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Here you’ll learn everything you need to know to buy the best car insurance policy in San Francisco for your particular situation. You’ll see which carriers are rated as the best car insurance companies for customer satisfaction and what the average car insurance rates are for your neighborhood. You’ll also discover how much you can save from knowing how to make smart choices about coverage. And, find out how rates for San Francisco drivers are affected by tickets, accidents and adding teen drivers.

Who Has The Best Car Insurance in San Francisco, CA?

Deciding who has the best car insurance to suit your needs depends on what is most important to you. For some it may be price, while others may value customer service the most. Still others may be looking for the convenience of mobile apps, or a company that offers the most car insurance discounts. Below we list car insurance companies in San Francisco, and who they are the best at serving, based on CarInsurance.com’s customer satisfaction survey of current policy holders and rate data analysis.

Best forCompany
ClaimsEsurance
Value/PriceTravelers
Customer ServiceGeico
Websites/AppsSafeco
RecommendGeico
Low Annual MileageFarmers Ins Exchange
Good StudentAMCO Insurance
BundleFarmers Ins Exchange
MarriedUnited Financial Casualty

Cheap Car Insurance in San Francisco, California

Geico Gen Ins Co and United Financial Cas Co have the cheapest car insurance rates in San Francisco, based on our rate analysis for three different coverage levels. The driver profile is for age 30, with good credit and a clean driving record. You can see how major insurers rank for price in the chart below

CompanyLiability Only - State Minimum BI/PDLiability Only - 50/100/50 BI/PDFull Coverage - 100/300/100 BI/PD - 500 Comp/Coll
Geico Gen Ins Co$351$455$1,493
United Financial Cas Co$531$710$1,931
State Farm Mut Auto Ins Co$687$890$2,432
Allstate Northbrook Ind Co$780$855$2,723
Amco Ins Co$832$1,048$2,983
Farmers Ins Exch$832$997$2,903

Car Insurance Coverage – How Much Car Insurance do I Need in San Francisco?

Below we’ll explain what coverage you need to drive legally, which is your state required minimum liability limits, and what types of car insurance you may need to be truly protected.

Minimum Car Insurance Requirements in San Francisco

California car insurance laws require only that you insure yourself against bodily injury and property damage liability, so it’s your choice whether to add coverage for yourself, your passengers, and your vehicle.

If you have a newer model car, it makes sense to get comprehensive insurance and collision coverage. In California, comprehensive costs $172 and collision costs $1,172 , on an average per year, according to a rate data analysis done by CarInsurance.com. These optional coverages come with a deductible. That’s the amount you pay before your insurance company pays. Typical deductibles amounts are $1,000, $500 and $250 – you choose which one you want. The higher the deductible is, the lower your rate will be.

The best car insurance coverage usually isn’t the cheapest. You may be used if you’re in an accident and your insurance doesn’t cover all of the damages. That means your home or savings could be in jeopardy. To protect your 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.

The average rate for San Francisco drivers for a year of minimum coverage is $669 according to our rate analysis. If you increased your coverage to 50/100/50, you would pay just about $13.08 more a month, or $157 more a year. You can get full coverage (100/300/100) by paying $145.17 more a month, or an additional $1,742 a year more than minimum-level coverage.

San Francisco average for:

  • Minimum coverage: $669
  • 50/100/50: $826
  • 100/300/100: $2,411

How Much is Car Insurance Near You in San Francisco?

Many factors go into calculating car insurance rates, but a driver's location is typically used to kick off the process. That's not the case in San Francisco, where California car insurance companies determine what you pay primarily based on how long you've been driving, how much you drive and your driving history. Still, location does come into play after those factors are considered, as ZIP codes are judged to have different risk levels based on the number and severity of car insurance claims within the area.

Average Car Insurance Rates in San Francisco

CarInsurance.com analyzed car insurance rates from six car insurance companies for nearly every ZIP code in California. Here's how San Francisco's highest average rate $2,801 for ZIP 94124 compares to others, for a full coverage policy of 100/300/100 for a driver age 30:

  • $636 more than the least expensive average rate $2,165 in ZIP code 94117
  • $676 more than the state average $2,125
  • $1,042 more than the national average rate $1,759

Compare Car Insurance Quotes in San Francisco – How to Save on Insurance Policy?

You can save an average of $1,569 annually on a full coverage policy in San Francisco by comparing car insurance quotes, according to CarInsurance.com's rate analysis. While savings will depend on your particular circumstances, this shows that there is a significant benefit to shopping your policy.

Why Does Comparing Car Insurance Quotes Save Money?

No two insurance companies will charge the same amount of money for the same policy. So if you compare car insurance quotes and opt for the lowest, you won’t over pay. For example, the highest rate from any carrier surveyed for ZIP code 94124 , the priciest ZIP code San Francisco car insurance, was $3,550 . The lowest was $1,976 . The difference is $1,574 , which is how much you could overpay. That’s why car insurance comparisons are paramount to finding the best cheap car insurance for your situation.

San Francisco Car Insurance FAQ’s

How much does insurance go up after a speeding ticket in San Francisco?

A speeding ticket in San Francisco will hike your car insurance rates by an average of 47% , or about $1,014 yearly. CarInsurance.com’s rate analysis shows how much more drivers in San Francisco can expect to pay, on average, for speeding and other common violations. Minor traffic violations, such as speeding, typically stay on your record for about three years, and you can expect to see the rate increase upon your policy renewal date. More severe infractions, such as DUI, typically stay on your record much longer.

San Francisco drivers can expect to see a hike in their rates in the range of 49% for minor moving violations such as tailgating or blowing through a stop sign, 184% for more severe infractions such as DUI. Below you’ll see how much rates increase, on average, for common traffic violations. Remember, though, that because insurance companies assess risk differently, you can still save by comparison shopping, because one carrier may ding you a lot for a citation, while another may spike your rate by much less.

ViolationAverage rateRate after violation$ Increase% Increase
DUI/DWI third offense$2,169$11,162$8,993415%
DUI/DWI second offense$2,169$8,727$6,558302%
DUI/DWI first offense$2,169$6,159$3,990184%
Reckless driving$2,169$5,980$3,811176%
Operating a vehicle in a race (highway racing)$2,169$5,980$3,811176%
2 speeding tickets 11 mph or over$2,169$4,465$2,296106%
Driving without a license or permit$2,169$4,131$1,96290%
Distracted driving ticket$2,169$3,451$1,28259%
Careless driving$2,169$3,369$1,20055%
Texting ticket$2,169$3,368$1,19955%
Talking on cellphone ticket$2,169$3,368$1,19955%
Driving without insurance$2,169$3,368$1,19955%
Improper/illegal pass$2,169$3,314$1,14553%
Improper turn$2,169$3,237$1,06849%
Following too closely$2,169$3,237$1,06849%
Failure to yield$2,169$3,237$1,06849%
Failure to stop$2,169$3,237$1,06849%
Seatbelt infraction$2,169$2,169$00%

An accident will increase car insurance rates by 69% to 89%, on average, for drivers in San Francisco. When you file a claim for an accident that's your fault, typically your car insurance rates will increase. However, claims under your comprehensive coverage, if you have it as it’s optional, typically won’t trigger an increase. That’s because comprehensive claims are for damage insurers consider to be beyond your control, for instance due to hail, fire, flooding, falling objects or collisions with an animal. The table below shows how much for drivers in San Francisco can expect to pay for common car insurance claims.

AccidentAverage RateRate after claim$ Increase% Increase
2 At-fault property damage accident over $2k$2,169$5,723$3,554164%
At-fault bodily injury accident$2,169$4,110$1,94189%
1 At-fault property damage accident under $2K$2,169$3,668$1,49969%
1 At-fault property damage accident over $2K$2,169$3,668$1,49969%

In San Francisco, adding a 16-year-old daughter to your policy will hike your rates by $3,950 annually, or 182% It's more for boys. Insuring your 16-year-old son will increase your yearly rate by $5,467 , or 252% according to CarInsurance.com rate data. Teen drivers are inexperienced, and are involved in more accidents than older drivers, according to federal research, and insurance companies categorize them as high-risk drivers, so they cost more to insure. If you're insuring a teen driver of any age, you can get expert tips, more rate data by age and details from our “Parents guide to insuring a teen driver."

CarInsurance.com data show that for drivers in San Francisco, your rate will go up by an average of $4,015 or 185%. If you're convicted of a serious offense, such as DUI or reckless driving, you may be required to have your insurance company file an SR-22 form on your behalf. An SR-22 is a car insurance company’s guarantee to the state that you are carrying the legally mandated coverage. If you are required to have an SR-22 filed, your car insurance rates will increase.

San Francisco's most dangerous intersections

San Francisco often hovers at the top of the charts in terms of being dangerous for car crashes, continuously "battling it out" for the title with Los Angeles in the state. Frisco is particularly dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, as it is a particularly "walkable" city/county. Oftentimes, these accidents that cause death or serious injuries happen at intersections.

In 2018, Allegiance Law released a list of the most dangerous intersections in San Francisco for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists:

  • Fell Street - Masonic Avenue
  • Fell Street - John F. Kennedy Drive
  • Market Street - HWY 101 Southbound
  • Market Street - Valencia Street
  • Market Street - Montgomery Street
  • Duboce Avenue - Valencia Street
  • 17th Street - Valencia Street
  • 14th Street - Valencia Street
  • Fillmore Street - Fulton Street
  • Guerrero Street - Laguna Street
  • Polk Street - Geary Street
  • Ellis Street - Polk Street
  • 06th Street - Golden Gate Avenue
  • 07th Street - Charles J Brenham Place
  • Mission Street - Fremont Street
  • Erie Street - Folsom Street
  • 30th Street - San Jose Avenue

San Francisco commuters

According to the U.S. Census, the average drive time for San Francisco workers 16 and older to their job is 33.3 minutes, which is longer than the national average of roughly 27.1 minutes (the 2018 national average).

The mean time calculated by the Census (based on figures from 2014-2018) includes time spent waiting for public transportation, picking up passengers in carpools and time spent on other activities related to getting to work.

Data compiled by Data USA showed that 3.85% of the workforce in San Francisco are "super commuters," meaning they drive an excess of 90 minutes to their job.

Of the commuters:

  • Drive alone: 32.4%
  • Walked: 12%
  • Public transit: 34.7%

Rush hour drive-times mph (according city of San Francisco data):

2009

  • Freeway a.m.: 48.9
  • Freeway p.m. 31.7

2011

  • Freeway a.m.: 40.6
  • Freeway p.m. 31.4

2013

  • Freeway a.m.: 38.2
  • Freeway p.m. 29.5

2015

  • Freeway a.m.: 38.8
  • Freeway p.m. 26.2

2017

  • Freeway a.m.: 35.8
  • Freeway p.m. 26.4

Community to San Francisco

Vehicular traffic entering San Francisco has grown by 27%, according to the 2018 San Francisco mobility trend report produced by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Daily traffic entering San Francisco:

  • 2001 had about 455,000 vehicles enter San Francisco County lines on California state highways
  • 2002: 448,000 vehicles
  • 2003: 446,000 vehicles
  • 2004: 454,000 vehicles
  • 2005: 452,000 vehicles
  • 2006: 430,000 vehicles
  • 2007: 435,000 vehicles
  • 2008: 424,000 vehicles
  • 2009: 361,000 vehicles
  • 2010: 360,000 vehicles
  • 2011: 420,000 vehicles
  • 2012: 419,000 vehicles
  • 2013: 422,000 vehicles
  • 2014: 431,000 vehicles
  • 2015: 439,000 vehicles
  • 2016: 434,000 vehicles
  • 2017: 456,000 vehicles

San Francisco congestion

"Vehicle miles traveled" measure the amount of driving in a given area or city or town. According to a report from the city, San Francisco had been declining for more than a decade in this area of measurement, but there has been an increase since 2011 following the 2008-2009 recession.

"Luckily, San Francisco has a strong backbone of regional transit, but the economic upturn has resulted in increases in vehicle miles traveled since 2011," said the report, "resulting in increased congestion and decreased vehicle speeds during peak periods over that timeframe."

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) conducts the Congestion Management Program, which is a biannual state program that monitors and mitigates traffic congestion.

San Francisco's steady climb in miles driven per year marches in step with the increase in congestion, but the city is well below the peak vehicle miles traveled during the early 2000s.

Average travel speeds have decreased for most measured time periods and road types.

  • Between 2015 and 2017, the average arterial speeds have decreased
  • Morning speeds have decreased 1 mph (7%) from 14.6 mph to 13.6 mph
  • Evening speeds have decreased .5 mph (4%), from 12.7 mph to 12.2
  • The average morning freeway travel speeds have decreased 3 mph (8%), from 38.8 mph to 35.8 mph
  • The average evening freeway speeds have increased by .2 mph (1%), from 26.2 mph to 26.4 mph.

While the overall decline in speeds indicate a continuing degradation of roadway performance (since 2009), the report continued, the declines from 2015 to 2017 were less significant than the previous reporting period (2013-2015).

"In the downtown core of San Francisco and freeways approaching downtown, where roadway expansion is neither feasible nor desirable, traffic speeds are particularly slow. Travel speeds have decreased both for autos and transit, though the increase has been greater for autos."

And, of course, when you think of California congestion, Los Angeles springs to mind. But San Francisco is no slouch in that area, either. While Rice-A-Roni commercials in the '80s made us equate the side dish as "the San Francisco treat," it also gave us images of easily-moving trolleys and public transportation systems. While that is true, there's a heck of a lot of traffic, too.

In an annual report conducted by INRIX, San Francisco ranked as number eight in 2018 on the "most congested urban areas in the U.S." list, dropping from number seven in 2017. San Francisco ranked behind list-toppers Boston, Washington, DC., Chicago, New York City and, of course, Los Angeles. According to the study, San Francisco drivers spend an average of six minutes in inter-city, last-mile drive time going 10 mph.

San Francisco drivers lost up to $1,624 per year due to congestion, as compared to Boston, whose drivers lost up to $2,291.

"While San Francisco residents may be driving their own cars less, multiple indicators show that overall driving and congestion is growing," said the 2018 mobility trend report produced by San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. "Since 2010, vehicle registration per capita has declined by three percent. But since the overall population has grown, the total number of vehicles registered in the city have grown by six percent, adding 26,000 more vehicles."

San Francisco slowpokes: peak time auto speeds

According to the 2018 San Francisco Mobility Trend Report produced by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, 2001 had the average peak hour auto speed as 17.1 mph, 2004 at 12.3, 2006 had drivers speeding up to 18.6, 2007 registered at 19.7, 2009 at 19.8, 2011 at a solid 19, 2013 was 18.8, 2015 at 15.8 and 2017 had drivers going at an average speed 15.3 mph at peak drive time in San Francisco.

Scooter and vehicle share in San Francisco

In 2018, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency established the Powered Scooter Share Permit and Pilot Program, and issued permits to Skip and Scoot, with a maximum of 625 scooters for each company. Thus far, the program sees about 2,300 trips on an average weekday and about 23,000 unique users every month.

The SFMTA has operated an On-Street Shared Vehicle Permit Program since 2011. Currently, there are 202 spaces permitted to Getaround, Zipcar, Maven and U-Haul. More than 2 million car-share trips were made in San Francisco since 2015, and each shared vehicle in an on-street space serves an average of 19 unique users every month. Nearly 20% of members of these services report selling or donating a car due to the availability of on-street car share, said the 2018 mobility trend report created by the SFMTA.

San Francisco traffic fatalities

In meeting its mission of eradicating all traffic-related fatalities by 2025 as part of its Vision Zero policy, the city/county said it is "not meeting its target."

"Through building better and safer streets, educating the public on traffic safety, enforcing traffic laws and adopting policy changes, we can save the lives of all road users -- people who walk, bike, drive or ride public transit."

San Francisco traffic fatalities:

  • 2014: 31
  • 2015: 31
  • 2016: 32
  • 2017: 20
  • 2018: 23
  • 2019: 20 (as of Nov. 30)

The data above doesn’t reflect freeway deaths occurring on grade-separated freeways/roadways under Caltrans jurisdiction in the city and county of San Francisco, which are tracked and mapped separately.

These freeway deaths include:

  • 2014: 1 person walking, 1 person on a motorcycle, 1 person driving, 2 people riding in a vehicle
  • 2015: 3 people walking, 1 person on a motorcycle, 1 person driving
  • 2016: 3 people walking, 2 people on motorcycles
  • 2017: 3 people walking, 1 person on a motorcycle, 2 people driving
  • 2018: 1 person walking, 2 people on motorcycles, 1 person riding in a vehicle
  • 2019: 2 people walking, 2 person on a motorcycle, 4 people driving, 2 people riding in a vehicle

San Francisco fatal crashes: where they happened

The city produces a fatal crash map each year, indicating the location of the crash, the age and sex of the victim(s) and the date of the crash.

San Francisco fatal crashes in 2018:

Bicyclist deaths:

  • In front of 1675 Howard St.
  • Turk Street and Taylor Street
  • Embarcadero and Sansome Street

Driver deaths:

  • Mansell Street near Visitacion
  • In front of 3450 Cargo Way

Motorcyclist deaths:

  • Arkansas Street and 23rd Street
  • Powell Street and Broadway Street

Pedestrian deaths:

  • Intersection of San Jose Avenue and Rice Street
  • Victoria Street and Ocean Avenue
  • 19th Avenue and Winston Drive
  • 3rd Street and Armstrong Avenue
  • 36th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard
  • Cortland Avenue and Ellsworth Street
  • In front of 562 28th St.
  • 16th Street and Mission Street
  • Baker Street and Oak Street
  • 1300 Block of Howard Street at Washburn Street
  • Arguello Boulevard and Geary Boulevard
  • Ellis Street and Jones Street
  • Van Ness Avenue at Fern Street
  • Intersection of Powell Street and Vallejo Street
  • In front of 732 Broadway St.

DUIs

The 2015 county DUI arrest rates for California ranged from 0.2 to 1.8 DUI arrests per 100 licensed drivers (the statewide average rate was 0.5), according to the 2017 annual report (the latest available) of the California DUI Management Information System.

Seventeen counties had arrest rates of 0.5 or below in 2015 compared to seven counties in 2014. Three counties had rates of 0.4 or below: Contra Costa (0.4), San Francisco (0.2) and Santa Clara (0.4).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.8% of Californians report driving after drinking too much, which is in line with the national average of 1.9%.

San Francisco DUI arrests, which showed an increase of 1.8% from 2014 to 2015:

  • 2013: 1,377
  • 2014: 1,075
  • 2015: 1,094

Modes of transportation

A report compiled by Bay Area Census for 2006-2010 (the latest available) showed that of the 433,674 commuters in San Francisco, 165,371(38.1%) drove alone, 34,447 (7.9%) carpooled, 141,169 (32.6% ) took public transportation, 3,989 (0.9%) drove a motorcycle, 12,878 (3.0%) rode a bicycle, 42,435 (9.8%) walked, 3,488 (0.8%) chose other means and 28,573 (6.6%) worked at home.

Also notable: in this same census, for those who took public transportation in San Francisco:

  • 97,822 (22.6%) took a bus or trolley bus
  • 10,452 (2.7%) took a streetcar or trolley car
  • 28,334 (6.5%) took the subway
  • 4,438 (1.0%) took a train
  • 123 (0.0%) took the ferry
  • 1,324 (0.3%) took a taxi

How many vehicles are there on the streets of San Francisco?

Let's talk about planes, trains and automobiles. OK, maybe just automobiles.

Here are the number of vehicles registered in San Francisco, per year, as indicated in the 2018 San Francisco Mobility Trend Report produced by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency:

  • 2007: 947,000
  • 2008: 941,000
  • 2009: 941,000
  • 2010: 941,000
  • 2011: 933,000
  • 2012: 943,000
  • 2013: 971,000
  • 2014: 980,000
  • 2015: 988,000
  • 2016: 1,001,000
  • 2017: 994,000

Pedestrian deaths

Walk Score rates any address in the United States, giving it a "walkability rate," meaning…how walkable is that street, or intersection?

San Francisco is rated as the country's second most walkable city, just behind New York City. The most walkable areas in San Francisco are Chinatown, Downtown-Union Square and Lower Nob Hill.

However, while the Golden Gate City may be welcoming if you're going it afoot, it's also considered among the most dangerous for pedestrians. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said from 2010-2016, there were 5,846 pedestrian collisions in the city, leaving 130 dead and approximately 6,000 injured.

Vision Zero initiative

Several regions in California are known for having the worst traffic congestion in the country, often translating into higher collision and accident rates. While San Francisco is no Los Angeles in this regard, the city wrestles with its share of crashes and deaths on its streets.

In 2014, San Francisco joined hundreds of cities across the country in becoming a "Vision Zero" city with the mission to "eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024."

It was also in 2014 that a group of national organizations had originally adapted Vision Zero, which developed in Sweden, to establish a national strategy on highway safety referred to as Toward Zero Deaths (TZD). It focuses on data-driven topics such as safer drivers, safer passengers, safer users, enhanced medical services, safer infrastructure and safer vehicles.

"Every year in San Francisco, about 30 people lose their lives and over 200 more are seriously injured while traveling on city streets," says the Vision Zero These deaths and injuries are unacceptable and preventable, and San Francisco is committed to stopping further loss of life.

San Francisco hearts public transit

Public transit remains the backbone of San Francisco's transportation network, despite recent nationwide trends, said the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in its 2018 mobility trend report.

Transit ridership in the US has declined 6% since 2014, with bus ridership declining 9%. In 2017, total bus ridership in the United States reached its lowest in the past three decades.

However, San Francisco's Muni system has continued to buck the national trends over this period, with ridership holding steady at 712,000 average weekday boardings.

Distracted driver law

California law prohibits cell phone use while driving, except in hands-free mode. The only exceptions are if you are driving on private property or use the phone to call for emergency services. Otherwise, it's considered an infraction, and using a cell phone while driving can get you a $20 base fine for the first offense and $50 for the second.

In October 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 47, which puts into law a penalty for drivers caught texting or using a handheld cell phone by adding a point to the driver's record. Personal injury attorneys Bisnar and Chase reported that starting on July 1, 2021, a point would be issued for any distracted driving conviction that occurs within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense.

Road test pass rate

Road test pass rate data gathered from thousands of YoGov's DMV customers for the past years across the Bay Area shows that San Francisco drivers have a 73% pass rate. Compare that to surrounding cities and towns, with a 77% pass rate in Daly City, 33% in Oakland and 53% in San Mateo.

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