Are Unlicensed Drivers in California Covered by Insurance? | Ellis Injury Law

Are Unlicensed Drivers in California Covered by Insurance?

Twenty percent of all fatal vehicle accidents in our country involve an unlicensed driver, reports an AAA Foundation of Public Safety study. Research found that people with revoked or suspended driver’s licenses were nearly five times more likely to be a hit-and-run driver, and half of all unlicensed drivers in deadly crashes tested positive for alcohol. Given these alarming statistics, it’s no surprise that collisions involving unlicensed drivers in California are a common occurrence. The bigger concern for those who are hit by an unlicensed driver is whether the driver is covered by insurance.  

It is illegal to drive in California without carrying proof of financial responsibility, and for all intents and purposes, this means having auto insurance.  Insurance policy information must be in the vehicle at all times, and available to present in the event of an accident. But can you purchase car insurance without a valid CA driver’s license? Yes, you can, but it doesn’t mean that everyone does. 

Insurance is available to unlicensed drivers in CA 

There are numerous companies that offer auto insurance coverage for people who either have never gotten their license, were licensed in a foreign country, or had their license revoked or suspended for various infractions. Some insurance carriers target unlicensed drivers as a lucrative customer base, citing legitimate motives for the practice. When you’ve been in a crash with an unlicensed driver, a skilled Los Angeles car accident lawyer can advise you based on your unique situation. Car accidents are stressful enough without the added concern that you won’t be reimbursed from an unlicensed and possibly uninsured driver. No matter what the circumstances, Ellis Law is prepared to help. 

In California, there are several scenarios that allow a person who does not have a valid driver’s license to buy automobile insurance. 

  • You need to insure an underage driver who is too young to legally enter an insurance contract by themselves 
  • Your license has been suspended but your vehicle is financed by the bank and you have to keep it insured 
  • You need to renew your vehicle registration with the DMV but are required to show proof of insurance coverage 
  • Additionally, there are seniors who have their licenses revoked due to medical concerns, be it vision impairment, prescription medication use, or physical disability. 

Auto insurance for people with suspended licenses 

In California, drivers who are convicted of multiple traffic violations, a DUI, or were caught driving without insurance can still obtain insurance coverage by submitting an SR-22 form. This state-mandated compliance confirms that the driver has purchased the absolute minimum of liability coverage. Insurance companies that sell SR-22 policies are required by law to alert the DMV if this policy expires. While most insurance carriers can process an SR-22 filing, some choose not to if you are considered to be too high risk.  

Legal options after being hit by an unlicensed driver 

If an unlicensed driver rear-ends your vehicle or causes an accident and has liability insurance coverage, it is most likely the bare minimum. The State of California requires that all drivers purchase the following liability coverage: 

  • $5,000 for property damage  
  • $15,000 for the injury or death of any person in a vehicle accident  
  • $30,000 for injury or death of more than one person in an accident 

These minimum policy limits are easily exhausted given today’s costs for medical treatment and vehicle repairs. What options are available if the value of your claim surpasses the other driver’s liability coverage?   

Ideally, you will have underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage on your own policy. It is not required in Los Angeles, California, but encouraged. This policy is meant to cover your losses or bridge the gap in the other person’s limits when you’re hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver who was at fault for an accident. Your UM/UIM coverage will take effect if you are driving, walking or bicycling and hit by an uninsured driver.  

Key takeaways to protect yourself  

With so many unlicensed and uninsured drivers on the roads, it’s a good idea to review your own auto insurance policy and ensure you have adequate coverage for underinsured and uninsured motorists. The key takeaway here is to buy as much coverage as you can afford and increase your policy limits so your insurance will cover the cost of your hospital bills, out-of-pocket expenses and property repairs. A reputable Los Angeles car accident lawyer is a valuable asset in situations involving unlicensed or uninsured drivers. An attorney can not only determine liability, but help you remedy the situation both legally and financially. 

Ellis Law is renowned in the legal community for winning complex personal injury claims and maximizing car accident settlements for their clients. Contact our Los Angeles headquarters today to schedule a free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.