Best Car Insurance in California
Last Updated on October 12, 2020
Like most states, California requires drivers to have car insurance. Today, drivers in California pay some of the highest average rates in the United States for car insurance. Many Californians pay over $2,000 per year for car insurance, well above the national average. Let’s take a closer look at the best car insurance in California, how car insurance works in California, and everything else you need to know about California auto insurance.
Table of Contents
- Best Auto Insurance Companies in California
- California Auto Insurance Requirements
- Driving Without Insurance in California
- Car Insurance in California with a DUI
- Car Insurance in California with At-Fault Accidents
- Car Insurance in California with Speeding Tickets
- Car Insurance in California for Young Drivers
- Car Insurance in California with Poor Credit
- SR-22 Insurance in California
Top 10 Auto Insurance Companies in California
Based on our analysis, the best car insurance companies in California include all of the following:
GEICO is one of the cheapest car insurance companies in California. They’re also among the best-rated. GEICO charges the average Californian approximately $1,479 per year for full coverage car insurance.
|Company Address||5260 Western Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
2) Liberty Mutual
Liberty Mutual tends to offer slightly higher prices to drivers in California compared to GEICO, although they also have better claims satisfaction ratings. Liberty Mutual charges the average driver in California approximately $1,497 per year for car insurance.
|Company Address||75 Berkeley Street
Boston, MA 02116
Wawanesa operates in only a handful of states, including California. The Canada-based insurance giant is known for offering low prices and effective claims satisfaction across California. Wawanesa charges approximately $1,476 per year to insure the average driver in California.
|Company Address||PO Box 85048
San Diego, CA 92186-5048
|Phone Number||1-877-WAWANESA (1-877-929-2637)|
Kemper is available in California and several other states. Although they’re not as well-known as other insurers on this list, Kemper offers a good blend of claims satisfaction and affordable pricing. Kemper charges approximately $1,581 per year for car insurance in California.
|Company Address||12926 Gran Bay Parkway West
Jacksonville, FL, 32258
5) 21st Century
21st Century emphasizes strong customer service and claims satisfaction at a slightly higher price. The average driver pays approximately $1,622 per year to insure a vehicle with 21st Century in California.
|21st Century Insurance|
|Company Address||3 Beaver Valley Road
Wilmington, DE 19803
|Phone Number||1 (877) 401-8181|
CSAA offers some of the cheapest car insurance in California, particularly for drivers seeking bare minimum coverage without bells and whistles. Costs increase for full coverage policies, although CSAA is still extremely affordable for car insurance in California at around $511 per year for basic liability coverage.
|Company Address||3055 Oak Road
Walnut Creek, CA 94597
Progressive is one of America’s largest insurance companies, so it makes sense they would have a strong presence in America’s most populous state. Progressive offers discount rates across California, with drivers paying approximately $1,731 per year for car insurance in California with Progressive, on average.
|Company Address||6300 Wilson Mills Road
Mayfield Village, OH 44143
Mercury is popular among drivers with an imperfect driving record in California. If you’re struggling to find affordable car insurance in California from other companies, then Mercury might offer good rates even with a problematic driving record, with drivers paying approximately $2,011 per year for car insurance in California with Mercury.
|Company Address||4484 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Farmers is available throughout California, offering discount car insurance throughout the state. The average California driver pays approximately $1,722 per year for car insurance with Farmers.
|Company Address||4680 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Infinity is particularly popular among drivers with accidents or DUIs on their record in California. Infinity may be the cheapest options for drivers with a bad driving record in California, with some drivers paying under $2,500 per year with Infinity despite having a DUI.
|Company Address||2201 4th Avenue North
Birmingham, AL 35203
California Insurance Requirements
California has similar car insurance requirements to other states. Drivers must carry liability insurance to legally drive on public roads in California.
Alternatively, drivers can avoid auto insurance requirements by depositing $35,000 cash with the DMV and receiving a self-insurance certificate. Or, you can deposit the same amount of cash to obtain a surety bond.
Drivers in California must carry proof of insurance in their vehicle at all times. You must provide insurance when requested by law enforcement, renewing vehicle registration, or after a traffic collision.
Minimum insurance requirements in California include:
- $15,000 of liability insurance for injury or death to one person
- $30,000 of liability insurance for injury or death to more than one person
- $5,000 of property damage liability coverage
Typically, insurers express this policy as a 15/30/5 plan.
Unlike other states, California does not require drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, personal injury protection, or other coverage options.
The numbers above are minimum requirements, and many drivers choose to exceed these requirements for added protection and peace of mind.
Driving Without Insurance in California
To legally drive in California, you must provide proof of financial responsibility. You must be able to prove that you can cover the cost of any accident you cause. Most drivers in California carry car insurance as ‘proof’. However, you can also deposit money with the California DMV to obtain a self-insurance certificate. Or, some drivers buy a $35,000 surety bond from a licensed business in California as proof of coverage.
If you are caught driving without proof of coverage in California, then you will pay a minimum fine of $100. Drivers must also pay additional fees and penalties totaling approximately $450 for their first offense.
If you are caught driving without insurance two or more times within a three year period, then you will receive additional fines. You could pay a minimum of $200 and a maximum of $500 for subsequent offenses (as a base fine), with total penalties adding up to $900 to $2,500, depending on how many times you were caught driving without insurance in California.
Car Insurance in California with DUI
California has some of the strictest drunk driving laws in the United States. After being convicted of driving under the influence in California, you will pay sharply higher rates – and you will continue paying higher rates for many years in the future.
A single DUI in California raises insurance premiums by 60% to 80%. Instead of paying roughly $2,000 per year for car insurance, you could pay $3,000 per year or more.
California has a lengthy lookback period for DUIs. Insurers can view DUI offenses dating back 10 years. If you were convicted of driving under the influence, then it could impact car insurance premiums for ten years. Repeated DUIs within this period can lead to additional penalties.
Fortunately, you can shop around to find the best car insurance in California with a DUI. All of the following companies offer cheap car insurance in California for drivers with a DUI:
- Mercury: $2,985 per year
- Kemper: $3,157 per year
- GEICO: $3,322 per year
- Progressive: $3,611 per year
- Infinity: $3,729 per year
Shop around with different insurance companies to avoid paying excessively high insurance rates after a DUI in California.
Car Insurance in California with At-Fault Accidents
If you cause an accident in California, then your insurance rates will rise sharply. California forbids insurance companies from using credit score and other factors to calculate premiums, which is why driving history plays a big role. If you have an at-fault accident on your record, then you could pay 40% to 60% higher premiums in California.
If you have a single at-fault accident, then you could pay anywhere from $2,300 to $3,500 per year, on average, for car insurance in California.
Fortunately, some companies are more forgiving than others. Consider requesting a quote from all of the following companies to pay the lowest possible rates after an at-fault accident in California:
- CSAA: $2,198 per year
- GEICO: $2,601 per year
- Liberty Mutual: $2,721 per year
- Mercury: $2,935 per year
- Farmers: $2,991 per year
An at-fault accident remains on your record for 3 to 5 years in California. Some insurers ignore accidents older than 3 years, while others ignore accidents older than 5 years. Expect rates to continue dropping for every year you go without an accident.
Car Insurance in California with Speeding Tickets
Just like an at-fault accident, a speeding ticket can sharply increase rates in California. Insurers can only use a handful of factors to calculate premiums, and drivers with a speeding ticket typically pay 20% to 40% more for car insurance in California than drivers with a clean record.
Not all speeding tickets are treated equally. Some insurers ignore a single speeding ticket, especially if it was a minor speeding ticket. Other insurers increase rates after your first speeding ticket regardless of severity.
Consider requesting a quote from the following insurance companies after receiving a speeding ticket in California:
- Wawanesa: $1,967 per year
- CSAA: $2,009 per year
- Kemper: $2,167 per year
- GEICO: $2,211 per year
- 21st Century: $2,301 per year
Some companies don’t raise rates whatsoever for a speeding ticket. If your current insurance company raised rates after a single speeding ticket, then request a quote from a different company and pay lower car insurance rates.
Car Insurance in California for Young Drivers
Young drivers pay high rates for car insurance in every state – including California. Many young drivers in California remain on their parents’ policy for as long as possible to pay lower prices for car insurance. You can remain on your parents’ policy as long as you live at the same address.
Certain insurers in California are known for offering cheaper car insurance prices than others. Compare rates with all of the following companies:
- GEICO: $3,267 per year
- Wawanesa: $3,399 per year
- Esurance: $3,409 per year
- CIG: $3,560 per year
- CSAA: $3,913 per year
Car Insurance in California with Poor Credit
Car insurance companies in California cannot use credit scores to calculate insurance premiums.
California is one of three states, along with Massachusetts and Hawaii, to ban the use of credit scores by car insurance companies. In most states, insurers use your credit-based insurance score to calculate risk. In California, your credit score has no impact on car insurance premiums.
Regardless of your credit score, the best car insurance companies in California include:
- Liberty Mutual
- 21st Century
SR-22 Insurance in California
The DMV may ask high-risk drivers in California to obtain an SR-22 certificate. The SR-22 certificate verifies your insurance coverage to the DMV, allowing you to continue driving legally.
You may be required to obtain SR-22 insurance in California after being convicted of a DUI. Or, you might need SR-22 insurance after a lapse in insurance coverage.
California SR-22 insurance is among the highest in the nation. The average SR-22 insurance policy in California is 3 times higher than an ordinary, with some drivers paying over $5,000 per year for SR-22 coverage.
Most major car insurance companies in California provide SR-22 insurance and SR-22 certificates. The best companies for SR-22 insurance in California (based on minimum liability insurance coverage) include:
- GEICO: $1,001 per year
- Mercury: $1,209 per year
- United: $1,326 per year
- CSAA: $1,511 per year
- Farmers: $1,688 per year
All rates are based on minimum liability insurance coverage (not full coverage). SR-22 insurance meets minimum insurance requirements in California, allowing you to legally drive.
Conclusion: How to Find the Best Auto Insurance in California
California has some of the most expensive car insurance premiums in the United States. It also has some of the highest costs of living in the country. Fortunately, by shopping around for car insurance, you can pay the cheapest possible rates for car insurance in California.