Best car insurance in California 2021

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Before driving off the lot with your new wheels, you must purchase insurance that complies with California law. Finding cheap car insurance in California can depend on numerous factors, including your age, driving record and location.

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, there are over 27 million licensed drivers on the road. California has the highest population in the country, making it one of the busiest states for drivers. And in 2018, California was second only to Texas for motor vehicle deaths.

Because of this, auto insurance is important when driving in California, but you need to shop around before purchasing because while California car insurance isn’t the most expensive, it’s far from being the cheapest.

Here’s what you need to know about the best car insurance in California.

The best car insurance companies in California

J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Auto Insurance Study ranked Wawanesa as the best car insurance California company, followed by Auto Club of Southern California Insurance Group (an AAA affiliate), State Farm, Ameriprise and Geico. The J.D. Power study uses a rating system and rates companies based on:

  • Overall customer satisfaction
  • Policy offerings
  • Policy pricing
  • Billing process and policy information
  • Customer interaction
  • Claims handling
J.D. Power score Average full coverage premium
Wawanesa 853/1000 $1,570
Auto Club of Southern California 848/1000 $1,841
State Farm 836/1000 $1,887
Geico 828/1000 $1,582
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Requesting quotes can help you analyze costs, but also consider a company’s financial strength and performance because this indicates their ability to pay your claims.

Here’s what you should know about the companies offering the best auto insurance in California.

Wawanesa

Wawanesa car insurance California gets high customer approval for its prices on car insurance — it’s one of the reasons the insurer ranks as the best auto insurance companies in California.

Wawanesa stands out for other reasons, too. It has a fully functioning mobile app, unlike other insurance companies, and it has a strong web presence. Other providers seem to post as little as possible online whereas Wawanesa does the opposite. It’s probably one of the most transparent insurance providers you can find.

It’s also one of the most coverage heavy providers out there. Take a look at the amount of coverage options available (10 options and counting).

Auto Club

Part of the reason Auto Club scores so well is that it offers a strong variety of discounts for its members. These discounts include: getting a discount for driving safely, insuring multiple cars or bundling with another insurance product.

One of the coolest things about Auto Club is that you can save even more by installing the AAAdrive app on your phone. The app will analyze your driving habits, and if it likes what it sees – meaning you score high on the safe driver scale – you can save even more on your premium.

State Farm

State Farm provides a variety of insurance offerings including vehicle, homeowners and life insurance. The insurer has agents across the state ready to help you create the best California car insurance policy. They’re ready to answer any questions you may have and make sure you have the right amount of coverage.

Annual premium rates are a bit higher for home insurance California policyholders than other auto insurance companies, but the one-on-one service from a State Farm may make the slight upcharge worth it.

Geico

Geico is a nationwide insurance provider, and as such is able to offer really competitive rates.

With Geico you can save by bundling another insurance product with your auto insurance, but you can also save by pursuing other discount opportunities (such as attending a driving safety course).

Geico’s mobile app allows you to manage everything to do with your policy . This includes updating or changing your policy, making a payment and even filing a claim.

Average car insurance cost in California

The average annual cost of car insurance in California for Full Coverage Premium is $2,012 and $580 for Minimum Coverage. California drivers pay slightly higher Full Coverage Premiums as the national average cost of Full Coverage Premium is $1,738. Although California isn’t the cheapest state for car insurance, drivers can still find a good deal from shopping around. Check out our listing of the Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in California.

The Department of Insurance offers a comparison tool to help you find the cheapest car insurance in California. Premiums vary widely among companies and rates can differ according to your driving record, how much you drive, your location, the number of years you have held a license and the make and model of your vehicle.

If you work in ridesharing through Uber or Lyft, or use your automobile for other business purposes, these factors can greatly influence your total auto insurance cost. In fact, they may even require you to have a separate policy.

Lots of things influence the high premiums in California.

For one, California has the highest population in the country, and a large number of those motorists are uninsured (currently 15.2% of California drivers don’t have insurance).

Secondly, if you live in a big city, such as LA or San Francisco, the chances of you filing a claim for theft or vandalism are higher than other parts of the country.

Lastly, because the cost of living is so high, many drivers are unable to pay for anything more than minimum liability. With drivers opting for so little coverage, companies have no choice but to raise premiums to retain profitability.

State minimum insurance requirements in California

California requires minimum liability insurance on all vehicles. The minimum coverage requirements include:

  • All automobiles must have liability insurance.
  • Liabilities policies must provide for at least $15,000 for the injury or death of one person and $30,000 for the injury or death of multiple people.
  • Policies also must cover at least $5,000 worth of property damage.

California does not require drivers to carry comprehensive or collision insurance. However, if you finance an automobile, most banks require you to purchase standard coverage with a specified deductible. Check with your lender to see which requirements they impose.

California car insurance laws

California has some unique laws that other states don’t employ. These laws help make car insurance more accessible for certain drivers.

California automobile assigned risk plan

Created in 1947, this law helps drivers who would otherwise not qualify be able to get insurance. Basically, it prevents a catch-22 scenario from occurring— meaning, a driver is denied insurance from every provider, but his or her state still legally requires it.

Drivers with a history of at-fault traffic accidents or speeding tickets typically have difficulty finding car insurance. However, high-risk drivers can still qualify for insurance with the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan. Insurance companies in the program charge the same premium for all policyholders and even offer installment plans.

California Proposition 103

Voted into law in 1988, California’s Proposition 103 bars insurance companies from rating car insurance policies based on a policyholder’s location and instead base it off of his or her driving record, years on the road and miles driven each year.

Frequently asked questions

How much is California car insurance?

Premium prices vary based on location and type of vehicle, as well as driver attributes, such as years licensed, age, reasons for driving and driving record.

Which auto insurance is best in California?

J.D. Power and Associates rank Esurance as California’s best auto insurance company. However, choosing a policy is subjective. Insurance companies offer various discounts, and some have special programs for senior citizens and students.

Does California require car owners to purchase insurance?

Yes. California drivers must hold a liability policy, which meets minimum death, injury and property damage coverage requirements.

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

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

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 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 cleaning 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 2018 Honda Accord, 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.