McKayla Girardin, Car Insurance Writer
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No, it is not illegal to not have car insurance in California as long as you do not drive at all or do not own a registered vehicle. Driving without insurance in California is against the law, though, and the potential penalties include fines up to $500 and driver's license suspension.
When You Do Not Legally Need Car Insurance in California
- You do not have a driver’s license or never drive. If you don’t have a license, there is no need to have car insurance since you legally cannot be behind the wheel of a car anyway. Additionally, if you have a license but never drive, you have no need for car insurance.
- You do not own a registered vehicle. California requires that all drivers show proof of insurance when registering their vehicle. If you own an unregistered car that you are just trying to re-sell or that is a project you are working on fixing, you do not need car insurance.
- You occasionally drive borrowed cars. When you drive another person’s car with their permission, you are covered by their car insurance policy under permissive use, so you do not need to have your own car insurance. You can also get a non-owner policy, instead, to have additional coverage when driving borrowed cars.
- You drive rental cars. Rental cars can be covered by an insurance policy provided by the rental car company, so you do not need your own personal car insurance to rent a car.
If you plan to drive a registered vehicle in California, you’ll need to have at least the minimum amount of coverage required by California law. You can check out WalletHub’s picks for the cheapest car insurance companies in California to compare your options.
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