California is the most populated state in the country and it has several of the biggest cities in the U.S too. And unlike some other major American cities, having a car is pretty essential in a lot of California.
In places like New York and Philadelphia you are never really very far from some form of reliable public transport, and that’s the case in some Californian cities too, but in a place like Los Angeles you will almost certainly need to drive to get anywhere.
And if you have a car then you also need to have insurance. That’s arguably a more important consideration in a place with such a high population density. The likelihood of accidents or theft is that much higher and you need to be prepared.
Securing your insurance is probably one of the least fun things about purchasing and maintaining a car and it can be a tricky process if you’re unfamiliar with it. Let’s take a look at a few tips that every driver in California needs to keep in mind:
1. Ensure a Clean Record
Acquiring car insurance will be significantly easier if you have a clean record. This should be obvious to you, but in a place with a lot of drivers, the insurance companies will be even more ruthless.
Any black mark on your record is going to make it both more difficult and more expensive for you to be approved. So avoid the major driving violations obviously such as reckless driving, or driving under the influence, but think about other, less common things which could affect your record too.
Being caught with mechanical faults such as broken tail lights or turn signals can be a problem, so any issues like that you need to deal with as quickly as possible. Always keep your eyes open for things you might miss such as stop signs or changes in the speed limit.
If you get complacent while driving you could do something small which ends up getting noticed and it will end up on your record. This really should be just as simple as practicing your driving and making sure that you don’t do anything stupid.
2. Learn About Discounts
Insurance is pricey but there is always the possibility of discounts. There are numerous different kinds of discounts for car insurance and you are probably applicable for at least one. You might not think you are but it’s worth looking into.
There are some discounts which would tie into what we talked about above in terms of a positive driving record. If you take a defensive driving course, you can get a discount for that qualification.
You could get a discount for being accident-free too and then there are also discounts typically for a low-mileage car. Getting a little bit more specific here, you might be able to make avail of discounts if you are a student, a homeowner, a parent or in the military.
The possibilities are quite vast here but not all of them are offered by every provider. So learn about the different kinds of discounts, find out what you might be applicable for and then research specific providers to determine which ones may offer it.
3. Research California Law
Every state has its own laws, and California is no exception to that. There are state-specific things you need to be familiar with in regards to driving and to insurance and you should spend some time researching it, especially if you are new to California.
You should take a look at the California Driver’s Handbook which you can get from any DMV in the state. You don’t have to read every single word of it because there’s stuff in there which is universal, but look for stuff in there you know less about.
You can also use it to learn about registration of the vehicle as well as getting a California Sanctioned driver’s licence, specific road rules and mechanical requirements. There’s lots of stuff to know.
Being familiar with all of this stuff can help make sure that you will have a clean record and that you have the knowledge necessary to get through the process of applying for insurance in the state.
4. Consider Different Providers
There are dozens of different insurance providers in California and you are going to have to settle on one. I’m sure you’re tempted to just pick whichever one is the cheapest, or the most popular or has the least amount of hoops to jump through to qualify for, but your decision should be a more thorough one than that.
Everyone is going to have different needs, and a variety of factors will determine what the right insurance is for you. You need to think about your age, about the type of car you have, what your current financial status is and your projected income levels for the future.
These are things which will factor into the rates that the provider will decide on for you. And different providers are better suited to different kinds of people. Some will be better for students and some will be better for those in low-paying jobs, you need to find out which.
And yes, price should be a consideration. You should try and find cheap car insurance, but you also should aim to be covered. Search for the cheapest option available to you that is suited to your circumstances.
5. Downsize Your Vehicle
Keeping in mind the idea of trying to reduce your costs, it could be worth trading in your car for a different, smaller model. Unless of course you have a family and an SUV is essential, the smaller the car the better.
It will cut down significantly on the cost if you just have a commuter-car which isn’t particularly flashy but will get you where you need to go. Buying a small car doesn’t mean buying a low-quality car, you have a lot of solid options.
But look, if you prefer your car at the size that it is, this might not be essential, especially if you feel satisfied with your insurance cost as is. It’s just something you could think about trying if you want to cut down on the cost even more.
A lot of car insurance tenets are universal, but securing insurance in California is a different process from doing so in New York, or Texas, or Pennsylvania or any other state, and that’s why you need to be aware of specific things about the state’s road rules and insurance requirements.
If you do plenty of research and preparation, you should be able to get the right insurance for you without too much hassle.