When you’re shopping for the best car insurance in California, it helps to know more about the area and the options available to you.
Numerous companies offer auto policies in The Golden State, so compare their prices and services to find the best deal.
Your insurance rate partly depends on your personal information, such as your age, driving record, claims history and typical vehicle usage.
Equally important is your location. Learn more about auto insurance variables in California to negotiate the right policy for your vehicle.
Average Cost of Car Insurance in California
Your most pressing question when shopping for a new auto policy might be: “How much is car insurance in California?”
Knowing how much car insurance costs for the average driver in your area helps you narrow down the most competitive premiums.
The average personal auto premium in California in 2015 was $986.75, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
From 2012 to 2015, the cost increased at an average of $31 per year.
While the costs of living in California often seem high in comparison with other states, the 2015 premium was actually lower than the countrywide average of $1,009.38.
How much is car insurance in California compared with neighboring states? The rates are similar.
California’s premiums in 2015 were only slightly higher than those in Arizona and Oregon, but they were a little more than $100 less than Nevada’s.
|Average Cost of Car Insurance in California||$986.75|
|Average Cost of Car Insurance in Oregon||$904.83|
|Average Cost of Car Insurance in Nevada||$1,103.05|
|Average Cost of Car Insurance in Arizona||$972.85|
|Countrywide Average Cost of Car Insurance||$1,009.38|
On your search for a new policy, consider the influence of a few external variables.
Unfortunately, premiums don’t rely solely on how good of a driver you are. They also depend on the following conditions in your area.
1. Traffic Conditions
In a state as large and geographically varied as California, the traffic conditions differ greatly between locations. Commuting in Los Angeles is far different from driving around Mariposa.
Learn more about your city as well as the state averages to negotiate a better rate.
The NAIC report of traffic density noted 1,475,882 vehicle miles per highway mile in California for 2014, which is a little more than double the countrywide average of 724,348.
The vehicle miles per registered vehicle were similar, with 11,942 in California and 12,010 countrywide.
Fatal accident rates were lower than the national average in 2014, with California at 0.11 per 1,000 registered vehicles and the entire U.S. at 0.13.
The rates increase yearly when calculated per 100 million vehicle miles.
From 2015 to 2016, traffic fatalities in California rose by 7 percent, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.
2. Crime Rates
California ranks number one on the top 10 list of motor vehicle thefts per state, with 176,576 vehicles stolen in 2016 alone, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
Auto theft in California occurred to 450 vehicles per 100,000 residents, largely in metropolitan areas.
This is higher than the auto theft national average of 236 per 100,000.
The Hot Wheels Report shows the most commonly stolen cars in California are the Honda Civic and Honda Accord.
More than 20,000 of each vehicle went missing in 1998 and 1996 respectively.
Other commonly taken vehicles in the state include full-size Ford and Chevrolet pickups, the Toyota Camry and Corolla, Acura Integra and Nissan Sentra and Altima.
For the best car insurance in California, you may benefit from driving a different make and model.
3. Population Density
As the NAIC explains, population density does not directly affect insurance premiums, but a greater number of vehicles per area affects the crime and accident rates.
California is densely populated. The 2014 rate was 248 inhabitants per square mile, compared with the national rate of 90 people per square mile.
In California, 97.5 percent of the population resides in metro areas. When shopping for the best policy, you may be eligible for a better rate if you live outside of city limits.
4. Disposable Income
Similar to population density, disposable income affects insurance rates indirectly. Higher-priced cars require more coverage, according to the NAIC.
For 2014, the per capita disposable income per person was slightly higher in California ($43,978) than it was in the overall U.S. ($40,859).
When surveying insurance companies to compare prices, keep in mind the average income rates for your city.
A typical income is far lower in Fresno than Malibu, for example.
Although price is an important factor when selecting your car insurance, you should shop around to compare a few more variables.
The Insurance Information Institute recommends that you get a minimum of three price quotes, but also that you choose a financially stable company.
Stability assessments are provided by independent agencies, such as Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investor Services.
Find out also if the insurance company is licensed in California before doing business with them.
In addition to price, consider the ease of doing business with each company. Call around to get an impression of the available customer service.
The III advises shoppers to read customer reviews and check for any consumer complaints about the insurance companies as well.
When shopping for the best car insurance in California, look for the well-known insurance companies to have readily available customer reviews.
Some of those companies may include:
Progressive Car Insurance
The Progressive insurance company was founded in 1937 as a drive-in claims service and expanded over the years to offer a range of services, such as 24/7 availability, competitor rate comparisons, Immediate Response Vehicles™, and the Name Your Price® option.
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Liberty Mutual is an international company with a broad scope of services, from personal auto and home insurance to worldwide commercial underwriting.
Auto insurance services from Liberty include the 12-month rate guarantee and New Car Replacement™.
Esurance insures more than 5.2 million drivers and is backed by the larger company of Allstate. Esurance focuses on the use of technology for insurance processes.
Its auto services include a personalized policy with CoverageMyWay® and the Switch & Save discount®.
Elephant is a newer company, founded in 2009, that serves more than 5 million customers and eight countries.
Elephant provides a range of coverage options, from car insurance to renter’s and life insurance, and offers discounts for bundling, achieving good grades and getting quotes online.
USAA coverage is available to military personnel and members of their families.
The company, which was launched in 1922, insures all types of vehicles, from cars and boats to RVs, and also offers banking services.
As of 2016, USAA had 11.9 million members.
Allstate was founded in 1931 and became publicly traded in 1993. The company insures more than 16 million households and owns almost $105 billion in assets.
Allstate offers standard auto insurance with add-on benefits, such as the Safe Driving Bonus® and the Drivewise® app.
American Family Insurance
Founded in 1927, American Family Insurance was originally known as Farmers Mutual.
The company provides a variety of insurance services, with auto coverage including roadside service, 24/7 claims, the MyAmFam app, and safe driving discounts.
What Is Mandatory for Car Insurance in California?
Most states have minimum auto insurance requirements, and California is no exception.
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the minimum liability coverage required in California is:
- $5,000 for property damage
- $15,000 for single injury or death
- $30,000 for injury or death to multiple people
The state requires you to carry proof of car insurance in your vehicle in case of collision or request by law enforcement.
You cannot renew your vehicle registration without it.
How to Reduce the Cost of Your Car Insurance in California
A car insurance policy is necessary to protect yourself and your property financially in case of an accident, but it doesn’t have to be a huge expense.
Once you find the best car insurance in California by comparing companies, you may be able to get a reduced rate on your personal policy by selecting lower-cost options and modifying a few habits.
To lower your premium price, the Insurance Information Institute recommends that you:
- increase your deductible,
- reduce the collision or comprehensive coverage on older vehicles,
- bundle your auto policy with your home or renter’s insurance,
- maintain good credit,
- reduce your overall mileage when possible, and
- seek discounts
Car insurance companies offer a variety of discounts based on driving history, vehicle safety options, payment plans, and other factors.
When shopping for a policy, have the following information on hand for the agent to give you the most accurate quote.
- Vehicles: List the make, model, year, VIN, typical usage, built-in safety features and anti-theft devices for each vehicle.
- Drivers: Know the age and driving history of each driver on your policy. If insuring a teen driver, show their school grades to your agent. Good grades can earn you a discount.
- Household: You will need your address and information about your parking arrangements. Estimate the assets you wish to protect and consider your budget when discussing your policy options.
What Can Increase the Cost of Your Car Insurance in California?
While working to lower the cost of your insurance policy, know that certain factors may actually raise your premium.
You cannot control all of these variables, but you can take steps to minimize the associated costs.
Teenagers and drivers over 70 may see higher premiums due to the higher risk of driving associated with these age groups.
Insurance rates may be discounted if these drivers complete a defensive driving course.
Traffic violations affect insurance rates. The consequence for a violation will depend on your insurance company and the severity of the incident.
Excessive speeding and driving under the influence may be catastrophic to your insurance rate, while a minor vehicle repair order might not matter.
Obey traffic laws, enroll in traffic courses, and contest tickets as warranted.
A high-priced car requires a higher-cost policy due to potential repair costs and theft risk, but the model is not the only deciding factor.
If your vehicle is more likely to cause extensive damage in an accident, you could pay higher premiums for liability.
When shopping for vehicles, look for those with high safety standards.
Finding the best car insurance in California is possible by comparing companies and having all applicable information on hand.
When speaking with agents from different insurers, remember to include all pertinent information about your neighborhood, your personal history, and your vehicle to receive the most affordable quotes.
*While we make every effort to keep our site updated, please be aware that “timely” information on this page, such as quote estimates, or pertinent details about companies, may only be accurate as of its last edit day. Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Please consult your own legal or tax adviser.