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Cheapest car insurance in California in 2022

Updated Sep 19, 2022
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Drivers in the Golden State pay some of the highest car insurance rates in the nation. While the national average cost of car insurance is $1,771 per year for full coverage, the average cost of car insurance in California is $2,190 per year for full coverage. Minimum coverage in California is higher too, at $619 per year compared to the national average of $545 per year.

The cheapest car insurance companies in California

To find the cheapest auto insurance in California, Bankrate’s insurance editorial team first obtained 2021 premium data from Quadrant Information Services for the largest car insurance companies by market share in California. We also reviewed each company’s available coverage types, discounts, customer satisfaction scores and financial strength ratings. This means that these companies offer affordable rates as well as robust coverage and highly-rated service to policyholders. If you are looking for the cheapest car insurance companies in California, the following carriers might be a good fit, depending on what coverage level you are looking for.

The cheapest companies for minimum coverage in California

Geico offers some of the cheapest rates for minimum coverage premiums in California, based on our analysis of average rate data. Because minimum coverage provides the lowest level of financial protection that you can purchase in California, premiums tend to be lower. Most insurance professionals recommend that you purchase higher liability limits if you can afford to so that you are not financially devastated from a major loss if you are ruled at fault in an auto accident.
 
But if minimum coverage is all you can afford, here are some of the cheapest car insurance companies in California for minimum coverage:
CAR INSURANCE COMPANY AVERAGE ANNUAL MINIMUM COVERAGE PREMIUM AVERAGE MONTHLY MINIMUM COVERAGE PREMIUM
Geico $400 $33
AAA $440 $37
Grange $460 $38
Travelers $497 $41
State Farm $497 $41

The cheapest companies for full coverage in California

Our research revealed that regional carriers Capital and Wawanesa have the lowest average cost for full coverage car insurance in California. Full coverage adds optional comprehensive coverage and collision coverage to your policy, giving you financial protection for damage to your vehicle as well as damage that you cause to others in an at-fault accident.
CAR INSURANCE COMPANY AVERAGE ANNUAL FULL COVERAGE PREMIUM AVERAGE MONTHLY FULL COVERAGE PREMIUM
Capital $1,527 $127
Wawanesa $1,708 $142
Mercury $1,778 $148
Geico $1,756 $146
California Capital $1,814 $151

Events that can impact your cheap rates in California

If you have recently experienced a life event, like moving to a new location or getting married, or getting into an accident or adding a teen driver to your policy, you may want to take the time to shop your auto insurance coverage. When life changes, your insurance needs might change as well. You may want to reconsider your car insurance coverage if you have recently:
 
  • Added a teen driver: Teen drivers are inexperienced, which generally translates to higher premiums. But there are cheap car insurance companies for teen drivers and many carriers offer student discounts to help you reduce your rate.
  • Received a speeding ticket: Speeding tickets can be an indication of risky driving behavior, as speed can make accidents more severe. If you have a speeding ticket on your record, you might see an increase in your premium for three to five years.
  • Been involved in an at-fault accident: At-fault accidents generally increase your premium for three to five years. If you have been involved in an accident, there are companies that may not surcharge you as heavily, so shopping your policy could help you save money.
  • Been deemed a high-risk driver: High-risk drivers are generally drivers with one or more speeding tickets, at-fault accidents or DUI convictions on their records. While you will likely pay more for coverage as a high-risk driver, there are steps you can take to lower your premium, including taking advantage of discounts.
  • Moved to a new city or recently married: According to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), your location and marital status are among the individual rating factors that insurers use to determine premium costs for California drivers. Other common rating factors include your age, motor vehicle record, make and model of your vehicle, auto claims history, coverages and deductibles you select and how many miles you drive per year.

Cheapest cities in California for minimum coverage

The specific city where you reside in California can play a significant role in how much you pay for auto insurance. Densely populated areas like Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego generally have a higher cost of living, which includes higher auto insurance premiums.

Based on our research, the cheapest cities in California for minimum coverage are:

City AVERAGE ANNUAL MINIMUM COVERAGE PREMIUM AVERAGE MONTHLY MINIMUM COVERAGE PREMIUM
Weed $408 $34
Trinidad $424 $35
San Ardo $427 $36
Calexico $427 $36
Canby $430 $36

Cheapest cities in California for full coverage

When it comes to full coverage, prices are generally higher than they are for minimum coverage. This is because full coverage provides more financial protection and includes coverage for damage to your car. The cost of vehicle repairs also plays a role in how cheap or expensive full coverage car insurance is. In cities with higher costs of living, like San Jose and San Francisco, full coverage may cost more.
 
These five small California cities have some of the cheapest average full coverage car insurance rates based on Bankrate’s analysis:
City AVERAGE ANNUAL FULL COVERAGE PREMIUM AVERAGE MONTHLY FULL COVERAGE PREMIUM
Weed $1,616 $135
Los Osos $1,629 $136
Mount Shasta $1,632 $136
Cambria $1,647 $137
Solvang $1,683 $140

Minimum coverage requirements for California drivers

Like most states, California designates the minimum amount of car insurance that drivers must purchase to drive legally. If you live in California, you must carry at least the following minimum coverage type 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 Triple-I, the uninsured motorist rate in California is 16.6%, the 10th worst in the U.S. As a result of this high rate, auto insurers in the Golden State are required to offer you uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage, although you can decline these options in writing. California residents can also satisfy the state’s “financial responsibility law” for high-risk drivers by providing a $35,000 cash deposit or surety bond to the DMV in lieu of car insurance. This typically applies to drivers with DUIs and other major infractions on their motor vehicle records.

Although state minimum coverage is all that is required to drive legally, most insurance experts recommend that you purchase higher levels of liability to have financial peace of mind. Car accidents can be expensive, and if the damages and injuries you cause exceed your insurance amount, you will have to pay for the overage out of pocket. Additionally, if you have a loan or lease, you may be required to carry full coverage.

Here is how to find (and keep) cheap car insurance in California

Although car insurance in California is more expensive than it is in the U.S. as a whole, there are ways you can save money. If your budget for car insurance is tight, it may benefit you to check out the following steps for securing and maintaining affordable car insurance rates:

  • Get multiple quotes: Getting quotes from several providers is one of the best ways to find cheap car insurance in California. The Triple-I recommends obtaining a minimum of three quotes from a mix of national and regional insurers. Each company has its own rating algorithm and weights individual rating factors differently. Additionally, every driver has a different set of circumstances that they bring to their car insurance search. Comparing premiums, coverages, discounts and features may help you find a policy and price that is right for you.
  • Maintain a clean driving record: Drivers with accidents, moving violations or DUI convictions on their motor vehicle record tend to pay more for auto insurance, while drivers with clean driving records avoid these types of surcharges. Practicing safe driving habits might help you keep your car insurance costs in line.

Frequently asked questions

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2022 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 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.

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Written by
Cate Deventer
Insurance Writer & Editor
Cate Deventer is a writer, editor and insurance professional with over a decade of experience in the insurance industry as a licensed insurance agent.
Edited by Insurance Editor
Reviewed by Director of corporate communications, Insurance Information Institute