News: 2010 Press Release
For Release: October 22, 2010
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Commissioner Poizner Urges California Teens to Protect Themselves with Proper Insurance Coverage During National Teen Driver Safety Week
Commissioner Poizner reminded teen drivers about the importance of maintaining adequate auto insurance coverage during National Teen Driver Safety Week.
"Getting behind the wheel of a car for the first time can be exhilarating and fun," said Commissioner Poizner. "But driving is a responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. Too many Californians die every year because of auto accidents. I can't emphasize strongly enough how important it is for all drivers - especially teenagers - to purchase and maintain proper auto insurance coverage."
The DMV requires that all drivers take financial responsibility for owning and operating an auto in California. The easiest way of satisfying that financial responsibility is by buying liability insurance. Bodily injury liability limits must meet the minimum of $15,000 per person and $30,000 total for all persons per accident. Property damage liability limits must meet the minimum of $5,000 per accident. Liability insurance protects the driver when he causes property damage or bodily injury to someone else when driving his car. If caught driving without liability insurance in California, violators can face up to hundreds of dollars in fines, even for a first time offense. If a driver is involved in an accident and does not have liability insurance, that driver's license may be suspended whether or not that driver is at fault.
While auto insurance cannot prevent an accident, it can help protect drivers from financial hardship when the driver is at fault and injures another individual or their property in an accident. All drivers need auto insurance. Commissioner Poizner urged all teen drivers to consider the following questions when evaluating the need for auto insurance:
- Do you have the money to pay for repairs if your car is damaged or vandalized? Physical damage coverage (comprehensive and collision) will pay for these types of repairs.
- Do you have the money to cover towing and car rental if you total your car? You can choose an auto policy with special coverage options such as towing and rental car coverage.
- What would you do if your car was stolen? Would you be able to buy another car if the police didn't recover your car? Would you be able to pay off your car loan? Comprehensive coverage will put you back in the driver's seat with a total loss settlement if you car is stolen.
- Do you have the financial certainty that you can pay for any accident that was your fault? When you have liability insurance, your insurance company takes care of it.
- Would you rather pay a small deductible or the entire amount of damage to your car?
- How would you feel if your friends were injured in your car and could not afford medical treatment? Medical payments can provide an amount of coverage for initial medical treatment.
What Else Can You Do? Drive Safely!
Commissioner Poizner also urged teen drivers to consider the following safe-driving guidelines to avoid becoming another fatality statistic:
- Drive at the speed limit and adjust your speed down for night driving and road conditions such as rain, snow, ice, or fog.
- Drive defensively. Look out for other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and animals.
- Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you.
- Always wear your seat belt. It's the law and seat belts have saved countless lives.
- Know how to work the controls and quickly check the instrument panel of your car. Playing around with the radio, cruise control, cell phone, or any other instrument control is dangerous and decreases your concentration.
- Pay attention when you drive. The most important thing to do when driving is driving.
- Drive sober.
- Ride only with sober drivers. Offer to drive if the driver has been drinking or spring for a taxi.
- Allow plenty of time to get where you're going.
- Make sure your car is in good working order.
Please visit the Department of Insurance Web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Callers from out of state, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.
If you are a member of the public wishing information, please visit our Consumer Services.