Best car insurance in California for 2021

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California drivers have dozens of insurance companies to choose from when shopping for car insurance coverage. Geico, Progressive, State Farm and Wawanesa sell some of the best car insurance in California, based on Bankrate’s extensive research. When searching for car insurance, California residents might want to get quotes from these companies.

The average cost of car insurance in California is $2,065 per year for full coverage, according to Bankrate’s 2021 study of quoted annual premiums obtained from Quadrant Information Services Our research into the best auto insurance in California could help you find a company that fits your coverage needs and budget.

Best car insurance companies in California

To find the best car insurance in California, Bankrate’s insurance editorial team first analyzed average annual quoted premiums for the largest insurance companies by market share in the Golden State. We also reviewed each carrier’s coverages, discounts and policy features. Finally, we considered each company’s 2021 J.D. Power customer satisfaction scores and AM Best financial strength scores.

Based on our research, you might want to get quotes from the following companies if you are looking for the best auto insurance in California:

Car insurance company Average annual full coverage premium J.D. Power customer satisfaction score
(California region)
Geico $1,615 828/1,000
Progressive $1,808 819/1,000
State Farm $1,943 818/1,000
Wawanesa $1,599 853/1,000

Geico

Geico consistently offers some of the lowest average premiums across the country and California is no exception. If your primary concern is finding a cheap car insurance policy, Geico might be a good choice. The company might also be a good choice for tech-savvy customers who prefer to handle their insurance needs digitally. Geico has the highest-rated digital service platform, according to the 2021 J.D. Power U.S. Insurance Digital Experience Study.

Learn more: Geico insurance review

Progressive

If you plan to get your car insurance quote and buy your policy online, Progressive might be a good option. The company offers discounts for online quotes and purchases and Progressive’s digital tools could save you time. The Name Your Price tool might be a good option if you are on a strict budget. The tool allows you to input your car insurance budget and then populates coverage options that fit your financial picture.

Learn more: Progressive insurance review

State Farm

State Farm has local agents in almost every major city in California, making the company a good choice if you want an in-person insurance experience. State Farm’s good student discount and Steer Clear safe driving program might help you save money on your premium if you have a teen driver in your household. State Farm also has an A++ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best, meaning that the carrier is likely to be able to handle a large influx of claims.

Learn more: State Farm insurance review

Wawanesa

Wawanesa might not be the most familiar insurance company on our list, but the carrier could be a great choice if you value customer service. Wawanesa received the highest ranking from J.D. Power in the California region. In the U.S., Wawanesa only writes coverage in California and Oregon, meaning that the company may be more familiar with the specific needs of California drivers.

Learn more: Wawanesa insurance review

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Average car insurance cost in California

The average annual cost of car insurance in California is $2,065 for full coverage and $733 for minimum coverage. California drivers pay more on average than drivers in the U.S. as a whole, which may be due to the state having the highest number of registered drivers, leading to denser traffic and a higher likelihood of accident claims. The national average premium for full coverage is $1,674 annually.

Average annual premium for minimum coverage in California Average annual premium for full coverage in California
$733 $2,065

State minimum insurance requirements in California

California requires drivers to carry at least minimum levels of liability insurance coverage on their vehicles to drive legally in the state. The minimum coverage requirements are:

  • $15,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $30,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $5,000 property damage liability per accident

California also requires that you are offered uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, along with uninsured motorist property damage, but you can decline these coverages if you do not want to have them. Comprehensive and collision coverages are not required by the state, but if your car is financed, most lenders will require you to purchase these coverages. If you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, you may also need to purchase higher liability limits.

It may be worth checking with your lender to confirm what coverage you need and speaking with an insurance agent to review your policy.

How to get the best car insurance

Although California is not the cheapest state for car insurance, you might be able to find the lowest rates or best discounts for your situation by shopping around and comparing quotes from multiple providers. Here are two ways you may be able to find the best car insurance for your situation:

  • Evaluate your needs: Everyone has a different set of auto insurance considerations. You might live in an area where traffic and tourism are heavy, like Los Angeles or San Francisco, have a teen driver to insure or maybe have a few accidents or tickets on your driving record. Understanding your individual coverage needs might help you narrow down the companies you request quotes from.
  • Consider state factors: California is densely populated and 16.6% of motorists are estimated to be uninsured. Buying uninsured motorist coverage could help protect your finances from accidents with these drivers. If you live in a bigger city, the chances of theft or vandalism may also be higher than in other parts of the state, so including comprehensive coverage on your policy could be a good idea.

Car insurance discounts in California

Most car insurance companies offer discounts to help you save money on your car insurance premium. Common discounts in California include:

  • Multi-policy: Carriers that offer multiple insurance products, like auto, home and umbrella policies, often give you a discount on each policy that you buy. Consolidating your insurance products with one company could save you quite a bit of money.
  • Good driver: If you have not been in an accident or had a ticket for a certain number of years, usually three to five, you may qualify for a good or safe driver discount.
  • Loyalty: Although switching your insurance may help you to find a lower premium, many companies will reward you with a discount for the longer you maintain your policy with the same provider.
  • Good student: If you insure a full-time student under the age of 25, you may be able to take advantage of a good student discount. Typically, students must maintain at least a B letter-grade average or a 3.0 GPA to qualify.
  • Affinity: If you belong to certain organizations, like membership clubs or alumni associations, you might qualify for a discount with some insurance carriers.

Multi-policy discounts are some of the largest savings opportunities available. In addition to saving you money, bundling your policies with one company can make your insurance more convenient. If you insure a full-time student, good student discounts can also be incredibly impactful. On average, California households see an increase of $3,744 per year when adding a 16-year-old driver to an existing policy. With a good student discount, that increase drops to $3,160 per year.

Frequently asked questions

How much is California car insurance?

Full coverage car insurance in California averages around $2,065 a year. However, because car insurance rates are personalized and depend heavily on your individual rating factors, your premium may be higher or lower than the state average.

Which auto insurance company is best in California?

Because each provider offers unique rates, coverage options, varied degrees of customer satisfaction and discount opportunities, the best car insurance company will depend on each driver’s preferences. While the top providers by market share may be a good place to start comparing quotes, local providers may also offer favorable rates or customer service.

Does California have a reduced rate program for low-income drivers?

Yes. California’s Low-Cost Automobile Program (CLCA) offers potential savings on car insurance for drivers who meet income requirements.

Can you self-insure your car in California?

Yes. In addition to providing proof of an auto insurance policy, there are a few ways to satisfy California’s financial responsibility requirements. You can self-insure your vehicle, provide a cash deposit of $35,000 or provide a surety bond for $35,000 from a qualifying company.

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.

Good student discount: Rates were calculated based on the average cost to add a 16-year-old to a parent’s policy in the state, both with and without a good student discount applied.

Written by
Cate Deventer
Insurance Editor
Cate Deventer is a writer, editor and insurance professional. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in professional and technical writing from Indiana University East. She began writing for Bankrate in January 2021 and has nearly a decade of experience in the insurance industry as a licensed insurance agent. Cate has worked with over a dozen insurance companies and is experienced with auto, home, flood, umbrella and life insurance.
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