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

There are differences between California’s and Colorado’s car insurance laws and companies, so the costs and requirements in each state vary. Progressive offers the cheapest policies in California at approximately $481 per year, while GEICO has Colorado’s most affordable packages at roughly $373 per year.

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Last Updated: 11/14/2022
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If you’re thinking about moving from California to Colorado or vice versa, be mindful of each state’s car insurance requirements. Although the two states have similar required coverages, they do have different limits. California’s requirement for bodily injury liability is $30,000 per accident, while it’s $50,000 for Colorado.

In this guide, MoneyGeek broke down the differences between car insurance laws in California vs. Colorado. We analyzed costs and found the most affordable providers to help you get the lowest rates.

Car Insurance Laws in California vs. Colorado

California and Colorado have similar required car insurance coverages. However, California car insurance laws require $30,000 in bodily injury liability and $5,000 in property damage liability per accident, while Colorado car insurance laws require $50,000 and $15,000.

Since California requires lower limits, they also have cheaper rates. On average, car insurance policies in California cost $665 per year, while it’s around $811 per year in Colorado.

MINIMUM CAR INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS IN CALIFORNIA VS. COLORADO

California Requirements

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

Colorado Requirements

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $15,000 property damage liability per accident
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How Are Car Insurance Laws Enforced in California and Colorado?

Like most states nationwide, California and Colorado are tort states. That means the at-fault driver in an accident pays for the other driver’s medical costs, loss of wages and other damages. Generally, car insurance in tort states is cheaper than no-fault states, where a driver’s insurance pays for their own injuries and damages.

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in California vs. Colorado

MoneyGeek’s research found that the following companies offer the cheapest state minimum policies in California and Colorado:

  • Cheapest in California: Progressive ($481 per year)
  • Cheapest in Colorado: GEICO ($373 per year)

USAA offers the most affordable policies in Colorado, but only military personnel and their families are eligible for coverage.

Even though Progressive is California’s most affordable carrier, its policies are the most expensive in Colorado. Meanwhile, GEICO’s policies are also relatively cheap in California.

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in California

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Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in Colorado

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THE CHEAPEST COMPANY FOR YOU MAY DIFFER

In California, Progressive has the cheapest car insurance policies at around $481 per year, while it’s GEICO in Colorado at approximately $373 per year. However, these rates are for minimum coverage only.

Your actual insurance premiums can change based on your location, age, driving history, preferred coverage and other factors. You can use MoneyGeek’s guides to find the lowest rates in your state:

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Average Cost of Car Insurance in California vs. Colorado

MoneyGeek’s study found that the average price of minimum coverage policies in California is $665 per year, while in Colorado, it’s $811 per year. Meanwhile, full coverage car insurance in California and Colorado costs roughly $1,429 and $1,450 per year, respectively.

Minimum coverage policies are cheaper in California, but the average price of full coverage policies in both states is similar. This demonstrates how different factors can affect average insurance prices.

Average Cost of Car Insurance in California vs. Colorado

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  • Driver
    California Annual Premium
    Colorado Annual Premium
  • Minimum Coverage
    $665
    $811
  • Full Coverage
    $1,429
    $1,450
  • Adding a Young Driver
    $4,187
    $3,819
  • Drivers With a Violation
    $2,057
    $1,701
  • Drivers With Poor Credit
    $2,515

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

Many reasons cause the price differences of car insurance in California vs. Colorado, and it’s impossible to pin those differences on one factor.

For example, California has a higher highway density and more natural disasters compared to Colorado. However, Colorado requires more liability coverage on its policies and thus has generally higher rates.

Car Insurance Costs by City in California vs. Colorado

Although car insurance prices vary between states, they can also differ significantly within cities in a state too.

In California, state minimum liability car insurance is cheapest in Santa Maria at around $509 per year, while Glendale has the priciest policies at roughly $1,066 per year. On the other hand, Fort Collins has the most affordable rates in Colorado at around $628 per year, while the most expensive policies are found in Aurora at about $858 per year.

Since car insurance requirements are similar throughout a state, they don’t contribute to price differences. Having a denser population is a likelier reason car insurance can be more expensive in one city than in another.

Car Insurance Costs by City in California

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Car Insurance Costs by City in Colorado

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Moving Between California and Colorado? What to Know

If you’re moving from California to Colorado or vice versa, you’ll have to update your driver’s license and registration. You can stay with your current provider as long as they provide coverage in your new state, but your rates may change based on that location’s risks and coverage requirements.

If you need to shop around for a new carrier, MoneyGeek’s resources can help you find the best insurance company and policy that meets your driving profile.

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    Use MoneyGeek’s car insurance calculators for California and Colorado

    Estimate how much a car insurance policy will cost using MoneyGeek’s California car insurance calculator and Colorado car insurance calculator.

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

    If you’re a high-risk driver, you may be rejected by certain insurers or have to pay more for car insurance. Some states require that you file an SR-22 if you have severe driving violations, as in the case of both California SR-22 insurance and Colorado SR-22 insurance.

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

    Most car insurance policies have a minimum coverage period of six months. However, you can get temporary car insurance in California and temporary car insurance in Colorado if you’re only staying in the state for a short time.

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

    Low-income drivers in California can get state assistance to help pay for their car insurance. It’s one of three states nationwide that offers a low-income assistance program. Meanwhile, low-income drivers in Colorado can use MoneyGeek’s guide to save on their premiums.

FAQs About California and Colorado Car Insurance

Car insurance laws and prices often vary from one state to another. MoneyGeek answers some frequently asked questions to help you learn more about car insurance in California vs. Colorado.

Methodology

To calculate average car insurance rates by company and across California and Colorado, 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 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.