Compared to Los Angeles car insurance rates, San Diego's are hundreds of dollars less, but still not cheap. The same driver will pay hundreds of dollars more in Coronado than in Carlsbad, according to our California car insurance rate analysis. But even if you live in one of the higher-cost ZIP codes, you can save money by simple comparison shopping. No two car insurance companies will offer you the same rate.
San Diego ZIP code 92136 is the most expensive for car insurance in the city, $1,623 a year, on average for full coverage, according to a survey of rates from six major carriers. But the difference between the highest rate ($1,993) for that ZIP and the lowest ($1,110) is $883.
Why comparing car insurance rates saves you money
Prices for the same policy vary by hundreds – sometimes thousands – of dollars because no two insurance companies us the same formula to calculate rates. That’s why you have to shop around to save money. 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 Diego’s highest average rate ($1,623) compares to others, assuming full coverage policy:
$552 more than the least expensive average rate ($1,071) in California, Los Olivos ZIP code 93441
$105 more than the state average ($1,518)
$268 more than the national average rate ($1,355)
You’ll see in the chart below how San Deigo ZIP codes rank for car insurance, from the most expensive to the least, and how much rates can vary for the same policy.
Car insurance rates in San Diego by ZIP code
Average annual premium
Highest annual premium
Lowest annual premium
Methodology: CarInsurance.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to run auto insurance rates for a 2016 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 100/300/100 ($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. 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 Diego 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 Diego
If you need just enough coverage to drive legally, you’ll want to shop for the lowest liability car insurance limits required by the state. 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 $491, according to our rate analysis. You would pay just $101 more if you hiked your liability coverage to 50/100/50. That's less than $9 a month.
Cheapest San Diego car insurance companies
Geico leads the pack in terms of offering car insurance in San Diego at the lowest rates. To see how major insurance companies rank on price, see the chart below.
Best car insurance in San Diego
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 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 come with a deductible. That’s the amount you pay for each claim before your insurer pays out. Deductibles of $1,000, $500 and $250 are the usual amounts from which you can choose. The lower the deductible is, the higher your rate will be.
Driving in San Diego
Traffic in San Diego: The city and nearby areas came in 13th for the worst traffic in the country in a recent report by USA Today, which noted that commuters spend about 37 hours a year stuck in traffic.
Car crashes: Major accidents have resulted in an average of 70 deaths a year in recent years (2012-2014).
Commuting: The average commute in San Diego is 24.4 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 Diego area, only vehicles with at least two people, mass transit vehicles like buses and motorcycles are allowed to use the lanes. The lanes may be restricted during specified hours.
Public transportation: The U.S. Census Bureau says that the majority of riders in San Diego who commute to work by public transportation are white (about 29 percent), Hispanic (about 43 percent) and black (about 9 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: Where 54th Street and University Avenue meet is considered one of the worst intersections in San Diego, with 77 accidents reported during the past ten years.
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.