How Can I Prove I Have CA Auto Insurance?

Lady receiving traffic ticketWhen motorists purchase vehicle coverage, they typically receive an insurance card that lists all of the information necessary to prove that the driver in question is insured. On these cards, policyholders should find the names of the insured, the insurer, policy number, effective and expiration dates, vehicle identification number, and the car make and model. It is important for residents to keep updated records inside the insured vehicle at all times, although a bill currently being considered by state representatives might make the physical card unnecessary. 

​When Proof Is Required

Californians are required to display their proof of insurance whenever they are asked to do so by an officer of the law and when they are involved in an accident, and they may be asked to provide proof when registering a vehicle or renewing registration. Typically, the DMV will be able to see whether a driver has coverage through a state-run database during registration.

Proof of Coverage on Smartphones

Although most people rely on insurance cards to demonstrate proof, recent events may make it easier to provide policy verification. In May, a state legislative committee passed an assembly bill that would allow motorists in the Golden State to verify existing coverage with an electronic copy displayed on a mobile device, like a smartphone. California is one of several states—including Idaho, Louisiana, Arizona, and Alabama—that have considered legitimizing electronic forms of proof. This would allow insured drivers to quickly and efficiently keep their records up to date, and help reduce the possibility of being penalized for having expired proof.

Consequences of Not Having a Policy

Maintaining adequate protection in the Golden State is important because bodily injury and property damage liability pays for other people's damages and ensures that motorists can stay financially responsible after an accident. The auto insurance California drivers are required to buy is minimal in comparison to many other states, yet the Insurance Research Council estimates that in 2009 roughly 15 percent of motorists were uninsured there.
California on parchment paper
Any motorist who operates a motor vehicle in California without adequate coverage could have their car impounded and face fines of between $100 and $500. When someone's car is impounded for driving while uninsured, it will not be returned until the owner is able to provide adequate proof that at least a minimum amount of liability protection has been purchased.

Motorists without a policy face more than just a citation and fines for not having coverage; they also run the risk of having to pay for damages out of pocket. If an uninsured resident causes significant damage in an accident, they may still be liable, and the resulting charges could be financially devastating.