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California Car Insurance

California car insurance is required under state law. Learn what average California car insurance rates are for your gender and age based on coverage limits and deductibles, as well as all the details you need to know about California laws.


California car insurance laws require that you must carry at least $15,000 worth of bodily injury liability coverage for anyone you injure, up to $30,000 per accident, and at least $5,000 to cover property damage. This is commonly shown in this format:  15/30/5.

California car insurance requirements

Here are the types of California car insurance you must have:

  • Bodily injury liability: Pays, up to your policy limits, for injuries others receive in an accident caused by you or other drivers listed on your policy.
  • Property damage liability: Covers, up to your limits, damage you cause to other cars or property.

Here are optional coverages:

  • Collision: Pays for damage to your car from an accident.
  • Comprehensive insurance: Pays to replace stolen cars and for damages to your car from theft, fire, flooding, hail, animal strikes, falling objects and vandalism.
  • MedPay and Personal Injury Protection (PIP):  Covers you, your passengers and other authorized drivers of your car who are injured while in your insured vehicle.  Both typically also cover you and your family members if you are injured while riding in someone else's car or if struck by another vehicle while on foot.
  • Uninsured motorist/Underinsured: Pays for medical bills, and those of your passengers, if you are hit by a driver who is uninsured.  It may also cover pain and suffering and lost income. In cases where the other driver has insurance, but it isn’t enough to cover the bills, underinsured motorist bodily injury makes up the difference between his policy limits and yours.
  • Rental car: Pays for a rental while your car is being fixed or replaced.
  • Towing: Pays for your car to be towed after an accident or breakdown.

California car insurance quotes comparison

If you’re buying California car insurance, and want to compare car insurance quotes, find out average car insurance rates for your city or town using our tool that shows rates by ZIP code. 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. This way you can see if your quote is coming in too high and if you should keep shopping or not.

California Car Insurance Rates by ZIP Code & City

To learn more about the most and least expensive cities for car insurance, click the link below. Car insurance rate comparison >
Top Cities
Priciest Neighborhoods
In California
  • 90029: $2,416
  • 90020: $2,403
  • 90010: $2,402
  • 90005: $2,388
Cheapest Neighborhoods
In California
  • 93441: $996
  • 93437: $1,025
  • 93428: $1,027
  • 93449: $1,028

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Cheapest California car insurance rates

If you just buy the minimum liability insurance required under California law (15/30/5), here is what it will cost you, on average, broken down by age and gender, based on data commissioned by CarInsurance.com from Quadrant Information Services:


Average annual rate for state minimum liability insurance for women by age

































Average annual rate for state minimum liability insurance for men by age
































(Methodology: Data commissioned by CarInsurance.com from Quadrant Information Services.)

Deductibles and your California car insurance rates

A minor accident could easily exceed minimum liability coverage limits, leaving you responsible to pay for damages not covered by insurance. For example, if you have $30,000 in liability insurance and you  cause an accident that costs $50,000, you have to pay $20,000 out-of-pocket. If you don’t have the money on hand, your assets may be taken to cover the costs. To ensure sufficient coverage, consider buying more insurance once you buy a house, start a family, or have savings to protect.

You can boost your protection by raising your liability limits. Extra liability coverage is typically cheap. For example, on average, women in California would pay $18 a month for more coverage, while men would pay $20 more monthly. Here is what your average annual car insurance rate would be for the higher liability limits of 50/100/50, compared to the state minimum:


Minimum liability  15/30/5

Extra liability 50/100/50

Annual cost for extra coverage










You can also buy collision coverage and comprehensive insurance, which are optional. Liability insurance does not have a deductible, but comprehensive and collision do. A deductible is the amount you pay before your insurance benefits kick in. For example, if you set your deductible at $1,000 and your car sustains damages totaling $1,800, you will pay $1,000 and your insurance company will pay $800. The higher your deductible, the lower your rate. If you choose to go that route, be sure you have the money saved to pay the deductible should you have to file a claim to get your car fixed.

The recommended levels of coverage are 100/300/100, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Here are average car insurance rates for full coverage (100/300/100), and how those California car insurance rates change based on your comprehensive deductible and your collision deductible:


$1,000 deductible on Comprehensive/Collision

$500 deductible on Comprehensive/Collision

$250 deductible on Comprehensive/Collision















Here is how much you save, on average, by raising your deductible:

$1,000 deductible instead of $250

  • Women: $453
  • Men: $531

$500 deductible instead of $250

  • Women: $181
  • Men: $205

How to get the California Prop 103 Good Driver Discount

Under California law, drivers who meet these conditions must receive rates at least 20 percent lower than a driver who does not meet these criteria at the same car insurance company:

  • Has been licensed for at least three consecutive years
  • Has no more than one point on his or her driving record

Metromile pay-per-mile California car insurance

Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance is a good option for those who don’t log many miles in their cars. Its plug-in device tracks mileage and bills you monthly for a base rate plus a per-mile charge. If you drive less than 5,000 miles per year, Metromile claims you could save 40 to 50 percent over traditional insurers. The per-mile fee tops out at 150 miles a day, making allowances for the occasional long trip.

Planned Non-Operation status

If you are not going to drive, tow, store or park your car on public roads for an entire registration year, you can place it under Planned Non-Operation (PNO) status to legally drop insurance coverage to save money. PNO status allows your registration to be canceled and insurance to be taken off the vehicle until you are ready to once again drive it.

Your registration renewal notice has a designated box you can check off to place your car on NPO status. If a renewal notice is not available, complete a Certificate of Non-Operation/Planned Non- Operation Certification (REG 102) and mail it with your check to the address on the form. A PNO may also be filed online at www.dmv.ca.gov.

You must file the PNO form for your car before the registration expiration date. (You can file up to 90 days after the expiration date, but you will have to pay a fee.)

Once PNO status is placed on a vehicle record, it will remain on the record until you decide to register it. The registration expiration date remains the same and you will receive an annual Non-Operated Vehicle Notice.

Insurance for low-income drivers

If you are low-income, you may be eligible for the California Low Cost Auto Insurance program, which permits lower liability limits of:

  • Bodily injury liability - $10,000 person / $20,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability - $3,000 per accident

The low-cost program (rates top out at about $350 a year and are often cheaper) is available to drivers with good records, 19 or older, licensed for three years and for vehicles worth $20,000 or less.

CAARP:  California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan for high-risk drivers

In California if you cannot find a car insurance company that will insure you, you can get liability coverage through the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP). This plan is designed for high-risk drivers who are unsuccessful in obtaining insurance from companies that sell non-standard policies.

The plan works by taking your application and assigning it to an insurance company. All insurance companies licensed in the state must accept CAARP applicants. The amount of CAARP assignments is based on insurance company market share. The more policies an insurance company issues, the larger the portion of CAARP assignments it is required to take.

The rates used by the plan are the same no matter what insurance company issues the policy. The plan also offers installment options. After three years with a clean driving record, consumers underwritten through CAARP can move from the program to a standard lines insurance company. No broker's fee can be charged in connection with a CAARP policy.

To buy a CAARP policy, you have to work with an agent who is certified by the state to assist in getting drivers these special policies. Start by calling the number below to be paired up with a “certified producer” in your area who will help find an insurer for you.  Afterwards, you and your assigned certified producer will work with the insurance company’s agent to get you an appropriate policy.

To Find a CAARP Certified Producer, call: 1 (800) 622 – 0954

California car insurance laws

Proof of California car insurance:  You must be able to prove you have auto insurance to register your car or renew your registration. Your insurance company will give you an insurance card that can serve as your proof of insurance. You will receive a new card every time you renew your car insurance policy. California law allows drivers to show proof of insurance during a traffic stop on a smartphone. It is one of 36 states that do so.

Your credit is not an issue for California car insurance rates: California law says that it’s unacceptable for your credit score to be a rating factor used by personal auto insurance providers. It also requires that California car insurance carriers calculate rates based on miles driven and driving records before considering your geographic location.

Pure comparative negligence explained: California is among the 13 states that have a pure comparative fault rule. Sates with pure comparative negligence laws let all drivers recover some payment for their damages, even if they are mostly to blame. For example, a driver 70 percent at fault in an accident could make a claim for damages against the other driver's liability coverage but expect to receive only 30 percent of the claim amount.

How long the insurance company has to pay a claim:  California requires an acknowledgment of all claims within 15 days.  Under California law, insurance companies are required to accept or deny the claim within 40 days after receiving proof of the claim. If the claim is accepted, payment must be made within 30 days from the date settlement was reached.

How long you have to file a claim: California law requires that you file medical claims within two years of the incident. To be compensated for damage to your vehicle, you have three years to file a claim. Always be sure to review your policy for other details. For instance, you typically must file a stolen car claim within 30 days of the theft.

Driver’s license and insurance for undocumented immigrants

Undocumented California immigrants may apply for a driver's license if they can show eligible proof of identification and residency in the state. Once they pass a written and road test and are licensed, they may buy insurance.  State law says that if you have an AB 60 license, it can't be used to question your citizenship or immigration status. Those who don't possess foreign government-issued identification on a list of approved documents can be interviewed by a DMV investigator to see if they qualify.

How to reinstate suspended California car registration   

If you’ve received a notice from the DMV saying your registration is suspended or that suspension is imminent, you can fix the situation by fulfilling your obligations online at the California DMV vehicle registration suspensions portal. You can submit any information needed as well as pay fees required to keep your registration in good standing.

Before you begin, you need your license plate number and the last five characters of your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or the letter you received from the DMV with a personal identification number.

You may also need your car insurance documents. To submit insurance information through this online service, your insurance company must be participating in the voluntary online verification process. You may also need to have a personal check on hand so you can provide a bank routing number and account number to pay fees, or you can use a credit card.

How to file a complaint against your California car insurance company

You can file a complaint against your insurer by filling out an insurance complaint form provided by the California Department of Insurance. You can file and submit it online or print it out and mail it to:

California Department of Insurance/Consumer Services Division

300 S. Spring Street

Los Angeles, CA 90013

If you have any questions, call the California Department of Insurance at (800) 927-4357. For those living out of state, call (213) 897-8921.


California tickets and penalties

Speeding tickets in California

While base fines in California are fairly reasonable, fees and assessments push the total up dramatically. All of the fees and assessments fund local and state programs.

1-15 mph over the limit - The base fine is a mere $35 but once all of the various state fees are added on you are looking at a whopping $234.

16-25 mph over the limit - A base fine of $70 jumps up to a budget busting $360 when all of the fees are added up.

26+ mph over the limit - A $100 ticket turns into $480 by the time its all over.

Over 100 mph - If you are pushing your supercar to the limit and get pulled over, you will be writing a huge check. The $200 base fine turns into $859.

Points - Speeding will put one point on your license. If you convicted of speeding over 100 mph you will receive 2 points.  If you manage to accumulate 4 points in 12 months you will lose your license.

Driving record – A speeding offense will stay on your record for at least three years.  If California is notified that you were convicted of speeding in another state, your out-of-state speeding infraction – along with one point – will go on your driving record.

Car insurance impact - Your car insurance company may overlook one minor speeding ticket, depending upon its surcharge schedule, or may bump your rates up 10 percent or more.  A second speeding ticket in three years or less makes it look like a trend of bad driving behavior and will raise your insurance rates even more -- expect at least a 20 percent jump --  but it could be over 50 percent.

Driving without a license in California

It is illegal to drive your car when you have no license or your license has been revoked or suspended.  Driving without a valid license can be charged as either a misdemeanor or infraction.  If you’re cited for an infraction, be thankful that you may only face a fine of up to $250.  If you’re charged with a misdemeanor, you may end up with the following penalties – including being arrested.

Fines - A first conviction will result in a fine that ranges from $300 up to $1,000. A second offense will hit you with fines that start at $500 and range up to $2,000.

Probation - One to three years of informal probation is possible.

Jail time - Depending on the circumstances, for a first time offense you could face five days to six months in jail. A second offense will result in 10 days to one year in jail.

DUI - If your license has been suspended for a DUI offense you will be charged under VC 14601.2(a), which carries stiffer penalties. A minimum 10-day county jail sentence is in your future for a first timer and a 30 -day jail stay for a second offense.

Your vehicle – Towing and impoundment of your vehicle for 30 days is possible. You will be responsible for the associated fees, which in some areas of California can add up to over $1,000.

Points - You will receive 2 points on your license.

Driving record – Your driver's record for three years will show that you were cited for driving without a license.

Car insurance impact – If your insurance policy states that the person driving your vehicle must have a valid license, then your insurer could deny claims if your vehicle and the driver is unlicensed or without a current valid license.  Insurance companies typically find license offenses on par with other minor traffic violations and thus surcharge around the same amount.  But if you were found driving on a suspended or revoked license, auto insurers normally bump that up to a major violation, which will increase your rates. And that is after you obtain insurance again. Typically, if you don't have a valid license, insurers will not renew your policy at the end of the term. And generally lapses in coverage also increase your premiums.

Driving without car insurance in California

Like most states, California requires all drivers to carry a certain amount of car insurance and if you are caught out on the road without it, there will be a penalty.

In California, drivers must carry liability insurance of $15,000 for injury/death to one person, $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person and $5,000 for damage to property (15/30/5).

Fines - The fine for a first offense is a fairly reasonable $100-$200. It goes up to $200-$500 for a second offense. Penalties and assessments can run up these totals.

Your vehicle - The police are authorized to impound your vehicle and you will not get it back until you have proof of insurance and pay all towing and storage fees. This can quickly add up to big money.

Points - There are no points assessed for driving without insurance.

Car insurance impact – A lapse in insurance will cause your rates to rise when you do obtain your next car insurance policy.  And, of course, if you cause an accident while you're uninsured, you’ll be left personally responsible to pay for the damages you caused to others – as well as your own damaged vehicle.


Texting while driving in California

California has a few different laws that deal with cellphone use but for a straight texting while driving ticket, the penalties are certainly not impressive, in fact they are the lowest in the country.

In California, text messaging is banned for all drivers. However, hands-free and voice-controlled texting is allowed.

Fine - $20 for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. No points are assessed to your license. When court costs and fees are figured in, they push the totals to $76 for a first timer and $190 thereafter.

Driving record impact – No driver license points are assessed because texting while driving is not considered a moving violation in California, but the violation will appear on your driving record.

Car insurance penalty – Your insurer will see the infraction on your driving record, but because it's not a moving violation it probably won't affect your car insurance rates.  Most insurance companies do not apply a surcharge for non-moving violations.


California DUI insurance

A DUI will cause your rates to increase significantly because insurance companies now consider you a high-risk driver. The average increase for California drivers after one DUI is 160 percent, based on data commissioned by CarInsurance.com through Quadrant Information Services. For example, if your rate is $,1,000, a DUI would typically hike it to $2,600.

While driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is considered a major offense by all car insurance companies, some weigh the risk differently. For example, the same driver with a single DUI shopping for car insurance in California would see rates as low as $2,005 a year or as high as $6,733.

In some cases, you will need to have an SR-22 filed to reinstate your license after a DUI. An SR-22 certification is a form that is filed with the state, not a type of insurance, but is required for you to get insurance.  When you're required to carry an SR-22, you will be told what the minimum car insurance limits are that the state will accept for this filing. When you purchase the required coverage and have your insurer file the SR-22, the form verifies with the state that you have the mandated coverage in place.

California DUI penalties

This assumes there is no bodily injury or death resulting from your DUI. Drunk driving is considered a misdemeanor in California, but if injuries or a death are involved it’s charged as a felony, which ups the stakes considerably.

Penalties can vary depending on the details of your case but the following are all possible:

  • Fine - The standard fine is $390 but with penalty assessments expect to fork up around $1,800.
  • Points - A DUI will put 2 points on your license.
  • Jail time - It varies by the details of your case but the maximum allowed is six months in a county jail.
  • Probation - You will be on informal or summary probation for three to five years.
  • License suspension - You will be without a license for a minimum of 30 days but the suspension can range up to six months. If your blood alcohol level is 0.15 percent or above the suspension could last up to ten months.
  • The suspension is followed by a five to seven month restriction, which only allows you to drive to and from work or an alcohol treatment program.
  • Alcohol-treatment program - If you ever want to drive again you will need to complete a $500 three-month alcohol-treatment program. The program is nine months long if your blood alcohol level was 0.20 percent or higher.
  • Vehicle impounded -Your vehicle could be impounded for 30 days at your expense.
  • Interlock -You may have to install an interlock on your vehicle, which will test your breath and not allow your vehicle to start if there is any trace of alcohol. Expect to fork up about $800 for the device.
  • Driving record impact - The reporting period in California for a DUI is 10 years. 
  • Car insurance penalty – A DUI will cause your rates to increase significantly because insurance companies now consider you a high-risk driver. If an SR-22 is required, you will need to find an auto insurer that will file this certificate for you if your current provider does not.

How tickets and points affect your California car insurance rates

If a ticket for a major moving violation hits your record and your insurer sees it while reviewing your driving history upon renewal, the fines will be just the start. You can also expect your insurance premiums to increase. For example, in California, a driver’s rate will increase by 30 percent, on average, for going 11 mph or more over the speed limit.

Insurers take the points on your license and run them through a proprietary and complex algorithm to determine how much your rates are going to increase. Every insurance company has its own rating system, which means that your premium can vary dramatically between insurers. As an example, a major violation could jack up your rates 25 percent with one insurer while another might ding you 40 percent.

Expect the rate increase to stay in place as long as the points remain on your record. In California, most points stick around for three years but DUI points are on your record for a decade.

Lists points for all moving violations -- California DMV points page

Information on how to pay a traffic ticket or appeal it -- California courts traffic tickets

California traffic school

Typically, if the court lets you go to traffic school for an eligible offense and you complete the course by the due date, you will not get any points on your driving record. You will have to pay an administrative court fee and also a fee to participate in the course.

You cannot go to traffic school for:

  • Equipment offenses
  • Non-moving offenses (like parking offenses)
  • Misdemeanors
  • Offenses with a mandatory court appearance
  • Alcohol-related offenses
  • Offenses in a commercial vehicle

California car insurance for Uber and Lyft drivers

Here are your car insurance options if you work for Uber or Lyft:

Farmers Insurance: Farmers only offers coverage for the period in which the ridesharing app is open but no passengers are yet assigned (called “Period 1”) under its rideshare endorsement. It can be added to all coverage types, liability, comprehensive, collision, uninsured motorist and medical payment/PIP. According to Farmers, the coverage will cost roughly $15 a month.

Metromile: If you drive for Uber, Metromile will cover you during Period 1. Metromile is a specialty insurer that uses a plug-in device, called a Metronome, to track a driver's mileage. Metromile only charges for miles driven, and integrated databases with Uber allow it to determine the miles covered by Uber versus personal miles. The coverage is not available for Lyft drivers.

Most expensive ZIP codes for California car insurance

The most expensive ZIP codes for car insurance in California's major cities, on average, based on data from Quadrant Information Services commissioned by CarInsurance.com:

1.       Los Angeles ZIP 90029


2.       Oakland ZIP 94607


3.       Sacramento ZIP 95824


4.       San Francisco ZIP 94137


5.       Long Beach ZIP 90813


6.       Fresno ZIP 93701


7.       Anaheim ZIP 92804


8.       Santa Ana ZIP 92703


9.       San Diego ZIP 92136


10.   San Jose ZIP 95122


Quick facts

Most stolen vehicles in California, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau:

1.       1996 Honda Accord – 25,716 thefts

2.       1998 Honda Civic – 22,924

3.       1991 Toyota Camry – 5,242

4.       2004 Chevrolet Pick-Up (full size) – 5,225

5.       1994 Acura Integra – 4, 058

6.       2006 Ford Pick-Up (full size) – 3,797

7.       2013 Toyota Corolla – 2, 688

8.       1994 Nissan Sentra – 2,411

9.       1997 Nissan Altima – 2, 186

10.   1996 Nissan Maxima – 1,909

Deer collision odds in California

  • 1 out of 1,048, compared to national average of 1 out of 169, according to State Farm claims data.

Number of uninsured motorists in California

  • 4.1 million, about 12 to 15 percent. Nationwide, 12.6 percent of drivers, about 1 in 8, are uninsured, according to the latest report from the Insurance Research Council.

DMV AB 60 Statistics for July 2015 (latest data available) and totals since inception:

  • 45,000  --    AB 60 driver licenses issued in July 2015.
  • 442,000 --   AB 60 driver licenses issued from Jan.  2, 2015 to July 31, 2015.

Alternatives to California car insurance

Buying California car insurance is the most common way of proving to the state that you are financially able to pay for accidents and damages, but there are other options. Instead of obtaining a California car insurance policy you can provide proof of:

  • A cash deposit of $35,000 with the Department of Motor Vehicles;
  • A certificate of self-insurance issued by the DMV to owners of fleets of more than 25 vehicles; or
  • A surety bond of $35,000 obtained from an insurance company licensed to do business in California.

More information on California Car Insurance:

The 5 Most Common Traffic Tickets in California
How Much Insurance to Buy in California
Salvage title in California

Largest Car Insurance Companies in California by Market Share

Rank Company/Group Direct premiums written ($) Market share %
1 State Farm Insurance Group 2,863,700 14.00
2 Farmers Insurance Group 2,699,254 13.20
3 Allstate Insurance Group 1,838,313 8.99
4 Mercury General Group 1,734,647 8.48
5 Auto Club Enterprises Insurance Group 1,718,429 8.40
6 CSAA Insurance 1,353,093 6.62
7 Berkshire Hathaway Insurance 1,327,427 6.49
8 USAA Group 892,539 4.36
9 Progressive Insurance Group 838,645 4.10
10 Liberty Mutual Insurance 738,797 3.61
Source: A.M. Best market share rankings are based on direct premiums written in 2013.

Car Insurance in California Cities