Best cheap car insurance in San Diego for 2021

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According to a Bankrate study, San Diego drivers are among the worst in the nation, a fact that might lead drivers to strongly consider their auto insurance coverage options. In San Diego, the average full coverage premium costs $1,898 per year and the average minimum coverage policy costs $692 per year, according to Bankrate’s 2021 study of quoted annual premiums. Luckily for local motorists, car insurance in San Diego is cheaper than car insurance in California at large. The cost of car insurance in California averages $733 a year for minimum coverage and $2,065 a year for a full coverage policy.

Although car insurance in California is costly compared to the national average premiums of $565 for minimum coverage and $1,674 for full coverage, dozens of San Diego car insurance companies offer budget-friendly rates. In addition to exploring the cheapest car insurance companies in San Diego, you may want to look into factors such as a carrier’s mobile app accessibility, customer service ratings or customer reviews to ensure you find the best car insurance for you.

Best car insurance companies in San Diego

With so many California car insurance companies to choose from, you may not know where to start. To find the best car insurance providers in San Diego, we based our research on five critical facets of auto insurance:

  • Coverage – We review the type of coverage available for your auto insurance, looking for expanded protections that can lower your risk on the road and keep your family that much safer.
  • Price – Affordability is key, so we compare pricing for the auto insurance providers in San Diego to find the most competitively priced car insurance premiums based on quoted annual premiums from Quadrant Information Services.
  • Availability – Price and coverage mean nothing if an auto insurance provider does not service your address, so we look for each provider’s service area to compare coverage options across San Diego.
  • Financial strength – It is critical to consider a company’s financial strength, which will indicate how quickly it is able to pay out your claims. We consider ratings from AM Best, a leading ratings provider which rates an auto insurance company on its financial stability based on an exclusive score system.
  • Customer service – When there is an emergency, it is important to know that there is help available. J.D. Power is the industry’s most respected leader for customer satisfaction ratings.

Based on our research, these are the top five car insurance providers for San Diego in 2021:

Insurance company J.D. Power score Average annual premium for minimum coverage Average annual premium for full coverage
Geico 828/1,000 $488 $1,428
Wawanesa 853/1,000 $609 $1,466
Grange Insurance N/A $526 $1,952
Progressive 819/1,000 $666 $1,614
USAA* 870/1,000 $477 $2,342

*USAA is considered rank-ineligible due to its limited availability.

Geico

Geico is one of the most popular companies in the country for its affordable policies and extensive list of discounts. It receives top ratings from AM Best for financial stability, scoring A++ (Superior) on its ratings scale. Geico also offers a wide range of coverages, with additional options for emergency road service, rental reimbursement and mechanical breakdown insurance, among others.

Learn more: Geico Insurance review

Wawanesa

Wawanesa is a Canadian company that provides regional car insurance, focusing on California and Oregon for its coverage areas. It offers niche protections, such as vehicle manufacturer replacement parts coverage, an optional add-on with your comprehensive and collision insurance that guarantees that replacement parts come directly from your manufacturer. However, Wawanesa enforces much stricter qualification guidelines than its competitors, requiring a clean driving record and a minimum of three continuous years with a license. Its guidelines are rigorous, but if you qualify, you could end up saving a lot of money on your car insurance with some of the most affordable rates in San Diego. In addition to offering generous savings, the company received the highest J.D. Power score for overall customer satisfaction this year.

Learn more: Wawanesa Insurance review

Grange Insurance

Grange Insurance offers a host of auto insurance options, including roadside assistance, full glass repair, rental car reimbursement and loan/lease gap coverage in case you owe more on your car than it is worth. The company also offers uncommon but thoughtful protections like pet injury, mobile device and identity theft coverage. While unrated by J.D. Power, Grange does hold high ratings for financial strength from AM Best. In terms of pricing, the company is known for offering competitive rates and a wide range of discounts.

Learn more: Grange Insurance review

Progressive

Progressive provides excellent options for auto insurance coverage, loan/lease payoff and a deductible savings bank with optional custom parts and equipment value protection. The carrier receives an A+ (Superior) rating from AM Best for financial stability and scores about average for customer satisfaction. For all that Progressive offers, it maintains highly competitive rates.

Learn more: Progressive Insurance review

USAA

USAA is an exclusive insurance provider for active-duty military, veterans and their families. It consistently receives top ratings for customer satisfaction and an A++ (Superior) rating from AM Best for financial stability. USAA also has excellent mobile tools to make managing your policy a simple matter, and there are plenty of extra ways to save with a host of discounts. The company is generous with coverage options, offering personal injury protection (PIP), extended benefits coverage, roadside assistance, rental reimbursement and accident forgiveness.

Learn more: USAA Insurance review

Cheapest car insurance in San Diego

Geico, Progessive and USAA join AAA as the top four cheapest car insurance companies in San Diego, based on quoted annual premiums. For the average policy with minimum coverage, prices begin at $477 each year, with USAA offering the most inexpensive minimum coverage policy. However, USAA also has the most expensive average annual policy for full coverage, costing $2,342 per year compared to just $1,428 per year with Geico. Among other providers offered in the city, these amounts are still among the most competitive of the quoted annual premiums reviewed.

Insurance company Average annual premium for minimum coverage Average annual premium for full coverage
Geico $488 $1,428
AAA $523 $1,773
Progressive $666 $1,614
USAA $477 $2,342

Depending on which provider you choose, San Diego car insurance may be available to you at a much cheaper rate than the national average cost of car insurance, which is $1,674 per year. San Diego is also cheaper than the average cost of car insurance in California, which is $2,065 per year for full coverage and $580 $733 for the minimum coverage.

Of course, not all companies are the same, differing greatly in things like available coverage, discounts offered and ratings for both financial strength and customer service. Today, it is also important to consider what kind of technology is available to help you manage your policy, including mobile tools for claims filing and tracking. Our picks for the best cheap car insurance in San Diego provide all of these and more.

San Diego insurance requirements

Before you can legally drive in San Diego, you will need to carry a minimum amount of car insurance:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage minimum – $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability coverage minimum – $5,000

While insurance companies are required to offer you uninsured motorist coverage, you are not required to purchase or carry it in this state.

Although it is considered cheaper to opt for minimum coverage, a full coverage auto insurance policy will provide you with far greater protection, reducing your risk level in the event of an accident and helping to pay for expensive damages. If you are leasing or financing a vehicle, your lender may require that you carry a specific amount of car insurance, such as a full coverage policy or one that includes gap insurance.

Car insurance discounts in San Diego

California drivers can benefit from a number of car insurance discounts in San Diego, including many of these discounts, which are available from our top auto insurance providers.

  • Safe driver
  • Good student
  • Defensive driving
  • New vehicle
  • Low annual mileage
  • Vehicle storage
  • Family discount
  • Loyalty discount
  • Military installation
  • Emergency deployment
  • Teen driver
  • Online quote
  • Paperless statements
  • Pay in full
  • Automatic payment
  • Deductible savings bank
  • Small Accident Forgiveness
  • Large Accident Forgiveness

Many of these discounts can result in huge savings. If you are a federal employee or a member of certain organizations, you could also be eligible for exclusive discounts. Most insurance providers will offer discounts when you bundle multiple policies, such as combining homeowners insurance or life insurance with your auto insurance.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company?

The best car insurance companies for 2021 receive top scores for financial stability and customer service with widespread coverage throughout the U.S. However, the best car insurance company for you will depend on factors like where you live, the kind of car you drive and your payment history.

How much does car insurance in San Diego cost?

The average cost for car insurance in San Diego is $692 per year for minimum coverage and $1,898 for a full coverage policy, according to Quadrant Information Services.

How much car insurance do I need in San Diego?

If you are a driver in San Diego, you are required to carry a minimum amount of car insurance, outlined above in the “San Diego insurance requirements” section.

What is gap insurance?

Many car buyers choose to finance their vehicle instead of buying it in cash. If the car is stolen or totaled, the buyer is responsible for paying off the loan, in addition to purchasing a replacement vehicle. Gap insurance pays the difference between the amount due on the loan and the depreciated value of the car.

Methodology

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 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.

Written by
Lizzie Nealon
Insurance Writer
Lizzie Nealon is an insurance writer for Bankrate. Her favorite part of the job is making home, auto and life insurance digestible for readers so they can prepare for the future.
Edited by
Insurance Editor