San Francisco drivers pay an average of $2,947 per year for full coverage car insurance and $677 for minimum coverage, which is higher than the California state averages of $2,701 and $650. San Francisco’s expensive car insurance prices could be due to the city’s traffic congestion, high cost of living and elevated levels of vehicle break-ins. Drivers may be able to save on coverage in San Francisco by requesting quotes from Progressive, Geico, State Farm, Mercury and Nationwide.

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Best cheap car insurance companies in San Francisco

Some of the best car insurance companies that made it to our list of cheapest car insurance companies in San Francisco include Progressive, Geico and State Farm. However, affordable rates are only one of many factors to consider when shopping for car insurance in California. To help you find and compare the best cheap car insurance companies in San Francisco, we reviewed average annual rates from Quadrant Information Services based on minimum and full coverage for 40-year-old male and female drivers with good credit and clean driving records.

In addition to cost and discounts, we also rated each company with a Bankrate Score — on a 5.0 scale — that takes into account coverage options, insurer availability, customer experience, policy management options and financial strength ratings. The Bankrate Scores are also based on overall provider scores or rankings from J.D. Power, AM Best and other third-party rating agencies. Some companies may score higher with J.D. Power in a particular region, while its overall Bankrate Score is based on the provider’s national scores.

Insurance company Bankrate Score J.D. Power score (California region) Average annual premium for full coverage Average annual premium for minimum coverage
Progressive 4.4 809/1,000 $2,125 $532
Geico 4.4 830/1,000 $2,128 $387
State Farm 4.3 826/1,000 $2,222 $443
Mercury 3.8 794/1,000 $2,262 $514
Nationwide 4.0 794/1,000 $2,294 $593

Progressive

Progressive offers some of the cheapest full coverage policies for San Francisco drivers, with average rates leveling out to $2,125 per year. Its average minimum coverage rates, while below the city average, are on the higher side out of the providers on our list at $532 per year. Progressive has several discount opportunities, including automatic billing and homeowner savings. And while Progressive scored below average on J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction index, its easy-to-navigate app and online services allow policyholders to purchase coverage, make policy changes and file a claim without speaking to an agent.

Learn more: Progressive Insurance review

Geico

Geico’s average rates are well below the average cost of car insurance in California, and it tied for two Bankrate Awards in 2024: Best Auto Insurance Company Overall and Best Budget Auto Insurance Company. Geico was also crowned the Best Car Insurance Company for Young Drivers. While Geico has limited options for customizable coverage, it tends to deliver on affordable pricing for high-risk drivers and offers an extensive list of discounts, which include good driver discounts, safety discounts and affinity group discounts for military, federal employees and more.

Learn more: Geico Insurance review

State Farm

As the largest auto insurance company in the country, State Farm is one of the most prominent names in insurance. In addition to reasonable average rates in San Francisco, State Farm came in above average in J.D. Power’s 2023 Auto Insurance Study in the California region. State Farm is also one of the few carriers offering products like rideshare coverage, life insurance and landlord insurance — but not home insurance. Last year, State Farm announced it would no longer write new home insurance policies for California homeowners. So, if you’re looking to bundle your home and auto policies together, State Farm would not be a viable option.

Learn more: State Farm Insurance review

Mercury

National insurance companies are not a good fit for all drivers. For San Franciscans looking to work with a regional company, there is Mercury. Mercury only writes insurance policies in 11 states, including California. Mercury has four different insurance offices in San Francisco in the Cow Hollow, Outer Sunset, Duboce Triangle and Soma neighborhoods. Local agents may help to provide insight into insurance needs that are specific to San Francisco. However, Mercury did score below average in J.D. Power’s customer satisfaction index, and it has one of the lowest Bankrate Scores on our list. Rates are still comfortably below the San Francisco average for both full and minimum coverage.

Lean more: Mercury insurance review

Nationwide

Nationwide’s average rates are some of the highest on our list, but are still comfortably below both the San Francisco and California averages for full and minimum coverage. Not only does Nationwide offer an impressive list of discounts, but its coverage options are also impressive. Endorsement options include vanishing deductible, a total loss deductible waiver and roadside assistance. However, Nationwide scored close to the bottom in the J.D. Power survey for overall customer satisfaction. To get a better idea of Nationwide’s customer service, it may help to consult a neighbor, friend or coworker who has a Nationwide auto policy.

Learn more: Nationwide insurance review

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

Getting and keeping cheap San Francisco car insurance is easier if you practice safe driving habits and maintain a clean, claims-free driving history. Here are a few more tips on how to get the most from your insurance providers, while also enjoying the most affordable rates possible.

  • Shop around. Comparing quotes from at least three car insurance companies in San Francisco should give you a good idea of which provider offers the coverage you need at the best price. Speak with a licensed agent to discuss coverage limits that are best for your circumstances and your budget. You could consider saving more on coverage by increasing your deductibles – if practical for your financial situation.
  • Drive safely. Many larger insurers offer telematics driving programs that are easy to use and monitor your driving while you’re behind the wheel. By demonstrating you’re a safe driver, you may be able to save considerably on your insurance, depending on the carrier and other factors unique to you. Taking a simple defensive driving course is another way to potentially save money on your premiums. Check with the insurers when you collect quotes to see which discounts available in your area could save you the most.
  • Minimize claims: Your car insurance policy can act as a valuable financial safety net for substantial damage. But, for more minor repairs, you may want to think twice before you file a claim. Car insurance premiums typically increase after a claim, and often remain elevated for several years, depending on the carrier. As a rule of thumb, if your repair estimate it close to or below your deductible, you may save more money in the long run by paying out of pocket instead of going through your insurance.

Frequently asked questions

    • The best car company for your neighbor may not be the right one for you. To find your own best insurer, experts recommend comparing at least three car insurance quotes. A good starting point for many drivers is to compare quotes from some of the best car insurance companies to see which ones offer the best combination of affordable rates, coverage, discounts and digital insurance resources. If you later decide that another insurer is a better fit as your life circumstances change, you can always switch car insurance companies.
    • The average cost of car insurance in San Francisco is $677 per year for minimum coverage and $2,947 per year for full coverage (which includes collision and comprehensive coverage). Comparatively, California car insurance averages $2,701 per year for full coverage and $650 per year for minimum coverage.
    • In general, insurance experts recommend you purchase car insurance in San Francisco with as high coverage limits as you can reasonably afford for the greatest amount of financial protection. California car insurance laws require having at least minimum coverage, which provides financial protection for damages caused to other vehicles and drivers, but having just minimum liability may leave you exposed to financial devastation in the event of a major collision. Minimum coverage also does not provide coverage for damages sustained to your vehicle, which is why leasing or financing vehicles typically requires having both comprehensive and collision coverage on your policy.
    • While minimum coverage auto insurance in San Francisco is close to the state average, a full coverage policy in the city costs about $246 more than the state average. These elevated rates can be in part due to the high population, congested traffic and uninsured drivers. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 16.6 percent of drivers in California are uninsured. California, and specifically San Francisco, also has a high cost of living, leading to costly repairs.

      The higher full coverage car insurance costs could also be attributed to the city’s high levels of vehicle break-ins. San Francisco is notorious for the “smash and grab,” wherein a thief breaks a car window in order to access whatever is inside. From January to September 2023, there were a total of 15,000 break-ins across San Francisco. This kind of vehicle damage would be covered by your policy’s comprehensive coverage, and the elevated risk translates to elevated insurance costs.

    • Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2024 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 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.

    • Our 2024 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.

      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. Our scoring model provides a comprehensive view, indicating when companies excel across several key areas and highlighting where they fall short.

      • Tier 1 (Cost & ratings): To determine how well auto and home insurance companies satisfy these priorities, average 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, Demotech 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.