By law, every driver is required to prove financial responsibility in case of a car accident. There are several ways to do this: Make a cash deposit of $35,000 with the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles; Get a self-insurance certificate also from the California DMV; Obtain a $35,000 surety bond from a company licensed in California; and finally to purchase car insurance coverage. Most people opt for the last option.
For car insurance in California, the minimum liability requirements by the state is represented by 15/30/5. The first two numbers refer to personal liability limits and the third to property damage limit. This means that $15,000 is the limit per person per accident and $30,000 is the limit for the coverage for all the persons involved per accident. $5,000 is the limit for the coverage for the car/s involved. If the costs exceed these numbers, then the person deemed responsible for the accident will have to pay the difference in damages. Keeping the minimum requirements for an insurance policy may be good if you are a safe driver, but an accident can occur at any time, and you could end up paying dearly. Now you know why insurance companies often offer policies exceeding the minimum requirements of the state. It is to increase the coverage for claims when something unexpected happens. It is wise to consider all options and consult a California insurance agency when shopping for a policy.
If an accident does occur, your insurance company has 15 days to acknowledge your claim and send you the forms necessary to process the claim. The insurance company also has 40 days to either accept or deny your claim after it was filed. Once accepted, the company has 30 days to settle the claim. You also have the freedom to choose the repair shop where you can take your car; this is good because it allows you to shop and compare repair costs and get the best service for your vehicle.
In some cases, it may happen that you and the insurance company may have a dispute about the claim. For car insurance California, you can turn over your dispute with your insurance company to a third party referred to as the mediator. The mediator will work with both parties to try to reach an agreement.
If the amount for the claim is at least $7,500 and the disputed amount between the two parties exceeds $2,000 then you are eligible for mediation. Issues eligible for mediation include the following: amounts of damage, methods of repair, and cost of total loss. Issues not eligible for mediation include legal interpretations of the terms of the policy. You will not have to pay for the cost of the mediation as it is the insurance company that pays for it.
Here is the mediation process in a nutshell for auto insurance in California: You must file a complaint with the CDI (California Department of Insurance) who will notify the insurance company that you will be referred to a mediator if no resolution is reached within 28 days. Once you make the request to continue with the mediation, CDI will appoint a mediator to handle your case. Then there will be a mediation conference wherein both parties will strive to reach an agreement. If they agree they will sign a settlement. Otherwise, you may take other options available to you if you still want to continue with the dispute.