The best cheap car insurance in California

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
California doesn’t allow car insurance providers to use age, credit score, or gender to determine rates.
California drivers in urban areas will pay more than drivers in rural areas.
California offers a low-cost alternative for lower-income drivers.
Savvy

According to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, the average annual premium paid in the state of California is $1,397. Getting car insurance in California will be different than getting car insurance anywhere else in the US. California has a unique affordable car insurance program that isn’t available elsewhere.

California law prohibits considering age, gender or credit score to calculate rates. Other factors like driving record, marital status, vehicle type, previous coverage, and miles driven can all play a role in the amount you’ll pay for coverage.

California is a large market for car insurance, and that means that there’s a big opportunity to shop around. Make sure to get quotes from several different insurance companies, and compare their coverage limits and types. You’ll also want to consider the deductible, or the amount you’ll pay out of pocket if you get into an accident. By shopping around, you’ll be able to find the best rate for you.

Minimum car liability insurance requirements in California

Liability coverage is required by law. If you’re involved in an accident, liability insurance covers damage you cause to the other vehicle, driver, and its passengers. If you finance or lease your car, your lender probably requires comprehensive and collision coverage.

California law prohibits considering age, gender or credit score to calculate rates. It offers affordable low-cost liability insurance for drivers within a certain income range.

The two main components of liability insurance are bodily injury and property damage, which most states require. Liability insurance also includes uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage, to protect you when an at-fault driver hits you and they have no coverage, or not enough coverage.

California requires bodily and property coverage, according to the Insurance Information Institute. California’s minimum liability requirements are 15/30/5, which means up to $15,000 of injury protection for each person involved in an accident, up to $30,000 worth of injuries per incident, and up to $5,000 of property damages per incident.

Types of liability coverageDefinitionBodily injury (BI)Injury you cause to others, includes medical expenses, lost wages, and funeral expensesProperty damage (PD)Damage you cause to others’ vehicle or propertyUninsured motorist (UM)Protects you when an at-fault driver hits you with no insuranceUnderinsured motorist (UIM)Protects you when an at-fault driver hits you with not enough coverage

Best car insurance for a driver with a clean record

In California, coverage costs will vary most by where you live. To find the companies with the cheapest policies, we used California Department of Insurance’s Automobile Insurance Comparison tool to find the best companies for drivers in three different parts of California.

We based our analysis on standard coverage for a single adult driver, who drives no more than 10,000 miles per year, has five to eight years of driving experience, and owns a Honda Accord.

We searched for rates for a single driver with five to eight years driving experience, who owns a Honda Accord and has no driving violations.

Santa Monica (urban)Petaluma (rural)Metropolitan Direct Property & Casualty: $1,122 per yearUSAA: $2,428 per yearCalifornia Casualty Indemnity Exchange: $2,473 per yearMetropolitan Direct Property & Casualty car insurance: $670 per yearUSAA car insurance: $1,841 per yearCSAA car insurance: $1,996 per year

Best car insurance for a driver with a ticket and an accident

The rates change for the same single driver with five to eight years driving experience, who owns a Honda Accord and has one ticket and an accident on record.

Santa Monica (urban)Petaluma (rural)Metropolitan Direct Property & Casualty: $1,208 per yearUSAA: $4,000 per yearPermanent General: $4,107 per yearMetropolitan Direct Property & Casualty: $726 per yearUSAA: $3,011 per yearWestern General: $3,222 per year

The best car insurance for a driver seeking liability only insurance

For those seeking basic liability-only coverage, we searched for rates based on a single driver with five to eight years driving experience, who owns a Toyota Camry with no driving violations.

Santa Monica (urban)Petaluma (rural)California Casualty Indemnity Exchange: $708 per yearIntegon Preferred: $814 per yearMetropolitan Direct Property & Casualty: $862 per yearWestern General: $488 per yearMetropolitan Direct Property & Casualty: $514 per yearCalifornia Casualty Indemnity Exchange: $547 per year

California offers low-cost insurance for lower-income drivers

California’s Department of Insurance also offers a low-cost auto insurance program. If you qualify, this program could help lower the costs of car insurance to $247 to $980 per year, depending on where you live.

This option is only offered only to Californians with a car less than $25,000 in value and a good driving record. A maximum income limit applies, with a maximum income of $31,225 for a single person and $53,325 for a household of three.

Average premiums for seniors and teen drivers in California

The table below shows the average senior and teen drivers can expect to pay in California. Because teen drivers are new drivers with little driving history and more prone to accidents, their rates are high. Most insurance companies offer discounts to teen drivers for good grades or taking driving safety classes.

Senior drivers typically see an uptick in car insurance premiums as they age, but not as much of an increase as new or teen drivers. If you’re still driving in your 60s and 70s, there are ways to negotiate cheaper auto insurance rates, like pay-per-mile usage.

Average premium for senior driversAverage premium for teen drivers$1,847 per year$3,027 per year

Data provided by Goosehead Insurance

Best car insurance companies in California based on customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction with car insurance providers may factor into your decision. According to J.D. Power, a consumer research company that surveys customers, these are the top 10 providers based on customer rankings:

EsuranceAuto Club of Southern California Insurance Group AmeripriseWawanesaGEICOState FarmSafecoThe HartfordProgressiveCalifornia Average

California car insurance rates by metro area

Below is the estimated average annual premium of auto insurance policies per household in California’s most populated metro areas.

California metro areaAverage annual car insurance premiumLos Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim$1,382San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley$1,486Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario$1,366San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad$1,407Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom$1,391San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara$1,532Fresno$1,310Bakersfield$1,272Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura$1,438Stockton$1,383Modesto$1,353Santa Rosa-Petaluma$1,425Visalia$1,298Santa Maria-Santa Barbara$1,363Vallejo$1,435Salinas$1,391San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles$1,386Santa Cruz-Watsonville$1,412Merced$1,313Chico$1,273El Centro$1,270Redding$1,279Yuba City$1,311Madera$1,336Hanford-Corcoran$1,325Napa$1,443Eureka-Arcata$1,241Truckee-Grass Valley$1,343Ukiah$1,242Clearlake$1,254Red Bluff$1,232Sonora$1,286Susanville$1,291Crescent City$1,233

The above data was obtained from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The most popular car insurance companies in California based on market share

The following are the most popular car insurance companies in California, listed from companies that insure the most California drivers to the least:

CompanyMarket Share (%)State Farm12.66GEICO11.28Farmers Insurance9.33Auto Club Exchange (AAA)9.03Allstate8.39California State Automobile Association7.97Mercury Insurance7.74Kemper5.73Progressive5.46USAA*5.05Liberty Mutual3.28Nationwide1.86Wawanesa General Insurance Co.1.56National General Holdings Corp1.48American Family Insurance1.43

*USAA is only for active military, veterans, and their families.

Related Content Module: Best Auto Insurance by State

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