Auto insurance rates in California are among the most expensive in the nation, with annual premiums of $1,665 per year on average. Additionally, auto coverage rates in the state have increased 13% from 2017 to 2019 across the 10 largest insurers. While some price hikes are unavoidable, the best way to get low rates is to shop around and compare quotes.
We found the annual cost of insuring a car can range by $2,540 between companies for identical coverage, depending on where you live. Enter your zip code above now to compare auto insurance rates among top U.S. insurers in your area, or read more by jumping directly to each section in our study.
- Cheapest Auto Insurance Companies
- Best Car Insurance Rates: by City
- Best Car Insurance in California
- Average Cost of Auto Insurance: by City
- Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements
- California Auto Insurance Rate Increases
Cheapest Auto Insurance in California
We averaged rates for single 30 year old male, with a clean driving record across 142 cities in California to arrive at annual premiums by company. Here are the top ten car insurance companies with the best rates in the Golden State, in order from lowest to highest.
Nationwide is consistently an affordable choice throughout California, followed by Century National and then GEICO.
Cheapest Auto Insurance For Young Drivers: GEICO
We recommend that young drivers get a quote from GEICO, which provided us the cheapest rates for our 18-year-old driver. GEICO’s rates were 33% less than the average annual cost of insurance for the insurers we surveyed, and 6% less expensive than the second cheapest company, which was Esurance.
Cheapest Auto Insurance Drivers With a Traffic Violation: Esurance
Drivers with a recent (within the last three years) traffic violation should consider an Esurance auto insurance policy. For our driver profile that featured a recent speeding ticket, Esurance’s rates were 37% cheaper than what we found to be the average rate across the insurers.
Cheapest Auto Insurance for Drivers in Their 60s: Esurance
In addition to providing cheap quotes for our driver with a recent accident, Esurance also offered the cheapest auto insurance rates to older drivers. Esurance’s rates were 38% cheaper than the average across the insurance companies that we sampled. Other low cost auto insurers for senior drivers include GEICO and Farmers, which ranked as the second and third cheapest options.
Cheapest Auto Insurance Companies by Driver Profile
|Driver profile||Cheapest company||Average annual rates|
|30-year-old male drivers||Nationwide||$1,396|
|Drivers with a traffic violation||Esurance||$1,740|
|Drivers in their 60s||Esurance||$1,193|
Quotes in the table represent average rates for drivers across Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego purchasing a full coverage auto insurance policy.
Cheapest Car Insurance in California: By City
We reviewed local auto insurance quotes for thirty driver profiles and forty companies in the largest cities to report on the insurers with the lowest and most affordable rates. Even in some of the most expensive cities such as Glendale, Inglewood, and Los Angeles, cheap car insurance can be found if you know where to look.
|Aliso Viejo||Century National||$840|
|Buena Park||Century National||$1,056|
|Canoga Park||Century National||$1,272|
|Chino Hills||Century National||$1,020|
|Chula Vista||Century National||$828|
|Costa Mesa||Century National||$960|
|Daly City||Century National||$1,272|
|Diamond Bar||Century National||$1,188|
|El Cajon||Century National||$792|
|Granada Hills||Century National||$1,488|
|Huntington Beach||Century National||$960|
|La Habra||Century National||$924|
|La Mesa||Century National||$828|
|La Mirada||Century National||$1,056|
|Laguna Niguel||Century National||$840|
|Lake Forest||Century National||$840|
|Mission Viejo||Century National||$840|
|Moreno Valley||Century National||$1,092|
|National City||Century National||$828|
|Newbury Park||Century National||$852|
|North Hollywood||Century National||$1,488|
|Panorama City||Century National||$1,188|
|Pico Rivera||Century National||$1,056|
|Rancho Cordova||Century National||$1,020|
|Rancho Cucamonga||Century National||$1,488|
|San Bruno||Century National||$888|
|San Francisco||Century National||$1,104|
|San Leandro||Century National||$1,056|
|San Pablo||Century National||$1,092|
|San Ramon||Century National||$1,152|
|Santa Clara||Century National||$792|
|South San Francisco||Century National||$828|
|Union City||Century National||$1,020|
|Yorba Linda||Century National||$936|
Car Insurance in Los Angeles, CA
The cheapest car insurance rates in Los Angeles were found at GEICO, Century National and Nationwide. Car insurance in LA can cost on average $2,257 for a 30 year old male, making it the second most expensive city in our study. However, if you go with quotes from our five cheapest companies in LA, then rates are about 30% cheaper than the average. Here are rates for the top five.
Within L.A. county rates can change dramatically. Even jumping one or two zip codes over within Los Angeles can make a difference for Angelenos. Moving the primary garage or parking spot from Long Beach to Walnut, for example, can reduce annual car insurance premiums by $259 for a 30 year old male. Overall the average rate of L.A. county is $1,780, with 25% of cities having rates under $1,700 for our sample driver. Overall, Walnut is the cheapest at $1,483 and Los Angeles proper the most expensive at $2,257.
Car Insurance in San Diego, CA
With 1.3 million residents, America’s Finest City is home to the University of California at San Diego system, as well as a number of naval bases. Cheap car insurance rates can be found near you at GEICO, Nationwide, State Farm, Grange Insurance Association and Progressive. Across these five insurers, annual rates cost as low as $1,446 on average, compared to the $1,950 city-wide average. Below are rates for the top five companies near you.
Car Insurance in San Jose, CA
Drivers looking for low car insurance costs in San Jose should start with quotes from GEICO, Nationwide and Century National. The mean annual premium from these three insurers was $1,163 based on our data, which is about 49% cheaper than the overall average in San Jose. Citywide, the cost of car insurance is about $1,731 a year, which places the Capital of Silicon Valley at the 93rd cheapest spot in our survey of Californian cities.
Car Insurance in San Francisco, CA
To get the cheapest car insurance rates in San Francisco, start with Century National, GEICO, Nationwide, Grange and State Farm. In aggregate, these companies charge an average of $1,288 a year to insure a car in San Francisco – about 32% less than the city average. Overall, the Golden Gate City was the 55th most expensive city in California. With over 963 miles of public roads and the beautiful 49-Mile Scenic Drive, there is a lot of territory for San Fran’s 805,000 residents to drive.
Car Insurance in Fresno, CA
Fresno’s 495,000 residents are just a short day trip’s drive of less than 80 miles from Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. We found the most affordable car insurance rates in Fresno at GEICO, Nationwide and State Farm. Across those three insurers, the mean price was $1,085 for our sample 30 year old driver. This amount represents a 46% discount to the average Fresno rate. Rates for the top five cheap local auto insurers are as follows:
Car Insurance in Long Beach, CA
If you’re looking for cheap auto insurance in Long Beach, we direct your attention to quotes at Nationwide, Century National and GEICO. These companies had the lowest rates for Long Beach in our data with an average rate of $1,256; a 39% difference from the citywide average of $1,742. The top five cheapest insurers in Long Beach are:
Car Insurance in Sacramento, CA
Once the center of the California Gold Rush and the westernmost end of the Pony Express, Sacramento today is the capital of California, and its average cost of insurance reflects that. Within the city, Nationwide, Century National and GEICO had the lowest auto insurance costs. In aggregate, the three companies had an average quote of $1,001 ,or 30% cheaper than the Sactown average. The graph below has rates from Sactown’s five cheapest companies:
Car Insurance in Oakland, CA
With a population of 391,000, Oaktown is California’s eight largest city. With an average rate of $1,408 for our sample driver, Oakland was 12th cheapest city in the entire state. We found the cheapest car insurance rates in Oakland at Century National, Nationwide and GEICO. In total,annual premiums in Oakland at these three companies averaged $943 – 49% lower than the overall cost in the city. Here are the average rates for the five cheapest companies in Oakland:
Car Insurance in Bakersfield, CA
The most affordable rates in Bakersfield, CA can be found at Nationwide, GEICO and Century National according to our data. With an overall city auto insurance average of $1,526, the city ranks as the 39th cheapest in California. However, going with the four cheapest insurers in the city gave our driver a better rate than the average in California’s cheaper cities. The top five companies in Bakersfield are:
Car Insurance in Anaheim, CA
Home to Disneyland, the Anaheim Ducks hockey team, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, drivers in this L.A. neighbor city will find the least expensive rates near you at GEICO, Nationwide and Century National. These three insurers charge an average of $1,239 a year for auto insurance– about 42% less than Anaheim’s citywide cost of $1,760. Here are rates from the top five auto insurers in Anaheim:
Best Car Insurance Companies in California
For Californians, the cheapest car insurance company may not be the best. Certain companies are better for certain types of drivers, so we discuss some insurance companies that may be better for you—depending on your circumstances.
Best for Price: Nationwide
As we mention above, Nationwide was the best company in California for cheap car insurance. The large auto insurer even bested typically cheap insurers like GEICO and Progressive. In most cities that we surveyed in the Golden State, Nationwide was the go-to local company for low cost rates. In terms of the company’s customer satisfaction however, Nationwide is only mediocre according to the J.D. Power auto insurance study of California. Nationwide scored mostly 3/5 stars in most categories including interaction with agents, and their method of billing. They did score 4/5 stars however when it came to the claims handling process
Best for Customer Satisfaction: Ameriprise
Ameriprise was the winner of the J.D. Power study, scoring a 5/5 stars overall. They got top marks in their billing practices and in the flexibility of policies they offer to customers. They had slightly lower marks in their claims handling process (4/5) as well as their agents’ interaction with customers. We could not get pricing for Ameriprise but the company is generally known for offering affordable and competitive rates.
Best for Low-Mileage Drivers: Metromile
Metromile is a newcomer to auto insurance in California. The small car insurer bases its rates largely on how often its customers driver by charging them a rate per mile. The rate is usually in between $0.10 and $0.20. In addition to the rate they also charge a base premium. We found people who drive less than 7,500 miles a year would benefit the most from Metromile. Anything above 7,500 miles begins to cost just as much as regular insurance. The downside to Metromile is that they do not have a great record of customer satisfaction and claims handling. This likely stems from the company being mostly online and not having an agent network.
Best for Military Members: USAA
If you are or were in the military, or if your spouse or parents were, you are eligible for USAA car insurance. USAA scores five out five stars across the board for customer satisfaction in California. Customers of the military company are apparently very satisfied with how they handle claims, interact with customers and the number of policies they offer.
The Best Rated Auto Insurers in California
Using complaint and exposure data from the California Department of Insurance, we calculated the justified complaint ratio for auto insurance companies in California. We’ve listed them from the best (lowest complaint index) to the worst (highest complaint index). If a company has an index of 1.05, then that means it has a 5% higher share of complaints compared to its share of underwriting exposure.
|1||California Automobile Insurance Company||0.00|
|2||Essentia Insurance Company||0.00|
|3||Garrison Prop & Cas Insurance Company||0.00|
|4||GEICO Ind Co||0.09|
|5||Allied Prop & Cas Insurance Company||0.23|
|6||Wawanesa Gen Insurance Company||0.29|
|7||USAA Cas Insurance Company||0.32|
|8||Progressive Direct Insurance Company||0.32|
|9||Foremost Insurance Company Grand Rapids Mi||0.39|
|10||United Serv Automobile Assn||0.39|
|11||Amco Insurance Company||0.49|
|12||Progressive Choice Insurance Company||0.50|
|13||California Cas Ind Exch||0.52|
|14||Interins Exch Of The Automobile Club||0.53|
|15||Mercury Insurance Company||0.54|
|16||Mercury Casualty Company||0.55|
|17||Government Employees Insurance Company||0.57|
|18||GEICO Gen Insurance Company||0.60|
|19||State Farm Mut Auto Insurance Company||0.69|
|20||Mid Century Insurance Company||0.69|
|21||CSAA Ins Exch||0.77|
|22||Allstate Insurance Company||0.79|
|23||Allstate Ind Company||0.80|
|24||Progressive West Insurance Company||0.85|
|25||Farmers Ins Exch||0.87|
|26||Esurance Prop & Cas Insurance Company||0.91|
|27||Standard Fire Insurance Company||1.01|
|28||Amica Mutual Insurance Company||1.06|
|29||Alliance United Insurance Company||1.21|
|30||Safeco Insurance Company Of Amer||1.22|
|31||Viking Insurance Company Of WI||1.25|
|32||IDS Prop Cas Insurance Company||1.29|
|33||GEICO Cas Company||1.31|
|34||Financial Ind Company||1.34|
|35||Infinity Insurance Company||1.35|
|36||Integon Natl Insurance Company||1.49|
|37||Loya Cas Insurance Company||1.51|
|38||California Capital Insurance Company||1.54|
|39||Coast Natl Insurance Company||1.70|
|40||Explorer Insurance Company||1.86|
|41||Access Insurance Company||2.01|
|42||Hartford Underwriters Insurance Company||2.02|
|43||Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company||2.04|
|44||National Gen Insurance Company||2.14|
|45||21St Century Insurance Company||2.18|
|46||Metropolitan Drt Prop & Cas Insurance Company||2.45|
|47||Companion Prop & Cas Insurance Company||2.93|
|48||Anchor Gen Insurance Company||3.05|
|49||Nationwide Insurance Company Of Amer||3.29|
|50||Commerce W Insurance Company||4.61|
|51||Victoria Fire & Casualty Company||5.22|
Average Cost of Car Insurance in California
How much do people pay on average for car insurance in California? Based on our data, that figure is $1,665. This takes into account sample rates multiple companies in 142 cities throughout the state.
|9||South San Francisco||$1,393|
Auto Insurance in California: Minimum Coverage Requirements
California requires that car insurance policies have at least bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage with the limits listed below:
- Bodily Injury (BI): $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident
- Property Damage (PD): $5,000 per accident
While the above is the lowest amount of insurance coverage you can have, you should consider adding more if you have more to lose. For example, we typically advise drivers to match their liability coverage to what they have in total assets. If you own a house in one of the most expensive zip codes in California, Atherton, and have sizable savings and investment accounts, we’d recommend you increase your liability limits and consider adding umbrella coverage on top. On the other hand, if you’re a first-year student at UCLA, you may be fine with liability limits that are closer to the minimum.
California Auto Insurance Rate Increases
The ten largest auto insurers in California—which account for 80% of the car insurance premiums written in the state—have raised base rates for drivers by 13% since 2017. However some insurers saw significantly higher rate hikes, with GEICO—which raised premiums by 22% from 2017 to 2019—logging the biggest car insurance increase.
|Insurer||Market Share % 2017||Rate Change % 2017||Rate Change % 2018||Rate Change % 2019*||Cumulative Rate Change % 2017-2019|
|Top 10 Groups||80%||9%||3%||1%||13%|
* Includes rates filings through 3/21/2019.
Insurers raise rates for a variety of reasons, many of which are beyond the control of consumers. Companies will often hike insurance rates to account for increased losses, which is the amount of money that these companies pay out for claims. If losses go up—because of an increase in claims frequency or costlier auto repairs for example—your insurer may raise your car insurance premiums.
How We Conducted This Study
We collected quotes from a variety of insurance companies across 142 towns and cities in California. Our sample driver was a 30-year-old male who drove a Toyota Camry. To obtain quotes, we kept parameters for getting coverage the same, such as that he was single, had a good credit score and a clean driving record. The only parameter that changed was the zip code where he lived in California. The amount of coverage we opted for gave our driver bit more than what is required of state minimums.
|Coverage Type||California Minimum||Study Limits|
|Bodily Liability||$15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident||$50,000 per person/ $100,000 per accident|
|Property Damage||$5,000 per accident||$50,000 per accident|
|Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist BI||$50,000 per person/ $100,000 per accident|
|Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Property||$50,000 per accident|
|Comprehensive & Collision||$500 Deductible|