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Motorcycle Insurance Minimum Requirements in California

California requires that all registered vehicles, including motorcycles, have insurance. This is to help ensure that drivers and riders are able to pay for damages or injuries they may cause to others in an accident. Before you get your motorcycle insurance quotes, it's a good idea to learn about just what you need to fulfill California's insurance laws.

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

In order to be compliant with California law, your motorcycle insurance policy must have liability insurance coverage. This type of insurance will pay for property damage and bodily injury suffered by others in a crash that you caused. Here are the minimum liability coverage limits the state requires:

    • $15,000 for injury/death to one person
    • $30,000 for total injury/death if multiple people are hurt in the accident.
    • $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, such as collision and comprehensive, as you get your motorcycle insurance quotes.

Keep in mind that liability motorcycle insurance will not cover your own injuries or property damage.

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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