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Compare car insurance in California

Get the cheapest car insurance in California for 2021

The average cost for car insurance in California is $1,194.83 per year or about $100 per month, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). That number falls right at the national average, which is about $1,190 per year.

However, the NAIC takes in to account car insurance policies that include both state minimum coverage as well as optional coverage like comprehensive or collision. Because your exact costs depend on factors like your mileage and the risk of car accidents in your area, you could pay a different rate from this average.

California car insurance quick facts

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Minimum liability requirements


Average annual car insurance cost according to the NAIC


At-fault state

In at fault states, the driver who caused the accident pays for damages.

California state minimum car insurance requirements

To legally drive in California, you’ll need liability coverage that includes coverage limits of at least 15/30/5. These limits tell you how much your insurance will pay for damage or injuries that you cause in an accident.

For uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, California insurance companies are required to offer it to you, and you must sign a waiver to opt out of buying it.

Let’s go into detail about what’s covered under this state minimum coverage.

Bodily Injury Liability

Bodily injury liability

  • $15,000 for bodily injuries to one person
  • $30,000 for injuries to two or more people per accident

California requires at least 15/30 in bodily injury liability limits, which pays up to $15,000 for injuries that you cause to one person and up to $30,000 total if you injure more than one person. This coverage level is low compared to other states that often require 25/50 for this coverage.

Bodily injury coverage applies to other drivers, passengers or pedestrians if you cause the accident. This coverage is important to protect yourself and other people on the road from out-of-pocket costs for medical bills and pain and suffering.

Property damage liability

Property damage liability

  • $5,000 for property damage liability

California requires $5,000 for property damage liability, which pays for the other driver’s car damage as well as damaged personal belongings like a smartphone or car accessories. This amount is the lowest coverage requirement for property damage of any state.

You’ll want to think about a higher coverage limit to pay for all the damage you might cause to someone else’s property.

Uninsured or underinsured motorist

Uninsured or underinsured motorist

  • $15,000 for uninsured motorist injuries per person.
  • $30,000 for uninsured motorist injuries to more than one person.
  • $5,000 for uninsured motorist property damage

California is an opt-out state for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. However, this coverage protects you if you get hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. In this scenario, this coverage pays for your car’s damage or medical bills to you and your passengers.

Finder tip: California’s state minimum isn’t enough coverage

These state minimum requirements are some of the lowest in the nation, providing only barebones protection if you get in a car accident. To avoid paying out of pocket, try raising your liability limits based on your budget and adding optional coverage that helps with common types of damage.

7 factors that affect car insurance rates in California

Factors are characteristics specific to you that car insurance companies use to set how much you’ll pay for car insurance. The less risky each of your factors is the less you pay, the riskier you are the more you’ll pay. We’ll break down Californian’s rating factors to keep in mind.

FactorHow it affects your rates


How old you are is a top factor in determining your car insurance rates. With each passing year, you earn more experience on the road. More experience can equal cheaper rates. Teen drivers pay the most, but rates begin to level off around your 20’s with drivers over 50 paying the least.


California is one of seven states that bans the use of gender in calculating car insurance premiums. Insurers rely on factors such as age, location, driving record and what type of car you drive.


Where you live affects your rates, including where you park your car. High theft rates, high traffic and a high number of uninsured drivers could mean higher rates.

California vehicle theft rates stand at 427.6 vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the FBI’s most recent report on vehicle theft rates. That’s the third-highest vehicle theft rate in the nation and well above the national average of 246 vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants.

As for uninsured drivers, 16.6% of Californians on the road are uninsured. That’s more than average for the percent of uninsured drivers in a state according to Insurance Information Institute, with the national average standing at 12.6%.

Driving Record

Driving Record

The better your driving record, the lower your premium. If you’re in an at-fault accident you could see rates increases from 20% to 50%. And DUI’s in California can increase your rate by around 103%. These types of violations typically stay on your record for about three years.
Vehicle and mileage

Vehicle and mileage

Your car’s make, model and trim directly affect how much you’ll pay for car insurance. Things like its cost, safety ratings, the likelihood of theft and sportiness all help insurers determine its cost to insure.

Safer and cheaper vehicles score the lowest rates, with luxury vehicles with higher repair costs resulting in higher premiums.

And, the more you’re on the road, the more at-risk you are to get in an accident, which means higher premiums. However, according to the Bureau of Transportation, Californians drive an average of 35.8 miles per day, that’s slightly below the average across the US of 36.1 miles per day.

Credit score

Credit score

California is one of five states that can’t use your credit score against you when setting rates. This means you won’t be penalized for bad credit, but you also won’t see any favorable rates for holding a high credit score.


The more coverage you get and the higher limits you choose, the more protection you’ll have and the more you’ll pay in monthly premiums. And, if you opt for full coverage car insurance that includes comprehensive and collision, the amount of your deductible weighs into your costs too, higher deductibles mean lower monthly premiums.

Top 10 most popular California auto insurance companies list

It’s no surprise that big-name auto insurers rank top of the list for most popular car insurance companies in California.

CompanyDirect premiums written (billions)Market share
State Farm$4,106,03813.7%
Farmers Insurance$3,191,34110.7%
Auto Club Exchange Group$2,598,3408.7%
Mercury General$2,323,2827.8%

Car insurance guides by city

Compare rates, requirements and driving tips with our car insurance guides for your city.

Which city has the cheapest car insurance in California?

Of California’s largest cities, Norwalk has the cheapest rates and Pacoima has the most expensive car insurance rates. Pacoima drivers could face rates three times more than Norwalk drivers.

In general, you’re going to pay higher insurance costs to live and commute around a major city like Los Angeles or San Francisco than you would in Redding or Santa Maria.

Car insurance quotes in Norwalk

CompanyAnnual car insurance rate
21st century$1023

Car insurance quotes in Pacoima

CompanyAnnual car insurance rate
21st century$1480

Car insurance quotes in Westminster

CompanyAnnual car insurance rate
21st century$1109

Car insurance quotes in South Gate

CompanyAnnual car insurance rate
21st century$1152

Car insurance quotes in Hawthorne

CompanyAnnual car insurance rate
21st century$1157

Compare car insurance providers in California

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The AARP Auto Insurance Program from the Hartford
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Enjoy low rates for mature drivers, plus perks like new car replacement and lifetime repair guarantees. Only for drivers over age 50.
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Track your driving to receive a low rate that reflects your driving skills, and enjoy a fully app-based policy experience.

Compare up to 4 providers

Insurance help for low-income drivers in California

If you meet certain requirements, you might qualify for California’s low-cost insurance program. It’s designed to reduce the number of people driving without insurance. Here are the eligibility requirements:

  • Drivers with a valid California driver’s license.
  • Drivers at least 16 years old
  • Own a vehicle valued at $25,000 or less
  • Meet the following maximum income requirements:
Household of 1 – $30,350Household of 2 – $41,450
Household of 3 – $51,950Household of 4 – $62,750
Household of 5 – $73,550Household of 6 – $84,350
House hold of 7 – $95,150Household of 8 – $105,950

Roadside assistance in California

Many insurers offer roadside assistance as an optional extra, and a few offer it free, typically when you buy collision and comprehensive coverage. While California doesn’t face the same harsh winters as cities up north, Californian drivers know the traffic and road conditions aren’t always great. Road infrastructure and maintenance projects have been neglected or underfunded in areas across the state, despite high gas taxes. California is also a popular driving destination for commuters and vacationers, and more traffic can mean a higher chance of accidents. Roadside assistance can help you get a tow or repair fast after getting in a fender bender with a fellow commuter or spinning out on a windy road.

Uninsured drivers in California

The state of California requires all uninsured drivers to buy auto insurance or provide some other form of financial responsibility. But around 15% of California drivers don’t have insurance, slightly higher than the 12.6% national average.

To protect yourself from damages in a car accident, consider adding uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance to your policy.

What can I do if I don’t want to buy car insurance in California?

If you don’t want to buy car insurance, the state of California offers alternatives:

  • Deposit $35,000 in cash with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Submit a Motor Carrier Permit Application for Certificate of Self-Insurance to the DMV.
  • Purchase a surety bond of $35,000 from any company licensed to do business in the state.

Keep in mind that these options are usually not the most cost-effective or secure.

What laws do I need to follow when I’m driving in California?

Most traffic laws vary from state to state, but California has a few unique rules of the road to remember when driving down the 5 or any other road in California:

  • It’s illegal to wear headphones while driving or riding a bike on public roads. However, it’s fine if you leave one earbud out, as long as it doesn’t affect your ability to monitor your surroundings.
  • Minors are not allowed to drive a vehicle for pay in California. That means Uber, Lyft and other rideshare services are out.
  • Smoking inside your vehicle is illegal if there’s a minor in the car.
  • Any mobile phone use besides hands-free calling is prohibited while driving. When used for GPS navigation, phones must be mounted on the dashboard or windshield in a place that won’t obstruct the driver’s view.

Can I get SR-22 insurance in California?

Yes. If you’ve gotten a DUI, lost your license or have too many points on your driving record, you might need an SR-22 to get back on the road.

An SR-22 tells the state you have the minimum coverage required. The DMV will notify you if you need an SR-22 as proof of insurance.

How to file for SR-22 in California

Bottom line

Although you’ll find alternative options for car insurance in California, it’s a good idea to carry a personal policy. Research your insurance options to make sure you have the coverage the state and your circumstances require.

Frequently asked questions about car insurance in California

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