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Best Cheap Car Insurance in San Diego for 2020

March 9, 2020
Auto Insurance, Insurance
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If you’re shopping around for cheap car insurance in San Diego, you’re already ahead of the game.

Auto insurance in San Diego costs an average of $1,536 a year — $91 cheaper than the California average, NerdWallet’s 2020 rates analysis found.

And if you compare auto insurance rates in San Diego, chances are good you can save hundreds of dollars more.

To help you find the best deal, NerdWallet researched San Diego rates from the 13 largest insurers in California and found the five cheapest options for common driver types.

» MORE: Best cheap car insurance in California

Cheapest for good drivers in San Diego

For a driver in San Diego with a clean record on the road, these are the cheapest insurance companies we found, ranked by their average rates for a full coverage policy:

  1. Geico: $1,241 per year.
  2. Wawanesa: $1,419 per year.
  3. Kemper: $1,436 per year.
  4. Liberty Mutual: $1,443 per year.
  5. 21st Century: $1,484 per year.

Drivers with no recent accidents or violations can get cheaper car insurance rates. For this calculation, NerdWallet averaged rates for 40-year-old men and women with a clean driving record. In terms of driving history, a large portion of drivers are closest to this profile, which carries standard “full coverage” insurance, including comprehensive and collision, along with state-required coverage. Prices shown include a good driver discount, when available from the insurer.

Cheapest for minimum coverage in San Diego

For a San Diego driver seeking bare-bones insurance, the cheapest companies and their average rates for California’s minimum required coverage are:

  1. Geico: $420 per year.
  2. Kemper: $507 per year.
  3. Liberty Mutual: $583 per year.
  4. Auto Club of SoCal: $598 per year.
  5. Progressive: $599 per year.
We calculated these numbers by averaging rates for 40-year-old good drivers (earning them a discount if the insurer offers one) who have only the minimum mandatory insurance in their state. Such light coverage isn't typically recommended since it might not cover all the bills resulting from a car accident, but it's better than nothing — especially if you can't afford much more. If you're looking for the cheapest possible insurance you can get, though, you'll still want to get car insurance quotes from at least three auto insurers.

Cheapest for drivers with one at-fault crash

When a San Diego driver has caused a recent accident, here are the cheapest insurance options we found, alongside their average rates for full coverage:

  1. Geico: $2,268 per year.
  2. Liberty Mutual: $2,454 per year.
  3. Auto Club of SoCal: $2,492 per year.
  4. Farmers: $2,733 per year.
  5. Mercury: $2,821 per year.
After a relatively minor crash, some auto insurers will charge a lot more than others for coverage. To get these figures, we averaged rates for 40-year-olds with typical "full coverage" insurance and one recent at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage. Your rates will remain high for three to five years after you cause an accident or have a moving violation — and you still may be rejected for coverage from certain companies, including those above. If you fall into this category, be sure to shop for new insurance rates just after the three-year and five-year anniversaries of your infraction.

Cheapest insurance after a DUI in San Diego

For those with a DUI on their records, these are the cheapest insurers we found and their average rates for a San Diego driver buying full coverage:

  1. Infinity: $2,242 per year.
  2. Mercury: $2,673 per year.
  3. Kemper: $3,108 per year.
  4. Geico: $3,113 per year.
  5. Farmers: $3,372 per year.
A conviction for driving under the influence, or DUI, generally results in higher auto insurance premiums than before. NerdWallet analyzed rates for 40-year-old drivers and standard “full coverage” car insurance with a recent DUI conviction to see which companies were cheapest. Be warned that you may be rejected for coverage, including from the companies listed above. Rates can vary by hundreds between carriers after a DUI, and some penalize for longer than others, so it’s important to shop around for the best available price right after you see a price hike and each year after that.

Cheapest insurance after a ticket in San Diego

For a San Diego driver with a recent speeding ticket, the cheapest insurers and average rates for full coverage are:

  1. Kemper: $1,894 per year.
  2. Geico: $1,930 per year.
  3. 21st Century: $1,958 per year.
  4. Wawanesa: $2,011 per year.
  5. Infinity: $2,123 per year.
Getting a speeding ticket will result in higher car insurance rates from most companies for three to five years. To see who has the cheapest rates, we calculated average car insurance rates for 40-year-old drivers with “full coverage” insurance and a recent ticket for speeding 16 mph over the limit. Though these larger companies were the cheapest we found on average, others may be cheaper for you, so be sure to get at least three quotes before deciding on a carrier.

Cheapest for couples and families in San Diego

Adding another driver or a second car to your policy can change where you’ll find the cheapest auto insurance. Discounts are often available for insuring multiple vehicles or more than one driver, but each company applies rates and discounts differently. That’s why insurers with the lowest prices for single drivers may not be the cheapest for you now. We analyzed rates for couples in San Diego, with and without a teen driver, to see which companies are the cheapest for families. To find the best rate for you, be sure to shop for insurance quotes after major life changes like getting married or adding a newly licensed driver.

Cheapest for a married couple in San Diego

For a husband and wife in San Diego, both 50 years old with clean driving histories, here are the cheapest insurance companies we found and their average rates for a two-vehicle policy with full coverage:

  1. Geico: $1,655 per year.
  2. Wawanesa: $1,949 per year.
  3. Allstate: $1,985 per year.
  4. Kemper: $1,990 per year.
  5. 21st Century: $2,069 per year.
Couples who live together can save on auto insurance by combining policies, whether they are married or not, because they can earn multi-car and multi-driver discounts. Once they tie the knot, rates can dip further, but not because of discounts — insurers see married people as less risky and so charge them lower rates. Our hypothetical 50-year-old couple’s clean driving record also earns them both a good driver discount.

Cheapest for families with a teen in San Diego

For a 50-year-old San Diego couple with an 18-year-old driver on their policy, these insurers returned the cheapest average rates for full coverage on two vehicles:

  1. Wawanesa: $3,132 per year.
  2. State Farm: $3,490 per year.
  3. Mercury: $3,873 per year.
  4. Kemper: $4,180 per year.
  5. Allstate: $4,599 per year.
Adding a teen with two years’ driving experience to a married couple's policy is sure to cause a big jump in rates. Since different insurers tend to see a teen’s inexperience in different ways, we analyzed rates to see which companies had the cheapest car insurance for teens. These rates are averaged for 50-year-old couples with male and female 18-year-old drivers.

Cheapest for young drivers in San Diego

Car insurance can be pricey for people in their 20s, who typically pay higher rates than more seasoned drivers. But even for young drivers, some insurance companies are much cheaper than others. Companies consider personal traits such as age and driving experience differently when they set their rates, so it’s smart to compare multiple quotes to find your lowest possible price. We checked rates for 25-year-olds in San Diego to see which insurance companies are the cheapest for young drivers.

Cheapest full coverage for young good drivers

For a 25-year-old San Diego driver with a clean driving history, these are the cheapest insurers and their average rates for a full coverage policy:

  1. Wawanesa: $1,562 per year.
  2. Geico: $1,810 per year.
  3. 21st Century: $1,850 per year.
  4. Progressive: $1,875 per year.
  5. Farmers: $1,962 per year.
Drivers in their 20s can have a hard time finding cheap car insurance, and that's even truer when they need full coverage. The rates above are averages for 25-year-old male and female drivers with comprehensive and collision coverages, which are often required for drivers with active auto loans or leases. These rates reflect a good driver discount. Young drivers, like all drivers, should check several quotes to find the cheapest for the coverage levels they need.

Cheapest minimum coverage for young good drivers

For a young driver who wants only California’s minimum required insurance, the cheapest companies and average rates in San Diego are:

  1. Geico: $619 per year.
  2. Progressive: $640 per year.
  3. Wawanesa: $699 per year.
  4. Auto Club of SoCal: $746 per year.
  5. Kemper: $758 per year.

Since young people often have fewer assets to protect with liability insurance, they can usually get away with lower coverage limits. For an age group with relatively high insurance rates on average, that’s good news, keeping rates as low as possible. For this price set, we averaged rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers who have clean driving records and bare-bones insurance coverage.

Cheapest for minimum coverage after a crash

For a 25-year-old San Diego driver who’s responsible for a recent wreck, these are the cheapest insurance options, ranked by average rates for minimum coverage:

  1. Progressive: $1,173 per year.
  2. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,186 per year.
  3. Geico: $1,210 per year.
  4. Liberty Mutual: $1,304 per year.
  5. Mercury: $1,393 per year.

To get prices for this group, we averaged rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers with a recent at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage. Since car insurance is often pricier after a crash, and especially so for young drivers, we assumed minimum required insurance in the state to contain costs for our hypothetical driver. If you’ve caused a crash, no matter your age, be sure to check auto insurance quotes just after the third and fifth anniversaries of your incident, when insurers often adjust rates downward.

Cheapest for minimum coverage after a DUI

After a recent DUI conviction, these are the cheapest companies we found for a young San Diego driver, listed with their average rates for minimum required insurance:

  1. Infinity: $1,164 per year.
  2. Progressive: $1,252 per year.
  3. Mercury: $1,262 per year.
  4. Geico: $1,571 per year.
  5. Kemper: $1,693 per year.

Young drivers with a recent DUI on their records will need to be diligent to find the lowest car insurance rates they can get. It’s likely that many companies’ rates will be quite expensive. But spending the time to shop around for quotes can help you find the lowest. For this analysis, we averaged rates for male and female 25-year-old drivers with a recent on-record DUI. They had minimum required car insurance, which helps keep rates down.

Cheapest for minimum coverage and a ticket

When a 25-year-old driver in San Diego has a recent speeding ticket, the cheapest insurers and average rates for minimum coverage are:

  1. Wawanesa: $974 per year.
  2. Geico: $978 per year.
  3. Kemper: $1,001 per year.
  4. Auto Club of SoCal: $1,007 per year.
  5. Mercury: $1,008 per year.
Getting a speeding ticket is never fun, and neither is the higher car insurance bill you may receive months later. At that point, it's time to shop around for better rates, and it wouldn't hurt to repeat on your third and fifth ticket anniversaries, when insurers may adjust rates downward. We analyzed rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers with a recent speeding violation for going 16 mph over the speed limit to see prices for this group.

Cheap for military families

if you’re a veteran or active member of the military or have an immediate family member who is, be sure to get a car insurance quote from USAA. The company doesn’t offer policies to the general public, so we don’t rank it alongside the others, but it was among the three cheapest auto insurance options in San Diego for three-fourths of the driver types listed above.

» MORE: Best car insurance for veterans and military

Recap: Cheapest car insurance in San Diego

  • Good drivers: Geico
  • Minimum coverage: Geico
  • After an at-fault crash: Geico
  • After a DUI: Infinity
  • After a speeding ticket: Kemper
  • Married couples: Geico
  • Families with a teen: Wawanesa
  • Young good drivers: Wawanesa
  • Minimum coverage for young good drivers: Geico
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers after a crash: Progressive
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers after a DUI: Infinity
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers after a ticket: Wawanesa

» MORE: Compare car insurance

Average car insurance rates in San Diego

When you compare car insurance quotes, knowing average rates can give you an idea of what to expect. Our analysis found these average annual rates for a 40-year-old driver in San Diego.

Average San Diego car insurance rates

Driving recordFull coverageMinimum coverage
Good driving history$1,536$613
After a speeding ticket$2,189$859
After causing a crash$2,765$1,104
After a DUI$3,758$1,475

Minimum required car insurance in San Diego

In San Diego and all of California, drivers must carry at least:

  • $15,000 bodily injury liability per person.
  • $30,000 bodily injury liability per accident.
  • $5,000 property damage liability per accident.

Liability coverage reimburses other people’s injury or property damage bills if you’re at fault in an accident. Experts recommend getting more than these minimums because you could find yourself using your own money to cover potential expenses after a crash.

For example, California’s property damage minimum of $5,000 could feel like little help after a crash. If the damage to another car or property exceeds that amount in an accident you cause, you’d have to come up with the difference.

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

Alternative car insurance in San Diego

If you’re having trouble getting insured due to a high number of accidents, DUIs or other factors, check out the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan. This service connects high-risk or non-standard drivers to insurance companies that will cover them.

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

METHODOLOGY

For our “good driver” profile, NerdWallet averaged rates from the largest insurers in the state for 40-year-old men and women in the San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, California, Metropolitan Statistical Area as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. The MSA encompasses San Diego County, California.

The policy includes:

  • $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.

If required, minimum additional coverages were added. Our “young driver” had all the same characteristics, but average rates were for 25-year-old men and women. 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 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 costing $10,000 in property damage.
  • For drivers with a ticket, we added a single speeding violation for driving 16 mph over the speed limit.
  • For drivers with a DUI, we added a single drunken driving violation.

We used a 2016 Toyota Camry LE for all single drivers. Couples in our analyses were 50-year-old men and women with good credit and clean driving histories, averaged across the San Diego MSA with the same policy outlined above. To see rates for families with a teen, we added an 18-year-old licensed two years ago, averaging rates for male and female teens. For couples and families, we added a 2016 Nissan Rogue S to create a two-car household. Rates for each vehicle assumed 12,000 annual miles driven.

These are rates provided by Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.


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