Best car insurance companies in California
Bankrate’s insurance editorial team determined that Geico, State Farm, Progressive, Mercury 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 ratings. 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 national and regional 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, the second-largest U.S. auto insurer by market share according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), 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 drivers who prefer to handle their insurance needs digitally. Geico has the highest-rated digital service platform in the country, according to the 2021 J.D. Power U.S. Insurance Digital Experience Study. However, Geico’s auto insurance policies are relatively basic, so it might not be the best company if you are looking for a highly customizable policy. Geico has a very strong balance sheet and is rated A++ (Superior) by AM Best, the highest financial strength rating available.
Learn more: Geico insurance review
State Farm, the largest U.S. auto insurer with 16.2% of market share, 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 received the lowest J.D. Power customer satisfaction score on our list of best auto insurance providers in California, although the company still scored above the industry average.
Learn more: State Farm insurance review
If you plan to get your car insurance quote and buy your policy online, Progressive might be a good option. The company, which is the third-largest U.S. auto insurer, offers discounts for online quotes and purchases and Progressive’s digital tools could save you time managing your account and filing claims. 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. The company carries an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best.
Learn more: Progressive insurance review
Mercury is a California-based insurance company with headquarters in Los Angeles. Its average annual full coverage premium for car insurance is one of the lowest on our list of best providers. Mercury’s coverage options and discount opportunities for its auto policies are consistent with other carriers, but they do offer rideshare insurance for drivers who work for transportation providers like Uber or Lyft. Mercury ranked in the middle of the pack in J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction ranking for California in 2021, indicating that customers were not as satisfied with Mercury’s services compared to other auto insurance companies. However, the company is fiscally strong and rated A (Excellent) by AM Best.
Learn more: Mercury insurance review
Wawanesa might not be the most well-known insurance company on our list, but the carrier could be a great choice if you value customer service. As a regional provider, Wawanesa was not ranked on J.D. Power’s 2021 Auto Claims Study, thereby reducing its total Bankrate Score, but the company ranked first in J.D. Power’s 2021 Auto Insurance Study for customer satisfaction in the California region for the second consecutive year. Wawanesa only writes car insurance in California and Oregon. If you plan to move away from either of these states and want to keep the same auto insurer, Wawanesa might not be the best choice. The company carries an A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best.
Learn more: Wawanesa insurance review
Average car insurance cost in California
The average annual cost of car insurance in California is $2,190 for full coverage and $619 for minimum coverage, according to 2022 premium data obtained from Quadrant Information Services. This is 24% higher than the national average premium for full coverage, which is $1,771 per year. 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.
Keep in mind that these rates are averages. There are many factors that influence car insurance rates, and your premium will likely vary based on your personal rating factors, like your motor vehicle record, claims history and the make and model car you drive. California regulations prohibit insurers from using credit, gender or ZIP code as factors to determine your auto insurance premium.
|Average annual premium for minimum coverage in California||Average annual premium for full coverage in California|
How to find the best car insurance in California
The best car insurance policy looks different for everyone and will depend on your needs, lifestyle and financial responsibilities. To see which car insurance company might provide the best fit and options for you, here are some steps you can take.
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. This includes 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, collision and comprehensive insurance are typically optional coverages, but if your car is financed, most lenders will require you to purchase them. This is commonly known as a “full coverage” policy. Your financial institution may also require you 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. According to the Triple-I, it is typically cheaper to purchase gap insurance from your insurer instead of from an auto dealer.
Consider your individual needs
Every driver 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 moving violations on your driving record. Based on your unique needs, it could make sense to have collision coverage and comprehensive coverage, uninsured motorist coverage or towing and rental reimbursement.
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 young driver discounts, for example.
Car insurance discounts in California
- Young driver discounts: If you have a young driver on your policy, there could be several ways to save on your annual premium. 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, where you earn a discount if a young driver goes to school more than 100 miles away from home and does not have the insured vehicle with them.
- Safe driver discounts: If you have not been in an accident or had a moving violation for a certain number of years, usually three to five, you may qualify for a good or safe driver discount. Avoiding incidents and maintaining a clean driving record also helps you avoid costly surcharges, which can stay on your policy for several years.
- Other discounts: Carriers that offer multiple insurance products, like auto, home, umbrella and life 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, according to the Triple-I.
Discounts vary by provider, so talking with your insurance agent or a company representative might be helpful in determining what savings opportunities are available. Unlike most other states, California does not permit usage-based telematics insurance programs, so this will not be a discount opportunity for drivers to save money on car insurance.
Frequently asked questions
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 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, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, 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.