The Cheapest Car Insurance in California for 2022

Progressive has the cheapest car insurance in California, offering minimum coverage policies for about $476 per year.

MoneyGeek collected California auto insurance quotes for various driver backgrounds to find the companies with the lowest rates. Esurance is most affordable for seniors and those looking for full coverage, but young drivers can benefit most from Allstate. By comparing quotes, California drivers could cut their annual car insurance costs by $366.

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Last Updated: 11/25/2022
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MoneyGeek determined the cheapest insurers in several California cities, so you can get a ballpark figure. We also found the best auto insurance providers in California that balance affordability and service quality.

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Methodology

Why Trust MoneyGeek? California car insurance rates in this study are based on our analysis of data and information from the California Department of Insurance and Quadrant Information Services.

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These rates were updated in August 2022 to reflect how car insurance rates in California have changed up to this month.

3,312

Quotes Analyzed

 
9

Companies Compared

 
23

ZIP Codes

Cheapest Minimum Liability Car Insurance in California

The cheapest car insurance in California is a liability-only coverage policy that only meets the state’s minimum car insurance requirements. California’s minimum liability requirement is 15/30/5, which covers up to $15,000 for bodily injuries or death of one person, $30,000 for bodily injuries or death per accident and $5,000 for property damage.

The most affordable liability-only insurance companies in California are:

  • Progressive: $476 per year
  • CSAA: $500 per year

USAA is another affordable option in California at an average of $478 per year. However, this insurance company is only available to current and former military members and their families. Farmers, at an average of $842 annually, is the most costly option in California.

CHEAPEST MINIMUM CAR INSURANCE IN CALIFORNIA

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These prices are only estimates based on rates for an average California driver and should not be used to compare insurance prices.

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Cheapest Full Coverage Car Insurance in California

If you want full coverage car insurance that protects against third-party damages and those to your own vehicle, we identified the most affordable options in California, on average:

  • Esurance: $1,045 per year
  • Progressive: $1,121 per year

The average price of Esurance is $76 cheaper per month than Progressive, but both will be good options for those looking for cheap full coverage insurance. By contrast, Allied insurance costs about $1,745 per year and is the most expensive in California.

CHEAPEST FULL COVERAGE CAR INSURANCE IN CALIFORNIA

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Rates are for a policy with comprehensive and collision insurance with $100,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person, $300,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident and $100,000 in property damage coverage per accident.

How to Compare Cheap California Car Insurance Quotes Online

You can easily get a car insurance quote online from most companies, making the process of shopping for auto coverage far more convenient than it used to be.

  • Start by determining how much coverage you need so you can compare insurers with consistent limits. For instance, if you get a quote with one provider for $100,000 in bodily injury liability insurance per accident, you should make sure to use the same number when comparing prices with another insurer.
  • If you want to get a quote estimate for the average driver, use MoneyGeek’s car insurance calculator. For personalized quotes, you’ll have to provide more details.
  • For the state’s minimum liability-only car insurance package, Progressive, USAA and CSAA offer the most reasonably priced plans, on average.

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Cheapest Car Insurance in California for Young Drivers

Young drivers in California usually have higher premium rates than middle-aged drivers. That is because insurance providers see them as high-risk drivers. For a 16-year-old, the average cost of insurance in the state is $4,193 per year. By contrast, a 25-year-old pays an average of $1,738 per year.

Based on average rates, Allstate is most commonly the cheapest company for drivers between the age of 16–23, but Progressive has the lowest prices for drivers in their mid-20s.

ANNUAL CAR INSURANCE IN CALIFORNIA FOR YOUNG DRIVERS

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  • Age
    Average Cost
    Cheapest Company
    Company Cost
  • $4,193
    Allstate
    $2,247
  • $3,801
    Allstate
    $2,247
  • $3,552
    Allstate
    $2,124
  • $3,083
    Allstate
    $2,151
  • $2,882
    Allstate
    $1,966
  • $2,257
    Allstate
    $1,688
  • $2,138
    Allstate
    $1,733
  • $1,989
    Allstate
    $1,613
  • $1,861
    Progressive
    $1,465
  • $1,738
    Progressive
    $1,357

It's generally cheaper for parents to add their young driver to their policy rather than have a separate policy, and there may be additional cost-cutting options available, such as good student discounts.

Additionally, there are noticeable rate differences for young drivers of varying ages, so you can find potential savings by comparing rates. For instance, Allstate is the most affordable option for 16-year-old drivers, with premiums averaging $2,247 per year. Meanwhile, Progressive has the cheapest quotes for 25-year-olds, costing $1,357 per year on average.

Cheapest Car Insurance in California for Seniors

Car insurance for seniors tends to cost more than the same coverage for middle-aged drivers. In California, seniors tend to pay around $35 more per month. If you’re looking for the most affordable car insurance for California seniors, check out these two companies:

  • Esurance: $1,172 per year
  • State Farm: $1,209 per year

Senior drivers in California can benefit most from Esurance. This insurer typically charges around $649 less than Travelers, the most expensive auto insurance provider for seniors in the state.

CHEAPEST CAR INSURANCE RATES FOR SENIORS

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In California, there are more than 5.5 million drivers older than 55, and more than 2.5 million of them are 70 or older. Car insurance rates for seniors tend to increase with age. When shopping for car insurance, seniors in California can look for discounts based on their needs and experience. Thus, weighing different options in California may help you find savings. For instance, on average, Esurance has the cheapest premiums for California seniors at $1,172 per year, whereas Travelers offers the priciest rates at $1,821 per year. That’s a difference of $649.

Cheapest Car Insurance for Drivers With Tickets in California

The average car insurance rate for drivers with a speeding ticket in California is $2,037 per year, $622 more than an average driver with a clean record would pay for similar coverage.

On average, the cheapest car insurance companies in California for a driver with a speeding ticket are:

  • Esurance: $1,324 per year
  • CSAA: $1,687 per year

For military members and their families, USAA is the most affordable option in California at an average cost of $1,268 per year. The most expensive car insurance company for drivers with violations in California is Travelers, at an average of $2,547 per year.

AVERAGE CAR INSURANCE RATES WITH A TICKET

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Having a speeding or distracted driving ticket on your record can impact your car insurance rates. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 3,259 auto accidents as a result of distracted driving in California in 2018. California state laws prohibit all hand-held device use while driving, so distracted driving can not only result in the cost of a ticket, but it can also lead to higher insurance costs.

Your auto insurance rate is likely to go up if you get a ticket for speeding or for distracted driving. According to the Insurance Information Association, your driving record is taken into account when you secure your auto policy, so being riskier to insure means paying higher premiums. Your insurer can also re-evaluate your rate if you get a moving violation (i.e., a speeding ticket).

Cheapest Car Insurance for Drivers With a DUI in California

Insurance for drivers with a history of DUIs is typically much more expensive than the same insurance coverage for a driver with a clean record. In fact, insurance for drivers with DUIs in California averages $4,075 per year, compared to just $1,429 for typical drivers. On average, these companies offer the most affordable car insurance policies for drivers with DUIs:

  • Mercury: $2,354 per year
  • Esurance: $2,601 per year

Mercury is the most affordable option at $2,354 per year. By contrast, Hartford costs an average of $5,921 per year — that’s a whopping difference of $3,567 between the cheapest and most expensive insurance providers.

AVERAGE CAR INSURANCE RATES WITH A DUI

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Driving under the influence can impact your finances for years to come. Costs associated with a DUI include legal fees, court fees, alcohol education programs and increased auto insurance premiums.

Shopping around could help you find lower rates after getting a DUI. MoneyGeek found that Mercury offers significantly cheaper premiums compared to Hartford (the most expensive provider). Additionally, improving your driving record in the years to come will keep you safe and lower your insurance costs.

Cheapest in California for Drivers With an At-Fault Accident

Drivers with at-fault accidents typically pay more than those with a clean driving history. The cost of auto insurance for a California driver with at-fault accidents is $2,439 annually on average.

Based on MoneyGeek’s analysis, the two cheapest car insurance policies for California drivers with at-fault accidents are from:

  • Esurance: $1,638 per year
  • CSAA: $1,687 per year

For drivers with at-fault accidents, The Hartford has California’s most expensive policy at an average cost of $3,537.

CHEAPEST CAR INSURANCE WITH AN AT-FAULT ACCIDENT

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Cheapest Car Insurance in California for Drivers With Bad Credit

In California, car insurance companies cannot use your credit score to determine your premiums. While insurers in most states use credit scores to determine premium costs, California is an exception. However, as a good credit score can have many financial benefits, it’s still advisable to improve your score if possible.

Cheapest Car Insurance in California for Military Drivers

At an average of $478 per year, USAA ranks as the second most affordable auto insurance provider in California, with policies that are typically just $2 more than those from Progressive. Although Progressive may offer slightly cheaper rates, USAA is known to exclusively serve active-duty military members, veterans and their families, offering specific benefits that cater to these groups.

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MoneyGeek Top Pick
USAA
  • Average Rate: $478 per year
  • Ranks 2nd cheapest out of 13 insurers

To save even more, eligible policyholders can benefit from USAA’s wide range of available discounts. Including bundling policies, taking a driver safety course, maintaining a good driving record and insuring multiple cars, USAA offers easy ways to lower your premiums and make car insurance more affordable.

Cheapest Car Insurance in California by City

In California, the cost of car insurance may vary greatly depending on which city you live in. Santa Maria drivers tend to have the cheapest rates with an average of $1,109 per year, while Glendale residents pay the most expensive car insurance that costs $2,283 annually on average. These rates are for a full coverage policy.

Click your city to find out more about auto insurance prices in your area.

AVERAGE INSURANCE RATE BY CITY IN CALIFORNIA

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Car Insurance in California: What You Need to Know

The California Department of Motor Vehicles requires all California drivers to insure their vehicles. Our guide below offers key information on auto insurance in the state.

California Insurance Requirements

Proof of Insurance in California

All California drivers must carry evidence of financial responsibility in their vehicles at all times or proof of an alternative (see below). Your insurance company should provide you with an insurance card containing information about your policy and covered vehicle(s). You must present it if law enforcement requests it or when you renew your vehicle registration.

Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements in California

According to California law, drivers should have liability coverage of $15,000 for injury/death per person, $30,000 for injury/death per accident and $5,000 for damage to property. However, insurance experts often recommend carrying 10 times this amount.

Alternatives to Insurance in California

Most drivers purchase auto insurance to cover their financial liability, but the DMV offers a few alternatives:

  • A cash deposit of $35,000 with the DMV
  • A DMV-issued self-insurance certificate (which requires even larger reserves)
  • A surety bond for $35,000 from a company licensed to do business in California

These alternatives require significant cash reserves, and one accident can wipe out the entire reserve. That's why most people stick with insurance.

How Much Coverage Do You Need in California?

Although California law only requires minimum liability coverage, cheap car insurance isn't always the best option. According to the Insurance Information Institute, insurance experts and consumer advocates recommend carrying liability coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.

Assess your current situation to determine how much coverage you need. Those with a new car loan usually need full coverage. On the other hand, if your car is worth less than your deductible and a couple of years' worth of premiums, you might want to forgo that coverage.

FAQs About Car Insurance in California

Drivers commonly have questions about car insurance in California, especially relating to costs. Here are the answers to some of these queries to help you find the best coverage for your needs.

Expert Advice on Finding Cheap Car Insurance in California

To help you find credible and accurate insight on car insurance in California, MoneyGeek received expert advice from trusted professionals. The perspectives and opinions expressed are those of the individual contributor.

  1. What are the key factors drivers in California should look for when searching for the best auto insurance coverage?
  2. What steps can drivers in California take to find affordable car insurance?
  3. How do regulations and rules in California impact insurance pricing and how consumers might shop for coverage?
Michael Rainey
Michael Rainey

Practitioner Lecturer of Business Law at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School

Thomas Francl
Thomas Francl

Associate Faculty Professor at National University

Kaycea Campbell
Kaycea Campbell

Associate Professor of Economics at Chapman University

Kai  Ding
Kai Ding

Assistant Professor Department of Economics at California State University - East Bay

Audrey Guo
Audrey Guo

Assistant Professor of Economics at Santa Clara University

Daniel Roccato
Daniel Roccato

Clinical Professor of Finance at the University of San Diego School of Business

Sean Flynn
Sean Flynn

Chairman of the Economics Department at Scripps College

Andreas Rauterkus
Andreas Rauterkus

Associate Professor of Finance and Chair of the Department of Finance at California State University San Marcos

Juan Gutierrez
Juan Gutierrez

Assistant Professor of Finance at California State University, Bakersfield

(Heidi) Luo Yilan
(Heidi) Luo Yilan

Educator and Comedian, Adjunct Associate Professor in Economics at Cerritos College

Suzy Taherian
Suzy Taherian

Adjunct Professor, UC Davis Graduate School of Management; CFO, Wrightspeed

Xin Che,  Ph.D.
Xin Che, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Finance at California State University, Fullerton

Frank Paiano
Frank Paiano

Professor Emeritus at Southwestern Community College, Registered Representative

Steven Shagrin
Steven Shagrin

JD, Certified Money Coach/Master Money Coach & Trainer, Certified Professional Retirement Coach, Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, Registered Life Planner, Former CFP®

Delia Fernandez
Delia Fernandez

MBA, CFP® at Fernandez Financial Advisory, LLC

Alex Okugawa
Alex Okugawa

Financial Advisor, CFP(R), CKA(R), CEPA(R) at One Degree Advisors

Scott Stanley
Scott Stanley

Founder of Pharos Wealth Management

Tolen Teigen
Tolen Teigen

Chief Investment Officer at FinDec, CFA, CFP, AIF, C(k)P, ChFC, CASL, AEP and MSFS

Sam Dogen
Sam Dogen

Founder of Financial Samurai

Cassie Pipp
Cassie Pipp

Personal Finance Mastermind

Christopher W. Bauman
Christopher W. Bauman

Associate Professor, Organization and Management, The Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine

Kristoffer Fu
Kristoffer Fu

CEO and Wealth Manager at Maven Bridge Capital

Andrew Hoffarth, CFP®
Andrew Hoffarth, CFP®

Wealth Advisor at Financial Alternatives, Inc.

Michael Zeiger
Michael Zeiger

Investment Advisor Representative at Telesis Tax & Financial

Danielle Miura, CFP®
Danielle Miura, CFP®

Founder of Spark Financials

Kalvin Sid
Kalvin Sid

CFP® MBA, CKA®

Kevin Gotts
Kevin Gotts

Certified Financial Planner

Kurt Jackson, CFP®, C(K)P®, AIF®, CRPS®
Kurt Jackson, CFP®, C(K)P®, AIF®, CRPS®

CEO/Founder at Central Coast Wealth Management

About the Author


expert-profile

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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