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Auto Insurance Prices California

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What Type of Insurance Are You Shopping For?

In accordance with California Insurance Code Sections 12959, 10234.6 and 10192.20, we survey insurers licensed to transact insurance in California and ask them to provide their annual premiums for various lines of personal insurance. The links below provide helpful insurance information and an interactive tool for consumers to use to obtain a premium comparison between insurance companies. The results of these surveys are good indicators of the differences in premiums charged by insurance companies.

Please Note: the results of these surveys are not premium quotes.

  • 2018 Automobile Insurance
    Online rate comparison for Private Passenger Automobile
  • 2018 Homeowners Insurance
    Including Condominiums, Renters and Earthquake Insurance
  • 2017 Long-Term Care Insurance
    Insurance that you may need when you are not able to do some of the basic “activities of daily living.”
  • 2018 Medicare Supplement Insurance
    Also known as Medigap insurance.
  • Information on the CA Workers’ Compensation Rate Comparison
    Online rate comparison for the top 50 workers’ compensation insurers

How Do Rates and/or Premiums Affect What I am Charged?

Insurers base the premiums they charge on insurance company rates that are filed with and approved by the California Department of Insurance. The rates form the building blocks of the premium you eventually get charged, and include discounts for some risks and additional charges for other risks. As an example, an insurance company’s rate for automobile insurance might include a discount if you have more than one policy with the insurer and an additional charge if your vehicle is a sports car. After determining all the characteristics of your risk, the insurer calculates the actual amount of premium they will charge for your policy.

The California Department of Insurance is a regulatory agency and not an insurance agent. As such, we cannot provide actual quotes. These surveys are intended solely as a comparison of premiums amongst some companies. You should be aware that:

  • While the companies surveyed represent over 90% of their respective markets, there are other insurers admitted to sell insurance that are not included in these surveys; and
  • Mostimportantly, the amount you actually get charged by any particular insurer may be different than the amount you see on our surveys. These surveys provide basic premium information and do not factor in discounts or surcharges which may be applicable to your unique situation.

If you have any questions about the information contained in these surveys, please do not hesitate to contact our Consumer Hotline.

California Car Insurance

Learn how to buy the best California car insurance policy for your particular situation, what the average car insurance rates are for your neighborhood and how California state insurance and traffic laws work.

The average car insurance rate in California is $1,518. Unlike nearly all other states, in California your credit history isn’t allowed to be factored into your car insurance rate, and where you live is considered, but not given as much weight as in other states. California insurance companies primarily factor in your age, your driving record and how many miles you drive when deciding how much you pay. But every company uses its own method for assessing risk. That’s why the cost for the same policy can vary significantly among insurance companies – and why you should compare rates. For example, in Los Angeles ZIP code 90029, the highest rate among six carriers ($3,450) is more than twice as much ($2,014 more) as the lowest ($1,436).

Cheap car insurance in California

California car insurance requirements

California laws mandate that you carry minimum liability coverage limits of 15/30/5 on your vehicle. While buying just minimum coverage means you are getting the cheapest car insurance in California, you are only covered for damage you do to other drivers’ cars and for others’ injuries. That means your insurer won’t pay for damage to your car or for your injuries if you cause an accident.

Keep in mind that a minor accident could easily exceed minimum liability coverage limits, leaving you responsible to pay for damages not covered by insurance. For example, if you have $30,000 in bodily injury liability insurance and you cause an accident that costs $50,000, you have to pay $20,000 out-of-pocket. If you don’t have the money on hand, your assets may be taken to cover the costs. California also has one of the lowest property damage liability limits in the country at just $5,000. If you hit a car and it costs more than $5,000 to fix it, you’re on the hook for the rest of the bill.

If you want more protection, it will cost more, but as you’ll see in the chart below, additional coverage is typically affordable. Boosting coverage from the state minimum to higher liability limits costs $101 a year or about $9 a month. Hiking your policy to full coverage with a $500 deductible costs, on average, $1,027 more, or $86 a month.

*The table shows the average annual rate of nearly every ZIP code in California from up to six major insurance companies. Rates are for a male driver, age 40, with a clean record and good credit for a 2016 Honda Accord. Data was provided for CarInsurance.com by Quadrant Information Services.

Recommended car insurance coverage

When deciding how much car insurance to buy, you need to assess your particular situation. To drive legally, you must buy at least the minimum liability insurance required by your state. If you didn’t borrow money from a lender to buy your car and you don’t have a lot of money or assets to protect, that might be a wise choice. If, however, you don’t own your car outright, you will be required to get comprehensive and collision coverage. Additionally, if you have a home and savings to protect, it’s wise to buy more coverage.

Use our How Much Car Insurance Do You Need? tool to get a recommendation.

Liability

The more money and assets you have, the more likely it is that you may be sued following a car accident. Unless you are determined to pay the lowest car insurance rate possible, we recommend you buy higher than minimum liability coverage. If your net worth is:

  • less than $50,000, choose at least 50/100/50
  • between $50,000 and $100,000, choose at least 100/300/100
  • more than $100,000, choose at least 250/500/100

If you’re leasing or financing your car, you automatically need coverage of 100/300/100 or higher.

Collision and comprehensive

Collision coverage pays for damage to your car after an accident that you cause. Comprehensive insurance pays to replace stolen cars and for damages from vandalism, flooding, hail, fire and animal strikes. If your car is:

  • less than 10 years old, you should strongly consider buying collision and comprehensive.
  • more than 10 years old, only buy collision and comprehensive if your car is worth $3,000 or more, if you couldn’t afford to replace your car if it’s wrecked, or if you just want more protection on your policy.

If you buy comp and collision, check our guide to choosing a deductible amount.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist

Uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage pays for damages if you’re hit by a driver with no insurance or a driver with coverage that’s insufficient to pay for your repairs and medical expenses. These should match the liability limits you choose. In most states, including California, these coverages are optional.

Medical coverage (MedPay)

Medical payments coverage can help pay for the medical or funeral expenses of covered drivers and passengers after an accident, regardless of fault, up to $25,000. In most states, including California, it’s an optional addition to your car insurance policy. MedPay does the following:

  • Covers you and your passengers’ medical expenses
  • Pays for expenses after health insurance limits are exceeded
  • Offers additional protection to insured drivers who are hit by a car while walking or biking

If you and your passengers:

  • Don’t have health insurance, or have a plan that doesn’t cover car accidents or has low limits, we recommend that you add medical coverage of at least $5,000 to your car insurance policy.
  • Do have health insurance, it’s still a good idea to have medical coverage if you want the best protection in your policy, as it can pay out after your health benefits are maxed out.

Gap insurance

If you got a loan to pay for your car and have an accident, gap insurance pays the difference between the cash value of your car and the current outstanding balance on your loan or lease.

  • If you’re financing your car, your car is less than one year old and you’ve put less than 20 percent down on it, you should buy gap insurance. If not, you don’t need gap insurance.
  • If you’re leasing your car, it’s a good idea to buy gap insurance if you don’t already have the coverage in your lease agreement.
  • If you own your car outright, you don’t need gap insurance.

California car insurance rates by company

Below you’ll see average annual rates for California, ranked cheapest to most expensive, for three coverage levels:

  • State minimum liability requirements
  • Liability limits of $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident and $50,000 property damage
  • Liability of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident and $100,000 property damage, with comprehensive and collision at $500 deductible

Best Cheap Car Insurance in California for 2018

If you’re looking for cheap car insurance in California, getting the best deal may require some patience. Rates can vary from one company to the next, so it pays to compare as many estimates as possible.

To make things easier, NerdWallet has done the heavy lifting for you. We researched rates from the largest insurers in the Golden State and found the cheapest options for several common driver types.

Included in this page are the cheapest rates for:

ALSO IN THIS ARTICLE

Cheapest for good drivers

For drivers with no at-fault accidents, DUIs or moving violations.

Esurance returned the cheapest rates for this group in our test, at roughly $105 a month, followed by Mercury and Geico.

If you have no violations or crashes on your record, look into discounts companies offer that reward your responsible driving. These sorts of perks could determine which insurer is ultimately cheapest for you.

Cheapest for young drivers

For drivers in their early 20s.

Drivers in their early 20s often need less coverage than older motorists who have families and greater savings to protect. For this reason, we ran rates for young motorists carrying the minimum required coverage in California.

Geico delivered the lowest sample quote in our results for young drivers in the general population, about $44 per month.

Cheapest for drivers with one at-fault crash

Causing an accident in California can add a significant amount to your premium. The lowest average quote for this category was over $500 more per year than the cheapest estimate for a driver of the same age with a clean record.

Esurance was the best choice for non-military-affiliated drivers in our analysis, with Mercury and Auto Club (AAA) rounding out the three cheapest options.

Cheapest for retired drivers

For drivers in their mid- to late 60s who no longer use their car for commuting.

Given their reduced annual mileage, retired drivers can find relatively cheap car insurance in California compared to drivers with a daily comute. 21st Century delivered the best rates in our analysis, at roughly $84 per month, with Mercury and Esurance not far behind.

To save even more, retirees should look into discounts aimed at mature or retired drivers age 55 or older.

Cheapest for low-mileage drivers

For drivers who travel 5,000 miles or less per year.

Metromile targets drivers who put relatively few miles on their cars; its rates are frequently superior for those who drive under 5,000 miles annually. And other insurers offer per-mile insurance rates, where your bill could change monthly based on miles driven.

Cheapest for drivers with a military connection

If you’re an active member of the military or a veteran — or have an immediate family member who is — chances are you’ll get a relatively cheap rate with USAA, a company that isn’t available to the general public.

USAA was the cheapest auto insurance option for every driver type listed above except retired drivers. USAA customers also benefit from the insurer’s top-rated customer service.

Minimum required car insurance in California

California drivers must carry liability insurance in the following amounts:

  • $15,000 bodily injury liability per person.
  • $30,000 bodily injury liability per accident.
  • $5,000 property damage liability per accident.

Liability coverage helps pay for other people’s injury or property damage bills if you cause the accident. Experts recommend getting more than the bare minimum if you want to avoid dipping into your own savings to cover expenses.

For instance, California has a relatively low property damage minimum, only $5,000. If you cause an accident and total another driver’s car, the damage could easily exceed that amount, and you’d have to pay the difference out of pocket.

Check out NerdWallet’s guide to state car insurance requirements for more details on how the required and optional parts of your California policy work.
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Alternative car insurance in California

If you have a high number of accidents, DUIs or other factors making it hard to find auto coverage on the voluntary market, you might qualify for insurance through the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan. This organization connects high-risk drivers to insurance companies that will cover them.

For more help finding the most competitive prices in California, try NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool.

Here’s a summary of where you’ll find the cheapest insurance, by category:

Cheap California Car Insurance

Compare the best rates from 9 car insurance companies in California.

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Here’s what you need to know when driving in California

Across the Golden State, there are 386,604 miles of road just waiting to be driven. We’ll get you prepped with the best and cheapest insurance, then you take the wheel.

Cheap Car Insurance

It’s expensive to get car insurance in California!

Dang! California is definitely not one of the cheapest states for car insurance. Don’t worry, we got your back!

At The Zebra we’re all about helping you save money on car insurance. Our engine looks for the cheapest insurance provider to find the best fit for you and your vehicle. Since California might have cheaper premiums that makes our job a breeze! It’s easy to get started—we just need some basic information to begin finding the best auto discounts for you.

What’s the cheapest car insurance in California?

Cheap Insurance for Good Drivers in California

Good drivers can save money on car insurance if you have no at-fault accidents, speeding tickets, or DUIs. Insurance companies use your driving record as a way to predict what kind of risk you will pose to them. So, by not having any of these violations you are less risky and therefore cheaper customer for them. In addition to having a cheaper premium, some companies offer a safe driving discount. While the amount varies based on your company, it can range between 5-10%. If we’re looking beyond just average rates and at individual companies, Nationwide seems to have the cheapest rates for good drivers.

Cheap Insurance for Young Drivers in California

Young drivers between the ages of 16-25 pay the highest car insurance premiums of anyone in the US. Because of the risk presented by inexperienced drivers, teen drivers pay more than three times the national average for car insurance. For teen drivers, historically the most expensive drivers to insure, we’ve found that Allstate, Geico and Progressive are the cheapest companies in California for teenagers.

Cheap Car Insurance for Bad Drivers in California

Having a bad driving record can be a huge burden for getting cheap car insurance, no matter your location. In California, a DUI raises auto insurance rates by an average of $3,154 a year — one of the biggest increases in the nation. Other violations, such as an at-fault accident or a speeding ticket, can also hurt your driving record. Based on our research, if you’ve had a DUI or at-fault accident, your best bet for cheap car insurance is to shop with Liberty Mutual, State Farm, or Nationwide.

Car Insurance Laws

State minimum insurance requirements in California

In California, the state minimum coverage requirement is liability with limits of:
  • Bodily Injury $15,000 per person
  • Bodily Injury $30,000 per accident
  • Property Damage $5,000 per accident
Optional coverage in California (varies by carrier):
  • Comprehensive
  • Collision
  • Loan/Lease Payoff
  • Medical and Funeral Services
  • Rental Car Reimbursement
  • Roadside Assistance
  • Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury
  • Uninsured Motorist Property Damage

Liability coverage is legally required in California and pays for injury and lost wages that you cause to another driver or their passengers as well as damage to the other driver’s vehicle in the event that you are considered “at fault” in an accident. The coverage limits are determined by each individual state and normally split into three categories. In California, the cheapest insurance minimum is listed as 15/30/5 and explained below:

$15,000 bodily injury coverage per person. This is the maximum dollar amount that pays for a single person that you injure in an auto accident.

$30,000 bodily injury coverage per accident. This is the maximum dollar amount that pays for all injuries that you cause in an accident if more than one person is hurt.

$5,000 property damage per accident. This is the maximum dollar amount that pays for damage that you cause in an accident.

These numbers reflect the minimum limits required in California but higher coverage amounts are available with most companies. These minimums will provide you with the cheapest insurance rate.

Cheap California Car Insurance Companies

The Zebra compares over 200 companies & 1,800 products, so you can save way more than 15% and find the cheapest car insurance in California.

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