Best cheap car insurance in Berkeley for 2021

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Berkeley and its neighboring San Francisco and Oakland have the third-highest rate of commuters who use public transit. Nearly 19% of area residents elect to leave their cars home. However, many drivers are still on the road, often causing safety issues between pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. For this reason, many people want to have the best but affordable insurance they can find.

The average cost of car insurance in Berkeley is $743 for minimum car insurance and $2,109 for full coverage. Car insurance Berkeley rates are high for the State of California. Luckily, you may be able to find cheap car insurance when you get quotes from Bankrate’s selection of the best car insurance companies in Berkeley.

To narrow the long list of auto insurance carriers available in the area, we examined quoted premiums, customer ratings and policy options to bring you the best car insurance in Berkeley.

Best car insurance companies in Berkeley

The following four car insurance companies provide cheap car insurance and quality coverage.

Insurance company J.D. Power customer satisfaction score
(California region)
Average annual premium for minimum coverage Average annual premium for full coverage
Geico 828 / 1,000 $466 $1,408
AAA 848 / 1,000 $520 $2,117
Grange Not rated $544 $2,105
Mercury Not rated $641 $1,708

Geico

Geico is known for providing low-cost car insurance rates while still maintaining a high level of customer service. Geico’s average rates for Berkeley car owners are the lowest of all carriers for both basic and full car insurance.

One of the main reasons Geico car insurance rates are so low is the discounts the carrier offers. You could get a discount based on your occupation, such as military personnel or an employee of a participating affinity program. In addition, you could save on coverage when you qualify through automatic payments, vehicle safety equipment, safe driving or being a good student.

Learn more: Geico Insurance review

AAA

Members of AAA have access to award-winning roadside assistance, dedicated DMV and travel services and auto insurance. For frequent road trippers, the convenience of having all your vehicle needs handled by one company can be a big selling point. In addition, AAA’s minimum car insurance in Berkeley is only $520 per year. If the annual club membership fee of $56 to $119 does not affect your budget, you will have access to one of the most comprehensive levels of vehicle-related services around.

Learn more: AAA Insurance review

Grange

Grange Insurance is not as large as the other carriers that made the “best car insurance in Berkeley” list. Its smaller size may mean that Grange is capable of being more creative with its coverage and discounts.

Recently-divorced Berkeley residents may be able to qualify for Grange Insurance’s New Beginning discount. It is designed to give divorced individuals a financial break until they get their life back in order. Another way to get a new beginning with Grange is through its OnTrack Program. Downloading the app and enabling driver tracking could save you money on your car insurance if you drive safely.

Learn more: Grange Insurance Review

Mercury

Mercury Insurance is well-known in California for providing vehicle owners with affordable coverage despite being labeled as high-risk drivers. Coverage may be no-frills, but drivers who would have trouble finding vehicle insurance due to a series of moving violations, DUIs or accidents may be okay with basic coverage. Although Mercury is best known for minimum car insurance, full coverage from the Los-Angeles based insurance provider is also available. It is the second-cheapest of all Berkeley insurance companies. Rates average $1,708 per year.

Learn more: Mercury Insurance review

Cheapest car insurance in Berkeley

Bankrate’s study on quoted car insurance premiums delivered a list of the cheapest car insurance companies in Berkeley based on market share. The right car insurance company can make a big difference on how much auto insurance will cost you. California’s average annual full insurance premiums of $733/$2,065 are higher than the nationwide average of $1,674. Berkeley’s average premium is $743/$2,109. Take a look at the following cheap car insurance companies in Berkeley:

Insurance company Average annual premium for minimum coverage Average annual premium for full coverage
Geico $466 $1,408
AAA $520 $2,117
Mercury $641 $1,708
State Farm $645 $1,830
Progressive $667 $1,720

Geico Insurance provides the lowest rates for minimum or full car insurance. Mercury is the second cheapest carrier for full coverage and a good option for high-risk drivers in need of affordable coverage. Members of AAA get plenty of perks with their membership fee, such as DMV services, travel discounts and affordable car insurance. State Farm and Progressive have optional coverages that may be worth the extra fees, such as rideshare insurance.

Berkeley insurance requirements

All car owners in California must have a minimum amount of liability insurance:

  • $5,000 for property damage
  • $15,000 in death/bodily injury per person
  • $30,000 in death/bodily injury per accident

The minimum amount may be a starting point but may not be enough coverage. In fact, leasing a vehicle or financing it will likely mean you will need to upgrade your car insurance to full coverage. Minimum car insurance only pays for damages to others. Full car insurance adds financial protection for your car as well, in case of an accident, fire, theft or extreme weather.

Car insurance discounts in Berkeley

Even the smallest of price breaks on your Berkeley car insurance can mean significant savings over time. Some discounts worth considering are:

  • Defensive driving course: You could improve your driving skills and potentially earn a discount for up to three years after completing an online defensive driving course approved by your insurance company.
  • Multi-car: Bundling more than one vehicle into a car insurance policy could reduce your premiums.
  • Low mileage: If you make it a habit to walk or use public transportation, you could save money for driving less.
  • Safety equipment: The latest-model vehicles equipped with advanced accident prevention systems may qualify for lower rates. So may vehicles with airbags and anti-lock brakes.

Taking a defensive driving course may provide you with the largest discount simply because the savings can continue for more than one year. Bundling multiple cars into one policy may also bring you significant savings.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company?

The best car insurance company is often a personal decision that depends on what you are after. For some drivers, cheap coverage makes a company the best. Geico, AAA and Mercury have the lowest average rates in Berkeley. For a range of coverage options, consider State Farm. Research providers to determine which is the best fit for you.

How much car insurance do I need in Berkeley?

To legally drive you will need liability insurance for at least $5,000 in property damage, $15,000 in death/bodily injury per person and $30,000 per accident. You may need to upgrade to full car insurance coverage, especially if you drive a newer-model vehicle or finance or lease your car.

Methodology

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 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, 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 sample drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should be used for comparative purposes only. Your quotes may be different.

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.
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