Car Insurance in California vs. Arizona: Costs, Laws and Resources

Car insurance laws and companies in California and Arizona aren’t the same, so the premiums and requirements vary. For example, Progressive offers the most affordable minimum coverage car insurance in California at around $481 per year, whereas GEICO is the cheapest in Arizona at about $366 per year.

Last Updated: 6/17/2022
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When moving from California to Arizona, one consideration you should make is the difference in car insurance requirements. The states have similar minimum coverage requirements, but, per accident, you need $10,000 property damage liability in Arizona but only $5,000 in California.

MoneyGeek researched the average costs and differences in car insurance laws and requirements to determine the most affordable car insurance in California and Arizona.

Car Insurance Laws in California vs. Arizona

California and Arizona car insurance requirements are similar. However, there’s a difference in the property damage liability limit. Car insurance laws in California require a policy to have 15/30/5 as the liability limits. But, car insurance laws in Arizona mandate 15/30/10 limits. That means you must have an additional $5,000 in property damage liability per accident in an Arizona vs. California car insurance policy, but it may not increase your premium.

Car insurance costs an average of $665 per year in California and $649 a year in Arizona. While Arizona requires a higher property damage liability limit, its average yearly auto insurance premium is lower than California — that may be due to a wide array of factors, including the accident rate and population density.

MINIMUM CAR INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS IN CALIFORNIA AND ARIZONA

California Requirements

  • $15,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $30,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $5,000 property damage liability per accident

Arizona Requirements

  • $15,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $30,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $10,000 property damage liability per accident
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How Are Car Insurance Laws Enforced in California and Arizona?

California and Arizona are at-fault or tort states. That means if you get involved in an at-fault accident, you cover the costs of property damage, injuries to others and any additional related expenses using your liability insurance.

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in California vs. Arizona

MoneyGeek’s analysis shows that the providers with the average cheapest minimum coverage car insurance in California and Arizona are:

  • Cheapest in California: Progressive ($481 per year)
  • Cheapest in Arizona: GEICO ($366 per year)

USAA provides the second-cheapest minimum coverage car insurance in both states, but its policies are limited to military members and their families.

For the same insurer, rates may vary across different states. For example, Progressive costs an average of $481 annually in California, which is around $25 less than the cost in Arizona. It may be worthwhile to compare auto insurance rates when moving from California to Arizona to save money.

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in California

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Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in Arizona

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THE CHEAPEST COMPANY FOR YOU MAY DIFFER

Progressive has the most affordable car insurance in California at around $481 per year, while GEICO is the cheapest in Arizona, costing roughly $366 per year. The rates used in this study are for a state minimum policy. Individual rates may vary because of age, liability coverage amounts, driving history and location. Using MoneyGeek’s guides, find the most affordable auto insurance in California vs. Arizona:

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Average Cost of Car Insurance in California vs. Arizona

How much car insurance costs in California or Arizona depends on the coverage amount. Based on MoneyGeek’s study, Arizona has cheaper rates for minimum coverage and full coverage car insurance than California.

Annually, minimum coverage costs around $665 in California and $649 in Arizona. Meanwhile, a full coverage policy per year costs roughly $1,429 in California and $1,284 in Arizona. Your rates may, however, vary considerably from these averages, depending on your unique circumstances.

Average Cost of Car Insurance in California vs. Arizona

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  • Driver
    California Annual Premium
    Arizona Annual Premium
  • Minimum Coverage
    $665
    $649
  • Full Coverage
    $1,429
    $1,284
  • Adding a Young Driver
    $4,187
    $3,231
  • Drivers With a Violation
    $2,057
    $1,583
  • Drivers With Poor Credit
    $2,495

Why Are Car Insurance Rates More Expensive in California vs. Arizona?

Car insurance rates depend on several factors, and explaining why rates are higher in California than Arizona, which has a higher property damage liability requirement, is not a simple task. Possible causes for more expensive car insurance rates in California over Arizona could include California’s higher vehicle theft rate, larger number of uninsured motorists and greater risk of damage caused by disasters.

Car Insurance Costs by City in California vs. Arizona

Your car insurance premium varies based on where you live in a state.

The California city with the cheapest car insurance is Santa Maria, at around $509 per year. The most expensive California city to insure a car in is Glendale, costing roughly $1,066 annually.

In Arizona, the cheapest city for car insurance is Tucson, at around $578 per year, while Glendale and Phoenix are the most expensive, at roughly $713 per year.

Car insurance requirements do not change across cities within the same state. The most likely factor causing a difference in rates by city is population density.

Car Insurance Costs by City in California

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Car Insurance Costs by City in Arizona

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Moving Between California and Arizona? What to Know

If you move from California to Arizona or vice versa, you need to change your driver’s license and registration and may need to adjust your car insurance policy to reflect the new state’s coverage requirements. You may decide to retain your current insurer if available in the new state. However, your rates may change because of coverage and risk factors.

Drivers who need to get a new car insurance company in California or Arizona after moving can use MoneyGeek’s resources to compare rates and select the most suitable option for their needs.

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    Use MoneyGeek’s car insurance calculators for California and Arizona

    Estimating your car insurance premium can help you understand how much a policy costs with, for example, minimum coverage or full coverage. The MoneyGeek car insurance calculator for California and Arizona car insurance calculator can help you get a personalized estimate, considering age, credit score, driving history and coverage.

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    Learn about car insurance for high-risk drivers in California and Arizona

    Insurers charge high-risk drivers more for car insurance or may deny them a policy. If you have severe violations on your driving record, you may need to file an SR-22 in California or an SR-22 in Arizona.

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    Figure out your options for temporary car insurance in California and Arizona

    If you aren’t staying in California or Arizona for long, you may consider purchasing temporary insurance. Most policies have a minimum period of six months, but MoneyGeek outlined how to get temporary car insurance in California or temporary car insurance in Arizona.

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    If you’re a low-income driver, see if California or Arizona offer car insurance programs

    You may be eligible for California’s low-income driver car insurance program to save on your premium. But, Arizona does not have car insurance cost assistance for low-income drivers. If you are a low-income driver in Arizona, use MoneyGeek’s resources to locate other ways to minimize your car insurance costs.

FAQs About California and Arizona Car Insurance

Car insurance laws and costs vary between California and Arizona. To ensure you secure the best policy for your needs, MoneyGeek responded to frequently asked questions about car insurance in the two states.

Methodology

To calculate average car insurance rates by company and across California and Arizona, MoneyGeek collaborated with Quadrant Information Services to collect auto insurance quotes from both locations. We used a sample profile for a 40-year-old driver with a clean driving record and minimum coverage unless modified by criteria like coverage level, age, driving offenses and credit score. Learn more about how costs are calculated in our MoneyGeek car insurance methodology.

Minimum car insurance requirements by state were sourced from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of the respective state.

About the Author


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Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content manager with MoneyGeek specializing in insurance. Mark has years of experience analyzing the insurance market and creating original research and content. He graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts and Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Arts.


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