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Insurance Requirements for Vehicle Registration
California’s Vehicle Financial Responsibility and Suspension Laws
Purpose of the law
In 2006, the law changed the way the Department of Motor Vehicles verifies insurance for privately owned vehicles.
Changes were made to ensure that vehicles driven on California roads have liability insurance that provides financial responsibility for any damage or injury caused by a traffic collision regardless of fault, and to remove uninsured vehicles from the highways.
Insurance companies in California are required by law (California Vehicle Code [CVC] §16058) to electronically report private-use vehicle insurance information to DMV. Insurance companies are exempt from electronically reporting insurance information for vehicles covered by commercial or business insurance policies.
Electronic reporting of insurance information and programming changes that took effect in 2006, allows the department to monitor insurance coverage and take appropriate actions through vehicle suspension as required by law.
Law enforcement and court personnel have electronic access to insurance status on DMV records.
Financial responsibility is required on any vehicle operated or parked on California roadways.
You must carry evidence of financial responsibility in your vehicle at all times and must be provided as specified below:
- When requested by law enforcement.
- When renewing vehicle registration.
- When the vehicle is involved in a traffic collision.
Providing evidence of financial responsibility
In some cases, you may also be requested to submit additional insurance information to DMV by providing:
- A document or identification card from your insurance company.
- A DMV authorization letter, if you are a cash depositor or are self-insured.
- California Proof of Insurance Certificate (SR-22) for broad coverage or owner’s policy.
- Evidence that the vehicle is owned or leased by a public entity defined in Government Code §811.2.
- A Notification of Alternative Forms of Financial Responsibility (REG 5085) (PDF) form for vehicle covered by a commercial or business policies and being registered for the first time.
- A statement of facts (REG 256) (PDF) certifying the motor carrier has evidence of insurance on file with the Public Utilities Commission or DMV pursuant to CVC §34630.
Minimum liability insurance requirements for private passenger vehicles (California Insurance Code §11580.1b)
- $15,000 for injury/death to one person.
- $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person.
- $5,000 for damage to property.
Liability insurance compensates a person other than the policy holder for personal injury or property damage. Comprehensive or collision insurance does not meet vehicle financial responsibility requirements.
If you cannot afford liability insurance you may be eligible for the California Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program. Additional information is available at www.aipso.com/lc/ or call 1-800-602-8861.
Types of financial responsibility
- A motor vehicle liability insurance policy
- A cash deposit of $35,000 with DMV
- A DMV issued self-insurance certificate
- A surety bond for $35,000 from a company licensed to do business in California.
For information regarding cash deposits, or self insurance, please contact DMV Financial Responsibility Unit, at (916) 657-6520.
To locate a company that issues surety bonds, please contact the Department of Insurance at 1-800-927-4357 or visit insurance.ca.gov.
Vehicle registrations are subject to suspension (CVC §4000.38) when:
- DMV is notified that a policy has been cancelled and a replacement policy has not been submitted within 45 days.
- Insurance information is not submitted to DMV within 30 days of the issuance of a registration card upon initial registration or transfer of ownership.
- The registration is obtained by providing false evidence of insurance.
If your vehicle registration is suspended
If you have received a letter from the Department of Motor Vehicles stating your vehicle registration will be suspended in the near future, has already been suspended, you may submit your insurance information and/or reinstatement fee through one of the following options:
- The Vehicle Registration Suspensions and Insurance page at DMV.ca.gov that provides up-to-date vehicle registration insurance suspension status and reinstatement requirements including options to submit a reinstatement fee payment, submit insurance information, and submit/remove an Affidavit of Non-Use (ANU).
- You can mail the detachable stub from your notification letter with proof of liability insurance and/or reinstatement fee payment through remittance to:
PO Box 997405
Sacramento, CA 95899-7405
- You can mail the proof of liability insurance and/or reinstatement fee payment to:
DMV - VIP Unit
PO Box 997408 MS N305
Sacramento, CA 95899-7408
- You can call the automated voice system, at 1-800-777-0133 to verify registration insurance suspension status, submit a reinstatement fee payment, submit proof of liability insurance, and submit/remove an ANU.
In addition to the vehicle registration suspension
- You may be cited and/or may have your vehicle impounded.
- If you are involved in a collision, you may be personally liable for damages.
Notify DMV before you cancel your insurance to prevent a vehicle registration suspension
If you are not operating your currently registered vehicle, and it is not parked on a California roadway, you may submit an Affidavit of Non-Use (ANU) via DMV’s Vehicle Registration Suspensions and Insurance page or by calling the automated voice system at 1-800-777-0133. The ANU form (REG 5090) (PDF) may be mailed to DMV.
Follow the procedures above to remove the ANU during the same registration year and submit evidence of insurance.
If the vehicle is still not in use when registration renewal fees are due you must pay renewal fees or request the vehicle be placed on non-operational (PNO) status. You are not eligible for an ANU. You can obtain additional PNO information at DMV.ca.gov.
NOTE: DMV field office and call center personnel cannot process paperwork to clear vehicle registration insurance suspensions. You will be referred to one of the service options listed above.
FFVR 18 (REV. 2/2010) WWW 3/2010
FFVR 18 (11/2009) W