Average cost of car insurance in California in 2021

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Car insurance rates in California are higher than the national average. Bankrate found drivers in the state pay an average of $733 per year for basic coverage and $2,065 for full insurance. Finding ways to lower your premiums could potentially save you hundreds of dollars per year.

How much is car insurance in California?

Comparing the state of California to the rest of the country reveals how much more expensive the average cost of insurance is. The national average is $565/$1,674. California’s rates are considerably higher at $733/$2,065, ranking the state as #13 for most expensive minimum car insurance and seventh-most expensive state for full car insurance.

However, the state you live in is just one factor affecting the cost of auto insurance. It may be a significant reason behind higher premiums, but it does not rule out other factors such as:

Take a closer look at how the four factors can affect your premiums.

California car insurance rates by company

You cannot control factors that affect your premiums such as your age or your past driving record, but you can find the cheapest car insurance by comparing quotes from several of the best insurance companies in California.

Bankrate found that Geico, Grange and Mercury have the cheapest average annual rates for basic coverage. For full car insurance that includes liability insurance for third parties and collision and comprehensive insurance for your own vehicle, Capital, Wawanesa, Mercury and Geico have the lowest average rates in the state.

Car insurance company Average annual premium for minimum coverage Average annual premium for full coverage
AAA $1,073 $3,850
Alliance United $756 $2,115
Allstate $801 $2,119
AmTrust Financial $718 $2,152
Capital $743 $1,582
Chubb $1,234 $2,987
CSE $647 $2,209
Farmers $861 $2,164
Geico $521 $1,615
Grange $520 $1,886
Infinity $847 $1,859
Kemper $857 $2,564
Mercury $624 $1,636
MetLife $709 $1,845
Nationwide $707 $2,155
Progressive $668 $1,808
PURE $898 $4,176
State Farm $663 $1,943
The Hartford $768 $2,328
Travelers $675 $1,794
Wawanesa $652 $1,599

California car insurance rates by city

When examining the Golden State’s 20 most populated cities, drivers in Los Angeles and San Francisco contend with the highest full coverage insurance rates. In contrast, Chula Vista San Diego and Oxnard’s average annual rates are the lowest.

City Average annual premium for full coverage % difference from state average annual premium
Los Angeles $2,838 37%
San Diego $1,898 -8%
San Jose $2,020 -2%
San Francisco $2,441 18%
Fresno $2,006 -3%
Sacramento $2,236 8%
Long Beach $2,245 9%
Bakersfield $1,984 -4%
Oakland $2,380 15%
Anaheim $2,136 3%
Santa Ana $2,074 0%
Stockton $2,114 2%
Riverside $2,049 -1%
Chula Vista $1,842 -11%
San Bernardino $2,193 6%
Fontana $2,113 2%
Modesto $2,097 2%
Irvine $2,016 -2%
Fremont $1,999 -3%
Oxnard $1,957 -5%

Cost of living in California and car insurance

When shopping for the best car insurance rates in California, it’s important to factor in your other expenses so that you’re looking at your total living costs. The graph below shows the average annual cost of living in California, including the average cost of car insurance. Use this graph as a guide to help determine your overall expenses so that you can decide what insurance rates fit in your budget.

California car insurance rates by age

A driver’s age and gender contribute to the cost of your annual premiums. Teen drivers are hit hardest. Fortunately, California insurance rates drop in price every birthday — as long as you avoid accidents and citations.

Age Average annual premium in California
Age 16 $3,744
Age 17 $3,286
Age 22 $3,225
Age 25 $2,668
Age 30 $2,284
Age 35 $2,172
Age 40 $2,114

*16-year-old and 17-year-old calculated on parent’s policy disclosure

California car insurance rates by driving record

Most of the rates insurance carriers advertised are reserved for drivers with a clean driving record. A single speeding ticket could greatly increase the cost of your car insurance. If you are worried about how an accident could affect your budget, choose an insurance carrier that offers accident forgiveness, which wipes out one accident every few years.

Driving incident Average annual premium in California % increase in average annual premium
Speeding ticket $2,907 40.8%
Accident $3,605 74.6%
DUI $5,163 150%

How to save on car insurance in California

The cost of auto insurance in California is relatively high. Most insurance carriers have a list of discounts available, although many only reduce your premiums by 5% or less. The most significant discounts are:

  • Telematics: Some carriers have rewards programs for safe drivers that track your driving habits and reduce your premiums accordingly.
  • Bundling: Buy car and home or rental insurance with one carrier for savings of 20% off or more.
  • Defensive driving course: Some providers offer discounts if you take a class on how to be a better driver.
  • Hybrid/EV: California has the most alternative-fuel vehicles on the road. Drivers of electric or hybrid vehicles may be able to take advantage of discounts for choosing an eco-friendly car.

California car insurance requirements

California’s state laws require all vehicle owners to carry proof of financial responsibility. Insurance is the easiest and most common way to prove financial responsibility, although accepted alternatives include a $35,000 cash deposit with the DMV, a self-insurance certificate issued by the DMV or a $35,000 surety bond from a licensed company.

If you choose car insurance, the state’s minimums are liability coverage of 15/30/5:

  • $15,000 for bodily injury insurance (per person)
  • $30,000 for bodily injury insurance (per accident)
  • $5,000 for property damage insurance (per accident)

Keep in mind that the state’s minimums of liability coverage do not provide you with any financial protection if your car is stolen, needs repairs or is totaled in an accident you caused.

Frequently asked questions

How much is car insurance in California?

The average cost of car insurance in California is $733 per year for minimum insurance and $2,065 for full coverage.

What are the cheapest car insurance companies in California?

Bankrate’s findings on the cheapest car insurance in California ranks Geico, Grange and Mercury as the top three for minimum coverage. Capital, Wawanesa, Mercury and Geico have the lowest rates for full car insurance.

How much car insurance do I need in California?

California vehicle owners will need liability insurance of at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident in bodily injury, as well as $5,000 for property damage. However, the state’s minimum coverage does not include any coverage for your vehicle if you’re at fault in an accident.


Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a male and female driver with good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $500 collision deductible
  • $500 comprehensive deductible

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

Driving record rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident, single speeding ticket, single DUI conviction and lapse in coverage.

Age rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the ages 18-60 (base: 40 years) applied.

Written by
Cynthia Paez Bowman
Personal Finance Contributor
Cynthia Paez Bowman is a finance and business journalist who has been featured in Bankrate, Business Jet Traveler, MSN, CheatSheet.com, Freshome.com and TheSimpleDollar.com. She regularly travels to Africa and the Middle East to consult with women’s NGOs about small business development and works with select startups and women-owned businesses to provide growth and visibility.