This is again something that works completely differently compared to my home country. In Belgium, you only have two types of car insurance:
– one that you can only use for new cars and that will cover both the damages on your own car when you are at fault and your liability for the third-party’s property damage and bodily injuries (= civil liability)
– the other one only covers your civil liability towards the third-party at 100%.
In the US, this 100% civil liability coverage simply does not exist. The Californian law states that your minimal coverage should be as follows:
- Bodily injury liability: $15,000 per injured person, with a maximum of $30,000 per accident (if there are three casualties, you are thus covered up to $30,000 – and not $45,000)
- Property damage liability: $5,000 per accident (no matter whether there is one or more vehicles damaged)
- Uninsured / underinsured driver*: Bodily injury liability: $15,000 per injured person, with a maximum of $30,000 per accident
- Uninsured / underinsured driver*: Property damage liability: $3,500 per accident
*In cases where you are not at fault, but the other driver is not insured or underinsured.
When you know how expensive medical care can be and when you see the number of luxury cars on the freeway, choosing the cheapest option almost means that you are uncovered. Insurances like Geico allow you to choose the coverage you want for different items, but I would suggest that you take the highest coverage for your civil liability, i.e.:
- $300,000 per injured person, with a maximum of $300,000 per accident for bodily injury liability
- $100,000 per accident for property damage liability
You can use websites such as The Zebra to compare the different car insurances. Some companies accept your foreign driver’s license and driving record as proof of your driving history. As you won’t be considered as a first-time driver, the insurance price will decrease. If you need to take other insurances (second car, renters insurance, etc.), combining them in the same agency will also help you get some discount.