Cars and Trucks

Compare Auto Insurance in California: What You Need to Know

If you live in California, you must carry at least the state’s minimum insurance coverage to drive legally. California requires drivers to have at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage and $5,000 in property damage liability coverage, which pays the costs incurred by other drivers if you cause an accident. Compare auto insurance in California to find the best rates for your situation and coverage needs.

Average California Auto Insurance Cost

Insurance.com reports that California drivers pay an average of $733 per year for auto insurance that fulfills the state minimum coverage requirements described above and $2065 for full coverage insurance. In comparison, the average annual full coverage rate for all U.S. drivers is $1738.

Drivers who have good motor vehicle records pay less for auto insurance than those who have a history of tickets and accidents. Compare.com notes that your premium could increase by as much as 200 percent in California if you have two speeding tickets.

QuoteWizard reports that insurance rates increase for up to three years after an incident. The average increase is 55 percent or $2912 after an arrest for driving under the influence; 77 percent or $2221 after an at-fault accident claim; and 35 percent or $1694 after a speeding ticket.

Most Affordable Auto Insurance in California by Company

According to data from QuoteWizard, these are the most affordable average minimum and full coverage premium rates by company for California drivers:

  • Allstate: $734, $1653
  • American Family: $554, $991
  • Erie: $371, $780
  • Country Financial: $596, $1183
  • GEICO: $506, $1036
  • Progressive: $673, $1226
  • State Farm: $556, $1034
  • USAA: $387, $795
  • Esurance: $940, $1418
  • Nationwide: $929, $1428
  • Farmers Insurance: $747, $1460

    The website used data from Quadrant Information Services to gather these estimates.

    Finance website NerdWallet reports that these California insurance companies offer the cheapest average annual full coverage rates for 20-year-old drivers:

    • CSAA: $2659
    • Esurance: $2581
    • Grange Insurance Association: $2325
    • GEICO: $2587
    • Wawanesa: $2080

      QuoteWizard notes that while USAA and Erie tend to offer the cheapest auto insurance rates, these programs are not available to all drivers. USAA is military-only while Erie serves just 11 states.

      Best-Rated Insurance Companies in California

      According to Bankrate, J.D. Power and Associates distinguished Wawanesa as California’s top 2020 car insurance provider, followed by GEICO, Ameriprise, State Farm, and AAA affiliate Auto Club of Southern California Insurance Group. J.D. Power ranks insurance companies based on how well they handle claims, their interactions with clients, the process of gathering policy information and billing customers, the average price of policies, the range of available coverage, and the overall level of client satisfaction. The scores include:

      • Wawanesa: 853/1000, $1599 average full coverage policy per year
      • State Farm: 836/1000, $1943 average full coverage policy per year
      • Progressive: 823/1000, $1808 average full coverage policy per year
      • GEICO: 828/1000, $1616 average full coverage policy per year

        Understanding California Auto Insurance Requirements

        Bankrate notes that drivers in California must show proof of car insurance or financial responsibility if asked to do so by law enforcement. You can also show a self-insurance certificate from the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), a $35,000 surety bond, or a $35,000 deposit slip from the DMV.

        In addition to the required liability coverage described above, you might want to purchase optional California auto insurance policies such as:

        • Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, which pays the costs if you have an accident with a driver who does not have any or enough insurance.
        • Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which pays for your medical expenses after a car accident as well as child care expenses, lost wages, and funeral costs where applicable.
        • Medical payment coverage, which pays for medical expenses and, in some cases, funeral expenses after an accident.
        • Comprehensive coverage that pays for repairs or replacement of your vehicle after vandalism, theft, natural disaster, animal attack, fire, severe weather, or another noncollision event.
        • Collision coverage, which pays to repair or replace your vehicle after an accident, regardless of fault.

          Compare.com reports that driving without mandated minimum auto insurance can result in fines, driver’s license suspension, costly high-risk insurance, and vehicle impoundment.

          Saving Money on California Auto Insurance

          If you have difficulty paying for car insurance, you can apply for the California Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program. You must meet the program’s maximum income guidelines, own a vehicle worth less than $25,000, have a valid state driver’s license, and be at least 19 years old.

          Also look for discounts when you shop for auto insurance. For example, you might get an affinity group discount through your employer or alumni association. Companies don’t always advertise these programs, so make sure you ask when you get a quote.

          If you have a good driving history, you can qualify for a discount of up to 20 percent from most insurance companies. Usually, insurers look back at the last three years when determining if you are eligible for this type of savings program.

          While insurance companies in some states look at driver credit scores when providing rate quotes, California bans this practice. Although boosting your credit can help you save in other ways, it will not affect your auto insurance premium.

          California also requires insurance companies to use geographic location only as a secondary factor in determining rates. While your zip code will influence how much you pay, it represents only a minor impact in most cases.

          As you get older, your car insurance rates will begin to go down as long as you maintain a safe driving record. Insurance.com reports that drivers ages 16 to 24 pay an average of $2052 to $5654 for auto insurance, depending on other factors.

          Check this out if you need additional information, resources, or guidance on car insurance.

          Sources:

          Car Insurance | caranddriver.com

          Best car insurance in California for 2021 | bankrate.com

          Compare Car Insurance Quotes | quotewizard.com

          Compare Auto Insurance Quotes | insurance.com

          Compare California Car Insurance Rates | compare.com

          Best Cheap Car Insurance in California for 2021 | nerdwallet.com

          Insurance Prices for Cars: Everything You Need to Know | caranddriver.com

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