Car insurance in San Francisco can be pricey, but you can save 50 percent or more in some cases by shopping around, according to our California car insurance rate analysis. Drivers in San Francisco ZIP code 94134 pay the highest average car insurance rate in the city, $1,815 a year, according to a survey of rates from six major carriers. But the difference between the highest rate ($2,524) for that ZIP and the lowest ($1,158) is $1,366.
Why comparing car insurance rates saves you money
Each car insurance company uses its own method when deciding what you pay for coverage, which is why prices for the same policy vary significantly. That’s why you can wind up overpaying for insurance if you don’t shop around. To see how car insurance rates compare, use our average rates tool below.
Enter a ZIP code to see the average premium for the location, as well as the highest and lowest rates from the six major carriers surveyed.
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Enter ZIP for average rate. Then enter Age, Gender and Coverage Level for customized rate.
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CarInsurance.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to provide a report of average auto insurance rates for a 2016 Honda Accord for nearly every ZIP code in the United States. We calculated rates using data for up to six large carriers (Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm).
Averages for the default result are based on insurance for a married 40-year-old male who commutes 12 miles to work each day, with policy limits of 100/300/100 ($100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $100,000 for property damage in an accident) and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage. The rate includes uninsured motorist coverage.
Averages for customized rates are based on drivers ages 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 for the following coverage levels: state minimum liability, liability of 50/100/50 and 100/300/100 with $500 deductible on comprehensive and collision. These hypothetical drivers have clean records and good credit. Average rates are for comparative purposes.
Your own rate will depend on your personal factors and vehicle.
State Minimum: Required liability coverage to drive legally in your state; some states mandate additional coverage, such as personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist.
Liability Only 50/100/50: $50,000 per person/$100,000 maximum per accident for bodily injury; $50,000 for property damage. Liability pays for injuries/damage you cause others.
Full Coverage 100/300/100: $100,000 per person/$300,000 maximum per accident for bodily injury; $100,000 for property damage; comprehensive and collision coverage with $500 deductible. Liability pays for injuries/damage you cause others. Comprehensive and collision pay for damage to your car.
Here's how San Francisco’s highest average rate ($1,815) compares to others:
$819 more than the least expensive average rate ($996) in California, Los Olivos ZIP code 93441
$382 more than the state average ($1,433)
$584 more than the national average rate ($1,231)
$148 more than the average rate for drivers in San Francisco ( $1,667)
You’ll see in the chart below how much rates can vary for the same policy.
San Francisco car insurance rates
San Francisco ZIP code
Average annual rate
*Methodology for rates by ZIP code:
CarInsurance.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to run auto insurance rates for a 2014 Honda Accord for more than 30,000 ZIP codes in the United States using six large carriers -- Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm. (In cases where an insurer’s rate wasn’t available, another major carrier's rate was substituted.) Averages are based on insurance for a single 40-year-old male who commutes 12 miles to work each day, with policy limits of 100/300/50 ($100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 for property damage in an accident) and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage. This hypothetical driver has a clean record and good credit. The rate includes uninsured motorist coverage. Average rates are for comparative purposes. Your own rate will depend on your personal factors and vehicle.
San Francisco ranks fourth in the list of most expensive ZIP codes for car insurance in California's major cities:
1. Los Angeles ZIP 90029
2. Oakland ZIP 94607
3. Sacramento ZIP 95824
4. San Francisco ZIP 94134
5. Long Beach ZIP 90813
6. Fresno ZIP 93701
7. Anaheim ZIP 92804
8. Santa Ana ZIP 92703
9. San Jose ZIP 95122
10. San Diego ZIP 92135
San Francisco car insurance requirements
California state law requires the following minimum car insurance coverage:
Minimum bodily injury liability
Minimum property damage liability
Cheapest car insurance in San Francisco
If you need just bare-bones coverage, you’ll want to shop for the lowest liability car insurance limits required by the state to drive legally. In California (written as 15/30/5), that means your liability car insurance would pay up to:
$15,000 for injuries you cause to others
$30,000 per accident
$5,000 for damage you cause to others’ cars and property
The state average rate for a year of minimum coverage is $723, according to our rate analysis. You would pay just $188 more if you hiked your liability coverage to 50/100/50.
Best car insurance in San Francisco
If you want to have enough car insurance coverage to protect your home and assets, you should buy liability insurance in the following amounts:
$100,000 to pay for others’ medical bills
$300,000 to pay for injuries to others in an accident you cause
$100,000 to pay for damage to others’ property
You should also consider buying these optional coverages:
Comprehensive, which replaces stolen cars and covers damage to your car from floods, fire, hail, vandalism.
Collision, which pays for damage to your car from accidents.
Comprehensive insurance and collision coverage are fairly affordable. They pay out up to the actual cash value of your car. In California, comprehensive costs $98 and collision costs $361, on average per year, according to the Insurance Information Institute. These two coverages, unlike liability insurance, come with a deductible. That’s the amount you pay for each claim before your insurer chips in. Deductibles of $1,000, $500 and $250 are the usual practice. The higher the deductible is, the lower your rate will be.
California car insurance rates for coverage recommendations
With $1,000 deductible
With $500 deductible
With $250 deductible
*Average rate of six insurance carriers for a 2015 Honda Accord LX, from the following carriers, in no particular order: Progressive, Allstate, State Farm, Nationwide, GEICO and Farmers. Data was provided for CarInsurance.com by Quadrant Information Services.
Driving in San Francisco
Traffic in San Francisco: The city and nearby areas came in third for the worst traffic in the country in a recent report by USA Today, which noted that drivers spend about 78 hours a year stuck in traffic.
Car crashes: Major accidents have resulted in an average of about 30 deaths a year in recent years (2012-2014).
Commuting: The average commute lasts 29.2 minutes.
High Occupancy Vehicle rules: The HOV lane, also known as the carpool or diamond lane, is designed to reduce traffic congestion and promote ride-sharing on freeways. In the San Francisco area, only vehicles with at least two people, mass transit vehicles like buses, and motorcycles are allowed to use the lanes. Use may be restricted during specified hours.
Public transportation: The U.S. Census Bureau says that the majority of riders in San Francisco who commute to work by public transportation are white (about 45 percent), Hispanic (about 17 percent) and black (about 5 percent). The bureau notes that commuting is the main reason people use mass transit.
Smog rules: All California residents much have their vehicles tested for emissions at a licensed smog testing center every two years to renew registration. Vehicles that are six years old or less are exempt from testing. New California residents must have an initial inspection to have their vehicle registered, even if they have a current smog certificate from their previous state.
Bad intersection: The intersection at Mission Street, 12th Street, Otis Street and S. Van Ness Avenue is considered one of the worst in the city - there were 92 vehicle accidents at the intersection from 2005 to 2012.
The information was gathered from various sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, state transportation departments and city police departments.