Cheap California Car Insurance

Compare the best rates from 11 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 in California

What's the cheapest car insurance in California?
RankCompany NameAvg. Annual Premium
1USAA$1,132
2Wawanesa$1,169
3Century National$1,202
4CSAA$1,210
5Nationwide$1,238
621st Century$1,352
7Grange$1,462
8Mercury$1,518
9Progressive$1,527
10Allstate$1,528
11GEICO$1,544
12Allied$1,572
13The Hartford$1,607
14MetLife$1,622
15State Farm$1,716
16Unitrin$1,716
17Esurance$1,722
18Bristol West$1,813
19Travelers$1,824
20Farmers$1,986
21California Capital$2,109
22Liberty Mutual$2,241
23Safeco$2,292
24Auto Club$2,526

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.

Rating Factor$ Savings% Savings
No Traffic Tickets$58826.29%
No Accidents$92635.96%
Good Credit$00.00%

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.

AgeAnnual Rate with ParentsAnnual Rate Alone
16$6,005$7,175
17$5,882$6,854
18$5,964$6,021
19$5,531$4,429

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.

Rating FactorAnnual Rate% Increase
At-Fault Accident$2,57535.96%
DUI$4,69064.83%
Speeding Violation$2,23826.29%
Bad Credit$1,6490.00%

What are the 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.

Insurance CompanyClaims Satisfaction (J.D. Power)Financial Strength (A.M. Best)
21st Century3Excellent
Allied3Superior
Allstate3Superior
California CapitalNot RatedExcellent
EsuranceNot RatedSuperior
Farmers3Excellent
GEICO3Superior
Liberty Mutual3Excellent
MetLife3Superior
Nationwide4Superior
Progressive3Superior
State Farm3Superior
Travelers3Superior
USAA5Superior
WawanesaNot RatedExcellent

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 a mean of $718 per year. This is more than the national average by 9%. 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 $1,491, 108% more than basic liability-only coverage. For a comprehensive policy with a $500 deductible, you can expect to pay 136% more than for a basic liability-only policy.

Compare average rates for liability-only and comprehensive car insurance tiers below.

LocationLiability-OnlyComprehensive — $1,000 DeductibleComprehensive — $500 Deductible
California$717.97$1,491.22$1,694.76
National Average$657.66$1,241.26$1,397.94

California 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.

Car Insurance FAQs

Are digital insurance cards accepted in California?

Yes. If you happen to find yourself pulled over by a police officer in California you won't have to rifle through your glovebox wondering if you remembered to replace that expired insurance card last month. Instead, you can provide proof of coverage with your smartphone.

Do I need uninsured motorist coverage in California?

15% of drivers are uninsured in California — above the US average of 13%. It's a good idea to carry uninsured motorist coverage in California to avoid costs if you're involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist.

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 Los Angeles, California.

RankCityAvg. Annual Premium
1Los Angeles$2,125
2Glendale$2,100
3San Francisco$1,728
4Oakland$1,721
5Sacramento$1,686
6San Bernardino$1,612
7Long Beach$1,594
8Stockton$1,572
9Santa Clarita$1,564
10Fontana$1,550
11Garden Grove$1,539
12Moreno Valley$1,521
13Modesto$1,517
14Riverside$1,512
15Fresno$1,487
16Santa Ana$1,468
17Anaheim$1,459
18San Jose$1,409
19Huntington Beach$1,388
20Fremont$1,375
21Bakersfield$1,367
22Irvine$1,357
23San Diego$1,354
24Oxnard$1,331
25Chula Vista$1,324

Recent California Car Insurance Questions and Answers

Worth paying $1,800 out of pocket to avoid an increase in auto insurance premiums?

I was in a fender bender recently and the estimate for the other guys’ car repair is around $1700-1800. I ...

AUG 19, 2018
Who is at fault if someone rear ended me and pushed me into another car

I was rear ended and pushed into a truck in front of me I have no insurance so am I ...

AUG 18, 2018
Need car insurance for a few weeks while in the US

I want to get short-term auto insurance from now till the 23rd of August on my 09 Subaru Forester. I ...

AUG 18, 2018
Should I file a claim for my son’s accident?

My teenage son totaled my car $3300 blue book value, my deductible is $1000 collision/$500 comp, should I file a ...

AUG 13, 2018

Driving Laws in California

California Texting and Driving Laws

  1. Ban on hand-held cell phones
  2. Ban on all cell phones for school bus drivers and novice drivers <18 years
  3. Ban on text messaging for all drivers

 

California DUI Laws

California’s lookback period is 10 years. Repeated DUI offenses within this period will lead to more severe fines and penalties.

First-time DUI offenses in California will result in:

  • Fines of $390 to $1,000
  • 48 hours to six months in jail
  • License suspension for six months
  • The possible requirement of an interlock ignition device for five months to three years
  • Attendance in a DUI program (length determined based on BAC)

 

Speeding Laws in California

California has a “basic speed law” in place which requires drivers to refrain from driving faster than conditions allow, regardless of the posted speed limit. Drivers should pay attention to:

  • The amount of vehicles on the road
  • The speed of other vehicles on the road
  • Road condition
  • Pedestrians and cyclists
  • Weather conditions

 

Reckless Driving Regulations in CA

You are guilty of reckless driving in California if you drive “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” In general, this means if you make a choice not to obey traffic laws or to drive dangerously, you are driving recklessly.

 

Distracted Driving in California

Distracted driving in California is a major threat to driving safely. Drivers are considered to be driving while distracted if their attention is anywhere other than the actual act of driving.

In California, distracted driving is categorized in three ways:

  • Visual
  • Cognitive
  • Manual

 

Racing Laws in California

Racing in California is also referred to as speed contests. Speed contests involve a race between two vehicles, using a clock or “other timing device.”

Street races, speed races, and drag races all fall within the definition of “speed contests” in California.

California also considers it illegal to participate in an exhibition of speed. An exhibition of speed in California involves accelerating or driving at a dangerous or unsafe rate of speed in an effort to show off or impress at least one onlooker.

 

At-Fault Accident Rules in California

 

California is considered a fault-based state. Following an accident, fault is assigned to one or more drivers for the purposes of liability and compensation.

However, it is possible for all parties to an accident to have some share of fault. A driver’s compensation may be reduced by the percent of the accident for which they have been deemed at-fault.

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California Tour Guide Scholarship

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.

Prompt

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 destrination is inconsequential. So if you have an awesome spot in mind that's just two miles from home, we want to see it.

Qualifications

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.

How to Apply
1. Create a video

Your original video should not exceed 2 minutes

2. Post online

The video must be hosted on YouTube or Vimeo

3. Submit by email

Email your submission to scholarships@thezebra.com

4. Please include...

your name, address, and phone number when you submit

Details
Award

Selected winner(s) will be awarded a check for $1,000

Deadline

Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. CST on December 31st, 2018

Notification

Winner(s) will be selected and notified by email by January 31st, 2019

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.


Fine Print

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.

Click here to learn more