Consumer advocates are urging Governor Gavin Newsom to sign a bill now on his desk that would increase the amount car insurance companies must cover in the event of an accident.
The Protect California Drivers Act would increase the mandatory minimum amount of liability insurance to $30,000 for a single injury or death, $60,000 if more than one person is injured or killed, and $15,000 to cover property damage.
Craig Peters, president of Consumer Attorneys of California, said the bill would double current rates, which only require coverage of $15,000, $30,000 and $5,000 respectively.
“Fifteen thousand today will barely cover the cost of an ambulance ride to the hospital,” he said, “and $5,000 will barely be enough to fix a small dent in a car.”
He noted that when current rates were established, in 1967, they were intended to cover the cost of a two-week hospital stay or vehicle replacement. Since every California driver is required to have insurance that meets state standards, the law would protect victims of car accidents from massive debt.
The few opponents of the bill, including some insurers, said now was not the time to raise the cost of coverage. However, Peters said the bill was the result of negotiations between consumer groups and insurance industry representatives, and called the changes long overdue.
“California trails every other state in the union,” he said. “It will actually put us back in the middle of the pack.”
Senate Bill 1107 has already passed both houses of the California Legislature. If it becomes law, the new limits would go into effect in 2025. They would also increase ten years later – to $50,000 or $100,000 for injury or death, and $25,000 for property damage.
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