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Compare car insurance in California

Get the cheapest car insurance in California for 2021

If you plan to drive in California, you'll need to carry a minimum level of liability coverage. Shopping around may allow you to find insurance cheaper than California's average annual car insurance cost of around $1,698.
Name Product Roadside assistance New car protection Accident forgiveness Safe driver discount Available states
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Your dedicated agent can help you find the best savings with multiple discounts and rewards programs.
All 50 states & DC
Discover coverage that’s broader than competitors, valuable discounts up to 30% off and perks like shrinking deductibles that reward no claims.
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.
Available in 31 states
Track your driving to receive a low rate that reflects your driving skills, and enjoy a fully app-based policy experience.
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Get quotes in 30-seconds from 100+ companies, and save an average of $800 or more per year. Requires online login to your existing insurance.
Liberty Mutual
All 50 states & DC
Earn free accident forgiveness after five years claims-free and customize your policy anytime online at the tap of a button.

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Car insurance quick facts


Minimum liability requirements


Average annual car insurance cost


Days to update your license

At-fault state

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

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%

Average car insurance costs in California

The average cost for car insurance in California is $164 per month, compared with $130 in Colorado and $137 in Connecticut. But your exact costs depend on the city you live in, and the factors associated with your zip such as crime rates, climate, commuting distance and the average costs of living in your area.

Nailing down accurate averages for each city in California is difficult, given the state’s cities, districts and larger metropolitan areas, but one thing remains consistent: You’re going to pay higher insurance costs to live and commute around a city like LA or San Francisco than you would up in Redding or Santa Maria.

8 tips for getting cheap car insurance in California

  • Don’t drive a flashy car. You might think California’s beaches deserve a view from your convertible. But a Honda Civic will be more reasonable to insure than a Maserati.
  • Drop collision and comprehension on older cars. Your car’s value determines your maximum payout after an accident or theft. If you commute in a beater along the 405, you don’t even need this protection.
  • Increase your deductible. Your deductible is what you agree to pay after an accident. Raising it decreases how much of the tab your provider picks up after a fender bender or worse.
  • Take care on the road. Accidents and tickets are surefire ways to push your premium higher. Clean records tend to get the best rates, and you might even qualify for a safe-driver discount.
  • Use anti-theft devices. The California Department of Justice reported more than 240,000 auto thefts in just 2006 alone. Some providers offer discounts for even passive devices, like steering wheel locks.
  • Look for local insurers. That provider around the corner might be hungrier for your business and could offer cheaper rates.
  • Keep on top of your bills. A growing number of providers check credit scores when determining your rates. It’s against the law in California, but paying your annual premium up front could keep a few dollars in your pocket.
  • Bundle your policies. Group renter or home insurance under your car insurance umbrella to reduce what you pay across the board.

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.

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

State minimum requirements in California

To legally drive in California, you’ll need liability insurance that includes at least:

  • $15,000 for injury or death to one person.
  • $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person.
  • $5,000 for damage to property.

When shopping for car insurance, you’ll sometimes see this written as 15/30/5.

When it comes to uninsured motorists coverage, which protects you in the event of an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance, California is an opt-out state. That means that California insurance companies are required to offer you UIM insurance, and you must sign a waiver to opt out of carrying it.

However, keep in mind California has the highest number of hit-and-runs and a high rate of uninsured drivers.

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

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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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