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California Car Insurance

California car insurance is defined by low minimum requirements and strong laws to protect drivers. Car insurance rates in California can be quite high in the state’s major metro areas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose, which have some of the most congested roadways in the country. Whether you’re looking for the cheapest car insurance in California or you're ready to buy full coverage on a brand-new car, we’ve got the information to help you make a smart decision. Find the average rate in your neighborhood and read up on California car insurance laws to inform yourself before buying insurance.

California Car Insurance Requirements
Average Car Insurance Rates in California
California Car Insurance Laws

Largest Car Insurance Companies in California

California Car Insurance Requirements

California state law requires the following minimum car insurance coverage:
Minimum bodily injury liability $15,000/$30,000
Minimum property damage liability $5,000

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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California Car Insurance Laws:
What you need to know

Penny Gusner
Consumer Analyst

California's minimum liability car insurance requirement is very low in comparison to most states. Drivers must carry at least $15,000 worth of bodily injury liability coverage for anyone they injure, up to $30,000 per accident, and at least $5,000 to cover property damage.

A minor accident could easily exceed these limits, leaving you responsible for any damages not covered by insurance. Consider adding more once you buy a house, start a family, or have savings to protect.

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.

Uninsured motorist fees: If you are ticketed for driving without insurance, you could have your car impounded and have to pay up to $200.

Leaving town? If you have a car that you aren’t going to have on the road, place it under Planned Non-Operation (PNO) status and you can 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 credit is not an issue for car insurance quotes: 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.

What is a good driver?: Insurance law defines for California car insurance companies who should be given a good driver discount. A person qualifies if he or she:

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

By law, drivers that meet these conditions receive rates at least 20 percent lower than a non-good driver at the same insurance company.

Alternatives to insurance: There are alternative ways to meet California’s financial responsibility law. 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.

Electronic proof of insurance: California law allows drivers to show proof of insurance during a traffic stop on a smartphone. It is one of 31 states that does so.

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