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William E. Weiss
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No Pay, No Play Another Good Reason to Make Sure You Are Insured

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To drive a car or ride a motorcycle on California roads, California law requires you to carry liability insurance or proof of financial responsibility to cover the minimum amounts of $15,000 for personal injury caused to one person, $30,000 for all persons injured in one accident, and $5,000 for property damage caused. Even though these limits are low, insurance premiums are high, and as many as 15% or more of drivers on the road at any given time are driving without insurance. To avoid civil and criminal sanctions for driving uninsured, and to avoid personal liability if you cause an accident, it is important to carry at least the minimum amounts of liability insurance, and probably much more if you can afford it. In addition, it is a great idea to also carry Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) insurance, so that in the event you are hit by a driver who is without insurance, you have recourse to your own carrier. I recommend that you carry UM/UIM equal to the amount of your liability coverage. The additional cost is relatively minimal and well worth it considering the high number of uninsured/underinsured drivers out there. I also recommend that you get the highest limits of insurance that you can afford. $15,000 policy limits might be less expensive, but if you are in an accident, you will pay the price then.

There is yet another important reason to carry liability insurance that you may not be aware of. This reason can be summed up in just four little words: “No pay, no play.” What this means is that if you are involved in an accident which is not your fault, if you were not carrying liability insurance at the time, you can be prevented from recovering compensation from the negligent driver who struck you. There is a fairness principle at work here: if you are unwilling to carry liability insurance for the benefit of others when you are negligent, you shouldn’t be allowed to utilize the system and access another’s liability insurance when they negligently injure you.

Only about ten states in the nation, including California and Oregon, have a No Pay, No Play law on the books. If you have been skipping liability insurance to save money because you are a careful rider who will not cause an accident, remember that your lack of liability insurance could come back to bite you if you are hit and injured by another driver who was not so careful as you.

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