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Best cheap car insurance in San Francisco

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San Francisco drivers are required to purchase at least the minimum level of car insurance in order to legally drive. The average cost of full coverage car insurance in the city is $2,603 per year, or about $217 a month. Minimum coverage for the state averages $1,076 per year, or $90 a month. Finding the best car insurance in San Francisco requires understanding which providers may offer the best rates for your coverage needs, plus available discounts or features that personalize your policy to your needs.

Although minimum coverage typically costs the least and satisfies California driving requirements, it may not be the best way for many drivers to save on expenses in the long term, as minimum coverage doesn’t typically cover the extent of expenses incurred in a costly accident. For this reason, full coverage may be the better choice for drivers. California car insurance rate averages are on the higher side, but it’s still possible to find the cheapest car insurance in the state for your situation, even in larger cities like San Francisco. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team found the cheapest car insurance company in San Francisco to be Geico, on average, according to Bankrate’s 2021 analysis of quoted annual premiums.

Best cheap car insurance companies in San Francisco

Geico is not the only cheap car insurance company in San Francisco. We found below-average rates with some of the best car insurance companies, including Capital, Wawanesa, State Farm and Progressive. To help you find and compare the best cheap car insurance companies, 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
Geico 4.7 828/1,000 $1,596 $494
Capital Insurance Group 4 Not rated $1,650 $785
Wawanesa 2 853/1,000 $1,752 $709
State Farm 4.7 818/1,000 $1,985 $651
Progressive 4.4 819/1,000 $2,001 $718

Geico

Geico tops our list of cheapest car insurance companies in San Francisco, with an average annual rate of $1,596 for full coverage and $494 for minimum coverage. Geico also scores well on consumer satisfaction with J.D. Power, particularly for California in the 2021 study. Geico offers fairly basic coverage options without a lot of extras, but it is known for its extensive list of discounts, which include good driver discounts, safety discounts and affinity group discounts for military, federal employees and others.

Learn more: Geico Insurance review

Capital Insurance Group

Capital Insurance Group is a smaller regional company that sells policies exclusively on the West Coast. It offers competitive rates for San Francisco drivers, plus options to personalize your policy and save money with additional discounts. Capital also sells homeowners and renters insurance, commercial insurance and agriculture insurance policies, so you may be able to earn an additional discount by bundling multiple policy types. Umbrella policies are also available to extend your liability coverage beyond what a basic car insurance policy’s limits cover. On the downside, the company’s website offers limited extras and you cannot receive a quote or file a claim online.

Wawanesa

Another regional insurer, Wawanesa ranked number one in the 2021 J.D. Power Insurance Study for customer satisfaction in California — which is an indicator that you may be able to expect interactions with the company to be positive. Wawanesa’s premiums are on the competitive side, with a good selection of discounts — including for safe drivers and loyal customers — can bring your rate down even further. While Wawanesa’s no-frills website covers only the essentials, it does allow you to file a claim, pay your bill and handle your policy management.

Learn more: Wawanesa Insurance review

State Farm

As the largest auto insurance company in the U.S., according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), State Farm is one of the most prominent names in insurance. As one of the best car insurance companies in San Francisco, State Farm has one of the highest Bankrate Scores. This score is based on its J.D. Power scores for overall satisfaction and its A++ (Superior) rating from AM Best, indicating excellent historical financial strength. Additionally, State Farm’s website and mobile app are highly informative, and the company offers multiple discounts for increased savings.

Learn more: State Farm Insurance review

Progressive

Although Progressive’s average costs are at the higher end among our reviewed best cheap insurers for San Francisco, the company may be well worth checking out, depending on your situation. Rates are still well below the overall average for San Francisco and Progressive’s robust coverage options and extensive discount list mean you’re likely to get your money’s worth. Progressive makes it easy for you to manage your policy needs online. Its Name Your Price tool is helpful for estimating and comparing costs when shopping for a policy.

Learn more: Progressive Insurance review

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

Getting and keeping the cheapest car insurance in San Francisco 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.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company?

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 quotes. A good starting point for many drivers is to compare quotes from some of the best car insurance companies of 2022 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.

How much does car insurance in San Francisco cost?

The average cost of car insurance in San Francisco is $1,076 per year for minimum coverage and $2,603 per year for full coverage (which includes collision and comprehensive coverage). Comparatively, California car insurance averages $2,105 per year for full coverage and $583 per year for minimum coverage. Your own rates may differ and could be less if you have a clean driving record.

How much car insurance do I need in San Francisco?

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.

How can I lower my car insurance rates in San Francisco?

The easiest way to lower your car insurance rates is to take advantage of discounts or safe driving programs, which generate rates based on your daily driving habits. Younger drivers will typically see rates decline over time as they age and gain more road experience, but in general, staying claims-free over time will help gradually reduce your rate as well.

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 coverage that meets each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

Average state rates reflect 2022 averages based on a driver who owns a 2020 Toyota Camry.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.

Bankrate Score

Bankrate Scores primarily reflect a weighted rank of industry-standard ratings for financial strength and customer experience in addition to analysis of quoted annual premiums from Quadrant Information Services, spanning all 50 states and Washington, D.C. We know it is important for drivers to be confident their financial protection covers the likeliest risks, is priced competitively and is provided by a financially-sound company with a history of positive customer support.

To determine how well the best car insurance companies satisfy these priorities, third-party agency ratings from J.D. Power, AM Best, S&P, NAIC, and Moodys had the most impact on the companies’ Bankrate Scores. As price is a common consideration for drivers, we analyzed quoted premiums based on 40-year-old male and female drivers with a 2019 Toyota Camry. This profile, assessed across more than 35,000 ZIP codes in the U.S., provided a basis on which drivers may compare each provider.

While coverage options, insurer availability, affordability and customer experience are often the top priorities, Bankrate also analyzed each insurer’s online and mobile resources for policy management and claims handling. Insurance is rapidly evolving to keep pace with our digital world, so these aspects also carried weight in determining Bankrate Scores.

Written by
Elizabeth Rivelli
Insurance Contributor
Elizabeth Rivelli is a contributing insurance writer for Bankrate and has years of experience writing for insurance domains such as The Simple Dollar, Coverage.com and NextAdvisor, among others
Edited by
Insurance Editor