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Best Car Insurance in California in 2024

Best Cheap Auto Insurance in California
Geico Logo

GEICO’s $1,452 average annual rate is the second-most-affordable premium on our list and the cheapest option for most drivers, unless you qualify for USAA’s military membership.

Best Auto Insurance for Teens in California
Mercury Insurance Logo

If you’re among the 800,000 teen drivers or are a parent of a teen driver in California, Mercury will have the cheapest rates for you on average.3

Best Auto Insurance for Military and Veterans
USAA Logo 2023

California is home to the largest military and veteran population in the U.S., all of whom have access to a USAA membership that comes with quality coverage, cheap rates, and excellent customer care.

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Since 2022, California has seen an 11 percent cumulative rate increase for car insurance, which, believe it or not, is among the lowest cumulative increases in the country. The relatively low increase is due to state regulations that have barred car insurance companies from increasing their premiums across the Golden State. While this is good news for your wallet, it also means that many providers are denying insurance to new customers, making it harder for drivers to switch providers or return from a lapse in insurance.1

As the state begins approving more premium increases — Sacramento approved a 6.9 percent increase for Allstate, GEICO, Mercury, and others in 2023 — you can expect your premium to rise accordingly. Whether you’re looking for the cheapest rate in the midst of insurance spikes, want to get your new teen driver on a plan, or are considering getting an electric vehicle, you’ll need the right information to find the best policy and price.2

And that’s why we’re here. Below you’ll find a list of the top providers in California based on a variety of coverage needs, costs, and driver profiles.

Average Annual Rate in California

The average cost of car insurance in California is $1,782, which is about 10 percent cheaper than the national average of $2,071.

Average Premiums in California by City

With an average rate of $1,872, San Diego offers the cheapest rates among California’s major cities. Los Angeles, on the other hand, is the most expensive city, with an average rate of $2,136.

City Monthly average premium Annual average premium
San Diego $156 $1,872
Fresno $159 $1,908
San Jose $163 $1,956
San Francisco $172 $2,064
Oakland $172 $2,064
Sacramento $177 $2,124
Los Angeles $178 $2,136

Comparison of the Best Auto Insurance Companies in California

Feature GEICO Mercury USAA Travelers State Farm
Average annual rate in California $1,452 $1,608 $1,368 $1,584 $1,812
California Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking out of 1,000 (J.D. Power)4 830 794 871 N/A 826
Best for People on a budget Teens and parents of teens Military, veterans, and military dependents Electric car drivers People with a clean driving record
Agents in California 0 100+ 0 100+ 100+
Review GEICO review Mercury review USAA review Travelers review State Farm review

Summary of the Best Auto Insurance in California

  1. 1.

    Best Cheap Auto Insurance in California: Geico

  2. 2.

    Best Auto Insurance for Teens in California: Mercury

  3. 3.

    Best Auto Insurance for Military and Veterans: USAA

  4. 4.

    Best Auto Insurance for Electric Vehicles in California: Travelers

  5. 5.

    Best Auto Insurance for Safe Drivers in California: State Farm

Detailed List of the Best Auto Insurance in California

1. Best Cheap Auto Insurance in California - Geico

What We Like Most:

  • Save money with defensive driving courses
  • Cheapest rates after a speeding ticket
  • Save by installing safety equipment

GEICO is the cheapest provider for drivers in California who aren’t military members, veterans, or military dependents. It serves 10 percent of the state’s drivers and is about $300 cheaper than the state average for full coverage.5

ProsWho It's Best For
  • pro
    People on a budget
  • pro
    Federal employees
  • pro
    Military members
  • pro
    People with a new vehicle
ConsWho It's Not Best For
  • con
    Someone who wants to work with a local agent
  • con
    New California drivers, who may find it difficult to get insurance from GEICO

Pro Tip:

Despite closing all of its physical offices in California, you can still get car insurance with GEICO. You’ll have to contact an agent or request a quote online, through the mobile app, or by phone.

Affordable Full Coverage Rates

If you’re seeking affordable full coverage (liability, comprehensive, collision, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage), look no further. GEICO will have the cheapest rates for the average driver in California, with average costs hovering around $120 per month.

Company Monthly average premium Annual average premium
USAA* $114 $1,368
GEICO $121 $1,452
Travelers $132 $1,584
Mercury $134 $1,608
Progressive $139 $1,668
AAA $146 $1,752
State Farm $151 $1,812

* Although USAA offers the cheapest overall rates in California, it is available only to military members, veterans, and children/spouses of military members.

Affordable Liability-Only Rates

If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest option to drive legally, California requires only minimum liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. GEICO is also the cheapest provider for minimum liability, with an average cost as low as $34 per month.

Company Monthly average premium Annual average premium
GEICO $34 $408
AAA $37 $444
Progressive $40 $480
Mercury $43 $516
State Farm $52 $624
Travelers $57 $684
Allstate $63 $756

Unique Discounts for Federal Workers

More than 150,000 federal workers are located in California, making it the state with the most federal workers in the country.6 If you work for the government or military, you can qualify for one of the following discounts.

Discount Maximum savings
Eagle (federal workers) discount 12%
Employee affiliation discount Varies
Military discount 15%
Emergency deployment discount 25%
2. Best Auto Insurance for Teens in California - Mercury
Mercury Insurance Logo

What We Like Most:

  • Pay-per-mile car insurance offers savings for low-mileage drivers
  • Optional 24/7 roadside assistance
  • Strong financial strength ratings from AM Best

Mercury is a California-based insurance provider that has been offering coverage for more than 60 years. It has over 100 local agents, various coverage options, and a highly rated digital platform.

ProsWho It's Best For
  • pro
    Teens and parents of teens
  • pro
    Safe drivers
  • pro
    People who don’t drive often
ConsWho It's Not Best For
  • con
    People with a spotty driving record

Affordable Rates for Teens

Teens pay the highest rates for car insurance among any other age group. In California, average rates increase by around $700, rising to nearly $4,000 annually for the most expensive rates.

With Mercury, you can take advantage of cheaper average rates and teen-focused discounts, like a good student discount, to minimize those costs.

Company Monthly average premium Annual average premium
Mercury $201 $2,412
State Farm $236 $2,832
GEICO $259 $3,108
AAA $292 $3,504
Progressive $303 $3,636
Travelers $317 $3,804
Farmers $330 $3,960

Several Ways to Save

If you want to bring your costs down even further, Mercury offers several additional discount opportunities. Ask your agent about the following discounts to save more on your car insurance:

  • Anti-theft discount
  • Automatic billing discount
  • E-signature discount
  • Good driver discount
  • Good student discount
  • Multi-car discount
  • Multi-policy discount
    • 15 percent off for homeowners
  • Paid-in-full discount
  • RealDrive discount
    • 5 percent discount just for signing up — larger savings available for people who drive less

Fun Fact:

Mercury has scored above average for J.D. Power’s Digital Experience Shopping Study in the past three years, earning the No. 1 spot in 2021.7

Extensive Coverage Options

If you want to keep yourself or your teen safer on the road, look into Mercury’s extensive list of additional coverage options:

  • Collision and comprehensive coverage
  • Medical payments coverage
  • Personal injury protection
  • Mechanical protection insurance (engine, transmission, and electric system coverage)
  • Rideshare insurance
  • Rental car reimbursement
  • Umbrella insurance
3. Best Auto Insurance for Military and Veterans - USAA

What We Like Most:

  • Cheapest rates for teens on a family policy or on their own
  • Special discount for teens transitioning off their parents’ policy
  • Strong customer service and claims process

USSA offers the cheapest overall rates and highest customer service score in the Golden State. USAA was made for military members, veterans, and military families, and it’s easy to see why when you review its unique military discounts and coverage options, which we’ll break down below.

ProsWho It's Best For
  • pro
    Military members, veterans, and military dependents
  • pro
    USAA members
  • pro
    People who are deployed out of the state and want to maintain their car insurance
  • pro
    Safe drivers
ConsWho It's Not Best For
  • con
    Non-military members
  • con
    Someone who doesn’t need all the benefits/perks of a USAA membership

The Cheapest Average Rates in the State

With an average annual rate of $1,368 for full coverage, USAA is the cheapest provider in the state. That’s about $400 cheaper than the state average and $100 cheaper than the next-cheapest provider, GEICO. If you qualify for a USAA membership, talk to an agent about signing up and assessing your monthly and annual costs.

Highest Customer Service Score

J.D. Power reviews car insurance providers for their customer service quality, claims process, digital shopping experience, and more. USAA is consistently ranked among the best providers in most categories, and in 2023, it was ranked first for customer service and claims satisfaction in California.

USAA’s 877 out of 1,000 score is nearly 30 points higher than the second-highest provider (Wawanesa) and about 60 points higher than the state average (813).

Discounts Made for Military

USAA has several discounts that will benefit military members and their families.

Discount Description Maximum savings
Vehicle storage discount If you’re on deployment or simply aren’t using your car, you can qualify for this discount by leaving your vehicle in storage. 60%
Military on-base discount You can save on both comprehensive and collision damage if you garage your car on a military base. 15%
Low-mileage discount If you don’t drive many miles annually, you could earn a discount. Discounts vary
Military family discount Your children can earn a car insurance discount even after they are no longer dependent on you, though they must be under 25 years old. 10%
4. Best Auto Insurance for Electric Vehicles in California - Travelers

What We Like Most:

  • High financial strength rating from AM Best
  • Great customer service reviews
  • Discounts for safe drivers, homeowners, electric vehicle owners, and more

As one of the few companies to offer a hybrid and electric vehicle discount, Travelers is a great option for the many electric vehicle owners in California. Insurance for electric vehicles tends to be more expensive than gas-powered cars, so you should take advantage of the many Travelers discounts available to you.

Did You Know?

With nearly 1 million registered electric vehicles, California has more electric vehicle owners than any other state.8 If you’re thinking of buying an EV, Travelers is a great place to start with a quote.

ProsWho It's Best For
  • pro
    Owners of an electric vehicle
  • pro
    Safe drivers
  • pro
    Someone looking to work with a local agent
  • pro
    Homeowners
ConsWho It's Not Best For
  • con
    Teens
  • con
    Unsafe drivers

Save on Your Electric Vehicle and Hybrid

You can save up to 10 percent on your car insurance with Travelers when you own or lease a hybrid/electric vehicle. Talk to your agent about whether or not you qualify to learn more.

Very Few Customer Complaints

In 2022, The National Association of Insurance Commissioners gave Travelers a score of 0.42 on the customer complaint index, meaning Travelers had fewer than half the complaints of its competitors.9

Excellent Commercial Auto Coverage

If you’re one of the state’s more than 4 million small business owners or operate a fleet of vehicles, you might need commercial auto insurance.10 Travelers offers commercial auto plans for everyday vehicles, trucks, fleets, vehicles for oil and gas companies, vehicles for public entities, and street maintenance vehicles.

5. Best Auto Insurance for Safe Drivers in California - State Farm

What We Like Most:

  • Multiple discounts for safe driving, including one specifically for young drivers
  • Local agents
  • Discounts for multiple cars

State Farm is the largest auto insurance provider in the entire country. With more than a century of experience, a host of local agents to choose from, and several safety-related discounts, State Farm is our top pick for safe drivers in California.

ProsWho It's Best For
  • pro
    Safe drivers
  • pro
    Good students
  • pro
    People who prefer to work with a local agent
  • pro
    Rideshare drivers
ConsWho It's Not Best For
  • con
    People with a spotty driving record

Big Savings for Safe Drivers

Although State Farm has a higher average rate than other companies in California, it offers sizable discounts for safe drivers.

If you qualify for the following discounts, you could see your premium drop by a significant amount:

Discount Requirement Maximum savings
California good driver discount Held a license for three years and have one or fewer points on driving record 20%
Good student discount Full-time high school and college students with a B average, in the upper 20% of their class, or on dean’s list/honor roll 25%
New driver safety education discount Have fewer than nine years of experience driving and successfully complete a State Farm education course Varies
Loyalty discount Available to drivers who are insured with State Farm for three years Varies
Multi-vehicle discount Insure multiple vehicles under one policy 20%
Multi-policy discount Sign up for auto insurance with a home, renters, condo, life, or health insurance policy 17%
Student away at school discount Applies to students who are 100 miles away from home, only drive during holidays/vacations, and keep car at home while they’re away Varies

Get More Out of Your Policy

Looking to get more coverage out of your policy? State Farm offers a number of additional coverage options, including:

  • Car rental coverage
  • Travel expenses coverage
  • Medical payments coverage
  • Emergency roadside service coverage
  • Rideshare driver coverage

Insure More Vehicles

As the largest provider in the country, State Farm offers insurance for several vehicle types. On top of gaining coverage for your personal vehicle, you can also get insurance for your:

  • Boats
  • Collector and classic cars
  • Commercial vehicles
  • Fleets
  • Motorcycles
  • Off-road vehicles
  • Motorhomes
  • Recreational vehicles (RVs)

Frequently Asked Questions

Will my credit score affect my insurance rates in California?

No. Insurance companies in California cannot use your credit score or credit history for underwriting policies, assessing your eligibility, or generating your premium.

What if I can’t afford car insurance in California?

If you’re having a hard time affording car insurance in California, you can sign up for California’s Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program (CLCA). Established in 1999, the CLCA was designed to offer auto insurance to low-income individuals and families who can’t afford car insurance.

Check out its website for more information on how to sign up and eligibility requirements: https://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/105-type/95-guides/01-auto/lca/.

What is the minimum requirement for car insurance in California

Here are the state’s minimum car insurance requirements, according to the California DMV:

  • $15,000 for bodily injury per person
  • $30,000 for bodily injury per accident
  • $5,000 for property damage
  • $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident for uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage
  • $3,500 for uninsured motorist property damage coverage

Who offers the cheapest insurance if I have a DUI on my record?

With an average annual rate of around $2,800, Mercury offers the cheapest rates for drivers with a DUI on their record.

Methodology

  • Proprietary data: We’ve worked with drivers in California for over two decades, helping find the best quotes and policies with car insurance companies up and down the coast. Those interactions help us understand which driver profiles have had the best success with which insurers, providing us with a plethora of data we can leverage to refine our recommendations.
  • Public studies: We look at public studies from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, California DMV, Census Bureau, and more to help us find the most accurate information related to car insurance and driving trends. This information helps us identify how much insurance you need, what public-run insurance programs are available to you, and which insurance providers receive the most complaints in California.
  • Insider knowledge: Our team is fortunate to consult with Paul Ford, president of insurance at Centerfield, AutoInsurnace.com’s parent company. His decades of experience in the insurance world provide us with the leadership and guidance we need to create well-informed recommendations, regional guides, and tips for our readers.

Citations

  1. US private auto insurance rates see double-digit jump in 2023. S&P Global Market Intelligence. (2023, Aug 30).
    https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/us-private-auto-insurance-rates-see-double-digit-jump-in-2023-77178794

  2. Why is it so hard for California drivers to get insurance? Los Angeles Times. (2023, Dec 18).
    https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-12-18/car-insurance-premiums-are-skyrocketing-what-drivers-can-do-about-it

  3. CHP CHALLENGES TEEN DRIVERS TO DRIVE DISTRACTION FREE. CHP Media Relations. (2023, Oct 20).
    https://www.chp.ca.gov/PressReleases/Pages/CHP-CHALLENGES-TEEN-DRIVERS-TO-DRIVE-DISTRACTION-FREE.aspx

  4. Auto Insurance Customer Satisfaction Plummets as Rates Continue to Surge, J.D. Power Finds. J.D. Power. (2023, Jun 13).
    https://www.jdpower.com/business/press-releases/2023-us-auto-insurance-study

  5. 2022 Market Share Reports For Property/Casualty Groups and Companies by State and Countrywide. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2023, Sep).
    https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/publication-msr-pb-property-casualty.pdf

  6. Federal Civilian Employment. U.S. Office of Personnel Management. (2017, Sep).
    https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/data-analysis-documentation/federal-employment-reports/reports-publications/federal-civilian-employment/

  7. Property & Casualty Insurers Stuck at Providing Only “Good Enough” Digital User Experience, J.D. Power Finds. J.D. Power. (2021, May 25).
    https://www.jdpower.com/business/press-releases/2021-us-insurance-digital-experience-study

  8. Electric Vehicle Registrations by State. U.S. Department of Energy. (2024).
    https://afdc.energy.gov/data

  9. Results by Complaint Index. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2024).
    https://content.naic.org/cis_refined_results.htm?TABLEAU=CIS_COMPLAINTS&COCODE=25658&:refresh

  10. Total Employer Establishments in California is 998,582. United States Census Bureau. (2024).
    https://data.census.gov/all?q=California+Business+and+Economy