Everything You Need to Know About Auto Insurance in California

The Hollywood Sign, the Golden Gate Bridge, celebrities, movie studios, surfers, Gold Rush miners, and bright, warm sunshine are just some of the images the thought of California instantly brings to mind. Spanning roughly 163,696 square miles along the Pacific coast, the Golden State’s hills and canyons slope into valleys that lead to the ocean, and the potential for earthquakes is high, given that the San Andreas Fault cuts right through 750 miles of it.

Today, more than 39.2 million people call this state — the largest in the nation — home. From densely populated cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego to more residential communities in Santa Barbara, Monterey, and Sonoma, this vast state is as culturally and linguistically diverse as its landscape — a trait it can trace back thousands of years when this pre-Columbian slice of North America was home to 300,000 members of 70 distinct ethnic groups.

If you’re looking for an affordable auto policy to keep you and your loved ones safe on the road, InsureOne expert agents help you find the best auto insurance at a great rate in California.

How Much Does Car Insurance Cost in California?

California drivers pay annual average auto premiums of $2,291 for full coverage and $636 for minimum liability insurance.

These premiums are much higher than national averages, which stand at around $2,014 and $622 for full and minimum coverage, respectively. A full coverage policy costs $277 more in the Golden State, and a basic one costs $14 more than what drivers in other states pay.

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What Does It Mean if California Is At-Fault?

California is an at-fault state, meaning drivers who cause a crash are responsible for medical costs to treat any physical injuries that others involved sustain. They must also pay for property damage they cause.

Affordable Car Insurance Rates Comparison by Cities in California

For a comparison of the average monthly premiums paid by drivers in different California cities, check out our breakdown below.

City Full Coverage Insurance Liability Insurance Coverage
Sacramento $223 $63
Los Angeles $276 $74
San Francisco $231 $64
Monterey $163 $47
San Diego $185 $48

Our average monthly premiums by city are based on the following methodology: male, age 30, lowest possible legal coverage allowed in California.

How Bundling Your Vehicle and Homeowners Insurance Can Save You Money in California

Bundling coverage usually reduces annual premiums by around 5% to 25%. This is especially beneficial to homeowners, who tend to pay more for coverage than renters.

If you own a house in Orange County, San Dimas, or in the Bay Area, for example, and bundle your home and auto coverage, you’ll likely get the maximum 25% reduction on your premium. Someone renting an apartment in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or any other California town or city might receive a discount of closer to 15%.

An InsureOne agent can help you build a quality package that meets your needs and budget. They do all the work, comparing offerings from top providers, which saves you time and money.

What Types of Auto Discounts Are Available in California?

Driver discounts can help you save money on your premiums, especially if you’re eligible for more than one. For example, if you own a house and lease two cars, bundling homeowner’s insurance and auto coverage could bring your rate down by as much as 25%.

Other rate-reducing discounts include:

  • Defensive driver
  • Good driver
  • Military
  • Anti-theft
  • Loyalty
  • Good student
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California Car Insurance Laws

California has a 15/30/5 minimum mandatory liability coverage requirement, and drivers must always carry proof of having auto insurance. Here’s a closer look at what this means.

What Are the Mandatory Car Insurance Requirements in California?

In California, a basic policy must provide 15/30/5 liability coverage to cover costs you cause in a crash. That means you’ll have:

  • $15,000 to cover the medical treatment or funeral expenses of one person
  • $30,000 to cover treatment for injuries or deaths if two or more persons are involved
  • $5,000 to pay for property damage

These required coverage amounts are slightly lower than those of other states. This can make you underinsured if a crash you cause leads to injuries or damages that exceed these amounts, leaving you to pay the remaining balance out of pocket. To avoid this, you can choose to increase your amount of liability coverage.

What Is the Penalty for Driving Without Insurance in California?

By law, the Golden State requires insurers to report new, lapsed, and canceled policies to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. That means the state knows upfront who has valid coverage and who doesn’t.

First-time offenders caught behind the wheel without proof of auto coverage typically face fines that range between $100 and $250 along with license suspension, penalty assessments, and vehicle impoundment. The penalty assessments alone can drive fines up as high as $390.

Repeat offenders face the same penalties with higher fines — anywhere between $200 and $500. In these cases, penalty assessments will likely be much more severe.

What Factors Does California Law Allow in Determining Your Premiums?

State law allows insurers to calculate your premium based on several factors. Some of the most important ones are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Marital status
  • Vehicle type
  • Driving record and experience
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What Happens if I Damage Property?

If you cause a crash that damages another vehicle, a homeowner’s fence, or a road sign, for example, your insurer will pay for all repairs up to your property damage liability amount. In California, a basic policy only covers up to $5,000 for property damages. If the damage you caused exceeds that amount, you have to pay the outstanding amount out of pocket and you won’t get any help with repairs to your own vehicle.

If you have a full coverage policy, your collision coverage will help to pay for your vehicle damages.

At InsureOne, our professional agents help you find the best auto insurance with customizable options that meet your needs.

What Is Driving Like in California?

California has mild to warm weather most months, with summer fog rolling in near the coast, particularly in the Bay Area. Inland, summers are hotter, and winters are colder. Frigid rain can make roads hazardous, and so can ice and snow in regions that experience colder winters.

California’s dry climate often leads to wildfires, with raging blazes spreading across large swaths of land, consuming homes and buildings as they burn. Driving through areas experiencing these conditions can be extremely dangerous, with overheated cement roadways, exceedingly high temperatures, and lit embers carried by the wind easily sparking a new fire wherever they land.

How Many Car Accidents Happen in California?

In 2021, 3,983 fatal crashes in California resulted in 4,285 deaths. The following chart shows the number of fatal crashes that took place in various cities across the state that year.

City Fatal Crashes in 2021
Sacramento 66
Los Angeles 315
Palo Alto 4
San Francisco 31
Bakersfield 48
Monterey 1
Fresno 76
North Palm Springs 6
Santa Rosa 5
Chula Vista 14
San Bernardino 36
San Diego 109
San Jose 75

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

How Many Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists Are in California?

More than 16% of California drivers state don’t have auto coverage. This state ranks no. 10 in 2019 among all 50 states.

Get the Best Car Insurance in California Today

InsureOne offers a one-stop auto insurance shopping experience with expert agents who will listen to your needs and help you find top-quality insurance options that work best for you.

We will save you time and money by researching quotes and presenting you with several options that meet your needs. Get a quote online, visit us at a California office near you, or call us at (800) 836-2240 for a quote.