California Auto Insurance Costs

Living and car insurance costs in California are unfortunately one the highest in the country. This is certainly not good news and the problems are more obvious in larger cities where policies are pricier in comparison with suburbs. If you have a limited budget it is hard to find an affordable place to rent, pay for the bills and premiums.

People like automobiles here, especially luxury foreign ones like BMWs. Latest figures show that there is a drop in the number of drivers without coverage partly thanks to state low cost auto insurance provisions and measures. If you are in the low-income bracket you are probably struggling to spare money for premiums and therefore benefit from this program. Getting the lowest quotation by shopping around can reduce the burden substantially if you cannot qualify for the program due to slightly over household income or some other reason.

California Vehicle Insurance Laws

Mandatory level of liability limits for private passenger vehicles are:

  • $15,000 for bodily injury or death per person.
  • $30,000 total for bodily injury or death per accident.
  • $5,000 for property damage.

Read more about Financial Responsibility requirements at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

It is one of the regions with the most cars on the roads. This means that chances of being involved in an accident are increased. It is hard to predict what would happen once you hit the roads but with a good coverage you can be sure to handle the stress a lot better. One of the benefits of buying vehicle insurance is that it offers you peace of mind, just in case something happens to your car or you cause an accident, injuring other people. The least you could do is to meet their medical expenses and losses.

Set of Images from CaliforniaCalifornia is one of the only three states that don’t allow credit checks for insurance purposes. The other two are Hawaii and Massachusetts. Then, underwriters have to heavily rely on driving records, age, experience, yearly mileage and zip code when they calculate quotes. This may work out well if you have a clean history. But an excellent credit score cannot bail you out just after an accident and rates can go up a lot more than most other states. So, clean records and experience are very influential on prices here.

Nonetheless, each company has its own risk assessment method. That is why quotes vary significantly from one to another. You may have to spend twice more than what you should if you don’t shop around and end up with hefty charges. It is actually silly to accept the first offer you got since you have no idea how competitive it is.


The Golden State is located on the West Coast. It is the most populous and home to one out of eight people in the U.S., with a total of 39 million people, and it is the third largest by area (after Alaska and Texas). It is home to the nation’s second and fifth most populous census statistical areas (Greater Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area), and eight of the 50 most populated cities (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, and Oakland). Sacramento is the state capital, and has been since 1854.

Los Angeles is one of the most congested cities in the country. Traffic is often in standstill and even worse during rush hour. That is one of the contributing factors along with auto theft and vandalism. Los Angeles auto insurance rates are about 40% higher than the already expensive average. This may force people to think out of the box and come up with creative solutions.

Things like giving a different address than the one you are living in can cause serious problems when you have a claim and it is illegal. A recent story in the papers shows that carriers can press charges against drivers who knowingly mislead them in order to get cheaper premiums. There are much simpler ways of achieving this objective like not being quick about it and comparing all the options thoroughly. You can even start the process right here on our quote platform above by entering your zip code.

California Car Insurance Prices

There are nearly 25 million licensed drivers here that can often cause gridlocks on the major roads, especially in and around metropolitan areas. With congestion and dense living come traffic accidents, auto crimes and increased rates. In that sense, it follows the norms with a reasonably high average cost of automobile insurance at $783, $58 less than the US average. This figure makes it look fine. But the problem is more obvious when you look at the median full coverage estimate of $1,752, which is 32% higher than the national average.

There is nearly $1,000 difference between the average premium expenditure per vehicle and estimated full coverage cost. This usually suggests that a large number of policyholders have variations of liability only vehicle insurance coverage. Considering the state has the third highest earnings this is a surprising finding. People with higher income tend to buy expensive cars and better protection as a result.

The only explanation is that wealth isn’t spread nicely and there are some super rich people who pull the average income up a lot. This makes Californians look richer on the paper than in reality. Working class people are known to struggle with premiums. That is why the authorities had to come up with the low cost program to provide for them.

Cheapest Auto Insurers in California

Rates can vary widely among cities. The premium difference between the cheapest and most expensive city is about 60%. The priciest cities are Glendale, Inglewood and Los Angeles. Each has rates over 40% more than the state average, with Glendale being the worst with 60%. However, you can find affordable quotes even in these places if you patiently check with several sources. For example, the companies below are known to be the most competitive in the region and can save you some money.

  1. Amica Mutual, $834
  2. Sterling Casualty, $905
  3. Affirmative, $913

It is worth reminding again that any of the above companies may disappear further down the list and be replaced by others by the time you need a quote. By all means you should start with them but they should never be the only ones you check with. You should always compare prices no matter what your zip code is.