Getting the cheapest car insurance in California can be expensive, especially for new drivers or those with less-than-perfect driving records. However, there are ways to find cheap car insurance in California if you know where to look and how to shop around effectively.
This article will explain who is eligible for the cheapest car insurance rates in California, provide tips for minimizing your premiums, and recommend the best cheap full coverage and liability-only insurance options in the state.
Cheapest Car Insurance for New Drivers
New drivers in California face some of the highest car insurance rates in the nation. This is because insurers consider new drivers who are teen drivers to be high-risk due to their lack of experience behind the wheel. However, there are a few ways new drivers can secure cheaper car insurance quotes:
- As a teen driver or new driver, you can ask about good student discounts. Maintaining a 3.0 GPA or higher can earn you a substantial discount on car insurance, sometimes up to 15–25%.
- You can take a defensive driving course. Completing an approved defensive driving course can earn you a certificate that may lower your premiums by up to 10%.
- Purchase a car that has been used because Insuring a used car instead of a new car can save you significantly on premiums. Auto insurance rates are higher for new cars.
- As you gain more experience as a driver, shop around for cheaper rates every few months. Never renew with the same company without checking if they still offer the best rate.
Average Cost of Car Insurance in California
On average, car insurance in California costs around $166 per month or $1,992 per year. However, the rates can differ, and it is dependent on your location within the state, your driving history, age, credit score, and other factors. Here are the average monthly premiums by city for minimum liability coverage in California:
- Los Angeles: $201
- San Francisco: $188
- San Diego: $154
- Sacramento: $160
- Fresno: $158
Drivers that have clean records can expect to pay 20–60% less than these average base rates. Those with accidents, speeding tickets, or driving under the influence (DUIs) on their record will pay significantly more.
How to Get the Cheapest Car Insurance in California
The best way to get cheap car insurance is to compare rates from different insurance providers. Get quotes from at least 3–5 different insurance providers so you can compare rates side-by-side. Here are some other tips that can help lower your premiums:
- Choose minimum required coverage: This includes minimum liability limits and no comprehensive or collision coverage. This route is best for those with older cars worth less than $3,000.
- Take advantage of low mileage discounts: Drivers who put less than 10,000 miles on their car each year can save up to 10%.
- Ask about discounts: Every insurer offers different discounts that can help lower your premium. Such discounts include good drivers, low mileage, paid-in-full, and multi-policy discounts.
- Raise your deductibles: By accepting higher deductibles of $500, $1,000, or $2,000, you can substantially reduce your rates. This option works best for drivers with higher savings who are comfortable paying more from their pockets in the event of a claim.
- Drop unnecessary extras: You may be tempted by roadside assistance, rental reimbursement, and accident forgiveness offerings, but removing these from your policy can save you 10–20% or more each month.
Best Cheap Car Insurance Providers in California
Each insurer uses its own formula to calculate rates, so it pays to get quotes from multiple companies. Here are four of the best insurers to find cheap car insurance rates for minimum or full coverage in California:
- Geico: Geico is routinely the cheapest option for minimum liability-only policies as well as full coverage. This company offers strong standard discounts and is ideal for drivers with excellent credit and clean driving records.
- Progressive: Progressive is fiercely competitive with Geico and they attract a lot of high-risk drivers thanks to policies like Name Your Price, which rewards safe driving. They also offer plans based on usage, which they use telemetrics to calculate your rate based on actual driving behaviors.
- Mercury: Mercury Insurance is a California-based insurer with some of the lowest rates in the state. They are worth considering if Geico and Progressive don’t go as planned.
- Wawanesa: This carrier offers affordable full-coverage policies with accident forgiveness and vanishing deductible rewards for safe drivers. They also provide plans based on usage for drivers with low mileage.
The Cheapest Liability-Only Car Insurance in California
Drivers looking for the bare minimum coverage can find liability-only policies starting around $40–60 per month from insurers like Geico, Progressive, and Mercury. With liability-only insurance, you receive:
- Bodily injury coverage: Pays for injuries to others caused by an at-fault accident up to your limits. The minimum is 15/30, meaning $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident.
- Property damage: Covers damage to another vehicle or property up to $5,000.
Liability-only car insurance does not cover damage to your vehicle. It only covers damage and injuries you cause to others. This plan works for drivers on a tight budget with older cars worth less than their deductible. However, you risk paying out-of-pocket for repairs or medical bills from an accident caused by you.
Finding the Cheapest Full-Coverage Car Insurance
Drivers who lease or finance their vehicles are usually required to carry full coverage. This includes liability protection plus:
- Comprehensive: Covers your vehicle due to incidents like vandalism, natural disasters, fire, or theft.
- Collision: It pays for damage to your car from collisions.
- Uninsured motorist: This protects you if you are hit by a driver with no insurance.
Average full coverage costs $255 per month in California, but you can find cheaper rates around $130–150 per month by following the tips above. Geico, Progressive, and Wawanesa are good options to start with when comparing cheap full-coverage policies.
The best way to find affordable full coverage is to buy older model cars worth less than $5,000 to $8,000 rather than brand-new cars. This allows you to raise your deductibles higher to save more each month while keeping gap premiums low.
Finding the cheapest car insurance in California takes some work, but following the tips in this article will help you find substantial savings on your coverage. Compare quotes frequently, maintain a clean driving record, drive modest vehicles, minimize unnecessary extras, raise your deductible, and take advantage of all available discounts. Reliable insurers like Geico, Progressive, Mercury, and Wawanesa are ideal places to start your search. With smart shopping, California drivers can find full or minimum coverage at affordable rates.