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California state law requires all drivers who want to operate a motor vehicle on state roadways to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. The average car insurance cost in California can vary depending on driver demographics.
California Insurance Requirements
According to Insurify, California requires all drivers to carry liability insurance. To meet the minimum requirements, California drivers should include the following in their insurance policies:
- Bodily Injury Liability: $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident.
- Property Damage Liability: $5000 per accident.
While California’s minimum liability limits are enough to meet the legal requirement for motor vehicle operation, they may not be enough to cover all the costs for repairs and medical care after a severe accident. Raising your liability limits will keep you from having to pay for anything out of pocket. Plus, as Insurify notes, liability only pays for the other driver’s expenses. If you want your costs covered, consider purchasing full coverage.
What Is the Average Cost of Car Insurance in California?
According to The Zebra, California drivers pay, on average, $1713 a year for car insurance. That’s 20 percent more than the nationwide average. WalletHub notes that Californians pay more for car insurance because many of them live in densely populated cities. With more cars on the road, there’s a greater risk for accidents. Many cities in California have high rates of auto theft. Finally, California experiences several extreme weather events that can damage vehicles, including wildfires and flooding.
Average Car Insurance Cost by Demographic
Because car insurance companies calculate car insurance costs by factoring in a driver’s personal details, the average cost of insurance for California drivers differs for different groups. For instance, the average cost of insurance for drivers in their 60s is lower than for other age groups. That’s because the insurance industry views that age group as more responsible. The Zebra provides a breakdown of average car insurance costs by age:
- Age 16: $7175 a year
- Age 17: $6854 a year
- Age 18: $6021 a year
- Age 19: $4428 a year
- Ages 20 to 29: $2417 a year
- Ages 30 to 39: $1618 a year
- Ages 40 to 49: $1563 a year
- Ages 50 to 59: $1449 a year
- Ages 60 to 69: $1409 a year
- Ages 70 to 79: $1569 a year
The average cost of car insurance also varies by marital status. Industry data shows that single drivers are more likely to file claims than married drivers, which is why single drivers typically pay more. Here’s what you can expect to pay, on average, depending on your marital status:
- Single Drivers: $1649 a year
- Married Drivers: $1576 a year
- Divorced Drivers: $1649 a year
- Widowed Drivers: $1583 a year
Your driving history can also have a significant impact on how much you pay for car insurance. If you get a speeding ticket, a citation for reckless driving, or a citation for an open container, you can expect a rate increase. Here’s what Californians pay, on average, if they have a recent violation on their record:
- DUI/DWI: $4689 a year
- Reckless Driving: $4689 a year
- At-Fault Accident: $2575 a year
- Open Container: $3130 a year
- Speeding Ticket: $2325 a year
Finally, an insurance company will take into account where a driver lives. If you live in a city with higher rates of auto theft, you can expect to pay more than drivers who live in areas with lower crime rates. According to The Zebra, these are the most expensive California cities for car insurance:
- San Bernardino: $2126 a year
- Oakland: $2243 a year
- San Francisco: $2257 a year
- Los Angeles: $2632 a year
- Glendale: $2755 a year
The Zebra notes that California law bans insurance companies from using your gender and your credit score to calculate car insurance rates. If you believe that a provider is calculating your rates or denying you coverage based on those factors, you should contact the California Department of Insurance.
What Are the Top Insurance Companies in California?
As QuoteWizard points out, price isn’t the only thing you should consider when selecting a car insurance provider. They recommend that you purchase a policy from a company with high customer satisfaction ratings. That way, you won’t have to deal with issues like slow claims processing. QuoteWizard reports that these are the top-rated insurance companies in California according to a J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey:
- Allstate: 819 points out of 1000
- CSAA: 810 points out of 1000
- GEICO: 828 points out of 1000
- Mercury: 787 points out of 1000
- Progressive: 823 points out of 1000
The top-rated companies in the J.D. Power survey also have low scores on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) complaint index. That means that customers of these companies file fewer complaints than typically expected in the market.
Car Insurance Discounts for California Drivers
Even if you’re a member of a high-risk demographic, you can still save money on your car insurance. Bankrate suggests that you look into qualifying for the following discounts:
- Safe Driver Discount: Many insurance companies will offer you a discount if you go a certain amount of time without filing claims or getting into an accident. You can also qualify for a safe driver discount if you’re willing to track your driving habits with a telematics device or smartphone app.
- Bundling Discount: If you bundle your car insurance policy and your home owner’s policy, you can qualify for a discount of at least 20 percent. Bundling all of your household’s vehicles on the same policy can also earn you significant savings.
- Defensive Driver Discount: You may qualify for a defensive driver discount if you complete a provider-approved class.
- Hybrid Vehicle Discount: Industry data shows that California has more hybrid and electric vehicles on its roadways than any other state. When you buy one of these vehicles, your insurance provider will reward you with a discount.
Now that you know what the average car insurance costs are for California drivers, you can make an informed decision when selecting a policy. By doing your due diligence, you can get excellent coverage at a reasonable price.
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