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Do I have to get uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage?

Auto insurance is a requirement in California, but the state only requires specific coverage. You do not have to get all the products an insurer may offer you.

General liability insurance typically will only cover the damage you do to someone else in an accident. For example, it pays for car repairs and medical costs for someone in another vehicle. Insurance policies may also include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which the California Department of Insurance explains is optional but worth considering.

What it is

UMC/UIM coverage provides payments for your losses in an accident in the event the other driver does not have insurance or has an insurance policy with limits lower than the costs of your damages. This is important because if you just have general liability, your own insurance policy will not cover your expenses.

Offered option

When you get auto insurance in the state, your insurer must offer you UMC/UIM coverage. You will have to sign a waiver if you do not want it on your policy. The waiver simply says the insurer offered the coverage and you decided to not get it.


Adding this coverage to your policy typically does not cost a lot extra, but its benefits can be essential in an accident. While all drivers must carry insurance under the law, there are many who do not. Those who do not carry coverage usually do so because of financial reasons.

Therefore, if you are in an accident with one of these people, there is little chance you can recover your damages by taking them to court because they will have no way to pay. UMC/UIM coverage can ensure you do not lose out due to an accident.