The Cheapest Car Insurance in California for June 2024

Auto Club of SoCal offers the cheapest car insurance overall in California, with an average annual rate of $1,147 for full coverage.
Ben Moore
By Ben Moore 
Updated
Edited by Lacie Glover

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With rising auto insurance costs in California, finding cheap car insurance in California isn’t always easy.

But high car insurance rates should not stand between drivers in the Golden State and the road ahead. After all, nobody should be worried about their next auto insurance payment while cruising along Highway One with beautiful views of the Pacific.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Did your rates go up? Auto insurance prices are on the rise in California. Be sure to get car insurance quotes from three or more companies to find the lowest rate possible.

That's why NerdWallet analyzed rates to find the most affordable auto insurance options in the state, plus some of the largest cities in California, including:

Looking for the best of the best? Check out NerdWallet's roundup of the best car insurance in California.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Did your rates go up? Car insurance rates are on the rise in California. Be sure to get quotes from three or more companies to get the lowest rate you can.

What is the cheapest car insurance in California?

California isn’t the cheapest state to live in, so it might surprise you that its auto insurance costs are nowhere near as high as other states’. That’s because the state strictly regulates how insurers price policies.

But insurance costs are rising, so NerdWallet analyzed rates to help you find the cheapest car insurance in California. Our most recent analysis found that the cheapest car insurance company in California is Auto Club of SoCal at $1,187 per year on average, or $99 per month, for full coverage. Meanwhile, the average cost of full coverage car insurance in California is $1,630 per year, or about $136 per month.

Minimum coverage in California is $456 per year on average, but we found you can likely get a cheaper policy. For example, Geico offers the cheapest rates in California at $239 per year, on average, for minimum coverage car insurance for a 35-year-old driver with a clean driving record.

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How we chose the cheapest companies in California

NerdWallet’s editorial team analyzed car insurance rates from 25 auto insurers in California and listed the five cheapest options for drivers in several age brackets and with different histories, all driving a 2021 Toyota Camry LE. For minimum coverage, we looked at rates that reflect the minimum requirements in California. For full coverage, we used the below coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person.

  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident.

  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident.

  • $100,000 uninsured motorist coverage per person.

  • $300,000 uninsured motorist coverage per accident.

  • Collision coverage with a $1,000 deductible.

  • Comprehensive coverage with a $1,000 deductible.

Our writers and editors follow strict editorial guidelines to ensure fairness and accuracy in our writing and data analyses. You can trust the prices we show you because our data analysts take rigorous measures to eliminate outliers and inaccuracies in pricing data, which include rates from every locale in California where coverage is offered and data is available. When comparing rates for different coverage amounts, ages and backgrounds, we change only one variable at a time, so you can easily see how each factor affects pricing.

Cheap car insurance in California by age

Use the table below to navigate to the cheapest car insurance rates in California based on your age for both full and minimum coverage, plus credit and driving history.

Cheapest for 20-year-old drivers

Drivers in their 20s may have to get a lot of quotes to find the best cheap car insurance. Prices can be sky-high for younger 20-somethings, but tend to come down as drivers get more experience on the road. Still, some companies routinely have better insurance rates for young drivers, so it's best to shop around to find them.

Cheapest full coverage car insurance in California for 20-year-olds

Drivers in California with clean driving records may want to consider the following companies, which had the lowest average rates:

  1. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,948 per year, or about $162 per month.
  2. CIG: $2,074 per year, or about $173 per month.
  3. State Farm: $2,075 per year, or about $173 per month.
  4. Geico: $2,127 per year, or about $177 per month.
  5. The Hartford: $2,183 per year, or about $182 per month.

Cheapest minimum coverage car insurance in California for 20-year-olds

Drivers in California who want just the state minimum coverage may want to check with these companies, which had the lowest average rates:

  1. Geico: $475 per year, or about $40 per month.
  2. Auto Club of SoCal: $523 per year, or about $44 per month.
  3. State Farm: $538 per year, or about $45 per month.
  4. Progressive: $621 per year, or about $52 per month.
  5. National General: $629 per year, or about $52 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 20-year-olds with poor credit

Drivers with poor credit in California should look at the following insurers with the lowest average rates for minimum coverage:

  1. Geico: $475 per year, or about $40 per month.
  2. Auto Club of SoCal: $523 per year, or about $44 per month.
  3. State Farm: $538 per year, or about $45 per month.
  4. Progressive: $621 per year, or about $52 per month.
  5. National General: $629 per year, or about $52 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 20-year-old drivers with one speeding ticket

For drivers with a recent speeding ticket in California, here are the companies with the lowest average rates for minimum coverage:

  1. Geico: $533 per year, or about $44 per month.
  2. National General: $665 per year, or about $55 per month.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $735 per year, or about $61 per month.
  4. Grange Insurance Association: $808 per year, or about $67 per month.
  5. Progressive: $812 per year, or about $68 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 20-year-old drivers with one at-fault crash

For drivers with a recent accident in California, here are the companies with the lowest average rates for minimum coverage:

  1. Geico: $654 per year, or about $54 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $807 per year, or about $67 per month.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $878 per year, or about $73 per month.
  4. Progressive: $887 per year, or about $74 per month.
  5. CIG: $892 per year, or about $74 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 20-year-old drivers after a DUI

The cheapest auto insurance we found after a DUI is shown here, alongside the insurers' average rates for minimum coverage.

  1. Geico: $858 per year, or about $72 per month.
  2. National General: $900 per year, or about $75 per month.
  3. Grange Insurance Association: $1,009 per year, or about $84 per month.
  4. Mercury: $1,049 per year, or about $87 per month.
  5. Progressive: $1,205 per year, or about $100 per month.

Cheapest for 30-year-old drivers

By the time they reach their 30s, most drivers will enjoy cheaper car insurance rates than in their teens and 20s. Still, factors like a person’s driving record and car make and model can increase prices. Drivers in their 30s can get lower rates by shopping around and taking advantage of any car insurance discounts.

Cheapest full coverage car insurance in California for 30-year-olds

Drivers in California who want their state's minimum coverage can check with the following companies, which had the lowest average rates:

  1. Mercury: $1,205 per year, or about $100 per month.
  2. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,223 per year, or about $102 per month.
  3. Geico: $1,257 per year, or about $105 per month.
  4. CIG: $1,300 per year, or about $108 per month.
  5. Progressive: $1,312 per year, or about $109 per month.

Cheapest minimum coverage car insurance in California for 30-year-olds

Drivers in California who want their state's minimum coverage can check with the following companies, which had the lowest average rates:

  1. Geico: $242 per year, or about $20 per month.
  2. Auto Club of SoCal: $301 per year, or about $25 per month.
  3. Mercury: $346 per year, or about $29 per month.
  4. CSAA: $353 per year, or about $29 per month.
  5. Grange Insurance Association: $353 per year, or about $29 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 30-year-olds with poor credit

Drivers with poor credit in California should consider the following companies with the lowest average rates for full coverage:

  1. Mercury: $1,205 per year, or about $100 per month.
  2. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,223 per year, or about $102 per month.
  3. Geico: $1,257 per year, or about $105 per month.
  4. CIG: $1,300 per year, or about $108 per month.
  5. Progressive: $1,312 per year, or about $109 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 30-year-old drivers with one speeding ticket

For drivers with a recent speeding ticket in California, here are the companies with the lowest average rates for minimum coverage:

  1. Geico: $388 per year, or about $32 per month.
  2. Auto Club of SoCal: $418 per year, or about $35 per month.
  3. National General: $433 per year, or about $36 per month.
  4. CSAA: $436 per year, or about $36 per month.
  5. Grange Insurance Association: $471 per year, or about $39 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 30-year-old drivers with one at-fault crash

For drivers in California with a recent accident, here are the lowest average rate options for full coverage:

  1. CIG: $1,670 per year, or about $139 per month.
  2. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,890 per year, or about $158 per month.
  3. Grange Insurance Association: $1,920 per year, or about $160 per month.
  4. Progressive: $2,065 per year, or about $172 per month.
  5. CSAA: $2,137 per year, or about $178 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 30-year-old drivers after a DUI

For the cheapest auto insurance after a DUI, we found the following options for full coverage.

  1. Mercury: $2,125 per year, or about $177 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $2,399 per year, or about $200 per month.
  3. Kemper: $2,560 per year, or about $213 per month.
  4. CIG: $2,593 per year, or about $216 per month.
  5. Progressive: $2,714 per year, or about $226 per month.

Cheapest for 40-year-old drivers

Drivers in their 40s tend to have better insurance rates than their younger counterparts on average, but still pay more than older age groups. Shopping around for cheap car insurance quotes with multiple insurers is the best way to find lower rates. Good drivers who don’t get behind the wheel often might want to consider pay-per-mile insurance, which charges drivers by how many miles they drive.

Cheapest full coverage car insurance in California for 40-year-olds

Drivers in California with clean driving records may want to think about the following companies, which had the lowest average rates:

  1. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,187 per year, or about $99 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $1,193 per year, or about $99 per month.
  3. Mercury: $1,205 per year, or about $100 per month.
  4. Geico: $1,236 per year, or about $103 per month.
  5. CIG: $1,300 per year, or about $108 per month.

Cheapest minimum coverage car insurance in California for 40-year-olds

Drivers in California who want just the minimum coverage may want to check prices from these companies, which had the lowest average rates:

  1. Geico: $239 per year, or about $20 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $292 per year, or about $24 per month.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $298 per year, or about $25 per month.
  4. Mercury: $346 per year, or about $29 per month.
  5. CSAA: $353 per year, or about $29 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 40-year-olds with poor credit

Drivers with poor credit in California can check out the following insurers with the lowest average rates for full coverage:

  1. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,187 per year, or about $99 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $1,193 per year, or about $99 per month.
  3. Mercury: $1,205 per year, or about $100 per month.
  4. Geico: $1,236 per year, or about $103 per month.
  5. CIG: $1,300 per year, or about $108 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 40-year-old drivers with one speeding ticket

For drivers with a recent speeding ticket in California, here are the companies with the lowest average rates for minimum coverage:

  1. Geico: $383 per year, or about $32 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $410 per year, or about $34 per month.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $412 per year, or about $34 per month.
  4. National General: $423 per year, or about $35 per month.
  5. CSAA: $436 per year, or about $36 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 40-year-old drivers with one at-fault crash

For drivers with a recent accident living in California, here are the companies with the lowest average rates for full coverage:

  1. CIG: $1,670 per year, or about $139 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $1,673 per year, or about $139 per month.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,838 per year, or about $153 per month.
  4. CSAA: $2,137 per year, or about $178 per month.
  5. Progressive: $2,143 per year, or about $179 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 40-year-old drivers after a DUI

The cheapest full coverage auto insurance we found for drivers with a DUI came from the following companies.

  1. Grange Insurance Association: $2,091 per year, or about $174 per month.
  2. Mercury: $2,125 per year, or about $177 per month.
  3. CIG: $2,593 per year, or about $216 per month.
  4. Kemper: $2,665 per year, or about $222 per month.
  5. Progressive: $2,671 per year, or about $223 per month.

Cheapest for 50-year-old drivers

Drivers in their 50s have cheaper car insurance rates than most other age groups on average. Prices will continue to drop as they inch toward their 60s and gain more driving experience. Rates can still vary depending on other factors such as a driver’s gender and location, so it’s smart to shop around to find the best rate. Our list of cheap auto insurance companies is a good place to start.

Cheapest full coverage car insurance in California for 50-year-olds

Drivers in California with clean driving records may want to get quotes from these insurers, which had the lowest average rates:

  1. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,187 per year, or about $99 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $1,193 per year, or about $99 per month.
  3. Mercury: $1,205 per year, or about $100 per month.
  4. Geico: $1,236 per year, or about $103 per month.
  5. CIG: $1,300 per year, or about $108 per month.

Cheapest minimum coverage car insurance in California for 50-year-olds

Drivers in California who opt for the state minimum coverage may want to consider the following companies, with the lowest average rates:

  1. Geico: $239 per year, or about $20 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $292 per year, or about $24 per month.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $298 per year, or about $25 per month.
  4. Mercury: $346 per year, or about $29 per month.
  5. CSAA: $353 per year, or about $29 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 50-year-olds with poor credit

Drivers with poor credit in California can check with the following companies, which showed the lowest average rates for full coverage:

  1. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,187 per year, or about $99 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $1,193 per year, or about $99 per month.
  3. Mercury: $1,205 per year, or about $100 per month.
  4. Geico: $1,236 per year, or about $103 per month.
  5. CIG: $1,300 per year, or about $108 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 50-year-old drivers with one speeding ticket

For drivers with a recent speeding ticket in California, here are the companies with the lowest average rates for minimum coverage:

  1. Geico: $383 per year, or about $32 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $410 per year, or about $34 per month.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $412 per year, or about $34 per month.
  4. National General: $423 per year, or about $35 per month.
  5. CSAA: $436 per year, or about $36 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 50-year-old drivers with one at-fault crash

For drivers living in California with a recent accident, here are the insurers with the lowest average full coverage rates:

  1. CIG: $1,670 per year, or about $139 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $1,673 per year, or about $139 per month.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,838 per year, or about $153 per month.
  4. CSAA: $2,137 per year, or about $178 per month.
  5. Progressive: $2,143 per year, or about $179 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 50-year-old drivers after a DUI

The cheapest auto insurance we found for drivers with a recent DUI comes from the following companies, listed with rates for full coverage.

  1. Grange Insurance Association: $2,092 per year, or about $174 per month.
  2. Mercury: $2,125 per year, or about $177 per month.
  3. CIG: $2,594 per year, or about $216 per month.
  4. Kemper: $2,665 per year, or about $222 per month.
  5. Progressive: $2,671 per year, or about $223 per month.

Cheapest for 60-year-old drivers

Although 60-year-olds have cheaper car insurance rates than many other age groups on average, prices will start increasing as they get older. To find cheap car insurance for seniors, drivers in their 60s should make sure to shop around to find the best rate. Drivers in this age group should also take advantage of any available discounts for senior citizens.

Cheapest full coverage car insurance in California for 60-year-olds

Drivers in California with clean driving records may want to think about getting quotes from these companies, which had the lowest average rates:

  1. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,187 per year, or about $99 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $1,193 per year, or about $99 per month.
  3. Mercury: $1,205 per year, or about $100 per month.
  4. Geico: $1,236 per year, or about $103 per month.
  5. CIG: $1,300 per year, or about $108 per month.

Cheapest minimum coverage car insurance in California for 60-year-olds

Drivers in California who want just the state minimum coverage may want to check with these insurers, which had the lowest average rates:

  1. Geico: $239 per year, or about $20 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $292 per year, or about $24 per month.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $298 per year, or about $25 per month.
  4. Mercury: $346 per year, or about $29 per month.
  5. CSAA: $353 per year, or about $29 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 60-year-olds with poor credit

Drivers with poor credit in California can look at the following companies with the lowest average rates for full coverage:

  1. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,187 per year, or about $99 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $1,193 per year, or about $99 per month.
  3. Mercury: $1,205 per year, or about $100 per month.
  4. Geico: $1,236 per year, or about $103 per month.
  5. CIG: $1,300 per year, or about $108 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 60-year-old drivers with one speeding ticket

For drivers with a recent speeding ticket in California, here are the companies with the lowest average rates for minimum coverage:

  1. Geico: $383 per year, or about $32 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $410 per year, or about $34 per month.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $412 per year, or about $34 per month.
  4. National General: $423 per year, or about $35 per month.
  5. CSAA: $436 per year, or about $36 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 60-year-old drivers with one at-fault crash

For drivers with a recent accident living in California, here are the companies with the lowest average rates for full coverage:

  1. CIG: $1,670 per year, or about $139 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $1,673 per year, or about $139 per month.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,838 per year, or about $153 per month.
  4. CSAA: $2,137 per year, or about $178 per month.
  5. Progressive: $2,143 per year, or about $179 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 60-year-old drivers after a DUI

The cheapest auto insurance we found after a DUI came from the following companies, shown with their average rates for full coverage.

  1. Grange Insurance Association: $2,091 per year, or about $174 per month.
  2. Mercury: $2,125 per year, or about $177 per month.
  3. CIG: $2,593 per year, or about $216 per month.
  4. Kemper: $2,665 per year, or about $222 per month.
  5. Progressive: $2,671 per year, or about $223 per month.

Cheapest for 70-year-old drivers

Car insurance costs may start to rise for 70-year-old drivers. To find the cheapest possible coverage, shop around and compare quotes from multiple companies. Also, look for insurers that offer discounts for seniors. For example, some insurers offer discounts to senior drivers who take a defensive driving course.

Cheapest full coverage car insurance in California for 70-year-olds

Drivers in California with clean driving records may want to think about getting quotes from these companies, which had the lowest average rates:

  1. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,187 per year, or about $99 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $1,193 per year, or about $99 per month.
  3. Mercury: $1,205 per year, or about $100 per month.
  4. Geico: $1,236 per year, or about $103 per month.
  5. CIG: $1,300 per year, or about $108 per month.

Cheapest minimum coverage car insurance in California for 70-year-olds

Drivers in California who want just the state minimum coverage may want to check with these insurers, which had the lowest average rates:

  1. Geico: $239 per year, or about $20 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $292 per year, or about $24 per month.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $298 per year, or about $25 per month.
  4. Mercury: $346 per year, or about $29 per month.
  5. CSAA: $353 per year, or about $29 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 70-year-olds with poor credit

Drivers with poor credit in California can look at the following companies with the lowest average rates for full coverage:

  1. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,187 per year, or about $99 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $1,193 per year, or about $99 per month.
  3. Mercury: $1,205 per year, or about $100 per month.
  4. Geico: $1,236 per year, or about $103 per month.
  5. CIG: $1,300 per year, or about $108 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 70-year-old drivers with one speeding ticket

For drivers with a recent speeding ticket in California, here are the companies with the lowest average rates for minimum coverage:

  1. Geico: $383 per year, or about $32 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $410 per year, or about $34 per month.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $412 per year, or about $34 per month.
  4. National General: $423 per year, or about $35 per month.
  5. CSAA: $436 per year, or about $36 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 70-year-old drivers with one at-fault crash

For drivers with a recent accident living in California, here are the companies with the lowest average rates for full coverage:

  1. CIG: $1,671 per year, or about $139 per month.
  2. Grange Insurance Association: $1,674 per year, or about $139 per month.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,838 per year, or about $153 per month.
  4. CSAA: $2,137 per year, or about $178 per month.
  5. Progressive: $2,144 per year, or about $179 per month.

Cheapest auto insurance in California for 70-year-old drivers after a DUI

The cheapest auto insurance we found after a DUI came from the following companies, shown with their average rates for full coverage.

  1. Grange Insurance Association: $2,091 per year, or about $174 per month.
  2. Mercury: $2,125 per year, or about $177 per month.
  3. CIG: $2,593 per year, or about $216 per month.
  4. Kemper: $2,665 per year, or about $222 per month.
  5. Progressive: $2,671 per year, or about $223 per month.

Cheapest car insurance for military families

If you're an active member of the military or a veteran — or have an immediate family member who is — chances are you'll get a relatively cheap rate with USAA, a company that isn't available to the general public.

Because of that restriction, USAA isn't ranked with the others, but it was among the cheapest three auto insurance options for 56 of the 70 driver profiles we examined.

How to get cheap car insurance in California

Finding affordable car insurance in California can be tricky. Here are some simple ways to get a better deal:

  • Shop around. Car insurance companies regularly change their pricing models. That’s why NerdWallet recommends comparing car insurance quotes from multiple insurers at least once a year to get the best rate possible.

  • Ask about discounts. Many car insurance companies offer a suite of discounts to entice new customers. It may be worth checking with your insurer to see if there are any car insurance discounts you may be eligible for that you’re not currently getting.

  • Drop unnecessary coverage. You can lower your car insurance premiums by getting rid of optional coverage types you no longer need. For example, comprehensive and collision insurance cover repairs for damage to your vehicle in a variety of situations, up to the market value of your car. If you own an older car that’s not worth much, you can likely drop these coverage types.

  • Raise your deductible. A car insurance deductible is the amount of money you pay out of pocket before your car insurance kicks in. The higher your deductible, the lower your car insurance premium. Just make sure you have enough money stashed away to cover the higher amount.

Minimum auto insurance requirements in California

California drivers must carry liability insurance in the following amounts:

  • $15,000 bodily injury liability per person.

  • $30,000 bodily injury liability per accident.

  • $5,000 property damage liability per accident.

However, these limits will change soon. At the start of 2025, California drivers will be required to carry liability insurance in the following amounts:

  • $30,000 bodily injury liability per person.

  • $60,000 bodily injury liability per accident.

  • $15,000 property damage liability per accident.

Liability car insurance covers the cost of any damage, injuries or deaths you cause in a car accident, up to your policy’s predefined limits. Experts recommend getting more than the bare minimum if you want to avoid dipping into your own savings to cover expenses.

For instance, California has a relatively low property damage minimum, only $5,000. If you cause an accident and total another driver’s car, the damage could easily exceed that amount, and you would have to pay the difference out of pocket.

Check out NerdWallet’s guide to state car insurance requirements for more details on how the required and optional parts of your California policy work.

Auto insurance laws in California

California’s insurance laws are uniquely consumer-friendly, according to many experts. A lot of that is thanks to Proposition 103, which was approved by voters in 1988 and immediately required insurers to roll back prices 20%. Proposition 103 also mandated that auto insurance rates be preapproved by the state’s department of insurance, among other regulations. Many of the laws detailed below are from Proposition 103, but not all.

Auto insurance pricing: Unlike in most other states, auto insurers in California can’t set prices based on credit history.

The state also recently banned gender-based pricing, which tends to translate to higher premiums for young men and middle-age women.

Auto body repair claims: California’s insurance code includes a consumer bill of rights for repairs after a claim. They include:

  • The right to choose your own auto body repair shop and obtain independent damage estimates while the claim is ongoing.

  • The right to an itemized invoice of repairs. The invoice must identify parts as new, used or rebuilt, and must indicate whether they are aftermarket or original equipment manufactured parts.

  • When aftermarket parts are used, the insurer (and not necessarily the shop) must guarantee that they are equal to OEM parts in quality, safety, fit and performance.

  • The right to accurate information about towing and storage services and your policy’s coverage, if any, for a rental car while yours is in the shop.

Alternative car insurance in California

If you have a high number of accidents, DUIs or other factors making it hard to find auto coverage, you might qualify for insurance through the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan. This organization connects high-risk drivers to insurance companies that will cover them.

For more help finding the most competitive prices in California, try NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool.

Low-income car insurance in California

If you can’t afford car insurance premiums, you might qualify for California’s Low Cost Auto Insurance program, which has several payment plans and no broker fees. To be eligible, you'll need:

  • A current California driver’s license.

  • An automobile worth $25,000 or less.

  • A household income that meets the program requirements.

The federal poverty level depends on the year and the number of people in your household. For one person in 2023, the income limit for the program was $36,450.

The program’s website has a calculator to determine income cutoffs for larger households, a rate calculator and a tool to find participating insurance plans. You’ll have to provide documentation of income, as well as other requirements, to qualify.

How AAA car insurance works in California

AAA, the automobile club best known for its roadside assistance memberships, also sells insurance in many states. But just like the clubs themselves, AAA insurance companies are separate companies that operate independently. If you use a AAA webpage, it will ask for your ZIP code in order to ensure you're looking at information for your local AAA club.

The Automobile Club of Southern California serves the following counties: Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura. CSAA serves all other counties in California, plus several other states.

So if you’re a AAA member and move from Northern California to SoCal, or vice versa, you would transfer membership from one club to the other. If you have auto insurance through your regional club and move, your policy, premium and agent would also change.

If you’re a AAA member and need roadside assistance outside of your home club’s region, the AAA club in that area will take care of you.

Learn more about California car insurance

Methodology

For our “good driver” profile, NerdWallet averaged insurance estimates for single male and female drivers with good credit and no tickets or violations. The analysis included 5-10 of the largest insurance companies in each state; smaller insurers were also included when rates were available. Liberty Mutual and its subsidiaries were excluded from our analysis as rates were not available.

For full coverage policies, we used the following coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person.

  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident.

  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident.

  • $100,000 uninsured motorist coverage per person.

  • $300,000 uninsured motorist coverage per accident.

  • Collision coverage with a $1,000 deductible.

  • Comprehensive coverage with a $1,000 deductible.

In states where required, minimum additional coverages were added. Some policies include additional coverages at the insurer’s discretion.

We used a 2021 Toyota Camry LE for all drivers and assumed 12,000 annual miles driven.

We analyzed rates for drivers 20 to 70 years old in ten-year increments. For the average cost of full and minimum coverage in each state, we looked at 35-year-old drivers.

We used the same assumptions for all other driver profiles, with the following exceptions:

  • For drivers with minimum coverage, we adjusted the numbers above to reflect the minimum required coverage by law in the state.

  • We changed the credit tier from “good” to “poor” as reported to the insurer to see rates for drivers with poor credit.

  • For drivers with one at-fault crash, we added a single at-fault crash that happened six months ago, resulting in $10,000 in property damage and no bodily injury claim.

  • For drivers with a DUI, we added a single drunken driving violation that happened six months ago.

We looked at 35-year-old drivers to find the cheapest company overall, the cheapest company for minimum coverage and the cheapest company for drivers with poor credit in states where credit history is used to price rates. We looked at 20-year-old drivers to find the cheapest company for young drivers.

These are rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different. Some insurance companies included in this article may have made changes in their underwriting practices and no longer issue new policies in your state.

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