When looking for the cheapest car insurance in San Diego, drivers have options. California has slightly higher average car insurance rates than the rest of the nation, but San Diego drivers may still be able to find competitive rates below the national average. Based on Bankrate’s research, Mercury, State Farm and Progressive offer some of the cheapest average full-coverage rates in San Diego.

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For full coverage, San Diego drivers pay an average of $2,328 per year, or $194 per month. For minimum coverage car insurance, the average annual premium is $641 per year. While minimum coverage insurance is often cheaper because of its lower levels of financial protection, insurance professionals typically recommend purchasing higher limits when possible to better protect your finances. For this reason, Bankrate looked at a variety of features, in addition to cost, to find the best cheap car insurance companies in San Diego.

Best cheap car insurance companies in San Diego

Mercury, State Farm and Progressive offer some of the cheapest car insurance for full coverage in San Diego, based on 2023 average rate data from Quadrant Information Services. Affordable rates may be a priority for many drivers when it comes to car insurance, but there are other factors you might consider in addition to the cheapest rates.

To help drivers find the best car insurance companies in San Diego, Bankrate utilizes its Bankrate Score. The Score operates on a 5-point scale, with Scores closer to five indicating stronger performance across several key categories. These categories include a company’s average quoted annual premiums, J.D. Power Auto Insurance Study ratings, coverage options, discounts and accessibility. Considering these aspects may help you understand the strength of an insurance company’s customer service and policy offerings.

Insurance company Bankrate Score J.D. Power score (California) Average annual premium for full coverage Average annual premium for minimum coverage
Mercury 3.2 827/1,000 $2,024 $615
State Farm 4.2 817/1,000 $2,123 $529
Progressive 4.2 803/1,000 $2,125 $604
Geico 4.4 824/1,000 $2,144 $495
Allstate 3.8 826/1,000 $2,191 $661

Mercury

Among our top San Diego insurers, Mercury offers some of the lowest average minimum and full-coverage rates. The provider ranked fourth in the J.D. Power study and earned an A (Excellent) rating for financial strength from AM Best. Mercury doesn’t offer as many endorsements as some other carriers on this list, but it does offer rental car reimbursement, rideshare coverage and roadside assistance coverages. Low-mileage drivers may be interested in Mercury as the insurer offers a discount for drivers who track low mileage with its RealDrive program. Additional discounts include a telematics program and potential savings for anti-theft devices.

Learn more: Mercury Insurance review

State Farm

Along with standard auto insurance coverages, State Farm also offers optional emergency roadside service, car rental reimbursement, travel expenses coverage and rideshare driver coverage. The provider’s bundling discount may enable you to bundle auto coverage with condominium, home, life or renters insurance policies. You may also qualify for a discount with one of the company’s telematics programs. Customers should note that State Farm received a below-average customer satisfaction score in J.D. Power’s 2022 U.S. Auto Insurance Study, indicating that some customers may not be satisfied with the company. State Farm sells car insurance through 25 San Diego agencies.

Learn more: State Farm Insurance review

Progressive

Progressive sits roughly in the middle of our list for average full and minimum coverage rates. The company scored below the industry average on the J.D. Power report. However, Progressive has an impressive lineup of optional coverages for policy customization and a strong set of digital tools for customer convenience. The company also offers several discounts for eligible drivers to save money on premiums. On average, Progressive provides better rates than the national average for drivers with poor driving records.

Learn more: Progressive Insurance review

Geico

Geico is one of the cheapest car insurance companies in California, and San Diego is no exception. Geico sells standard auto insurance policies plus optional emergency road service, mechanical breakdown insurance and rental car reimbursement coverage. Policyholders may also save with Geico’s discounts. Geico offers discounts for military members, safe driving, good student and safety equipment installation, among others. While San Diego drivers can purchase Geico insurance online or over the phone, the carrier does not operate any branch offices in California.

Learn more: Geico Insurance review

Allstate

Allstate scored well with the J.D. Power report, coming in just behind Mercury. The company offers a variety of savings programs for eligible drivers to pursue, on top of a robust list of discounts. Allstate maintains an extensive network of agents, aiding customers who prefer live person interactions. For others, however, the insurer offers a robust array of digital tools and conveniences. Although the company provides many upsides, it does have some of the highest average rates on our list.

Learn more: Allstate Insurance review

How to get and keep the cheapest car insurance in San Diego

Insurers determine rates based on several factors, which may include your age, annual mileage, claims history, driving record, location and the type of vehicle you own. Coverages and coverage levels may also impact your premium. There are a few steps you might consider taking to find the most competitive auto insurance rates:

  • Shop around: Most insurance professionals recommend getting quotes from multiple insurance companies to get a sense of what your rate might be. When reviewing car insurance quotes, double check that the coverage options are similar between carriers, so you’re getting an accurate comparison.
  • Find discounts you may be eligible for: When you purchase an auto policy for a new car, you might qualify for discounts right off the bat. For instance, your insurer might extend discounts for cars equipped with safety equipment, such as airbags or anti-theft devices. Down the road, you may qualify for additional savings through affiliation, good driver or good student discount programs. Whenever you renew your policy, consider asking your agent about discounts for which you might qualify. Bear in mind that discounts may vary by insurer.

After you’ve obtained your car insurance, here are a few tips that could help keep your rates low:

  • Maintain safe driving habits: Maintaining good driving habits could help keep your car insurance premium low. Avoiding marks on your driving record might keep your rates low, and you may even qualify for good driver discounts.
  • Re-shop when live events occur: Major life events like adding a new driver or purchasing a new vehicle could be great opportunities to review your auto insurance policy to see if your policy needs any adjustment to keep the best rate.

Frequently asked questions

    • Typically, some of the best car insurance companies offer a combination of low rates, varied discounts, strong customer service, diverse coverage options and reputable financial strength ratings. However, the best car insurance company for you will likely depend on personal factors like where you live, the kind of car you drive and your claims history.
    • According to recent rate data gathered from Quadrant Information Services, the average cost for car insurance in San Diego is $641 per year for minimum coverage and $2,328 for a full-coverage policy.  Auto insurance premiums can vary by state, as well as other factors.
    • Most major auto insurance companies enable you to get insurance quotes online or over the phone. You may also be able to call or visit local agencies to discuss your insurance needs. When shopping for car insurance, most insurance professionals recommend comparing quotes from multiple providers to find the cheapest rates for your needs.
    • Auto insurance rates are affected by several variables. A driver’s record, vehicle, age, location and more can all affect rates. Beyond that, areas with higher urban density and population also tend to have higher rates. The more drivers there are in a relatively small space, the riskier it is. While these traditional variables may all be at play in San Diego, other factors are involved. Inflation has impacted auto rates as it has other industries, driving up prices.
    • Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2023 rates for 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 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 2021 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.

    • Our 2023 Bankrate Score considers variables our insurance editorial team determined impacts policyholders’ experiences with an insurance company. These rating factors include a robust assessment of each company’s product availability, financial strength ratings, online capabilities and customer and claims support accessibility. Each factor was added to a category, and these categories were weighted in a tiered approach to analyze how companies perform in key customer-impacting categories.

      Like our previous Bankrate Scores, each category was assigned a metric to determine performance, and the weighted sum adds up to a company’s total Bankrate Score — out of 5 points. This year, our 2023 scoring model provides a more comprehensive view, indicating when companies excel across several key areas and better highlighting where they fall short.

      • Tier 1 (Cost & ratings): To determine how well auto and home insurance companies satisfy these priorities, 2023 quoted premiums from Quadrant Information Services (if available), as well as any of the latest third-party agency ratings from J.D. Power, AM Best and the NAIC, were analyzed.
      • Tier 2 (Coverage & savings): We assessed companies’ coverage options and availability to help policyholders find a provider that balances cost with coverage. Additionally, we evaluated each company’s discount options listed on its website.
      • Tier 3 (Support): To encompass the many ways an auto insurance company can support policyholders, we analyzed avenues of customer accessibility along with community support. This analysis incorporated additional financial strength ratings from S&P and Moody’s and factored a company’s corporate sustainability efforts.