Delaney Simchuk, Car Insurance Writer
No, California is not a no-fault state for auto insurance. California is an “at-fault” or “tort” state, which means the person who is at fault for a car accident is responsible for paying for other people’s injuries and property damage resulting from the accident. Additionally, unlike in no-fault states, drivers in California can file lawsuits to seek compensation for even basic medical expenses after an accident.
In typical no-fault states, drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to pay for their own medical expenses after a car accident, regardless of fault. In California, PIP is not required.
Key Things to Know About Insurance in California
- When an accident occurs, the insurance company for each driver who was involved will assign an adjuster to determine who was at fault. To collect payment for their losses, victims must file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
- Depending on how long fault takes to be determined, drivers can file a claim with their own insurance company if they have coverage applicable to their own expenses, such as collision and comprehensive Their insurer can then recoup the cost from the at-fault driver’s insurer if the policyholder is not determined to be at fault.
- California uses a pure comparative negligence system, meaning drivers can collect damages proportionate to their fault in causing the crash. For example, if they're 99% at fault, they can get 1% from the other driver.
- Being an “at-fault” / “tort” state helps keep California’s insurance costs relatively low, compared to no-fault states.
- California requires all drivers to carry liability insurance, a type of insurance that pays for others’ expenses after you cause an accident, such as damage to others’ vehicles and their medical expenses.
In addition to California’s minimum coverage requirements, you may want to purchase types of coverage that will pay for your own expenses after an accident. For example, collision and comprehensive insurance will cover damage to your vehicle, regardless of fault.
To learn more, check out WalletHub’s guides to no-fault insurance and the cheapest car insurance in California.
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