Here's what you need to know when driving in California
The average cost of car insurance in California is $1,868 per year — 20% more than the national average.
Car insurance rates are impacted by more than just your location. Auto insurance rates comprise myriad factors, including a driver's age and driving history. The Zebra's experts analyzed average California car insurance rates for each of the most common rating factors.
Read on to learn how much auto insurance costs in California based on these variables, or submit your ZIP code above to receive personalized quotes from top insurers.
Good drivers can save money on car insurance by avoiding at-fault accidents, speeding tickets, and 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 a 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 and 10%. If we’re looking beyond just average rates and at individual companies, Nationwide offers some of the cheapest rates for good drivers in California.
CALIFORNIA CAR INSURANCE RATES FOR GOOD DRIVERS
No Traffic Tickets
Insurance rates by age bracket 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. Historically the most expensive drivers to insure, The Zebra found Allstate, GEICO, and Progressive are the cheapest companies in California for teenagers.
CALIFORNIA AUTO INSURANCE RATES BY AGE GROUP
Average Yearly Premium
Average auto insurance rates in California by marital status
One benefit of getting hitched — aside from the honeymoon — is the better deal you may receive on your car insurance policy. In the state of California, married drivers save $77 per year on car insurance policies. This is less than the average national savings of $98.
CALIFORNIA AUTO INSURANCE RATES BY MARITAL STATUS
Average Annual Rate
Car insurance coverage for divorced drivers in California is the 8th most expensive in the nation. If you are paying too much for your car insurance policy, don't be afraid to shop around. You never know what savings you'll find!
Average auto insurance premiums in California by credit score
Car insurance companies often use drivers' credit scores to get an idea of potential customers' reliability. Data trends show drivers with good credit histories are often more dependable car insurance customers: they are less likely to file claims covered by auto insurance.
California, however, outlaws the use of credit score as an insurance rating factor, meaning you'll pay the same car insurance rate no matter your credit history.
Best Car Insurance Companies in California
Every car insurance company emphasizes its low premiums. But as with any service, the cheapest car insurance isn't always the best. Considering the stakes, it's worthwhile to do your research to purchase an auto policy that covers your car adequately after a collision. Consider shopping around to find the best value, rather than settling for the cheapest auto insurance available.
Compare top insurance companies' financial strength and claims satisfaction ratings to better understand the level of service they'll provide. Claims satisfaction — assigned by J.D. Power — is ranked on a scale of 2 to 5, with 5 being "among the best" and 2 being "the rest." Financial strength — calculated by A.M. Best and running from "Poor" to "Superior" — assesses an insurer's financial strength and ability to satisfy its policy and contractual obligations.
Claims Satisfaction (J.D. Power)
Financial Strength (A.M. Best)
See insurance rates for California's best companies!
What is the best car insurance coverage in California?
The legal auto insurance minimum in California is $15,000 Bodily Injury per person, $30,000 Bodily Injury per accident, and $5,000 Property Damage per accident.
For the legal minimum coverage level in California, expect to pay about $648 per year. This is more than the national average by 4%. 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 $1,626, 151% more than basic liability-only coverage. For a comprehensive policy with a $500 deductible, you can expect to pay 161% more than for a basic liability-only policy.
Compare average annual rates for liability-only and comprehensive car insurance tiers below.
Comprehensive — $1,000 Deductible
Comprehensive — $500 Deductible
California Auto Insurance Laws
State minimum insurance requirements in California
In California, the state minimum coverage requirement is liability insurance, 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):
Ticket Impact on Auto Insurance Rates in California
If you get a ticket, your auto insurance rates may rise. How much your rates rise depends on the violation, your insurance company's pricing strategy, and differing local insurance risks and regulations. That's why tickets may have a different impact on insurance in your state compared to the national average.
Below is a look at average auto insurance rates in California after a few common citations.
Avg. Annual Auto Insurance Rate
% Insurance Rate Increase
$ Insurance Rate Increase
Hit and Run
Refused Breathalyzer/Chemical Test
Driving with a Suspended License
Driving with an Open Container
Operating a Vehicle Without Permission
Passing a School Bus
Following Too Closely
Failure to Stop at a Red Light
Driving Wrong Way/Wrong Lane
Failure to Yield
Speeding in a School Zone
Driving Too Slowly
Driving with Expired Registration
Failure to Show Documents
Failure to Use Child Safety Restraint
Failure to Wear a Seat Belt
Driving Without Lights
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California Car Insurance FAQs
Can undocumented immigrants get car insurance in California?
Undocumented immigrants can get car insurance without a license but it may be difficult and expensive. However, the consequences of driving without insurance are much more costly.
Is car insurance required in California?
Yes. In order to drive a vehicle legally in California, it needs to be insured at the state minimum liability limits.
How do I insure a salvaged car in California?
Call different insurance companies and ask. In the eyes of an insurance company, a salvaged vehicle comes with added risk and might cost more to insure. When you're in the quoting process, be honest with the insurance agent — this will save you time if the company later declines to insure a salvaged title.
How much does car insurance cost in California cities?
Car insurance companies calculate your rate based on many factors, location of the vehicle being an important one. The cheapest car insurance is found in Chula Vista, California, and the most expensive in Glendale, California.
If she plans on using a vehicle for business-use and transport people to and from different locations, most personal auto plans will not accept the risk if they know the vehicle was used for work purposes and not disclosed. She'll need to look into a commercial policy or, if available, adjust her current personal auto policy.
Many companies will still insure you even if you're not the owner of the vehicle. However, they will likely want your father to be listed on your policy as an additional interest since he is the owner.
At The Zebra, we know better than most just what a pain buying car insurance can be. We also know that students suffer from higher-than-average policy rates. Talk about a double-whammy. That’s why, this year, we’ve decided to continue The Zebra’s annual scholarship with the goal of helping to alleviate the financial pressures of college-bound students in the California area, while also getting an insider view of the Golden State.
So, students, we want to see your favorite road trip destination(s) in your state— from your unique perspective. If it makes sense to hit the open road and be our virtual tour guide, that's great! But there are no limits to what we're looking for: a narrated animation, a slideshow of memorabilia, an illustrated map of the best roadside attractions on the way. This is a chance for you to showcase any place you love in as an original way as possible.
How do I choose a location?
The length of the road trip to your feature destination is inconsequential. So if you have an awesome spot in mind that's just two miles from home, we want to see it.
Applicants must be currently enrolled at or planning to attend a four-year university, graduate program, community college, or trade school located in the continental United States. Upon notification, winner(s) must supply a current proof of enrollment or letter of acceptance.
your name, address, and phone number when you submit
Selected winner(s) will be awarded a check for $1,000
Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. CST on December 31st, 2020
Winner(s) will be selected and notified by email by January 31st, 2021
Judges: The Zebra
The winner will be selected based on creativity in the content and presentation
*Upon notification, winner(s) must also supply a current proof of enrollment at a four-year university, graduate program, community college, or trade school located in the continental United States.
By participating, entrants represent that the video submitted is their sole and original work and does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any other party. In other words, no copyrighted music or images may be used.
Employees of The Zebra and their immediate family members are not eligible to participate in the contest.
Written credits for any technical or talent positions (e.g., editor, director, actors) should be included with your submission, along with any sources used to create the video.