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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of our frequently asked questions. If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

  1. Do I Need to Have Car Insurance in California?
  2. What Happens If I Don’t Have Auto Insurance While Driving in California?
  3. How many years will my car insurance rate go up in California after a DUI?
  4. How much does car insurance go up after a speeding ticket in California?
  5. How much is car insurance for an 18 year old California?
  6. What are the average car insurance rates California?
  7. How much would it cost to rebuild my home at today's prices?
  8. Can you provide some tips for estimating the value of my home?
  9. What would it cost to replace the contents or personal belongings of my home?
  10. What kind of protection do I need against liability claims?
  11. What is Personal Liability Umbrella coverage?
  12. A neighbor slips on my sidewalk and threatens to take me to court for damages. Does my homeowner policy protect me?
  13. How can I make sure that I have coverage for my valuables?
  14. Is my jewelry covered by my homeowners policy?
  15. Do I need to take an inventory and photographs of my belongings?
  16. How can I make my home safer and possibly save money?
  17. Is my motorcycle optional equipment covered?
  18. Is there some type of motorcycle first accident waiver available?
  19. What kind of higher limits are available for Motorcycle Liability coverage?
Do I Need to Have Car Insurance in California?

The State of California allows new residents 20 days to get their acts together to buy car insurance from a broker licensed by the California Department of Insurance. Any insurance company linked to this site is licensed by the State of California, but if you need to check out another company, you can call the Department of Insurance at 1-800-927-HELP.

If you are just visiting California for less than six months, then the policy you buy in your home state will do, as long as it provides at least 30/15/5 coverage ($15,000 for a single death or injury, $30,000 for death or injury to more than one person, and $5,000 for property damage). Almost all auto liability policies afford this much protection, but if you are not sure that your policy does, call your agent before you drive in California.

Common California FAQs

  • What are the average rates in California
  • State sponsored insurance?
  • How much does it cost for 18 year old drivers?
  • My rate after a DUI?
  • Liability insurance. What does it cover?
  • Speeding tickets in California. Does my insurance go up?


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What Happens If I Don’t Have Auto Insurance While Driving in California?

The penalties for driving without insurance in California are stiff. You will be fined at least $100 and possibly as much as $200 for the first offense, and $200 up to $500 for each subsequent offense in the next three years.

If your drivers license was issued by the State of California, you are likely to lose it for six months, and your California car registration will be canceled. Don't try to pass off an old proof of insurance card as current. The DMV is notified whenever policies are canceled.

And that’s not the worst of it…

States fall into two general categories for driver responsibility for damages caused by a car crash. Some states are no-fault states. That means that neither driver involved in a crash is treated as being at fault for a wreck.

California, however, is a tort state. This means that you can be taken to court to be sued by for causing an accident, and whether or not you caused the accident is something that is determined during the trial, not before it. There are no legal limits to how much you can owe if you lose the trial, or if you don’t have enough money to hire an attorney to represent you at trial.

Even if you were not in the wrong and you win your trial, you are still likely to have to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses. If you maintain your California auto liability insurance, however, your insurance company will defend you—at least within the limits of your policy.



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How many years will my car insurance rate go up in California after a DUI?
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) penalties and consequences differ per state. In California, you will see an increase that will stay for at least 3 years. It can stay up longer or increase if there are other tickets or citations within the 3 year period.  If this happens, the increase will continue for 5 years minimum. Definitely, you will not be able to get a safe-driver’s discount for at least 10 years starting from the date of your most recent DUI.

 

The insurance company will be required to issue an SR-22 if your license was suspended because of DUI. This is a certificate that is required by the state indicating your financial responsibility because of a DUI and/or any other driving offenses. Your insurance company must sign the SR-22 and certify that you have the minimum coverage before the suspension of your license is removed. The SR-22 must be carried with you whenever you drive during the period of 3 years or more, as stated earlier.

What does California’s car insurance liability cover?
California’s car liability insurance is a responsibility every car owner and driver must have. It is part of the Financial Responsibility clause of every car owner under Section 16451 of the DMV’s Vehicle Code.

The minimum coverage for liability insurance in California is:
•    Bodily Injuries – $15,000 for one incident or one person; $30,000 for all persons in one accident
•    Property Damage – $5,000 for one accident

Under the California law, it is possible to self-insure which means you don’t get an insurance policy and pay monthly premiums. Instead, you put up a cash bond to be paid to the DMV worth $35,000. There are also other ways to comply with the Financial Responsibility clause such as a $35,000 surety bond and a 25-vehicle fleet self-insurance certificate.

Thus, if you get involved in an accident, your minimum car insurance will cover Bodily Injury of up to $15,000 for one person or $30,000 for more than one. The insurance company will pay up to $5,000 for property damage. If the costs are more, then you will have to shoulder the difference. That is, unless you bought a comprehensive auto insurance plan.

What is the penalty for driving a car that has no insurance and is not opped in California?
A new traffic law was passed recently penalizing drivers who do not have auto insurance in California. The fine for breaking this law is $796. Aside from the fine, the car owner may have his or her license suspended. Keep in mind that the penalty will be charged to the car owner who not necessarily is the driver at the time the car was asked to pull over or an accident occurred. The driver’s responsibility would be not checking that the car is properly insured and thus, his or her license may also be suspended.

Under this new legislation, the insurance papers can be requested by a law enforcer under the following circumstances:
•    An accident
•    An inspection
•    Car registration renewal
If you just renewed your insurance and you do not have the paper, you have 2 choices. You can either wait for the insurance policy to be delivered to you before driving the car or you request your insurance carrier to provide you with a temporary binder.



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How much does car insurance go up after a speeding ticket in California?

If you get a speeding ticket in California, your insurance rates will increase for most cases. However, it is not easy to provide an exact figure on how much the increase will be or if you can even get away with a slap on the wrist and warning from the insurance provider. Your driving history will be reviewed and the traffic citation on speeding. For instance, you could be speeding by just 10 miles over the limit in which case, most insurance companies will disregard the violation. If it happens again, then the insurance company will apply an increase.

The safe estimate on how much the increase will be is about 25% minimum of what you are now paying. However, if the speeding case is serious, the insurance company may choose not to renew your policy when it expires.  If this happens, you will definitely have to pay higher with the new insurance company because there will be a note about the speeding in your record.



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How much is car insurance for an 18 year old California?
Like all other states, car insurance for an 18-year old in California is higher than for an experienced and older driver. The odds are higher that a younger driver will get into an accident or traffic ticket. This will be the case until you reach the ripe age of 28. However, aside from age, there are other factors that affect the insurance rate like credit rating, car model, year, value, personal residential address, income, and employment records, if any.

 

Based on these factors, the typical car insurance rate for an average 18-year old living in California would be around $175 to $250 a month. This is based on an insurance policy that is in your name, not your parents. If you want a lower rate, you could ask your parents or guardian to help you out provided they have an excellent record as driver credit card holders, and insurance policy holders.
Can they impound your car for no car insurance California?

No, but you will get into serious trouble. Owning car insurance in California is part of the prerequisites to driving a car in the state. It is covered under a car owner’s financial responsibility. If you are pulled over and cannot show proof of auto insurance, you will get a ticket. And that’s not the end of it. The worst that could happen is your driver’s license is suspended and severe fines are slapped on you.

The traffic citation can be reversed if you show proof that the car was insured at the time the ticket was issued, and you just didn’t have a copy of the policy in your glove box. You will have to pay certain court fees and maybe even a fine depending on the judge’s call.

The connection between auto insurance and your car being impounded is that one cannot get a car that has been impounded without showing proof of ownership and current auto insurance, among others.



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What are the average car insurance rates California?

California Auto insurance does differ depending on your zip code. On the other hand, this is not an all-encompassing general statement because even within the same zip code, there are variances in rates. In California the 2012 average insurance rate for a year among the top 6 insurance carriers is approximately $1,428. The national average is about $1,277. That being said, it is possible to get auto insurance in California for less than $960 if you shop around and have a good driver’s record.

The reason California has a high average rate is because it is one of the prime cities in the country. The cost of living in this state is higher than in Ohio where the average insurance rate is 50% cheaper. The easiest way to determine your auto insurance rate is by going online and inputting your zip code in the quick estimate button most insurance companies have on their website.



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How much would it cost to rebuild my home at today's prices?

Your home is probably the single largest investment you'll ever make. By insuring your home, you are helping to protect your investment and your equity.

Estimating your home value will help you to make a determination of the amount of insurance you will want to purchase. The primary factors that will determine the cost to rebuild your home include:

  • Local construction costs and the square footage of the structure;
  • The type of exterior wall construction – frame, masonry (brick or stone) or veneer – and the type of roof;
  • The style of the house (ranch, colonial);
  • The number of bathrooms and other rooms;
  • Attached garages, fireplaces, exterior trim and other special features like arched windows.


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Can you provide some tips for estimating the value of my home?

Here are some tips to help you estimate your home's value:

Every year, take the time to check the value of your insurance policy against rising local building costs. Your Metro Coast agent is available to assist you with your review of your coverage.

  • Check the latest building codes in your community. If your home is severely damaged, you might have to rebuild it to comply with new building code standards which may require a change in design or building materials.
  • Do not insure your home for the market value. The cost of rebuilding your house may be higher (or lower) than the price you paid for it or the price you could sell it for today.
  • Some banks require you to buy homeowners insurance to cover the amount of your mortgage. Make sure it's also enough to cover the cost of rebuilding.
  • Increase the limit of your policy if you make improvements or additions to your house. You may upgrade features in your home to fit your tastes and lifestyle. These enhancements can significantly increase the replacement cost of your home. Your Metro Coast agent will be available to help you in your determination as to whether additional coverage is needed.
  • We also have a number on online tools to help you calculate your home insurance needs. If you have questions about the amount of insurance coverage for you, consult your local Metro Coast agent.


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What would it cost to replace the contents or personal belongings of my home?

If the unexpected happens, losing your home contents could be distressing as well as financially devastating. Your Metro Coast homeowners, Townhouse, Condo and Renters policies cover the loss of your personal belongings, subject to the policy limits and conditions.

There are two distinct ways to insure your personal possessions:

  • Replacement cost coverage. This coverage pays you the dollar amount needed to replace personal property without any deduction for depreciation, but is limited to a maximum dollar amount.
  • Actual cash value. This coverage pays you an amount equal to the replacement value of damaged property minus depreciation. Unless a homeowners policy specifies that property is covered for its replacement value, the coverage is for actual cash value.

Many people make the mistake of underestimating the value of their home contents. This mistake is easily made when you consider the amount of new items we purchase each year. Under-insurance can lead to heartache and inconvenience should the unexpected happen. Your local Metro Coast agent is available to assist you with insuring your home contents.



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What kind of protection do I need against liability claims?

Nothing is worse than the feeling you get when you are responsible for damage to someone else's property or for someone else's injuries. Your Metro Coast agent can assist you with your selection of coverage to help you alleviate this financial worry.

This coverage is part of your homeowners insurance policy. It protects you and your family against property damage or bodily injury claims for which you are legally responsible. Liability insurance covers you, for example, if someone slips and falls on your property or if your dog bites someone.

Today, when multi-million-dollar lawsuits are common, your homeowners policy may provide substantial liability limits, but it may not be enough. Metro Coast Personal Liability Umbrella is available to supplement your present policies and provides additional coverage in increments of $1 million.



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What is Personal Liability Umbrella coverage?

Lawsuits are common today. If you accidentally injure someone or damage their property, you could be sued. And more and more, juries are awarding very large verdicts. Your homeowners, property and auto policies may provide substantial liability limits, but juries can award sums that exceed those limits.

Metro Coast Personal Liability Umbrella insurance policies act like an umbrella, providing additional coverage on top of your auto and homeowners liability policies. It supplements your existing policies to provide additional personal liability protection.

The Umbrella policy goes into effect after the underlying liability limits on your homeowners or auto policy is exhausted. Therefore, your policy must have certain limits in order to qualify for an Umbrella policy.

Auto Insurance Liability Limits:

  • $250,000 bodily injury per person
  • $500,000 bodily injury per occurrence
  • $50,000 property damage per occurrence

Homeowners Insurance Liability Limits: $300,000

The policy provides:

  • Liability insurance that adds to the limits of your automobile, homeowners and recreational vehicle or boat liability policy limits.
  • Coverage for unknown or unexpected exposures that are excluded in typical auto, homeowners, recreational vehicle or boat liability policies.
  • Coverage for the cost of your legal defense. This includes court costs, interest on judgments and premiums on necessary bonds.

For more information, please contact a Metro Coast Agent.



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A neighbor slips on my sidewalk and threatens to take me to court for damages. Does my homeowner policy protect me?

Yes. Homeowners insurance will pay for damages, if the accident is the result of your negligence. It will also pay for the legal costs of defending you against a claim. Also, the medical payments part of your Homeowners policy will cover medical expenses arising from an injury to a neighbor or guest. Your Metro Coast agent can periodically review your policy limits with you when you are making coverage decisions.




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How can I make sure that I have coverage for my valuables?

There is limited coverage available for your valuables. In most cases, you may want to consider purchasing a Personal Articles Floater, which provides coverage for your personal articles, such as jewelry, furs or fine arts, when their value is higher than the limits stated in your policy.

Your local Metro Coast agent can help you when you are deciding if you need to purchase this coverage.



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Is my jewelry covered by my homeowners policy?
On a homeowners policy, there is limited, standard coverage available for your jewelry. In most cases, you may want to consider purchasing a Personal Articles Floater, which provides coverage for your jewelry when its value is higher than the limits stated in your homeowners policy. Your local Metro Coast agent can help you when you are determining if you need to purchase Floater coverage.

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Do I need to take an inventory and photographs of my belongings?

The old adage “knowing is half the battle” probably wasn’t first uttered about Home Insurance…but it still works!

Because when it comes to covering your stuff, it’s important to first know what stuff you’re covering, right? And that means taking an inventory.

A full home inventory can do wonders for your Home insurance. It can:

  • Help you figure out how much insurance to buy
  • Speed up the claims process
  • Help verify losses for your income tax return
     

What is a home inventory, and how is it done?

A home inventory is what it sounds like; a detailed list of everything in your home…from basement to attic, furniture to fixtures. If you bought it, it goes on the list.

For everything in the inventory, you’ll want to include a(n):

  • Description of the item
  • Serial number
  • Purchase date
  • Estimated value

How you make the inventory is up to you though. You can write everything down in a notebook, make a spreadsheet, get super techy with cool inventory apps, or be creative and make a home movie of all your stuff (complete with a celebrity voice over). However you get it done, just make sure you’re as thorough as you can be!

  • Physically walk around your house to build your list. You don’t want to do it from memory, because we’re all humans and our memory isn’t always spot on.

  • Go from room to room and organize your list that way. It’s faster and easier.

  • Save receipts! You’ll want to describe the cost of your inventoried items, and receipts are much more accurate than guessing.

  • Take pictures! Pull out that smart phone, disposable camera, or reliable old Polaroid and visually record the things on your inventory.

Once you’ve got your inventory (whatever form it takes), make sure to protect it. Store it in a safety deposit box, in a strong safe or lockbox, on a cloud storage service, or with a friend. Just make sure it’ll survive if there’s ever major damage to your home. Remember that’s what it’s there for!



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How can I make my home safer and possibly save money?

Homeowners who guard against theft, accidents and other losses can often get lower insurance rates and policy discounts. Here are some things you can do to help qualify for lower premiums:

  • Secure your home with dead bolts and window locks.
  • Install a security system with an outside signal and connection to local police.
  • Install and maintain smoke detectors.
  • Install a sprinkler system for fire.
  • Install a fire alarm that automatically alerts the local fire department.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Keep walks and entrance ways clear of snow and ice.
  • You may also qualify for discounts on premiums when you buy both homeowners and auto insurance.

Please contact your Metro Coast agent to discuss these and other money savings options.



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Is my motorcycle optional equipment covered?
You’ll want to know if your custom seat, paint job or special chroming are covered if they aren’t included as standard by the manufacturer. A good policy will give you a set amount of coverage included with your comprehensive coverage, with the ability to purchase more.

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Is there some type of motorcycle first accident waiver available?
Insurance companies support safe driving and will sometimes offer a first accident waiver to loyal customers with a good driving history. If you are insured by a company for a certain amount of time and have no other at-fault accidents within a designated time frame, then some insurance companies will waive your first at-fault accident.

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What kind of higher limits are available for Motorcycle Liability coverage?
Liability coverage is important in case you are found responsible for someone else’s injury while driving your motorcycle. Having the option for higher limits is a plus, considering attorney fees and other costs associated with litigation can increase quickly. Based on their financial situation, many people try to match their motorcycle liability limits to the liability limits they have on their automobile.

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