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California’s nickname “The Golden State” draws on the state’s gold rush history, as well as its natural beauty. Residents will also have to hand over a fair amount of their own “gold” to pay for car insurance. The average cost of car insurance in California is $294, and the state ranks as the 11th most-expensive state in the nation for buying a car insurance policy.
If you’re looking to buy a new policy, plenty of companies can provide cheap car insurance, and it’s easy to compare quotes online.
The average cost of car insurance in California is $294/mo.
American Family is the cheapest top insurer in California, at $168/mo. on average.
The easiest way to save on car insurance costs is to compare quotes online.
Table of contents
- Best cheap car insurance in California: American Family
- What to know about minimum car insurance requirements in California
- Tips for getting cheap car insurance in California
- Liability-only vs. full-coverage insurance in California
- How your driving history affects California car insurance rates
- How credit scores affect California car insurance quotes
- How your city affects California car insurance rates
- How your age affects your California car insurance rates
- California car insurance FAQs
Best cheap car insurance in California: American Family
Best Cheap Car Insurance in California
While the price of a policy is an important factor to consider when purchasing car insurance, you will also want to ensure that the company you buy from is in good financial standing and will reliably pay claims. The cheapest top car insurance provider in California is American Family, with average rates of $168 per month.
|Car Insurance Company||Insurify Composite ScoreThe Insurify Composite Score is a proprietary rating calculated by a team of data scientists at Insurify, weighing multiple factors that reflect the quality, reliability, and health of an insurance company. Inputs to the score include financial strength ratings from A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch; J.D. Power ratings; Consumer Reports customer satisfaction surveys and customer complaints; mobile app reviews; and user-generated company reviews.||Average Monthly Quote|
Learn More: Best Car Insurance Companies
Insurify Composite Score (ICS)
To calculate the Insurify Composite Score, a proprietary rating, Insurify data scientists weigh multiple factors that reflect the quality, reliability, and health of an insurance company.
Inputs to the score include financial strength ratings from A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch, J.D. Power ratings, Consumer Reports customer satisfaction surveys and customer complaints, mobile app reviews, and user-generated company reviews.
What to know about minimum car insurance requirements in California
California requires insurance for all vehicles operated or parked on its roadways. You’ll need to carry proof of insurance in your car at all times and have it available when:
A member of law enforcement asks to see it
You renew your vehicle registration
Your car is involved in an accident
The minimum liability insurance requirements for private passenger vehicles in California are:
$15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident for bodily injury: As a major part of your liability insurance, bodily injury coverage covers medical bills for people other than the policyholder who are injured during an accident. California is an at-fault state, meaning the driver who is responsible for the collision is also responsible for paying for any resulting expenses, either through their car insurance provider or out of pocket.
$5,000 per accident for property damage: If it’s determined that an insured driver is at fault for an accident, property damage liability pays for repairs to the property of the other involved parties. Additionally, property damage coverage can cover legal costs if the insured driver is involved in a lawsuit following the accident.
California DMV information
The California DMV offers many services online — such as requesting a replacement driver’s license or paying reinstatement fees — so be sure to check its website to find out whether you can do what you need to do online before making an appointment. You can also visit your local DMV for services that can’t be completed online or if you prefer to go in person.
Public transportation in California
Multiple cities in California have robust public transportation systems. For example, San Francisco’s Muni system encompasses buses, light rail Metro trains, streetcars and cable cars. And although it has a reputation as a driver’s town, Los Angeles also has a Metro Rail system with two subway lines and four light rail lines.
For areas outside major cities, driving is the most convenient way to get around. However, some public transportation is available, such as Greyhound buses and Amtrak trains for long-distance travel. Many large cities also have their own public bus systems.
Tips for getting cheap car insurance in California
No two drivers are the same, and every car insurance provider weighs risk factors differently. Because of this, many drivers compare car insurance quotes to find their best personal rate. California drivers also can hold down insurance costs by keeping clean driving records free of violations. Buying liability-only insurance coverage is another tactic, but it might not be right for you if your car’s value exceeds $3,000.
Another option for homeowners is to bundle their home and car insurance with the same company. Many insurers provide significant discounts for bundling.
Learn More: California Homeowners Insurance Quotes
Liability-only vs. full-coverage insurance in California
Like most states, California allows drivers to opt for liability-only auto insurance that only pays for expenses related to damage or injury to the other party if you cause an accident. However, if you lease your car or have an auto loan, your leasing company or lender will almost certainly require you to carry full-coverage insurance. Full coverage consists of comprehensive and collision insurance, which will pay to repair or replace your car.
Full-coverage car insurance typically costs more than minimum coverage. So if saving money is your most important goal, and you don’t have a loan or lease dictating your coverage, you choose liability-only insurance. But even if you own your car free and clear, you may still want to consider full coverage if:
You have a high-value vehicle.
You can’t afford to pay for repairs out of your own pocket.
The cash value of your car is more than the annual premium to insure it with full coverage.
In California, American Family, Progressive, and Travelers offer the lowest average rates for liability-only car insurance. For full-coverage insurance, Erie and Mile Auto offer the lowest average rates. Here are the average monthly quotes for minimum coverage and full coverage in California.
|Car Insurance Company||Liability Only||Full Coverage|
How your driving history affects California car insurance rates
Your driving history significantly affects your car insurance premiums. In California, driving infractions can lead to higher car insurance premiums. For example, having an at-fault accident in your recent driving history will raise your rates by an average of 22%.
Even with an at-fault accident, a DUI, or a speeding ticket on your record, you can find affordable car insurance rates in California with the companies in the tables below. If you have a clean driving record, you may find the best deal with Progressive, which has an average monthly premium of $104 for good drivers. Progressive also has the lowest monthly average rates for drivers with a DUI, speeding ticket, and at-fault accident.
|Car Insurance Company||Clean Record||At-Fault Accident||With a DUI||Speeding Ticket|
See More: High-Risk Car Insurance California
SR-22 insurance in California
If you have a DUI conviction, California insurance laws may require you to get a special form called an SR-22 from your insurance provider to prove that you’re financially responsible. These are some of the insurance companies that offer SR-22s in California:
See More: DUI Car Insurance California
How credit scores affect California car insurance quotes
In most states, your credit history will affect your insurance premiums. However, California prohibits insurance providers from using your credit score when setting your insurance rates. Since credit history can’t be used to determine auto insurance rates, finding insurance in California is easier, and your credit score won’t affect what you pay for car insurance.
How your city affects California car insurance rates
Your car insurance rates also depend on where in California you live and vary from city to city. On average, residents of Los Angeles can expect to pay $115 more per month than San Diego drivers. San Francisco and Los Angeles have the highest rates, while Fresno and San Diego have the cheapest car insurance rates.
|City||Average Monthly Quote|
How your age affects your California car insurance rates
Your age is another major factor that impacts your car insurance rates. Teens and drivers younger than 25 can expect the highest monthly rates, $502 and $404, respectively. As you age and gain more driving experience, your car insurance rates will become cheaper. Drivers in their 50s and 60s can expect the cheapest rates, $220 and $216, respectively.
Quotes for younger drivers
Multiple other factors influence how much drivers in each age group will pay for California car insurance. Young drivers see the highest car insurance rates compared to other age groups. However, Travelers, Progressive, and National General offer affordable rates for young drivers.
The table below shows car insurance quotes for drivers younger than 30 based on multiple rating factors.
|Car Insurance Company||Liability Only||With an Accident||With a DUI|
Quotes for middle-aged drivers
Middle-aged drivers in California can find cheap average rates for full-coverage car insurance with Mile Auto, Travelers, Progressive, and National General.
|Car Insurance Company||Liability Only||With an Accident||With a DUI|
Quotes for senior drivers in California
Rates for senior drivers in their 60s are among the lowest available to any age group. However, premiums begin to increase for drivers in their 70s and 80s — although their rates still remain low compared to those offered to other age groups. Accidents and violations can also push rates higher for senior drivers.
This table shows average monthly rates for senior drivers in California.
|Car Insurance Company||Liability Only||With an Accident||With a DUI|
California car insurance FAQs
In California, American Family is the top insurer offering the cheapest car insurance, with average rates of $168 per month. However, what you pay for car insurance will depend on many different factors, including but not limited to your driving record, where you live in California, and the type of coverage you choose. Every company will weigh these factors differently, so the cheapest company on average may not be the company with the best rate for you.
Across young drivers, middle-aged drivers, and senior drivers, Progressive and National General tend to have cheaper average rates.
Car insurance in California is particularly expensive because of the unique weather risks in the state. Due to the frequency of earthquakes and fires in California, drivers will likely see car insurance costs that are significantly higher than the national average. Additionally, car accidents are on the rise in cities like Los Angeles, which will also raise insurance rates.
California also ranks 10th in the nation for the percentage of uninsured drivers. With 16.6% of Californians driving without insurance, insured drivers in the state will see higher car insurance costs to compensate for the added risk. While uninsured motorist coverage (UIM) isn’t required in California, drivers should consider purchasing it to stay fully protected on the road.
In California, the average cost of car insurance is $294 per month or $3,528 annually — that’s 26% more expensive than the national average cost of car insurance. According to our data, average monthly rates in the state have risen by 12% since the beginning of 2022.
The cost of car insurance in California also varies by coverage level. Drivers who opt for a liability-only insurance policy will pay an average of $161 per month, which is a sharp decrease from the average cost of car insurance in the state.
The best auto insurance companies in California with the highest Insurify Composite Score (ICS) rankings include American Family, GEICO, and USAA. The ICS takes the latest and most important industry rankings into consideration, such as customer and claims satisfaction, financial strength, and mobile app reviews.
American Family, GEICO, and USAA are all scored as an A or higher from A.M. Best, with American Family offering the cheapest average monthly rates. All three companies are in good financial standing and are recognized as some of the best car insurance companies in California.
Yes, car insurance is required in California. The state minimum car insurance requirements are $15,000 per person for bodily injury, $30,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $5,000 per accident for property damage. While it isn’t required, you may also want to buy uninsured motorist coverage in California due to the high percentage of uninsured drivers in the state.
Bodily injury liability provides coverage if you injure another driver in an accident, and property damage will cover the costs of property damage to other vehicles if they are damaged in an accident. Note that bodily injury and property damage liability won’t cover the cost of your injuries or the repair and replacement costs for your vehicle.
In most cases, car insurance follows the car in California — liability insurance, collision insurance, and comprehensive insurance will all apply to anyone who drives your car. That means if you lend your car to a family member or friend, they will be covered by your auto insurance policy. It’s important to note that in California, PIP and MedPay follow the driver.
However, it’s still smart to make sure that anyone driving your car is insured on their own policy. In the case of an accident, their car insurance policy will kick in to cover any damages that exceed your coverage limit.
Personal injury protection (PIP) isn’t required in California, although it is available if you want it as an addition to your car insurance policy. In contrast to bodily injury coverage, which doesn’t provide any coverage to you as the policyholder, PIP covers your medical costs, lost wages, or funeral costs in the event of a car accident.
In California, full-coverage car insurance consists of liability coverage, comprehensive coverage, and collision coverage. Liability insurance is legally mandated by the state of California and will cover bodily injury and property damage to the other driver in the event of an accident.
Comprehensive coverage provides protection from damage as a result of anything other than a car accident, such as natural disasters and vandalism. Collision coverage, on the other hand, will cover the costs of damages from a car collision or accident, up to your policy limit.
How California Drivers Measure Up
While most drivers know that car insurance quotes are determined in part by your personal driving history, many may be unaware that rates are also impacted by the average risk of the drivers around you as well. Check out Insurify's latest analysis of driving records in California below:
Drawing from an internal database of over 4 million car insurance applications, the research team at Insurify analyzes patterns in car ownership and driver behavior - including how California drivers measure up to their fellow motorists across the United States in areas including speeding, DUIs, and more.
Insurify Insights publishes data-driven articles, trend analyses, and national rankings each week on all factors related to cars and those who drive them.
Most Popular Car in California
State with the Most Speeding Tickets Rank
State with the Moving Violations Rank
State with the Most DUIs Rank
State with the most Suspended Licenses
While car accidents are a sadly unavoidable feature of time spent on the road, rates of accidents do vary from city to city and from state to state. California is the #17 state in the country for drivers with an at-fault accident on their driving record.
- Rank among states: #17
- Percent of drivers in California with an accident: 9.4%
While driving while intoxicated is never acceptable, it’s a more common offense than many assume. California is the #15 state in the country for drivers with a prior drunk driving conviction.
- Rank among states: #15
- Percent of drivers in California with a DUI: 1.8%
Reckless driving refers to a specific traffic violation: when drivers willfully act dangerously in spite of the risks they’re imposing on both themselves and others. California is the #23 state in the country for drivers with a reckless driving offense on record.
- Rank among states: #23
- Percent of drivers in California with a reckless driving offense: 1.3%
The Insurify team classifies rude drivers as those who commit one or more of the following driving offenses: failure to yield or failure to stop, improper backing, passing where prohibited, tailgating, street racing, or hit-and-run. California is the #23 state in the country for drivers with a rude driving violation on record.
- Rank among states: #23
- Percent of drivers in California with a rude driving violation: 1.5%
Exceeding the speed limit can endanger others and have a serious impact on your insurance costs. California is the #39 state in the country for drivers with a speeding ticket on record.
- Rank among states: #39
- Percent of drivers in California with a speeding ticket: 6.9%
Failing to yield the right of way isn’t just frustrating for other drivers; it’s dangerous, too. California is the #38 state in the country for drivers with a failure to yield violation on record.
- Rank among states: #38
- Percent of drivers in California with a failure to yield violation: 0.1%
Insurify's team of data scientists and content specialists presents Insurify Insights, a series of automotive, home, and health studies focusing on the topics that impact us all. through expert analysis of over 4 million car insurance applications and an array of top data sources, the Insurify Insights team produces new data-driven articles, trend analyses, regional superlatives, and national rankings every week. See Insurify Insights as featured in Forbes, Fox News, USA Today, NPR, and more.
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Data scientists at Insurify analyzed more than 40 million real-time auto insurance rates from our partner providers across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. Quotes for Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, State Farm, and USAA are estimates based on Quadrant Information Service's database of auto insurance rates. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how companies price their car insurance premiums.
- California Department of Motor Vehicles. "State Minimum Car Insurance." Accessed November 21, 2022
- NAIC. "Credit-Based Insurance Scores." Accessed November 21, 2022
- LAPD COMPSTAT. "2021 Collision Data." Accessed November 21, 2022
- Insurance Information Institute. "Facts + Statistics: Uninsured motorists." Accessed November 21, 2022
- Insurance Information Institute. "Automobile Financial Responsibility Laws By State." Accessed November 21, 2022