Traffic laws in California are in a state of constant flux. Lawmakers update them as statistics provide a clearer view about driver safety and the needs of the general public. For years, California has required far less insurance than most other states while also having a relatively high number of uninsured drivers.
Lawmakers recently introduced SB1107, which has since gone to the governor’s desk for a signature after passing the house and the senate. This bill would make changes to car insurance in California. What will these changes mean for California cyclists?
Drivers will have more coverage
If signed into law and enacted as written, SB 1107 will effectively double the amount of bodily injury liability coverage required of every driver. Instead of just $15,000 for a crash where one person suffers injuries, there will now be $30,000 of coverage. The lowest amount of coverage per crash with multiple injuries will be $60,000.
More medical coverage is obviously beneficial for cyclists, as they often suffer massive injuries and collisions involving motor vehicles. The property damage coverage will triple, from the current meager $5,000 to a much more reasonable $15,000.
If there is a downside for cyclists, it is that the increased coverage will come with increased costs. Some drivers may allow their policies to lapse or may even cancel them on purpose to save money, which means that your risk of potentially crossing paths with an uninsured driver may go up after the governor signs the bill and it becomes law.
How can you protect yourself?
The responsibility should not fall on cyclists to make up for the irresponsible behavior of drivers. People in vehicles should be more attentive and more responsible about the serious damage that they can cause with their heavy equipment.
Still, as insurance laws change, you may want to consider reviewing your own policy. A motor vehicle insurance policy will protect you even when you are on a bike. Uninsured and underinsured motorist protection can be particularly important for those at risk of serious injuries, like cyclists.
In theory, SB1107 represents progress for bicyclists who get hurt by drivers. In practice, it may have both positive and negative consequences in different scenarios. Tracking changes to traffic and insurance laws in California will help cyclists better protect themselves out on the road and assert themselves after cycling crashes.