


Collision Insurance covers damage to your property in the event of an accident, regardless of who is at fault. The policy limits are often based on the value of your vehicle, and the policy may include a deductible. These types of policies are often required by banks and lenders when financing or leasing a vehicle.


Comprehensive Insurance covers damage to your vehicle resulting from incidents other than a motor vehicle accident, such as theft or fire. Like Collision Insurance, the policy limits are often based on the value of the vehicle, and the policy may include a deductible. These policies are often required by banks and lenders when financing or leasing a vehicle.


Medical Payment Insurance ("Med-Pay") covers your medical expenses, regardless of who is at fault. Medical Payment insurance is available with different policy limits. Depending on your policy, Medical Payment insurance may also provide coverage for additional items such as lost wages or funeral expenses.


Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist insurance provides coverage in instances where the other driver is “at fault” and has no insurance or lacks sufficient coverage to compensate your losses in the event of a motor vehicle accident. These policies provide coverage in situations such as hit-and-run accidents and in multi-vehicle, multi-party accidents where the other driver’s insurance policy is not enough to cover all the damages. These policies are often required by banks and lenders when financing or leasing a vehicle.

In addition to the typical automobile insurance policies, there are other policies that may provide coverage in the event of an automobile or personal injury accident.


Homeowners Insurance and Renters Insurance are available to provide protection to homeowners and renters in the event of a Personal injury or other types of damage resulting from owning or renting a home. These types of policies may provide coverage in the event of a slip-n-fall or dog bite.


Personal Liability Insurance or “Umbrella” policies are available for individuals that wish to protect substantial assets. These types of policies come in varying types and sizes and are often designed to fit the individual’s unique circumstances. These policies can have coverage in excess of one million dollars ($1,000,000) and may include automobile liability coverage as well. These policies may be combined with Homeowners Insurance and/or other insurance products.

Do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys, if you have any questions regarding the different types of automobile insurance policies.

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