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  • Motorcycle Insurance Minimum Requirements in California

    Motorcycle riders in California must show proof that they can cover property damage or personal injuries they cause to others in an accident.

    Ways to Establish Financial Responsibility

    Buying motorcycle insurance is the best and easiest way to comply with California's financial responsibility laws, but that is not the only way to establish financial responsibility . All the ways to do so include:

      • Go to the CA DMV and make a cash deposit of $35,000. For more info, contact the state agency by calling (916) 657-6520
      • Go to the CA DMV and obtain a self-insurance certificate. Contact the agency at the phone number and address above.
      • Get a $35,000 surety bond from a company licensed to do so in the state. If you are not sure where to go, call the Department of Insurance at (800) 927-4357.
      • Contact a licensed insurance agent and purchase a liability insurance policy. For more info on minimum requirements, read beyond the following section.

    Two-Wheeled Vehicles Defined

    If you are not sure whether your vehicle should be registered with the state (and therefore whether it requires motorcycle insurance), inquire with the DMV by calling (800) 777-0133.

    California Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

    Keep in mind you are not required to purchase a liability policy if one of the other options listed above. But for many people, obtaining motorcycle insurance makes more sense. Here are the minimum liability coverage limits the state requires:

      • $15,000 for injury/death to one person
      • $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person
      • $5,000 for damage to property

    Shop around when looking for a policy; all providers do not offer the same rates and incentives. While you are looking into what you can afford and what suits your needs, you might also consider signing up for more than the minimum. Your best bet is to research different types of coverage as you get your motorcycle insurance quotes.

    Once you purchase a policy, your provider will give you a document or identification card. Keep this proof of insurance with you whenever you hop on your bike. You’ll need to present this should you get pulled over or if you are involved in an accident.

    How Coverage Affects Helmet Requirements

    In some states, you can get away with not wearing a helmet as long as you have a certain amount of insurance coverage. But not in California. The state requires all operators and their passengers to wear an approved safety helmet at all times―regardless of whether you ride a motorcycle, a motor-driven cycle, a motorized bicycle or a motorized scooter.

    Electronic Reporting

    Once you have signed up for coverage, your motorcycle insurance provider will electronically report the info on your private-use liability policy to the CA DMV. This process is automatic, so if you let your coverage lapse the state will suspend your registration for failure to maintain financial responsibility. For more details on the penalties associated with this, continue reading.

    Acceptable Proof of Financial Responsibility

    To reiterate, once you sign up for a liability policy your insurance agency will report this electronically to the DMV. However in some cases, the CA DMV might require you to also:

      • Provide a document or ID card from your insurance company that says you have adequate coverage. The state agency will not return any such documents you submit.
      • Provide the DMV with an authorization letter if you made a cash deposit or if you are self-insured.
      • Provide the DMV with a California Proof of Insurance Certificate (SR22) for either broad coverage or an owner's policy. If the state has already determined that you need to provide it with an SR22 , simply submitting proof of an operator's policy alone will not suffice.

    Penalties for Motorcycle Insurance Violations

      • Your vehicle registration could be subject to suspension for the following reasons:
        • You do not replace your liability insurance policy within 45 days once it has been canceled.
          • Your insurance agent does not electronically provide evidence of insurance within 30 days after the state issued you a registration card on a vehicle that has never before been registered in California.
          • You submit false evidence of insurance.
      • If you get pulled over by a peace officer and cannot provide evidence of financial responsibility, you could receive a traffic ticket.
      • Your vehicle could be fined and get your vehicle impounded.
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