Car insurance guides for California

The best car insurance rates have been on the rise nationwide, and this has also held true for the state of California. The Golden State has seen increases of about $338 per year from 2015 to 2018, and it is one of the most expensive states in the country to insure your vehicle. That said, rates vary widely based on your insurer, city/county, age, driving history, type of vehicle, and even your credit score. Here’s the best car insurance rates for California to save on auto rates. 

To get a clearer idea of how auto insurance works and how to find the most affordable rates in the state, let’s first take a look at how California laws regulate drivers and their vehicles.

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Best Car Insurance Rates California

Auto Insurance Laws in California

According to the California Department of Insurance, drivers must abide by the following regulations:

  • You must show evidence of financial responsibility (i.e. auto liability insurance) for any vehicle that you personally own.
  • The minimum auto liability insurance required by California law is $15,000 per person, or $30,000 per accident. This will cover costs associated with personal injury or death in the event of an accident.
  • Additionally, you must carry a policy with a minimum of $5,000 in coverage for property damage.
  • The minimum liability insurance is required in order to register and maintain your vehicle. If you cancel your policy or fail to pay your premiums, your insurance company will immediately notify the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • If you do not want liability insurance, there are other ways to prove your financial responsibility in California. You can consult the California DMV for more information.

Best Auto California Insurance

As of the latest data, good drivers in California pay an average of $1,962 annually for auto insurance, or $164 per month. Rates vary by insurance company, location, insurance type, and the level of coverage. However, these rates are also highly dependent on drivers. When an insurance company is calculating your rates, they will look at the following factors:

  • Location – Generally, if you live, commute, or work in an urban area (like Los Angeles, San Diego, or San Jose), your rates will be higher, as accidents are more prevalent in densely-populated regions. However, other location-based factors are important, too, like adverse weather conditions and reports of vandalism. In California, dry or forested areas are more likely to be affected by wildfires, and most of the state is also susceptible to earthquakes, both of which contribute to higher auto insurance rates.
  • Age – Statistically, younger drivers get in more accidents. This means that the younger you are, the more you will need to pay in insurance premiums. The average age in California is 36, which is lower than the national average. 
  • Gender – Men are more likely than women to get in accidents, so your gender could impact your auto rates as well.
  • Marital Status – Typically, married couples take fewer risks than their single counterparts, and this holds true for driving. Married couples get in fewer accidents, and therefore pose a smaller risk for insurance providers.
  • Driving Experience – While this metric is similar to age, it is still slightly different. Usually, the older you are, the longer you have been driving, but that is not always true. Nonetheless, people who have held a driver’s license for longer are more experienced, and therefore pay lower premiums.
  • Driving Record – A driver’s record is one of the most important factors that insurance companies consider. If you have a history of frequent speeding tickets, DUIs, or other infractions, you will have to pay more. California ranks 29th for states with the most traffic incidents, which helps keep the average rates relatively low.
  • Claims Record – It is also important to consider how many claims you have made to insurance providers in the past (if any). At-fault claims will cause your premiums to rise, while not-at-fault collisions will generally have no impact on your rates.
  • Credit History – Your credit is a good indicator of how financially responsible you are, but the research also shows that people with low credit tend to file more claims, making them a greater risk for insurance companies.
  • Previous Insurance Coverage – If you have maintained auto insurance without any gaps, your new insurance provider will see this as a good sign. However, if you went for several years, months, or even days without any insurance, you will be seen as high-risk.
  • Vehicle Type – Certain cars are driven differently, which means that certain cars are more prone to accidents. Some cars are also more prone to theft or vandalism.
  • Use of Vehicle – When you exclusively use your vehicle for personal use, you are less likely to get in an accident. However, if you take long business trips or frequently drive for your work, you increase your chances of a collision. 
  • Annual Mileage – How much you drive directly impacts your chances of getting in an accident. No matter how you use your vehicle (personal or business use), if you put a lot of mileage on your car, you are more likely to file a claim with your insurance provider.
  • Number of Policies – Finally, the type of insurance you want/need will help determine your rates. The more policies you have (liability, comprehensive, uninsured motorist, etc.), the more you will need to pay.

Best Auto Insurance Rates in California 2019 (by Company)

When looking at the cheapest rates across the entire state, there are 12 major insurance providers that consistently provide low rates for good drivers. Additionally, there are several other companies that provide low rates in certain cities and counties but do not consistently provide low rates statewide. In any case, let’s take a look at some of the lowest auto insurance rates available in the state of California:

CompanyAnnual RateMonthly Rate
Geico$454$38
Esurance$548$46
AAA — Northern California (CSAA)$558$47
Mercury$621$52
21st Century$638$53
AAA — Southern California$664$55
Allstate$682$57
Progressive$687$57
Liberty Mutual$710$59
State Farm$760$63
Farmers$804$67
USAA* (only for active military/veterans/families)$446$37

 

It is important to note that the table above shows the average rates for the minimum coverage required by the state of California. The complete guide to California auto insurance. For standard or “full coverage,” the rates are significantly higher:

CompanyAnnual RateMonthly Rate
Esurance$1,196$100
21st Century$1,510$126
Geico$1,541$128
Allstate$1,684$140
Mercury$1,721$143
AAA — Northern California (CSAA)$1,809$151
Farmers$1,845$154
Liberty Mutual$1,961$163
State Farm$2,084$174
Progressive$2,250$188
AAA — Southern California$2,793$233
USAA* (only for active military/veterans/families)$1,404$117

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These are approximate California auto rates based on statewide polling for 40 year old men and women with good driving records. Naturally, individual rates will vary. Additionally, companies like Metromile also provide low rates for drivers who meet the necessary criteria or live in certain areas. So, in order to get a better picture of auto insurance rates around the state, let’s look at how rates vary by city.

Cheap California Auto Insurance Rates by City

Aside from your driving history, your location is one of the most important factors when calculating the cost of your auto insurance. Population, crime rates, weather conditions, and cost of living can all affect the amount you pay each year. Individuals who live and work in rural areas typically have the lowest rates, however, the majority of Californians live in urban or suburban areas, where rates tend to increase. So, let’s take a look at the top-5 largest cities in California and compare their respective auto insurance rates:

Los Angeles

The average annual cost of full auto coverage in Los Angeles is $2,238. With a high cost of living, heavy traffic, and high population density, the average auto insurance rates are significantly higher in Los Angeles than the rest of the state. However, like with most large cities, these prices can vary by district or neighborhood. For example, those living in neighborhoods like Long Beach and much of Los Angeles proper will pay significantly more than those living in Walnut. While infrastructure and roads are well-managed in Los Angeles, collision rates are high, which also contributes to higher premiums.

San Diego

The average annual cost of full auto coverage in San Diego is $1,950. While San Diego has a much smaller population and a lower cost of living than Los Angeles, auto insurance premiums are still relatively high. To make matters worse, San Diego ranked as one of the worst cities for drivers, with frequent accidents and heavy traffic. That said, not every neighborhood has high insurance premiums. For example, citizens of Logan Heights will need to pay significantly more than those living in Scripps Ranch.

San Jose

The average annual cost of full auto coverage in San Jose is $1,731. While not as high as some of the more densely populated cities in the state, San Jose premiums tend to be high due to traffic congestion and frequent cases of auto theft. Additionally, more than half of the roadways in the city are in poor condition, contributing to extra wear and tear on vehicles. However, you can generally find cheaper auto insurance rates if you live in neighborhoods like Saratoga or East Foothills.

San Francisco

The average annual cost of auto coverage in San Francisco is $1,699. Drivers in San Francisco experience a collision almost twice as frequently as the national average, which, in conjunction with relatively poor road conditions, raises auto insurance rates. While good public transit helps cut down on traffic, San Francisco still has some of the worst congestion rates in the state. As far as neighborhoods, you can generally find the cheapest auto insurance rates if you live in or near Lower Pacific Heights. 

Fresno

The average annual cost of auto coverage in Fresno is $1,592. While the roads are not perfect, they are generally in better condition than most other major cities in the state. Additionally, rates in Fresno are more reasonable thanks to limited congestion and safe driving records. That said, certain densely populated neighborhoods like Downtown and the Tower District have higher rates than the city and state average.

If you’d like to learn more about acquiring auto insurance in the state of California, consult the California Department of Insurance today!


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