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CA Department of Insurance
CA Department of Insurance
CA Department of Insurance

Bulletin 2002-06

Date: November 1, 2002

TO: All Insurers Licensed to Transact Private Passenger Automobile Insurance in the State of California.

Subject: Requirements for Notification of Determination of Principally At-Fault Accidents

The letter currently utilized by several insurers to notify private passenger automobile insurance policyholders that they have been determined to be more than fifty-one percent "at-fault" for an accident does not meet the requirements of existing regulations. The purpose of this bulletin is to remind all insurers writing private passenger automobile insurance subject to the provisions of California Insurance Code Sections 1861.02 and 1861.025 and Title 10, California Code of Regulations, Chapter 5, Sub-chapter 4.5, §2632.1 et seq., of the regulatory requirements for providing notification of at-fault determinations.

Insurers are required by California Insurance Code Section 1861.02, subdivision (a), to determine rates and premiums for automobile insurance policies, in part, by using "the insured's driving safety record." Title 10, California Code of Regulations Section 2632.5, subdivision (c)(1)(B), defines the term "insured's driving safety record" to include "the principally at-fault accidents as determined pursuant to section 2632.13." Regulation Section 2632.13, subdivision (c), provides that in accidents not resulting in death, a driver may be "principally at-fault" for the accident "if their actions or omissions were at least 51 percent of the proximate cause of the accident.

Title 10,California Code of Regulation, Section 2632.13, subdivision (e), provides that an insurer shall not make a determination that a driver was principally at-fault for an accident[1] unless the insurer first makes an investigation of the accident and provides the insured written notice of the investigation. The written notice must specify:

  1. Any determination that the insured was principally at-fault;
  2. The percentage of fault ascribed to the insured;
  3. The percentage of fault ascribed to any other driver or cause of the accident;
  4. The basis of the determination that the driver was principally at-fault; and
  5. The insured's right to seek reconsideration of the determination of fault.

At fault determination notifications that simply state that an investigation was conducted and the insured has been determined to be more than 51 percent at-fault do not satisfy the requirements of Section 2632.13.

Any insurer that continues to use notifications that do not meet the regulatory requirements as outlined above, may be subject to a noncompliance action by the Department pursuant to Insurance Code Section 1858.1.

[1] Excluding indisputable solo accidents which are not of the type specified in subdivision (d) of section 2632.13.

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