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Cheapest car insurance in California for 2024

Updated Jun 01, 2024

According to Bankrate’s analysis, Kemper, Mercury and Progressive may offer lower-than-average rates for California drivers.

The cheapest car insurance companies in California

In California, drivers pay an average of $2,667 per year for a full coverage policy and $651 for minimum coverage. To help you save money, Bankrate did some research into the cheapest car insurance in California. Although your exact rate will change based on individual factors like your age, annual mileage, driving record, location and vehicle type, the providers listed below generally offer car insurance below the state average. 

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Cheapest car insurance in California for minimum coverage

For the absolute cheapest auto insurance in California, you may consider a minimum coverage policy. Minimum coverage, also known as liability-only insurance, is designed to financially protect you if you are found at fault for an accident. Your liability coverage can help pay for the other driver’s accident-related expenses such as medical bills, vehicle repairs and lost wages. It can also help pay for accident-related property damage, like damage to a nearby building or to a mailbox or fence. 

The table below lists the five cheapest car insurance companies in California for minimum coverage policies, according to premium data from Quadrant Information Services. Per our research, Geico and Mercury are among the cheapest options for California drivers.

Insurance Company Average monthly premium Average annual premium Savings vs state avg. for min coverage
$36
$430
- $221
$44
$527
- $124
$45
$544
- $107
$50
$594
- $57
$53
$635
- $16

Minimum coverage requirements in California

Like most states, California designates the minimum amount of car insurance that drivers must purchase to drive legally. Based on our research, California's minimum coverage costs an average of $651 per year. Per the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), you must carry at least the following coverage types and levels:

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

According to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), the estimated uninsured motorist rate in California is 16.6 percent. As a result, auto insurers in the Golden State are required to offer drivers uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage, although you can decline these options in writing.

California residents who do not want to purchase an auto insurance policy can also satisfy the state’s “financial responsibility law” by providing a $35,000 cash deposit or surety bond to the DMV.

Although state minimum coverage is all that is required to drive legally, most insurance experts recommend that you purchase higher levels of liability insurance if you can afford to do so. If your vehicle is leased or financed, your lender may require you to carry full coverage.

Cheapest car insurance in California for full coverage

A full coverage car insurance policy generally refers to comprehensive and collision coverage on top of your state’s minimum required insurance. Full coverage car insurance costs a good deal more than a minimum coverage plan, but it does offer broader financial protection for a wider number of covered losses. According to our research, Kemper and Mercury offer drivers some of the cheapest full coverage car insurance in California.

Insurance Company Average monthly premium Average annual premium Savings vs state avg. for full coverage
$166
$1,996
- $671
$171
$2,050
- $617
$183
$2,199
- $468
$184
$2,206
- $461
$195
$2,344
- $323

Cheapest car insurance in California for drivers with prior incidents

Drivers with prior incidents on their driving records typically pay more for coverage than drivers with spotless records. Depending on the incident — a speeding ticket, an at-fault accident or a DUI — your rates may increase significantly. Bankrate’s review of average rate data from Quadrant Information Services revealed that drivers with a prior incident may see their insurance rates rise anywhere from 33 to 140 percent. To help drivers with a ticket or other driving offense in their past find cheap car insurance in California, Bankrate identified a few insurance providers that generally offer affordable policies in a variety of scenarios. 

Cheapest insurance companies for drivers in California with a speeding ticket: Geico

Insurance companies typically view speeding tickets as indicators of unsafe driving habits. As such, even a single speeding ticket could increase your premium. If you receive a speeding ticket conviction in California, your rates may increase for three to five years, depending on the carrier, making the search for cheap auto insurance in California more difficult. Fortunately, some carriers offer more affordable average rates for drivers with speeding tickets than others, and our research highlighted Geico as the most affordable of the bunch. The rates below are for a driver with a single speeding ticket conviction.

Insurance Company Avg. annual min coverage premium Avg. annual full coverage premium
$623
$3,070
$697
$2,083
$727
$2,993
$736
$2,910
$742
$3,277

Cheapest car insurance for drivers in California with an at-fault accident: Geico

If you are involved in an at-fault accident, you can usually expect to receive a surcharge on your premium unless you previously elected to purchase accident forgiveness. The average rate drivers pay for car insurance following an at-fault accident is $4,416 for full coverage and $1,102 for minimum coverage. However, you may be able to secure even cheaper rates with the carriers in the table below. Our research identified Geico as the most affordable provider for drivers looking for minimum coverage and Geico for drivers seeking full coverage. 

Insurance Company Avg. annual min coverage premium Avg. annual full coverage premium
$698
$3,238
$903
$4,228
$949
$4,060
$1,005
$3,774
$1,022
$3,800

Cheapest rates in California for high-risk drivers: Mercury

High-risk drivers in California typically include anyone with one or more speeding tickets or at-fault accidents or a single DUI conviction on their record. While high-risk drivers will likely pay more for coverage, certain steps — like comparing quotes from several providers — might help you land a lower premium. The following companies have some of the cheapest average rates for drivers with high-risk incidents. In particular, Mercury offers some of the lowest average rates, which is 37 percent less than the statewide average for drivers with a DUI. 

Insurance Company Avg. annual min coverage premium Avg. annual full coverage premium
$921
$3,637
$947
$2,827
$987
$4,792
$1,005
$4,386
$1,170
$4,778
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Bankrate’s take: Drivers with DUI convictions may have a hard time finding cheap California car insurance. Not all providers will write policies for drivers who have a DUI, as they present a larger financial risk to an insurance company. Statistically speaking, drivers with a DUI are more likely to file a future claim that costs their insurer money. Specifically seeking out companies that specialize in high-risk policies may help you find lower-cost car insurance in California — regardless of how spotty your driving record is. 

Cheapest car insurance for young drivers in California

Like driving history, age is another characteristic insurers use to calculate rates. Car insurance for young adult drivers tends to be more expensive, with rates remaining high until about age 26. Young adults have fewer years of driving experience and are therefore more likely to be involved in accidents. Although insurers generally charge more to younger drivers to account for this added risk, the providers below may offer lower-cost car insurance in California. 

Cheapest California car insurance for insuring a teen driver: Travelers

Car insurance for teen drivers can be expensive. Teens typically face higher insurance rates, but there are cheap car insurance companies for teen drivers and many carriers offer student discounts to help you potentially reduce your rate even more. The average rates below reflect the costs for a single teen driver who’s added to their married parents' policy. Keep in mind that, just like adult drivers, teen drivers with incidents on their records will likely pay even higher premiums. 

Insurance Company Avg. annual min coverage premium Avg. annual full coverage premium
$1,042
$5,319
$1,108
$4,457
$1,144
$3,977
$1,162
$4,867
$1,340
$11,109
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Bankrate’s take: Teen drivers are, from a statistical standpoint, one of the most at-risk age groups on the road. Although teen drivers only make up around 4 percent of all drivers, teens between 16 and 17 years old have a fatal crash rate per mile that is three times as high as the rate of drivers 20 and older. The rates listed above are for 16-year-old drivers added to their married parents’ policies.

Cheapest California car insurance for teens with a ticket: Geico

Teens speeding is not uncommon. According to the Centers for Disease Control, teens are the most likely age group to speed. Kemper offers cheaper rates for full coverage policies, while Geico offers lower premiums for minimum coverage. In the table below, the rates listed are for 18-year-old drivers on their own insurance policies.

Insurance Company Avg. annual min coverage premium Avg. annual full coverage premium
$1,454
$6,211
$1,768
$7,159
$1,790
$5,546
$1,799
$7,671
$1,807
$6,862

Cheapest California car insurance for teens with an at-fault accident: Geico

No matter your age, at-fault accidents can translate into being classified as a high-risk driver. Similar to teens with speeding tickets, teens with accidents on their records may want to request quotes from Geico or Wawanesa to save money on car insurance in California. Again, these rates are for 18-year-old drivers who have their own car insurance policies. 

Insurance Company Avg. annual min coverage premium Avg. annual full coverage premium
$1,702
$6,878
$1,878
$8,011
$1,941
$7,694
$1,970
$5,978
$2,012
$7,225
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Bankrate’s take: California is a tort state, which means the party who is deemed at-fault for the accident is financially responsible for the not-at-fault driver’s medical expenses and property damage. Typically, this is where the bodily injury liability and property damage liability parts of your car insurance would kick in. Your policy can only pay up to your coverage limits, though. So if the not-at-fault driver’s bills exceed the limits stipulated in your policy, you may have to pay the remaining costs out-of-pocket. Or, if you are the not-at-fault driver and the at-fault driver does not carry enough insurance to cover your expenses, you may need to rely on your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

Cheapest California car insurance for young drivers with a DUI: Geico

Based on our research, Geico offers some of the cheapest average rates for young drivers with a DUI in California. However, it’s good practice to shop around since rates vary widely. Other affordable providers for young drivers with a DUI in California might include the following: 

Insurance Company Avg. annual min coverage premium Avg. annual full coverage premium
$1,426
$6,528
$1,445
$6,145
$1,516
$4,559
$1,629
$6,313
$1,941
$8,594

Cheapest car insurance rates by city in California

Densely populated areas of California like Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego generally have higher average auto insurance premiums. This is in part due to more congested roadways and higher instances of theft and vandalism in bigger cities. On the other hand, some smaller cities and rural areas have average car insurance premiums below the state average. The following cities have some of the cheapest average full and minimum coverage car insurance rates based on Bankrate’s analysis:

Cheapest cities in California for car insurance

Bakersfield
City average annual min coverage premium
$589
Cheapest car insurance carrier
Geico
Company average annual premium
$375
Brisbane
City average annual min coverage premium
$604
Cheapest car insurance carrier
Geico
Company average annual premium
$359
Pinole
City average annual min coverage premium
$586
Cheapest car insurance carrier
Geico
Company average annual premium
$399
Santa Rosa
City average annual min coverage premium
$569
Cheapest car insurance carrier
Geico
Company average annual premium
$358
Union City
City average annual min coverage premium
$595
Cheapest car insurance carrier
Geico
Company average annual premium
$391

Cheapest car insurance in larger cities in California

Fresno
City average annual min coverage premium
$600
Cheapest car insurance carrier
Geico
Company average annual premium
$409
Los Angeles
City average annual min coverage premium
$922
Cheapest car insurance carrier
Geico
Company average annual premium
$636
San Diego
City average annual min coverage premium
$585
Cheapest car insurance carrier
Geico
Company average annual premium
$387
San Francisco
City average annual min coverage premium
$692
Cheapest car insurance carrier
Geico
Company average annual premium
$389
San Jose
City average annual min coverage premium
$597
Cheapest car insurance carrier
Geico
Company average annual premium
$370

Car insurance discounts in California

Auto insurance companies may offer a wide range of discounts to help lower your premium and save on car insurance in California. However, it is important to understand that discounts vary by insurer and some providers offer more discounts than others. Some common discounts you could ask about when requesting quotes include:

  • Bundling discounts: When you purchase a car insurance policy and another insurance policy, like homeowners, from the same carrier, you may qualify for a discount.
  • Good driver discounts: Some carriers extend discounts to drivers who demonstrate safe driving habits. These are often extended via a telematics program.
  • Loyalty discounts: Some carriers may extend a discount to policyholders who renew their policy year after year.
  • Mileage discounts: Your annual mileage may impact your auto insurance premium. Demonstrating low mileage, usually through a telematics program, may earn you a discount.
  • Safety and security device discounts: Some insurance companies offer discounts on vehicles equipped with devices such as airbags, anti-lock brakes and anti-theft systems.
  • Youthful driver discounts: Policyholders with a young driver on their policy may be able to reduce their premium with discounts for teen drivers who maintain good grades or demonstrate safe driving habits. Some insurers also offer a discount to college students who move away for school but leave their vehicle at home.

Bear in mind that discount eligibility can change over time. For example, you might not qualify for a discount when you purchase a policy, but after a few years, you may be eligible for a good driver or loyalty discount. Before renewing your car insurance policy, you could ask your agent if you qualify for additional discounts.

Frequently asked questions

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carriers reviewed
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ZIP codes examined
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Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze June 2024 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Rates are weighted based on the population density in each geographic region. Quoted rates are based on a single, 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 2022 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.

Incidents: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident, single speeding ticket and single DUI conviction.

Age: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the ages 18 and 21 (base: 40 years) applied. Depending on age, drivers may be a renter or homeowner. Age is not a contributing rating factor in Hawaii and Massachusetts due to state regulations.

Teens: Rates were determined by adding a 16-year-old teen to their 40-year-old married parents' policy. The rates displayed reflect the total cost of a driver this age added to their parents’ policy.

Written by
Natalie Todoroff
Writer, Insurance

Natalie Todoroff is an insurance writer for Bankrate, prior to which she wrote for a popular insurance comparison shopping app. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and has written over 800 articles about insurance throughout her career.

Edited by Editor, Insurance
Reviewed by Senior wealth advisor at Versant Capital Management