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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Bill Mense

Partner, United Heartland Insurance

William Mense has amassed 45 years of insurance experience in a family-owned agency begun in 1914 by his grandfather. That agency is now in its 3rd g…

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Kristine Lee

Insurance Analyst

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty
  • 4+ years of Experience in the Insurance Industry

Kristine is a licensed insurance agent who joined The Zebra in 2019 as an in-house content researcher and writer. Before joining The Zebra, she was a…

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

The average cost of car insurance in California is $1,810 per year — 18% more than the national average. Your car insurance premiums are impacted by more than just where you live. Underwriters generate auto insurance rates based on a number of factors, including age, driving history, marital status and credit score. The Zebra's experts analyzed average California car insurance rates for each of the most common rating factors to help you find a policy that fits your needs.

Read on to discover how much auto insurance costs in California, or submit your ZIP code above to receive auto insurance quotes personalized to your driving profile.

The best car insurance companies in California

1st place medal

Along with topping The Zebra's Customer Satisfaction Survey, USAA received a score of 870 (out of 1,000) in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Auto Insurance Study for the state of California.

2nd place medal

This regional carrier scored an 853 on J.D. Power's 2021 auto study.

CONNECT by American Family Insurance
CONNECT by American Family Insurance

CONNECT by American Family Insurance rounds out the top three with a score of 839 in J.D. Power's 2021 survey. American Family (CONNECT's parent company) scored third overall in The Zebra's Customer Satisfaction Survey.

Key takeaways
  • Californians pay about 18% higher rates for car insurance on average
  • The cheapest car insurance company in California is Wawanesa
  • Unlike most states, credit history is not a rating factor in California

The cheapest car insurance companies in California

Check out California's cheapest carriers in a variety of scenarios.

Wawanesa logo
Cheapest full coverage insurance: Wawanesa

The cheapest rates are from Wawanesa at $558 on average for a six-month policy.

medal for most affordable: GEICO
Cheapest for minimum liability: GEICO

For the minimum required coverage in California, GEICO is the cheapest on average.

Most affordable medal
Cheapest after an at-fault accident: Wawanesa

If you have a DUI on your record, check out Wawanesa for the cheapest average rates.

Company Avg. Annual Premium
Wawanesa $1,115
GEICO $1,435
USAA $1,608
CSAA $1,682
Progressive $1,861
State Farm $2,147
Allstate $2,167

The Zebra’s Dynamic Insurance Rating Tool data methodology

The Zebra’s Dynamic Insurance Rating Tool for home and auto insurance rates utilizes the latest ZIP code-level rate filings from across the U.S., sourced from Quadrant Information Services and S&P Global. These filings, typically updated annually or biennially by insurers, are verified through Quadrant’s QA process and then integrated into The Zebra’s estimator.

The displayed rates are based on a dynamic home and auto profile designed to reflect the content of the page. This profile is tailored to match specific factors such as age, location, and coverage level, which are adjusted based on the page content to show how these variables can impact premiums.

For a comprehensive understanding, see our detailed methodology.

California auto insurance laws

Car insurance is mandatory in almost every state, and California is no exception. For the legal minimum coverage level in California, expect to pay about $563 per year. This is more than the national average by 4%.

Have a look at the coverage levels required for all California drivers as well as optional coverage types offered by most insurers.

State minimum coverage

In order to drive legally in the state of California, you must carry at least the minimum liability limits listed below:

  • 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
car with blue windshield

If you choose a higher level of car insurance coverage, you can purchase a policy with comprehensive and collision coverage, which will protect against damages caused by car-vs.-car crashes, theft, or weather incidents. It's worth noting that better auto insurance coverage comes at a cost: in California, a comprehensive policy with a $1,000 deductible costs $1,609, 186% more than basic liability-only coverage. For a comprehensive policy with a $500 deductible, you can expect to pay around $1,920.

The Zebra's guide to California car insurance laws

Learn more about car insurance requirements in the state of California with our helpful guide. 

California car insurance premiums by rating factor

As mentioned above, car insurance rates are based on many different factors. This can include your driving history, age, and your credit score. Explore average premium costs by rating factor below to get a ballpark idea of how much you should be paying for auto insurance in California.

California car insurance premiums for minimum coverage

Because California's minimum liability limits are lower than average, it's highly recommended that drivers carry more coverage than the bare minimum required. The state's incredibly low property damage liability limit could especially be problematic, leaving you on the hook for large sums if you were at fault in an expensive accident.

As a starting point, have a look at the average rates offered by carriers for minimum coverage to help get a sense of which companies might be cheapest overall.

Company Avg. Annual Premium
GEICO $381
CSAA $403
USAA $456
Wawanesa $491
Progressive $530
State Farm $668
Allstate $731

Cheap auto insurance in California with bad credit

While most states use your credit history in the underwriting process, California has banned the practice. This means that those with a poor credit history do not have to worry about it affecting how much they pay for auto insurance.

Cheap auto insurance in California with an at-fault accident

Your driving record is a big determinant of how much you pay for auto coverage. Insurance companies may see any previous at-fault accidents as a warning sign, meaning that you will be paying more for your policy. On average, an at-fault accident could cause your car insurance rates to rise to as much as $3,242 per year.

Safe driver discounts

In addition to having a cheaper premium, some companies offer a discount for good drivers. While the amount varies based on your company, it can range between 5 and 10%.

Company Avg. Annual Premium
Wawanesa $1,675
CSAA $2,124
USAA $2,281
GEICO $2,587
State Farm $3,384
Progressive $3,670
Allstate $4,715

Cheap auto insurance for young drivers in California

Young drivers between the ages of 16 and 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, averaging around $4,989 if they were to purchase their own policy. Historically the most expensive drivers to insure, The Zebra found Wawanesa, GEICO, and USAA are the cheapest companies in California for teenagers.

Company Avg. Annual Premium
Wawanesa $1,857
GEICO $3,358
USAA $3,543
State Farm $3,764
Progressive $4,602
Allstate $4,746
CSAA $5,434

California auto insurance rate by violation

If you have a clean driving record in California — no at-fault accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, or other recent citations — you'll probably pay less for car insurance. Conversely, a bad driving record will cause your rates to skyrocket: car insurance premiums typically increase by 161% after a DUI and 40% after a speeding ticket in California. 

See below average auto insurance rates in California after a few common citations.

Accident/Violation Avg. Annual Premium % Rate Increase $ Rate Increase
Two comp claims $1,932 0% $0
One Med/PIP claim $1,932 0% $0
One comp claim $1,932 0% $0
None $1,932 0% $0
Two Med/PIP claims $1,932 0% $0
Not-at-fault accident $1,941 0% $10
At-fault accident - less than $1000 $1,975 2% $43
Failure to show documents $2,540 32% $609
Driving with expired registration $2,556 32% $624
Driving without lights $2,560 33% $628
Failure to wear a seat belt $2,566 33% $634
Child safety restraint $2,574 33% $643
Speeding 16 - 20 MPH over limit $2,693 39% $761
Speeding 11 - 15 MPH over limit $2,693 39% $761
Failure to stop at a red light $2,695 40% $764
Following too closely $2,695 40% $764
Illegal turn $2,695 40% $764
Speeding in school zone $2,697 40% $765
Driving too slowly $2,697 40% $765
Speeding 6 - 10 MPH over limit $2,697 40% $765
In 65 MPH zone $2,697 40% $765
Failure to yield $2,698 40% $766
Texting while driving $2,704 40% $772
Cell phone violation $2,704 40% $772
Speeding 21 - 25 MPH over limit $2,704 40% $773
Improper passing $2,730 41% $798
Passing school bus $2,777 44% $845
Wrong way/wrong lane $3,203 66% $1,271
Operating a vehicle without permission $3,306 71% $1,375
At-fault accident - greater than $2000 $3,344 73% $1,412
At-fault accident - $1000-$2000 $3,344 73% $1,412
Open container $3,568 85% $1,636
Driving with a suspended license $4,107 113% $2,175
Reckless driving $4,828 150% $2,896
Racing $4,874 152% $2,943
Leaving scene of an accident/hit and run $4,902 154% $2,970
DUI $5,048 161% $3,116
Refusal to submit to a chemical test $5,048 161% $3,116

California DUI laws

In California, a DUI violation can boost your annual car insurance cost to an average of $5,048. That’s 104% more than the national average rate hike following a DUI. Finding affordable auto coverage after a DUI isn’t simple. In fact, a DUI conviction often causes a larger premium increase than any other road violation — more than an at-fault accident, racing, or reckless driving.


Low-cost car insurance after a DUI in California

If you're convicted of a DUI or DWI violation in California, it’s important to consider your insurance choices carefully. Car insurance premiums after a DUI can vary substantially from one carrier to another. For example, the least expensive car insurance company with a DUI in California is Wawanesa. The second-cheapest insurer for auto insurance after a DUI in California is GEICO, while the priciest firm is Allstate, with prices 70% above average.

Company Avg. Annual Premium
Wawanesa $1,992
GEICO $3,617
Progressive $3,876
USAA $4,690
CSAA $6,026
State Farm $7,571
Allstate $8,582

There is no car insurer in particular that offers inexpensive DUI car insurance. The recommended way to save in the wake of a DUI citation is to shop around.

California SR-22 insurance

An SR-22 is a routine legal requirement triggered by a violation such as a DUI conviction, a ticket for driving without insurance, an at-fault collision, driving with a suspended license, or accumulating too many points on your license. It is not a type of insurance policy, but a form issued by your insurance company with the state of California to ensure that you remain insured.

Finding cheap auto insurance with an SR-22 in California might be tricky, but some research could pay off in the end.


How to get an SR-22 in California

An SR-22 is often required for drivers with serious violations on their driving record, most often related to drinking and driving offenses. The SR-22 is a form issued by your insurance company that must be filed with the state of California as proof of continued insurance coverage. Below you'll find the steps to getting this coverage. 

Already insured

With an active insurance policy, requesting an SR-22 might be easy. Just call your insurance company request they file an SR-22 request on your behalf. If your current insurer declines to request a certificate, you should shop around for a new insurance company.


Currently uninsured?

When filing for car insurance, you'll be billed extra to cover the cost of the SR-22 request form and your high-risk driving profile. An SR-22 requirement may disqualify you from buying insurance from some carriers, while others would be happy to sell you a policy.


For drivers who don’t own a vehicle

Needing an SR-22 might disqualify you from purchasing insurance from some companies, while others would be happy to sell you a policy.


For drivers without a vehicle

Not having a vehicle makes it more difficult to obtain an SR-22, as you will need to furnish proof of insurance to receive the certificate. If this is the case, you should buy a non-owners car insurance policy before filing for an SR-22. A non-owners policy is typically less expensive than a standard policy since it won’t provide protection for physical damage sustained by your vehicle.

Compare car insurance rates from California's best companies.

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Rates by city

Car insurance companies calculate your rate based on many factors, the location of the vehicle being an important one. The cheapest car insurance is found in Weed and Mount Shasta, California, and the most expensive in Beverly Hills, California.

Have a look at the table below to see average car insurance costs in some of California's biggest cities.

City Avg. Annual Premium
San Diego $1,844
Fresno $1,900
San Jose $1,923
San Francisco $2,295
Los Angeles $2,688

Auto insurance pricing trends in California

Average annual auto insurance premiums in California fell by $12 from 2020 to 2021. A normal driver in California faces an average rate of $1,810 each year.

The year-over-year trend in California is fairly flat for auto insurance costs overall, though likely to increase going forward. The biggest jump in recent years occurred between 2016 and 2017, with rates increasing an average of $288 year over year. Meanwhile, insurance rates nationwide have risen in recent years, climbing from $1,470 in 2018 to $1,529 in 2021.

If your policy pricing trend doesn't align with the table below, the best step to take is to shop around.

Year Avg. Annual Premium — California Yearly Change — California Avg. Annual Premium — USA Yearly Change — USA
2021 $1,810 -$12 $1,529 $46
2020 $1,822 -$40 $1,483 -$61
2019 $1,862 $24 $1,544 $23
2018 $1,838 $79 $1,521 $84
2017 $1,736 $288 $1,437 $69
2016 $1,448 -$29 $1,368 $88
2015 $1,477 $46 $1,280 $51
2014 $1,431 $176 $1,229 $34
2013 $1,255 $17 $1,195 -$80
2012 $1,238 $48 $1,276 $82

California car insurance FAQs

Below you'll find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding California auto insurance.

Wawanesa has the cheapest rates in California at $558 for a full coverage policy. GEICO and USAA also have cheap rates. Get started to see options for all the top companies in CA.

In 2021, our data shows the average for car insurance in CA was $905 per policy period, or about $151 per month.

Car insurance in California is about 18% more expensive than average. This is due to population size, number of uninsured drivers, and insurance companies' revenue loss via claims.

Start saving money on car insurance today.

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About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.