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If you are in search of San Mateo car insurance, you must do more than just request price quotes and select the most inexpensive plan you are offered.

Your budget may be important, but protection behind the wheel is more so considering how financially damaging an at-fault accident can be.

Being financially responsible is the law in California, but satisfying the financial responsibility laws with a minimum amount of third-party liability coverage does not mean that you will automatically be fully covered anytime you start your engines.

To ensure that you have the proper coverage, you will need to do your homework.

Doing homework is the last thing people who live busy lifestyle want to do as they are complying with the law. While it does sound like a time-consuming mission, it is one that can be done in a small amount of time if you use valuable resources.

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If you are looking for all of the information that you need to purchase the right amount of San Mateo car insurance, read on. By using this guide to your advantage, you will learn about California law, coverage options available to you, and how to choose the right insurer.

What is the California financial responsibility law?

Some states have mandatory auto insurance laws and other states have what is commonly referred to as financial responsibility laws.

In states where insurance is mandatory, all drivers must buy and maintain a minimum amount of insurance and have no alternative options to choose from.

In financial responsibility states, officials allow drivers to choose from several different options to prove that they are financially responsible for damages that they cause while they are driving. Residents of San Mateo can choose whether they want to buy insurance or satisfy the law another way.

How can you prove you are financially responsible?

There are 4 types of financial responsibility, with some types being more popular than others.

As a driver, you can purchase a surety bond in the amount of $35,000, get a self-insurance certificate, post a cash deposit in the amount of $35,000, or buy auto insurance from a California provider.

For individuals who have thousands of dollars to put at-risk, self-insuring could be an option, but for a majority of drivers in San Mateo, the most practical option is to buy San Mateo car insurance.

Why do most choose car insurance?

There are several reasons why car insurance is both the most popular the best option.

Auto insurance helps you protect your finances, your wages, and your home if you are in a serious accident.

Not only do you pay a small premium for a large amount of coverage, you also receive representation in court if you are appealing or contesting what another party has to say about a collision.

For pennies on the dollar, you will have coverage and can buy peace of mind. When you post your own money, that money is gone as soon as you are in an accident and you will be left paying for your own attorney bills if you do not have enough to pay for the damages sustained.

How much insurance is required?

If you choose motor vehicle liability insurance to comply, you will need to purchase a minimum amount of liability coverage. Residents of San Mateo must comply with California state law, and state law says that you need a minimum amount of liability coverage to pay for damages if you do not self-insure.

You will need to carry both Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability to stay in compliance. Here is a breakdown of how these coverage options work:

  • Bodily Injury Liability - (BI) will pay the medical bills and lost wages of third-parties when you, a permissive driver, or someone on your policy causes injuries in an accident. This coverage will not pay for the injuries of your passengers or your family. Requirement: $15,000 each person/$30,000 each accident
  • Property Damage Liability - (PD) will offer coverage that pays for the repair or the full replacement of vehicles or other types of property that you do not own but that was damaged in the accident. You will need physical damage coverage to pay for repairs to your own car when you are at fault for an accident. Requirement: $5,000 each accident

What additional forms of coverage can you buy?

Complying with the law is great, but it does not mean that you will be protected in every situation. In fact, buying state minimum does not afford you protection for yourself in an accident.

If you do not want to be left paying for repairs or a replacement car out of your savings, there are additional forms of protection that can help you in common scenarios. Here are optional types of coverage to consider:

  • Medical Payments - If you have medical insurance, it does not mean you will be covered for all of your medical bills or even things like chiropractic care. If you want to fill in the gaps so you are not left with a high bill, medical payments will cover treatment no matter who is at fault for the accident.
  • Physical Damage - If your vehicle is leased, financed, or valuable, you may want to consider buying "full coverage". Full coverage consists of comprehensive and collision cover. Comprehensive pays for losses due to things like fire, theft, and vandals, and collision pays for losses that occur when the car is moving.
  • Towing - Towing is like a form of roadside assistance on your policy. It will pay if you experience a disablement and need your vehicle to be towed within a specified distance. For a low premium, this can be a useful supplemental coverage.
  • Rental Car - If you are not at fault in an accident, the other party pays for your replacement car. If you are at fault, you must come up with the money to drive while your car is in the shop. Rental car coverage will pay for that replacement so you do not have to.

Choosing a San Mateo Car Insurer That You Can Trust

When you are paying for a coverage that you really never want to put to use, you need to be sure that you are paying a reliable provider that will be there for you if you ever file a claim.

There is nothing worse to a policyholder than calling to file a claim to find out that you have to jump through hoops and appeal decisions just to get the payment that you deserve. This is why it is so important for people who live in San Mateo to do their due diligence before they purchase any policy.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Is the company licensed?

Always check the licensing status of any insurer that has promoted their products to you.

The California Department of Insurance DOI has standards that have been put in place to protect you as a consumer, but if you buy from a company that is not licensed the department cannot protect you. Be sure that the provider has an active license before anything else.

  • Does the company have complaints?

All companies have complaints, but not all complaints are founded. This is why you should take the time to check the official complaint record of any company that you are considering buying an insurance product from.

You can find the complaint records through the DOI or through a national body like the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Be sure to review the index and also find out about the decisions of the commissioners. If the claim was not founded, you cannot hold that against the insurer.

  • Contact and Customer Service

You will be paying for service until you file a claim.

When you are paying for a service instead of a tangible product, you want to be taken care of. Call the companies for yourself and see if their staff is friendly and helpful. Also, see what the contact methods are to be sure your preferred method is an option.

Now that you know the law, coverage options, and how to select an insurer that you can trust, now it is time to compare premiums. The best way to find competitive rates is to comparison shop. If you want to comparison shop quickly, using an online rate tool is the most practical option.

In fact, you can use our FREE quote tool today! Just enter your zip code below and browse through the best car insurance options in San Mateo.

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