Auto Insurance in California

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Auto insurance rates for California residents are about $500 higher than the national average. The state is the third-biggest by area in the country, however, so premiums can vary significantly depending on where you live.


Population: 38,802,500
US Average

As one of the largest states, California is composed of many regions. There are large population centers such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as small towns scattered throughout the state. In addition to beaches, mountains and valleys, California has large swaths of desert and forests too. Each region offers unique concerns when it comes to car insurance, and these factors are important when you’re deciding what kind of coverage you need. For example, although California law requires you to have liability coverage, you may also want to include comprehensive coverage if you live in a region that sees more than its fair share of natural disasters, such as forest fires.

California Minimum Liability

Bodily Injury

per person
per accident

Property Damage

per accident

California’s minimum liability coverage requirements are $15,000 per person for bodily injury, $30,000 per accident for bodily injury and $5,000 for property damage. These figures are well below the industry-recommended 50/100/50 coverage minimums. Although the 15/30/5 minimum is all that’s required by law, you may want to consider increasing those amounts significantly.

In 2013, property damage claims averaged $3,231, while bodily injury claims averaged $15,443. California’s minimum property damage coverage is fairly adequate in this scenario. However, opting for minimum bodily injury coverage would have you paying nearly $500 out-of-pocket to cover the full costs, with half of all claims being even higher. It may be worthwhile to elect a level of coverage that offers more protection, such as a 100/300/100 plan, even if the premiums are slightly higher.

Request quotes from as many car insurance companies as possible so you can properly compare rates and coverage amounts. The rate an insurer offers you depends on many internal factors, so shopping around can help you see which elements drive rates for different companies. The time you spend researching the best deal can translate into real savings.

Cheapest Car Insurance in California

Yearly Rate

  • $1,981
    Auto Club
  • $1,508
  • $1,689
  • $1,834
    State Farm
  • $3,630

These companies offer the lowest car insurance rates in the state. The insurers listed above are the most competitively priced, making them a good choice for budget-minded drivers.

Cheap rates are a significant factor when you’re considering car insurance, but they may not be the only one. Low rates often translate into fewer supplemental benefits and options, lower-tier customer service or slower claim handling. For many people, however, these issues are not considerable or frequent enough to deny the call of affordable premiums.

Where is car insurance most affordable?

Exactly how much you pay in auto insurance premiums varies depending on where you live.

Los Angeles residents, for instance, usually pay rates above the state average. Drivers in Santa Barbara, on the other hand, enjoy rates that are a quite a bit lower, closer to the average rate for auto insurance in the United States.

Living in one of the smaller, out-of-the-way towns in California can make a big difference in the price you pay, so you should get multiple quotes to compare the premiums you’re offered to city, state and national averages.

San Diego Auto Insurance

Population: 1,356,400
San Diego

San Diego is the second-largest population center in the state, 1,356,400 people. They pay closer to the state average in premiums, but this is still higher than the national average. Actual rates are decided by a number of factors, such as how old you are and what kind of car you drive. Tourists abound, so you may want to increase your coverage to account for accidents caused by people who are unfamiliar with the city.

San Jose Auto Insurance

Population: 1,000,536
San Jose

San Jose is the third major population center in California. It has 1,000,536 residents who pay slightly below the California average for their car insurance. Beyond the occasional earthquake, San Jose doesn’t have many other natural disasters, so premiums stay within the state median.

San Francisco Auto Insurance

Population: 837,442
San Francisco

This is the second city that comes to people’s minds when they think about California, but it only has a population of 837,442. It’s still a big city, though, and residents do end up paying higher auto insurance premiums. There’s also a higher risk of earthquakes here, further increasing rates.

Fresno Auto Insurance

Population: 509,924

California’s fifth-largest city, Fresno, is home to nearly 510,000 people. The city-wide average for car insurance rates is on the higher end, above both the state and U.S. averages. Public transit is available in the form of Fresno Area Express buses, but cars, and good car insurance, are still a must in this area.

Sacramento Auto Insurance

Population: 479,686

With a population of 479,686, Sacramento is another large city in California. Similar to Los Angeles, the typical car insurance premium in Sacramento is well above the state and national medians. However, the exact rate you pay depends on factors such as your age and the kind of car you own. The city is fairly walkable, and both bus and light-rail public transportation services are available. Most residents, however, prefer traveling in cars, so you definitely need proper insurance coverage here.

Long Beach Auto Insurance

Population: 469,428
Long Beach

Long Beach is the seventh most-populated city in California, with 469,428 residents. Like many of its high-population counterparts, Long Beach also has higher premiums than both the national and California state averages. Exact premium amounts are based on things like your driving record and age. The city has limited public transit, so you likely need a car with adequate insurance coverage.

Oakland Auto Insurance

Population: 406,253

Oakland is home to 406,253 people, and their car insurance rates are pretty far above state- and county-wide averages. Of course, this number varies depending on your age, car and driving history. While public transportation is available, most people find it easier to use a car to get around, so you should have ample coverage.

Bakersfield Auto Insurance

Population: 363,630

Bakersfield is the ninth-largest population center in the state, with 363,630 residents. The residents pay an average insurance rate that’s more in line with state and national averages, although they still remain somewhat higher. The city’s not huge on public transportation, so you can’t get around very well without a vehicle and good insurance.

Anaheim Auto Insurance

Population: 345,012

California’s 10th-largest city, Anaheim, is home to 345,012 people. The average for car insurance rates in the city is toward the higher end, surpassing both state and U.S. averages. Public transit is available, but the preferred method of travel is by car. Anaheim does experience earthquakes, so you need to make sure your insurance plan covers that kind of damage.

Santa Ana Auto Insurance

Population: 334,227
Santa Ana

With 334,227 people within the city limits, Santa Ana’s average car insurance premium may seem a bit high. However, the city is plagued by earthquakes that, while not often deadly, can still cause damage to vehicles and other property. Your car insurance must include coverage for natural disasters.

Riverside Auto Insurance

Population: 316,619

With a population of 316,619, Riverside has slightly higher-than-average car insurance premiums. The exact rate you pay depends on factors such as how many points, fines and accidents are on your driving record and your age. You need a vehicle and proper insurance to get around this city.

Irvine Auto Insurance

Population: 236,716

With a population of over 235,000, this California city enjoys rates that a slightly less expensive than the state average. Depending on the kind of car you have and your driving record, you may pay more or less than this average. Since you need a car to get around the city, you should make sure the coverage you choose is adequate.

San Bernardino Auto Insurance

Population: 213,708
San Bernardino

Although the population of San Bernardino is just under 213,708, residents pay one of the highest car insurance rates in the state. The city is threatened by a number of natural disasters, including earthquakes, flooding and wildfires, necessitating higher premiums.

Modesto Auto Insurance

Population: 204,933

Modesto has a population of 204,933, making it a mid-sized city. However, the typical car insurance rate in this area is higher than both national and state averages. The rate you pay is based on elements such as your driving history. Like most other cities in California, cars are the main mode of transportation in Modesto, so acquiring solid auto coverage needs to be your priority.

Santa Barbara Auto Insurance

Population: 92,325
Santa Barbara

Although it’s one of the more well-known population centers, Santa Barbara is home to only 92,325 residents. Santa Barbara’s average car insurance rates are lower than most of the state. Residents can take Metropolitan Transit District (MTD) or opt to get around by bike, but cars are the primary mode of transportation. Although there are few weather issues or natural disasters here, you still need adequate coverage to protect against losses from urban-related crime, such as vandalism and theft.

Redding Auto Insurance

Population: 91,119

Redding is the 17th-largest population center in the state, with 91,119 residents. Unlike its larger counterparts, Redding’s average car insurance rates are lower than most of the state and closer to the U.S. average. Wildfires are one of the most common natural disaster people in this city face, so your car insurance must adequately cover possible losses due to fire.

Chico Auto Insurance

Population: 88,077

Chico has a population of 88,077, and the auto insurance rates hover right around the average for the state. The B-Line bus service provides public transportation, and the city was awarded the honor of America’s Best Bike Town in 1997, so you don’t necessarily need a car to get around. If you do have a vehicle, however, you want to make sure you have adequate insurance to cover things like collisions with cyclists.

Find the best auto insurance in your area

Start by entering your zipcode and we’ll pull our top partners so you can get quotes quick.