Best Auto Insurance Rates in California

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Finding Cheap Car Insurance in California

We did the research to find thousands of sample car insurance rates for specific driver profiles in California. The average annual premium for our sample driver in California was $1,626. We found that GEICO and State Farm were most consistently the cheapest options within the parameters of our search.

Auto insurance rates in California may vary based on many factors, including where you live, what car you drive and how risky of a driver you are. No one car insurance company is best for every driver, so to find the cheapest and best car insurance company for your needs, make sure to shop around.

This article will touch on:

Average California car insurance rates

How much is car insurance in California? Depending on where you live, many California drivers pay less for car insurance than the national average. For others, car insurance rates can be expensive. On average, auto insurance in California costs $1626 a year. The national average cost was $935.80 in 2016 according the III.

Prices may vary depending on your zip code and the total number of claims filed.

How much are average car insurance rates in California cities?

If you live in a densely populated city in California, you can probably expect higher car insurance premiums. How your insurance premiums are calculated depends on where you live. If your neighborhood has more accidents, your rates will likely be more expensive. Our research shows the 10 most populous cities’ average auto insurance premiums compared to the overall California average:

Average Car Insurance Rates by City in California
City Average premium
Los Angeles $1,991.82
San Francisco $1,953.42
Oakland $1,932.98
Long Beach $1,784.80
Sacramento $1,767.21
Anaheim $1,686.06
California average $1,626.53
Bakersfield $1,611.29
San Jose $1,600.41
Fresno $1,583.38
San Diego $1,538.11
Average rates are based on non-binding estimates provided by Quadrant Information Services. Your rates may vary. View our methodology here.

Cheap car insurance in California

Finding cheap car insurance requires you to shop around for quotes from multiple car insurance providers. We did some of the research for you by looking at thousands of quotes to see which companies offer the cheapest auto insurance rates in California. If you find multiple affordable car insurance quotes, make sure to consider customer service and other factors at each insurance company.

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Cheapest car insurance for good drivers

On average, our sample good driver in California pays on average around $141 per month for their car insurance. Good drivers may find more affordable car insurance rates than drivers in California with accidents and tickets. Being a good driver makes you a lower risk to file a claim with your auto insurance company, typically rewarding you with lower premiums compared to poor drivers.

California average car insurance rates

The top three cheapest car insurance companies for good drivers in California are:

Cheapest Insurance Companies and Rates for Good Drivers
Providers Yearly Rates
GEICO $1,227.84
Progressive $1,358.93
Allstate $1,477.05
Average rates are based on non-binding estimates provided by Quadrant Information Services. Your rates may vary. View our methodology here.

Twenty-percent discount for all good drivers in California

If you are a good driver in California, you may be eligible for a 20% good driver discount through any car insurance company. This rule is mandated by California state law. To be eligible for this discount you need:

  • To have a driver's license for at least the past three years.
  • To have at most one violation point during the last three years. This means you have at most one accident where you are at fault and caused at least $500 in damages, for example.
  • You were not at-fault for an accident that caused injury or death in the past three years.
  • You have not been found driving under the influence in the past ten years.

You do not need to have had insurance before to get the 20% good driver discount, as long as you meet this criteria.

Cheapest car insurance for young drivers

Young drivers face some of the steepest auto insurance premiums on average because their lack of driving experience tends to lead to more car accidents. Finding affordable car insurance for new drivers can seem like a daunting task, especially when looking at the average car insurance rates below. But there are many providers who offer affordable car insurance for new drivers.

The three cheapest car insurance companies for young drivers in California are State Farm, Alliance and Progressive, based on our research:

Cheapest Insurance Companies and Rates for Young Drivers
Providers Yearly Rates
State Farm $3,181.62
Alliance $4,314.08
Progressive $4,549.13
Average rates are based on non-binding estimates provided by Quadrant Information Services. Your rates may vary. View our methodology here.

To keep rates down for young drivers, some car insurance providers offer good student discounts, discounts when you bundle your insurance and discounts for defensive driving courses. Make sure to check with your agent to make sure you’re getting all of the discounts you qualify for.

Cheapest Car Insurance for Young Drivers

Cheapest car insurance for drivers with one at-fault accident

Once a driver is found at-fault in an accident, they usually face higher premiums when it comes time to renew their policy. In these cases, it’s in your best interest to shop around. For a driver with a history of one at-fault accident causing $3,000 in property damage, we found the following companies offered the cheapest rates on average:

Cheapest Insurance Companies and Rates for Drivers with One At-Fault Accident
Providers Yearly rates
GEICO $1,625.24
CSAA $1,996.92
Auto Club $2,524.38
Average rates are based on non-binding estimates provided by Quadrant Information Services. Your rates may vary. View our methodology here.

The average rate for car insurance for a driver in California with one at-fault accident increases by 73% versus a driver without an accident, in our findings. After an accident, you should shop around for multiple quotes to find the best price. Your current car insurance company may not be the cheapest for drivers found at-fault for an accident.

Average car insurance rates drivers with one at-fault accident

Cheapest car insurance for high-risk drivers

High-risk drivers typically pay higher car insurance premiums. In the state of California, if you can’t find an insurer who will write you a policy because you are a high-risk driver, you may find one through California’s high-risk insurance plan. In all cases, you should shop around because you might get better car insurance rates in the marketplace if you can find a policy.

California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP) for high-risk drivers

What if you shopped around and couldn’t find an insurance company that would offer you a car insurance policy? The California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan can help you find high-risk car insurance. Policies found through the assigned risk plan should be considered your last option as they’re likely more expensive than finding an insurance policy in the voluntary marketplace. But if you have a bad driving history, you can submit an application. In short, follow these steps:

  1. Find a certified CAARP insurance broker to submit your application. Call CAARP at (800) 622-0954.
  2. Provide your broker correct information as quickly as you can.
  3. You will be assigned to an insurance company.
  4. You and your insurer will decide on a car insurance policy.

You’re legally entitled to at least the California state minimum coverage of $15,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $30,000 in bodily injury liability per incident: $5,000 in property damage liability coverage. You can elect to have more coverage with your insurer. Your rates may be more expensive than in the voluntary market. If you are still a high-risk driver after three years and can’t find a policy in the voluntary marketplace, you need to apply for CAARP again.

Cheapest car insurance for low-mileage drivers

Drivers in California who use their cars sparsely or only accumulate a few thousand miles a year might find significantly cheaper rates for car insurance. We found these three auto insurance companies to be the cheapest for our sample driver who only drives 5,000 miles a year:

Cheapest Insurance Companies and Rates for Low Mileage Drivers
Providers Yearly rates
GEICO $865.62
Progressive $977.19
Allstate $1,087.68
Average rates are based on non-binding estimates provided by Quadrant Information Services. Your rates may vary. View our methodology here.

On average, our base-profile low-mileage driver would pay $102.47 in car insurance premiums monthly. This is 24% cheaper on average than rates for the same driver who drives 15,000 miles annually.

Average Car Insurance Rates for Low-Mileage Drivers in California

Affordable car insurance for low-income households

What if you can’t afford the minimum car insurance required by the state of California? California requires at least $15,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $30,000 in bodily injury liability per accident and $5,000 in property damage coverage.

Through California’s Low Cost Auto Insurance program, you might be eligible for annual rates as low as $247 per year. If you meet the eligibility criteria, this program allows you to purchase a policy with liability coverage limits below the state required minimums. You may purchase a 10/20/3 policy, which has $10,000 in bodily injury liability (BIL) per person, $20,000 BIL per accident and $3,000 in property damage, instead of a 15/30/5 policy. It does not include coverage for your own damages, which you can purchase separately. We suggest you always purchase collision and comprehensive coverage when you can afford it.

When is someone eligible? You must meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Your household annual income is below 250% of the federal poverty level index. The maximum annual total income for your household that is eligible varies by the number of people in your household.
  2. Your car is worth $25,000 or less.
  3. All cars in your house are insured by the low cost auto insurance program.
  4. You have a good driving record with no more than one at-fault accident in the past three years. You did not cause death or injury in an accident in the past three years. You have less than or equal to one moving violation point.
  5. You are at least 16 years old.
Maximum Annual Income To Be Eligible for California’s Low Cost Auto Insurance program
Household size (number of people) Maximum annual income
1 $31,225
2 $42,275
3 $53,325
4 $64,375
5 $75,425
6 $86,475
Source: California’s Low Cost Auto (CLCA) Insurance program

Cheapest car insurance for drivers with bad credit

In California, state regulations prohibit your credit score from impacting your auto insurance premiums, so any driver with bad credit should be able to get the same premium as an equivalent driver with the same exact profile. California similarly bans your education, job or gender to affect your car insurance rates. Your rate varies based on many factors, though, so make sure to search around for quotes.

Best car insurance companies in California

Make sure to consider the customer service reputation and reviews of your car insurance provider on top of costs. Sometimes it might be worth it to pay slightly more in premiums for better, more responsive customer service and a better experience in case you need to file an insurance claim. Based on an annual customer satisfaction survey by J.D. Power, with the highest satisfaction ranking being 1,000, USAA, which is only available for military personnel and their families, ranked the highest in overall customer satisfaction. Esurance and Auto Club of Southern California Insurance Group were close runners-up in overall customer satisfaction.

Insurance Providers Customer Satisfation Scores in California
Company Overall customer satisfaction index ranking (out of 1,000) J.D. Power Circle Rating (out of 5)
USAA (for military personnel and their families) 884 5
Esurance 847 5
Auto Club of Southern CA 834 4
Ameriprise 830 4
Wawanesa 828 4
GEICO 825 4
State Farm 824 4
Safeco 822 3
The Hartford 821 3
Progressive 821 3
California average 817 3
CSAA Insurance Group 809 3
Allstate 808 3
Liberty Mutual 808 3
Farmers 805 3
Mercury 805 3
Nationwide 780 2
Kemper 778 2

California minimum car insurance requirements

California state law requires you to carry a minimum coverage of 15/30/5. This means your policy must have these minimum coverages:

  • Bodily injury liability per person: $15,000
  • Bodily injury liability per incident: $30,000
  • Property damage liability per incident: $5,000

Recommended auto coverage in California

Adding uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance can be a good idea in California. It pays your damages in the event of a crash with an uninsured driver. California has more uninsured drivers than the national average. The III estimated that 15.2% of drivers in California are uninsured, compared to the national average of 13%. A high rate of uninsured drivers increases your chances of being in an accident where you’re left holding the bag for your own costs.

You should also look into upping your liability insurance, which covers damages you may cause others in an accident. An accident doesn’t have to be extreme for damages to exceed your basic liability limit. We generally recommend getting a 100/300/100 insurance policy, but ultimately the amount of liability car insurance you need depends on the value of your assets, minus any debt you have.

Shoppers should also consider obtaining collision coverage and comprehensive coverage. These additions to your car insurance policy pay for any damages you incur, regardless of fault. Collision coverage helps you pay to repair or replace your car even if you cause the accident. And comprehensive coverage can assist you in scenarios like earthquakes, wildfires, riots and any other “acts of God”. For drivers in coastal states subject to natural disasters, comprehensive coverage is essential. If you lease or finance your vehicle, this coverage is often required.

Required proof of car insurance

When driving in California, state law requires that you show proof of insurance to law enforcement if pulled over. You will also need to show proof when registering a vehicle or renewing registration.

Driving in California without insurance carries a fine between $100 to $200 for the first offense. Each additional offense within a three-year period carries an additional fine of $200 to $500.

Alternative car insurance coverage

Instead of purchasing insurance from an auto insurance provider, drivers are allowed to self-insure. You need to register with the DMV to prove you have a bond or deposit of $35,000. When you self-insure, you might not pay premiums, but you also opt out of coverage from an insurance company. In case of an accident, you’re liable for the full amount of damages you caused. In many cases, these damages can exceed the $35,000 you’ve laid aside.

Methodology

For all of the rates we gathered, our base driver profile was a 30-year-old man in California with a clean driving history. The driver owns a 2014 Honda Accord and selects the minimum liability coverage required auto policy. Annually, the driver drives his vehicle 15,000 miles.

We modified our search in the following ways: a young driver is 18 years old, a bad driver has one at-fault accident with $3,000 in property damage and a low-mileage driver drives 5,000 miles annually. Average rates are based on non-binding estimates provided by Quadrant Information Services. Your rates may vary.

Sources:

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