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

California and Michigan have different car insurance laws and companies, resulting in a difference in premiums and requirements. For example, the cheapest auto insurance in Michigan is with Nationwide, with an average annual cost of $774, while the most affordable insurer in California, at around $481 per year, is Progressive.

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Last Updated: 11/25/2022
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If you plan to move from California to Michigan or vice versa, the varying minimum coverage car insurance requirements within the states may influence your auto insurance premium significantly.

California’s state minimum policy requires 15/30/5 limits. However, Michigan mandates $20,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $40,000 in bodily injury liability per accident, unlimited personal injury protection per person and accident and $1 million in property protection.

MoneyGeek analyzed car insurance costs, as well as laws and requirements in California and Michigan to help you determine the cheapest company in the states.

Car Insurance Laws in California vs. Michigan

There is a significant difference between car insurance requirements in California vs. Michigan and a considerable difference in the coverage limits. As per the car insurance laws in California, your policy limits must be at least 15/30/5. Meanwhile, Michigan car insurance law mandates a minimum car insurance requirement of 20/40 with $1 million in property damage coverage plus unlimited personal injury protection per person and accident. That’s why the average rates for car insurance in California vs. Michigan differ significantly.

The average yearly cost of minimum coverage car insurance in California is $665, and $2,921 in Michigan. Drivers in Michigan pay a higher premium, and one primary cause may be the high coverage limits.

MINIMUM CAR INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS IN CALIFORNIA AND MICHIGAN

California Requirements

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

Michigan Requirements

  • $20,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $40,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • Unlimited personal injury protection per person
  • Unlimited personal injury protection per accident
  • $1 million property protection
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How Are Car Insurance Laws Enforced in California and Michigan?

California is a tort or at-fault state, meaning you pay for the cost of medical care and damages to the other party when involved in an at-fault accident. Meanwhile, Michigan is a no-fault state, so your policy pays for your economic losses, regardless of who is at fault, and your collision coverage may pay for vehicle damage.

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in California vs. Michigan

From MoneyGeek’s findings, on average, the most affordable minimum coverage car insurance companies in California and Michigan are:

  • Cheapest in California: Progressive ($481 per year)
  • Cheapest in Michigan: Nationwide ($774 per year)

USAA has the cheapest minimum coverage policy in Michigan at around $704 per year. However, its policies are only available to individuals with a military background.

Car insurance rates may vary across states for the same insurer. For example, on average yearly, Progressive policyholders pay $481 in California, but in Michigan, the cost is $1,704 for the state minimum policy, considerably more than Nationwide. Comparing prices across providers can help you find the cheapest option.

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in California

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Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in Michigan

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THE CHEAPEST COMPANY FOR YOU MAY DIFFER

The most affordable car insurance in California comes from Progressive (around $481/year), while Nationwide (around $774/year) is the cheapest in Michigan. Costs used for this study are for a minimum coverage policy, although actual rates may differ based on the driver’s age, credit score and violation history, among other factors.

MoneyGeek’s analysis can help you find the cheapest car insurance in both states:

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Average Cost of Car Insurance in California vs. Michigan

Your car insurance premium varies based on the coverage limit of your policy. Michigan has significantly higher costs for state minimum coverage and full coverage car insurance than California.

Annually, California drivers pay an average of $665 for a state minimum coverage policy and $1,429 for a full coverage policy. However, drivers in Michigan pay about $2,921 per year for a minimum coverage policy and around $4,333 for full coverage.

Rates may vary greatly based on factors such as your location, age, credit score and driving history.

Average Cost of Car Insurance in California vs. Michigan

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  • Driver
    California Annual Premium
    Michigan Annual Premium
  • Minimum Coverage
    $665
    $2,921
  • Full Coverage
    $1,429
    $4,333
  • Adding a Young Driver
    $4,187
    $8,313
  • Drivers With a Violation
    $2,057
    $6,759
  • Drivers With Poor Credit
    $12,574

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

On average, drivers pay higher car insurance premiums in Michigan vs. California but finding one reason why is impossible. But, the high state minimum coverage requirement Michigan imposes is definitely part of it. Other contributing factors could be the high rate of uninsured motorists in Michigan and the fact that it’s a no-fault state.

Car Insurance Costs by City in California vs. Michigan

Where you live partly influences your car insurance costs in California or Michigan.

Based on MoneyGeek’s findings, the cheapest California city for state minimum coverage auto insurance is Santa Maria, costing around $509 per year, and the most expensive city in California for car insurance is Glendale, roughly $1,066 per year.

In Michigan, residents of Ann Arbor pay the least for minimum coverage car insurance, averaging $1,083 a year, and the most in Detroit, costing around $3,688 per year.

For each state, car insurance requirements remain the same in cities. Rates vary in each location due to factors such as the population density and rate of car accidents or thefts.

Car Insurance Costs by City in California

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Car Insurance Costs by City in Michigan

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Moving Between California and Michigan? What to Know

Changing your state of residence from California to Michigan or vice versa means changing your license, car insurance policy and registration. If your current insurer offers coverage within your new state, you may decide to retain your policy, although your rates are likely to change. For example, you must add coverage to your policy if you move from California to Michigan, which can increase the cost.

If you need to change your insurer, using MoneyGeek’s resources can help you find the best company at the best price for your driving profile.

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    Use MoneyGeek’s car insurance calculators for California and Michigan

    The MoneyGeek car insurance calculator for California and car insurance calculator for Michigan can help determine estimated costs for your policy based on factors like your driving record, age and credit score.

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

    If you are a high-risk driver, you pay more for car insurance or may fail to get a car insurance policy from some companies. With severe violations on your record, you may need to file an SR-22 in California or an SR-22 in Michigan as proof of insurance before regaining your driving rights.

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

    Drivers visiting either California or Michigan temporarily may not need a permanent car insurance policy. While most policies last a minimum of six months, using MoneyGeek’s resources can help you find temporary car insurance in California or temporary car insurance in Michigan.

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

    The low-income driver’s program in California can help residents save on car insurance. Meanwhile, low-income drivers in Michigan should use MoneyGeek’s resources to find alternatives to lower their car insurance costs because there is no state-run program.

FAQs About California and Michigan Car Insurance

California and Michigan feature different laws and average car insurance rates. MoneyGeek answered some of the commonly asked questions about car insurance in both states to ensure you find the right policy for your needs.

Methodology

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