California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

5001. Insurance

You must not consider whether any of the parties in this case has insurance. The presence or absence of insurance is totally irrelevant. You must decide this case based only on the law and the evidence.

Directions for Use

If this instruction is used, the Advisory Committee recommends that it be read to the jury before reading instructions on the substantive law.

Sources and Authority

Evidence Code section 1155 provides: "Evidence that a person was, at the time a harm was suffered by another, insured wholly or partially against loss arising from liability for that harm is inadmissible to prove negligence or other wrongdoing."

As a rule, evidence that the defendant has insurance is both irrelevant and prejudicial to the defendant. (Neumann v. Bishop (1976) 59 Cal.App.3d 451, 469 [130 Cal.Rptr. 786].)

Generally, evidence that the plaintiff was insured is not admissible under the "collateral source rule." (Helfend v. Southern California Rapid Transit Dist. (1970) 2 Cal.3d 1, 16-18 [84 Cal.Rptr. 173, 465 P.2d 61]; Acosta v. Southern California Rapid Transit Dist. (1970) 2 Cal.3d 19, 25-26 [84 Cal.Rptr. 184, 465 P.2d 72].)

Evidence of insurance coverage may be admissible where it is coupled with other relevant evidence, provided that the probative value of the other evidence outweighs the prejudicial effect of the mention of insurance. (Blake v. E. Thompson Petroleum Repair Co., Inc. (1985) 170 Cal.App.3d 823, 831 [216 Cal.Rptr. 568].)

An instruction to disregard whether a party has insurance may, in some cases, cure the effect of counsel's improper reference to insurance. (Scally v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (1972) 23 Cal.App.3d 806, 814 [100 Cal.Rptr. 501].)

Secondary Sources

7 Witkin, California Procedure (4th ed. 1997) Trial, §§ 230-233

Jefferson, California Evidence Benchbook (3rd ed. 1977) §§ 34.32-34.36

California Practice Guide: Civil Trials and Evidence, § 5:371

(Revised April 2004)