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Compare car insurance in California

Get the cheapest car insurance in California for 2020

Updated

If you plan to drive in California, you’ll need to carry a minimum level of liability coverage. You’ll also have the option to carry additional protection on your policy, which might better protect you, your vehicle, your passengers and your fellow travelers on the road. Shopping around may allow you to find insurance cheaper than California’s average annual car insurance cost of around $1,698.

California

Car insurance quick facts

15/30/5

Minimum liability requirements

$1698

Average annual car insurance cost

10

Days to update your license

At-fault state

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

Our top pick: Progressive

Discover coverage that’s broader than competitors, valuable discounts up to 30% off and perks like shrinking deductibles that reward no claims.

  • Broad coverage, including for custom car parts or ridesharing
  • Transparent pricing tools that help you buy within budget
  • Accident forgiveness on small claims or for staying claim-free
  • Stack a variety of discounts for multiple cars, autopay or homeownership

Compare California car insurance

Name Product Roadside assistance New car protection Accident forgiveness Safe driver discount Available states
Progressive
Optional
30%
All 50 states
Discover coverage that’s broader than competitors, valuable discounts up to 30% off and perks like shrinking deductibles that reward no claims.
USAA
Optional
Yes
All 50 states
Affordable car insurance with highly rated customer service. Only available to military members and veterans and their family.
Allstate
13%
All 50 states
Your dedicated agent can help you find the best savings with multiple discounts and rewards programs.
Liberty Mutual
Optional
30%
All 50 states
Earn free accident forgiveness after five years claims-free and customize your policy anytime online at the tap of a button.
Esurance
40%
All states except AK, DE, HI, MT, NH, VT, WY
Take advantage of this online company's low base rates and mobile tools like app-based telematics and teen safe driver programs.
Metromile
Optional
49%
AZ, CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, WA
Pay only for the miles you drive, plus enjoy app services you won’t find everywhere like claims and car health updates.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Company Direct premiums written (billions) Market share
State Farm $4,106,038 13.7%
Farmers Insurance $3,191,341 10.7%
Geico $2,897,713 9.7%
Allstate $2,687,887 9.0%
Auto Club Exchange Group $2,598,340 8.7%
Mercury General $2,323,282 7.8%
AAA $2,150,289 7.2%
Kemper $1,958,386 6.6%
Progressive $1,363,162 4.6%
USAA $1,341,068 4.5%

Car insurance guides by city

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

Average car insurance costs in California

Depending on the city you live in, or whichever town in between, your monthly insurance costs can be affected by the place you call home. Factors include crime rates, climate, commuting distance and average costs of living in your area. The average cost for car insurance in California is $164 per month, compared with $130 in Colorado and $137 in Connecticut.

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.

While the numbers might change from year to year, this metro–rural contrast presents itself throughout the state and most of the country.

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.

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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

Company Annual car insurance rate
Allstate $1161
21st century $1023
Metromile $517
Esurance $928
Progressive $823

Car insurance quotes in Pacoima

Company Annual car insurance rate
Allstate $1554
21st century $1480
Metromile $736
Esurance $1129
Progressive $1040

Car insurance quotes in Westminster

Company Annual car insurance rate
Allstate $1284
21st century $1109
Metromile $594
Esurance $928
Progressive $1011

Car insurance quotes in South Gate

Company Annual car insurance rate
Allstate $1128
21st century $1152
Metromile $568
Esurance $926
Progressive $915

Car insurance quotes in Hawthorne

Company Annual car insurance rate
Allstate $1294
21st century $1157
Metromile $638
Esurance $1072
Progressive $1073

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 – $30,350 Household of 2 – $41,450
Household of 3 – $51,950 Household of 4 – $62,750
Household of 5 – $73,550 Household of 6 – $84,350
House hold of 7 – $95,150 Household 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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