Best car insurance in California in 2021

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California drivers have dozens of insurance companies to choose from when shopping for car insurance. Geico, Progressive, State Farm and Wawanesa sell some of the best car insurance in California, based on Bankrate’s extensive research. 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.

California drivers may want to consider several aspects of an auto insurance company before making their choice, including price, coverage options, discounts and third-party reviews. Bankrate’s 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

Bankrate’s insurance editorial team determined that Geico, State Farm, Progressive and Wawanesa are among the best car insurance companies in California. We first analyzed average annual quoted premiums, provided by Quadrant Information Services, for the largest insurance companies by market share in the Golden State. We also reviewed each carrier’s coverage choices, discounts and policy features. Finally, we considered each company’s 2021 J.D. Power customer satisfaction scores and AM Best and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) financial strength scores. After compiling this information, we assigned each company a Bankrate Score. These Scores are on a scale of 0.0 to 5.0. The higher a company’s Bankrate Score, the higher that company ranked in each category.

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 Bankrate Score Average annual full coverage premium J.D. Power customer satisfaction score (California)
Geico 4.6 $1,615 828/1,000
State Farm 4.5 $1,943 818/1,000
Progressive 4.1 $1,808 819/1,000
Wawanesa 2.4 $1,599 853/1,000
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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. However, Geico’s auto insurance policies are relatively basic, with only a few options for customization. It might not be the best company if you are looking for a highly customizable policy.

Learn more: Geico 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 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. State Farm did get the lowest customer satisfaction score on our list of providers, although the company still scored above the industry average.

Learn more: State Farm 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. However, Progressive did get a below-industry-average score in the 2021 J.D. Power U.S. Insurance Shopping Study, indicating that many customers think the shopping experience could be better.

Learn more: Progressive 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. While being a regional provider aids in its unrated status on the 2020 J.D. Power Auto Claims Study and reduces its total Bankrate Score, 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. If you plan to move out of state and want to keep the same auto insurance company, Wawanesa might not be the best choice.

Learn more: Wawanesa insurance review

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, according to 2021 premium data obtained from Quadrant Information Services. California drivers pay more on average than drivers in many other states, which may be due to the state’s heavily congested roadways, 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

Keep in mind that these rates are averages. Your premium will likely vary based on your personal rating factors, like your driving history and the type of car you drive.

How to find the best car insurance in California

The best car insurance is subjective and will depend on your preferences. However, there are some steps you can take to find a company and policy options that fit your needs.

Consider 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. In California, you must carry at least the required minimum amounts of bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage. California also requires that insurance companies offer you uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, along with uninsured motorist property damage, but you can decline in writing if you do not want to have them. Understanding the state’s car insurance laws can help you understand if you need additional coverage or higher limits.

Consider lender requirements

If you finance or lease your vehicle, you may need to purchase a car insurance policy that complies with your financial institution’s requirements. For example, comprehensive and collision are not required by law, but if your car is financed, most lenders will require you to purchase them. This is known as purchasing “full coverage.” Your financial institution may also need to purchase higher liability limits. You might also want to consider gap insurance, which is designed to pay the difference between your vehicle’s actual cash value and the loan or lease amount if your car is totaled or stolen.

Consider your individual 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. Households with teen drivers might look for companies with specialized teen discounts, for example.

Car insurance discounts in California

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

  • Young driver discounts: If you have a young driver on your policy, there could be several ways to save. For example, if you insure a full-time student under the age of 25, you may be able to take advantage of a good student discount. You might also be able to enroll in student driving programs or distant student programs.
  • Safe driver discounts: 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. Avoiding incidents on your driving record also helps you avoid costly surcharges.
  • Other discounts: Carriers that offer multiple insurance products, like auto, home and umbrella policies, often give you a discount on each policy that you buy. And if you belong to certain organizations, like membership clubs or alumni associations, you might qualify for a discount with some insurance carriers.

Discounts vary by provider, so talking with a company representative might be helpful in determining what savings opportunities are available.

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.

What is the best car insurance company in California?

Because each provider offers unique rates, coverage options, varying 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.

What is the cheapest car insurance company in California?

Based on Bankrate’s research, Grange, Geico and Mercury offer some of the cheapest minimum coverage in California. Capital, Wawanesa and Geico have cheap average full coverage rates. Getting quotes from several companies might help you find the cheapest option for your needs.

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 coverage that meets each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.

Bankrate Scores

Bankrate Scores primarily reflect a weighted rank of industry-standard ratings for financial strength and customer experience in addition to analysis of quoted annual premiums from Quadrant Information Services, spanning all 50 states and Washington, D.C. We know it is important for drivers to be confident their financial protection covers the likeliest risks, is priced competitively and is provided by a financially-sound company with a history of positive customer support.

To determine how well the best car insurance companies satisfy these priorities, third-party agency ratings from J.D. Power, AM Best, S&P, NAIC, and Moodys had the most impact on the companies’ Bankrate Scores. As price is a common consideration for drivers, we analyzed quoted premiums based on 40-year-old male and female drivers with a 2019 Toyota Camry. This profile, assessed across more than 35,000 ZIP codes in the U.S., provided a basis on which drivers may compare each provider.

While coverage options, insurer availability, affordability and customer experience are often the top priorities, Bankrate also analyzed each insurer’s online and mobile resources for policy management and claims handling. Insurance is rapidly evolving to keep pace with our digital world, so these aspects also carried weight in determining Bankrate Scores.

Written by
Cate Deventer
Insurance Writer & Editor
Cate Deventer is a writer, editor and insurance professional with nearly a decade of experience in the insurance industry as a licensed insurance agent.
Edited by
Insurance Editor
Reviewed by
Senior compliance associate, Bankrate