Thanks to Jerry Brown, California’s governor, Californians will be enjoying several changes in 2013 relating to their auto insurance policies. The 30th of September of 2011 was California’s last chance for approving or declining all the new insurance laws that were up for debate. In total over 20 new laws have been passed and they have become active as of January 1st, 2013. According to CheapestCarInsuranceInCalifornia.com, some of the most significant changes were made to California’s car insurance laws.

Driverless Cars

Senate Bill 1298 addresses the new and controversial phenomenon of self-driving cars. These cars have new technology built into them that permits the cars to drive themselves on roads without guidance from a human driver. While there is still much discussion pertaining to several aspects of these newly introduced autonomous vehicles, the new bill does allow them to be used on public roads. Google lobbied heavily for this law, as they are the pioneers of this new and exciting technology. It’s passage marks an important step towards the continued development and testing of driverless cars.

Reinsuring

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (naic.org) Credit for Reinsurance Model Law was introduced back in 2011, determining the criteria used by insurance commissioners in order to award certification to reinsurers. At the heart of this law insurance companies that are not authorized reinsurers may still be able satisfy the credit for reinsurance standards of their state by posting a reduced collateral. The new Senate Bill 1216 will make the necessary changes to California driving law so that the state is up-to-date pertaining to the changes made by the NAIC law two years ago. California’s version of the law allows certain exceptions pertaining to the ability for a company to receive a credit for reinsurance. This change gives California more control over which companies and reinsurance applications are approved for reinsurance.

Protections for Missed Payments

Besides the Senate Bills, a multitude of Assembly Bills also went into effect. Assembly Bill 1747 offers a reprieve for policyholders when it comes to unpaid insurance premiums. According to the new law, insurance policies must now come with a 60-day grace period where the policyholder can pay the debt owed and still be covered by the policy. Furthermore, the new bill also allows the policyholder to designate additional people that will receive a notice pertaining to the termination of the policy as a result of unpaid premiums.

New Ways to Provide Proof of Auto Insurance

In the past the only way drivers have been able to provide proof of insurance was to show paper documents provided by their insurer. With Assembly Bill 1708, auto insurance companies are now allowed to provide their customers with proof insurance as an electronic document. This enables drivers to keep their proof of insurance on their mobile devices and instructs peace officers that this is a legal and valid proof of insurance.

Protections for Police and Firefighters

Under the Assembly Bill 2298, insurance companies are not allowed to raise a police officer’s or firefighter’s private car insurance policy in response to an accident they were involved in while driving their private vehicle in the call of duty or at the request of their employer. Under these circumstances, the police officer or firefighter will also have no liability regarding loss or injury claims as the result of the accident.

Protections for Drivers with a Commercial License

Assembly Bill 1888 ensures that a driver possessing a commercial driver’s license can take a traffic violator course from a certified traffic violator school to remove points from their license that are a result of a traffic violation while driving a motorcycle, light duty truck or passenger car. The goal of this bill is provide a way for people who drive for a living to avoid the cancelation of their driver’s license resulting from the accumulation of points on their license. Insurers, however, are still allowed to take such offenses into consideration when determining insurance rates for a driver and also for underwriting purposes.

Disclosure of Requests of Compensation

This law is targeted at making public all requests of compensation made by any persons or consumer interest groups. Under it, California’s Department of Insurance must publish all such requests and their findings on their official website.