Compare the lowest auto insurance rates in California and view the best offers from the top-rated companies in the Golden State. Save hundreds of dollars each month on required liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage for your vehicles. Both high-risk and preferred options are available. We shop so you can instantly view the policies in your area that feature the cheapest premiums.
Your rate depends on a variety of factors, including your age, the make, model, and year of vehicle to be covered, additional household members that will be operating the vehicle, available discounts ( Senior, low-mileage, multi-policy, multi-car, good student, etc...) level of liability limits, and deductibles. Your zip code and county of residence will also impact the premium. Suburban areas often feature more competitive options than living in a downtown area.
For example, some of the lowest auto insurance rates in California are found in San Jose, Fresno, Oakland, Riverside, Modesto, Glendale, Santa Clara, and Santa Rosa. However, we are also able to find very affordable options in some of the largest cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, and Sacramento. Several Counties with attractive prices include Kern, Sonoma, Merced, Shasta, Humboldt, Sutter, Yuba, and Tehama.
Mandatory State Liability Limits (Financial Responsibility)
Private passenger vehicles (cars and trucks) must be covered for a minimum of $15,000 bodily injury/death per person, $30,000 per occurrence, and an additional $5,000 of property damage. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in a fine and license suspension. Financial responsibility can be provided through an insurance policy issued by a licensed carrier (most common), self-insurance certificate, $35,000 surety bond, or depositing at least $35,000 with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Vehicles that are financed or leased are typically required by the lending institution to have physical damage protection (collision and comprehensive). Although many deductible options are offered, the most popular and cost-effective options are $1,000 and $500 (collision) and $0, $100 and $500 (comprehensive). Once the vehicle no longer has a lien, "basic liability" coverage can be utilized. Leased vehicles often include a "Gap" rider, that protects the lessee from rapid depreciation if there is a total loss.
This rider, however, does not protect against exceeding the maximum number of driven miles allowed by the lease agreement. For example, 36-month 36,000 mile leases are the most common form of lease. A specified charge per exceeded mile is imposed at the end of the lease. It is also possible to negotiate with the vehicle dealership for alternative options.
Since about 13% of California drivers operate an uninsured vehicle, we highly recommend adding uninsured motorists protection to your policy. Underinsured coverage can also help if the other party does not have adequate benefits to compensate you. Medical payments are an additional optional benefit that is fairly inexpensive. Regardless of your existing private or group healthcare benefits, additional medical coverage is always recommended. Typically, there is no deductible, and both inpatient and outpatient benefits are covered. And naturally, pre-existing conditions are not considered.
Evidence Of Financial Responsibility is required when you are driving or operating a vehicle. The glove compartment is typically where most persons keep a copy. Three common situations when you may need to show proof are when you renew a registration, are involved in an automobile accident, or when requested by a member of law enforcement (traffic stop etc...). An additional copy should always be kept at home.
California insurers can not use gender when determining the rate for drivers. Although male drivers (especially under age-25) typically have more accidents and claims, underwriting criteria must be based on other variables. More than $25 billion in premiums is collected each year by carriers in the state. Several other states also use the same criteria (Montana, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii). Credit score, type of employment, and educational background also can not be used.
What Is CLCA?
CLCA is the California Low-Cost Auto Insurance program. Specific requirements must be met to be eligible for these lower rates. To qualify, you must have a current and valid CA driver's license, and own a car or truck with a market value less than $25,000. Older vehicles with higher purchase prices may still qualify. Applicants must also be at least 16 years old and satisfy specific income requirements. An online eligibility questionnaire must also be completed and submitted. Basic liability limits are only $10,000 per person, $20,000 per accident, and $3,000 of Property damage.
Additional CLCA Eligibility Requirements:
Total household income can not be greater than 250% of the FPL (federal poverty level).
Within the last 36 months, no at-fault accidents, bodily injury, or death, is allowed. If these occurred, the application will be rejected.
Can not be listed as a dependent on another federal tax return, or attending college.
An additional liability policy can not be in-force.
No misdemeanor or felony convictions that violate official Vehicle Code.
Vehicles used for business or commercial purposes are not eligible.
Proof of household income can be satisfied by providing one of the following documents: program card for Medicaid or Medi-Cal, EBT card for CalFresh, debit card for California Employment Development Department, recent bank statement for SSI, notification letter for CalWorks, phone company bill for California LifeLine, and administration letter for pension.
Only one vehicle is allowed for each policy, so multiple applications are needed if more than one vehicle is to be covered. The maximum household allowed income is shown below:
1 person -- $30,350
2 persons -- $41,150
3 persons -- $51,950
4 persons -- $62,750
5 persons -- $73,550
Policies meet the state financial responsibility and minimum required liability laws and proof of income is typically required. Listed below are sample ANNUAL rates for selected Counties. The two assumptions made are that the driver is not a male between the ages of 19 and 24, and has been continuously licensed for three years (or more).
Alameda -- $301
Del Norte -- $270
Fresno -- $241
Imperial -- $253
Lake -- $270
Los Angeles -- $428
Merced -- $241
Monterey -- $241
Napa -- $270
Riverside -- $253
Sacramento -- $301
San Francisco -- $301
Santa Cruz -- $241
Sonoma -- $274
Trinity -- $270
Ventura -- $253
CA Senate Bill 1273 expanded the number of applicants that can become eligible. For instance, if a driver is not able to provide proof that they reside legally in the US, they may still be able to obtain a state driver's license. If proper California residence and identity proof is shown, along with meeting all standard driving tests, a license can be granted.
19-year old persons with less than three years of driving experience will also be able to qualify for the program, although higher rates will apply. Also, vehicles valued up to $25,000 may now be covered. Previously, the maximum value was $20,000. Billing was enhanced with an option that only requires a 20% down-payment, with the balance of the policy premium divided into seven equal monthly amounts. If a payment is missed, two payments must be paid before the due date to avoid a possible cancellation.
With a 36-month assignment period, policyholders don't have to worry about qualifying multiple times after 12 months. A copy of the title is now accepted instead of a copy of the registration. Renewing coverage is also very easy. Newer policies don't require an eligibility questionnaire to be sent. And existing customers that fail to respond to information requests, will receive a renewal based on previously-documented information. A 36-month assignment period ends the need for the policyholder to re-qualify for a low-cost policy.
Cheapest Car Insurance Companies In California
We update prices from all major companies daily, so you are always comparing the lowest possible rates. However, prices change often, and there are many variables that impact the cost of coverage. Also, the carrier with the lowest prices in one area, may actually feature noncompetitive rates in a completely different area of the state. And of course, carriers will occasionally raise their premium, although the DOI must improve the increase.
Listed below are the companies that are likely to offer the most competitive policy options. Any carrier not listed may still feature low p[rices in selected cities or counties. All qualified drivers in the household can qualify for the coverage. NOTE: All companies must be approved by the California Department Of Insurance to write policies in the state. Each carrier is periodically reviewed.
AAA Sterling Casualty
Large California Cities With The Lowest Auto Insurance Rates
Within almost every city, there are multiple zip codes. Prices can vary, depending on various factors, including the cost to repair your vehicle in the area, and the risk and cost of litigation (if needed). The number of uninsured drivers, and incidence of vandalism, theft, and collision will also have an impact. NOTE: You can find the best discounts for your car insurance throughout our website. New reduction ideas are added every year.
We have listed below (alphabetically) the most current (2016-2017) data regarding 12 of the largest CA cities with the cheapest car insurance prices. Our research and comparisons are based on several scenarios, including single drivers, married drivers, single and multiple-car households, and no ticket/accident, one ticket/accident, and multiple ticket/accident households. Additional criteria may be added in 2020.
Smaller Cities With The Cheapest Rates
San Luis Obispo
Auto Insurance Companies With The Best Rates In Selected California Cities
Alameda -- Geico and Nationwide
Anaheim -- Geico and Century National
Bakersfield -- Nationwide and Geico
Brentwood -- Nationwide and Geico
Costa Mesa -- Century National and Nationwide
Cypress -- Nationwide and Grange
Fresno -- Geico and State Farm
Huntington Beach -- Century National and State Farm
Long Beach -- Nationwide and Geico
Los Angeles -- Geico and Century National
Mission Viejo -- Century National and Nationwide
Modesto -- Geico and Grange
Napa -- Nationwide and Geico
Oakland -- Century National and Nationwide
Oxnard -- Geico and Grange
Riverside -- Nationwide and Geico
San Diego -- Geico and Nationwide
San Francisco -- Century National and Geico
Santa Clara -- Century National and Nationwide
Torrance -- Geico and Grange
Van Nuys -- Nationwide and Geico
Yucaipa -- Progressive and Bristol West
Sample Monthly Rates
Below, we have created five scenarios involving different drivers, vehicles, counties, cities, and driving record. Although, the premiums shown are estimates, the most recent price data has been used. Also, additional discounts could potentially reduce the rate (multi-car, multi-policy, good-student, completion of mature-driver course, alarm and anti-theft devices etc...). Illustrated rates are monthly.
Scenario 1 -- Basic Liability, Almeda County (Berkeley), Single Male Licensed 10 Years, 10,000 Annual Driving Miles, No Violations. Vehicle -Toyota Camry.
$69 -- USAA
$82 -- Geico
$86 -- Amica
$87 -- California Casualty
$89 -- Progressive West
$92 -- Horace Mann
$99 -- Pacific Property And Casualty
$99 -- AAA
$103 -- Allstate
$118 -- Safeco
$119 -- Metropolitan
$122 -- State Farm
Scenario 2 -- Basic Liability, Fresno County (Clovis), Single Female Licensed 20 Years, 10,000 Annual Driving Miles, No Violations. Vehicle -Toyota Camry.
$32 -- Century National
$34 -- Western General
$36 -- USAA
$37 -- Geico
$39 -- CSAA Insurance Exchange
$41 -- Amica
$42 -- Mercury
$43 -- MAPFRE
$44 -- Access General
$47 -- Coast National
$53 -- Kemper
$53 -- 21st Century
Scenario 3 -- Basic Liability, Los Angeles County (Long Beach), Married Couple Licensed 12 Years, 15,000 Annual Driving Miles, No Violations. Vehicle -- Honda CR-V.
$72 -- USAA
$76 -- Wawanesa
$79 -- Geico
$82 -- California Casualty
$82 -- Lova
$85 -- Metropolitan
$86 -- Amica
$87 -- Alliance
$92 -- Progressive West
$93 -- Pacific Property And Casualty
$95 -- AAA
$105 -- Allstate
Scenario 4 -- Full Coverage, Orange County (Irvine), Married Senior Couple Licensed 40 Years, 7,000 Annual Driving Miles, No Violations. Vehicle -- Honda Camry.
$68 -- Century
$74 -- Pacific Property And Casualty
$78 -- California Capital
$78 -- Metropolitan Direct
$82 -- Amica
$85 -- California Casualty
$85 -- USAA
$85 -- State Farm
$91 -- Safeco
$95 -- Allstate
$99 -- 21st Century
$101 -- Encompass
Scenario 5 -- Full Coverage, San Diego County (Chula Vista), Married Couple Licensed 14 Years, 15,000 Annual Driving Miles, No Violations. Vehicle -- Toyota Prius or Toyota Camry.
$134 -- Wawanesa
$162 -- Geico
$170 -- USAA
$170 -- Horace Mann
$181 -- Infinity
$187 -- Metropolitan Direct
$190 -- Century National
$202 -- Anchor General
$212 -- Progressive West
$214 -- Pacific Property And Casualty
$223 -- AAA
$225 -- Amica
What Is Proposition 103 And How Does It Help Consumers?
Proposition 103 requires that California's Department of Insurance approve (in advance) property and casualty rate changes. Also, when the legislation was passed in 1988, carriers were forced to reduce their premiums by 20%. Prior to 1988, prior approval was not a requirement to increase (or decrease) consumer rates. Note: Use of credit can no longer be used as an underwriting factor.
Since the passage, California car insurance prices have remained fairly steady, while the remainder of the US has seen their rates increase by approximately 40%. Drivers in the state now receive the 20% reduction if, in the last three years, they have been legally licensed, have not had any at-fault accidents, or have been forced to take traffic school two times (or more) or have two or more points on the driving record.
Insurance company rate filing requests are now posted weekly, and are fully accessible to consumers. Weekly email notifications are also provided to the general public upon request. The importance of consumer participation can not be under-emphasized, since it is partially responsible for maintaining affordable premiums in most California cities.
The types of policies that are impacted by this legislation include private passenger car and truck, homeowner's, earthquake, personal excess liability (umbrella), boat (inland marine, business owner, dwelling fire, medical malpractice, and several others.
California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan
State residents that are unable to secure conventional coverage can often obtain a policy through the California automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP). Established in 1947 by the state government, the purpose of the program was to develop a method to match these drivers with carriers that may be able to offer coverage. Financial responsibility filings are also offered with the DMV. Brokers, drivers, and insurers work together to secure coverage, and ensure an affordable offer can be made. Coverage through the standard marketplace should always be attempted first, since rates, if offered and approved by underwriting, will be lower.
CAARP has their own advisory committee who recommends appropriate pricing that can be approved by the California DOI. The next step is the approval of policies by companies that, under the law, must actively participate in the program. The larger the market share of the carrier, the larger percentage of CAARP policies they must be approve, since the ratios must be proportionate. Rates must be set high enough so the program can sustain itself. NOTE: Applications are processed in Rhode Island. Lower-income drivers that don't necessarily have moving violations and at-fault accidents, can apply for coverage through the state's low-cost auto insurance program (CLCA), which was previously discussed.
Applicants that are ages 16, 17, and 18 are also eligible for coverage. Age 18 applicants that are financially independent can apply for a policy. Applicants ages 16 and 17 can apply if they are an emancipated minor that meets California statutes. Families with an adult driver, with additional drivers (ages 16-18), may qualify for the low-cost policy, although a surcharge will apply. Drivers are not permitted to be added to existing policies.
California Department Of Motor Vehicles Services
Renewal of Driver License -- An online account must be created by the vehicle owner listed on the renewal notice. Information, especially the address, should not have been recently changed. Online renewals are not permitted for changes to name, gender, or address. Also, applications for the following can not be completed online: commercial driver's license, Senior identification, first-time REAL ID, and no fee DL/ID.
Change Of Address -- A change of address is possible for and ID card, vessel, vehicle, or state driver license. Voter registration must also be changed for US citizens. To utilize the online service, a social security number is required with an address inside the US.
Renewal of Vehicle Registration -- Requirements include the last five digits of the VIN number and the license plate number. If required, a smog certification must be presented. Documentation of your current address may also be needed. The four-step process only takes a few minutes.