Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Apr 13, 2022

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California Statistic SummaryDetails
Road Miles225,531
Registered Vehicles27,872,875
State Population39,557,045
Most Popular VehicleHonda Civic
Percentage of Uninsured Motorists15.2%
Driving DeathsSpeeding: 1,070
Drunk Driving: 1,120
Average Premiums AnnuallyLiability: $462.95
Collision: $364.56
Comprehensive: $99.29
Cheapest ProviderUSAA CIC
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From the famous Highway 1 along the Pacific Coast to the legendary Route 66, California was made for driving.

With around 27 million cars on the road and approximately 226,000 miles of roadway to accommodate them all, there is bound to be some trouble on occasion.

Should the worst befall you it is comforting to know that you have chosen the right car insurance provider who can help you navigate your way through the confusion.

Click here to find the insurance options in your area.

How do you know that you have chosen the right insurer to meet all of your needs? Keep reading to find some simple tips that can help you along your journey.

Table of Contents

How to get California car insurance coverage and rates

Whichever state you choose to call home there will always be insurance requirements. California is no different.

With so many choices for providers and coverage options though it can sometimes be hard to determine just what you need. This is where we come in.

We have sorted through all of the data and collected the information you need to help you cut out the frustration when shopping for your policy.

Keep scrolling to find out what the Golden State requires and how we can help you get the biggest bang for your buck.

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What are the minimum coverage requirements in California?

According to California DMV, you are required to have the following coverage in order to register your vehicle in the Golden State:

  • $15,000 in bodily injury protection for the injury/death of one person
  • $30,000 in bodily injury protection for the injury/death of more than one person
  • AND $5,000 in Property Damage liability coverage

NOLO also notes that California is a “Fault” state which means that:

Drivers are financially responsible for the effets of any accident they cause.

Knowing that it might fall to you to cover the costs of an accident should you happen to bump into someone else while on the road is a scary thought.

It doesn’t have to be though with the right car insurance provider in your corner.

The cost of minimum coverage varies from state to state.

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What is considered a form of finacial responsibility?

California wants to make sure that everyone on the road is doing their part when it comes to highway safety which is why the Golden State requires forms of Financial Responsibility

Commonly known as proof of insurance, forms of financial responsibility must be presented when:

  • Requested by law enforcement
  • If you are involved in a traffic accident
  • Or if you are renewing your vehicle’s registration

Proof of insurance must be carried in your car at all times as well.

If you cannot present proof of insurance to law enforcement upon request you could be fined between $100 and $200 dollars for the first infraction and between $200 and $500 for any infraction thereafter.

You may also be responsible for any additional assessment penalties.

Should you need to present proof of insurance to law enforcement in the Golden State you can do so in the following forms:

  • An e-insurance card which is accessible through your car insurance provider’s app on your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or other electronic devices.
  • A printed paper insurance ID card which is usually presented to you when you by your car insurance provider by mail shortly after you have bought your policy.

It is also a good idea to keep your policy declarations page (dec page) in the glove box just in case you can’t access your e-insurance card or locate your paper copy.

And it is nice to know that California law prevents law enforcement from rifling through your phone without a warrant should you present them with your e-insurance card (unless you are placed under arrest).

What percentage of income are auto insurance premiums?

According to Business Insider, California ranks as having some of the highest insurance rates in the country.

Californians also spend about 2.16 percent of their disposable income on car insurance premiums which can really add up.

With a per capita disposable income of around $43,978 per year coming into the average household in California and almost $986.75 of that being spent on car insurance, this means that the average resident of the Golden State shells out approximately $82 of a $3,665 monthly budget just to maintain the minimum coverage required by the State of California in order to drive.

This is of course if the driver does not have any tickets of accidents.

There is some good news though. Between 2012 and 2014 rates in the Golden State did not increase by much.

Californians are also paying a bit less than the national average expenditure for car insurance which stands at $935.80 per year.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), California’s average expenditure is just $892.55. California is doing relatively well on the whole then when it comes to car insurance rates.

This is especially true when compared to its neighbors Arizona or Nevada. Residents of Arizona and Nevada pay about $962 and $1,083 respectively each year in car insurance premiums.

With good things on the horizon for California’s car insurance market, why would you leave the Golden State?

No matter what the national average expenditure is, or how Business Insider has ranked the Golden State, all California residents like to save money whenever possible.

This is why it is so important to shop around.

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What are the average monthly car insurance rates in CA (liability, collision, comprehensive)

Getting the most for every penny you spend on your car insurance policy means understanding what the Golden State requires of you as a car owner.

Coverage TypeAnnual Costs (2015)
Liability $489.66
Combined Total$986.75
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The rates in the table above reflect statistics from 2015 so premiums for 2019 might be slightly higher.

The best way to keep your premiums as low as possible is to become an informed consumer and then shop around for the best rates.

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Taking time to understand what you are buying and just how much of it you need before deciding on something as important as a car insurance policy can also help you avoid a huge headache later.

Is there an additional liability?

Shopping for car insurance can be a real bear. Even though California has minimum requirements when it comes to the amount of coverage you need there are some benefits to going above and beyond just what the Golden State has mandated as the bare minimum.

Some of the additional types of liability coverage offered to you in California are:

  • MedPay Insurance which covers the medical payments of all passengers in your vehicle that are injured in an accident; including their treatment and the ambulance ride.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist will protect you if you are in an accident with an at-fault driver who isn’t carrying liability insurance. It will also cover you if the offending driver’s limits are to low to cover the damages and medical expenses incurred by you or others during an accident.

As you consider which types of additional coverage you might need it is always a good idea to think about the loss ratios of the car insurance companies in California that catch your eye.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) does not currently have the loss ratio data on personal injury protection, but it does include the ratios for MedPay and Uninsured Motorists. Take a look at the table below to see how the car insurance market in California is doing on the whole.

Loss Ratio201320142015
Medical Payments (MedPay)69%62%60%
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist60%58%69%
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The loss ratios for MedPay and Uninsured/Underinsured motorist are great news for consumers of car insurance in the Golden State. Why? What do these numbers mean to you?

Broken down, the loss ratio works like this:

  • A High loss Ratio (over 100 percent) is indicative of a market where companies are losing money because they may not have priced their policies properly to cover all losses.
  • A Low Loss Ratio indicates that companies in the market might have overpriced their policies or that losses were less than projected.

The loss ratios presented by NAIC are right down the middle of the road which means that although rates in California are a bit on the high side the market as a whole is performing well.

Considering that 15 percent of all California motorists are uninsured or underinsured additional liability coverage could definitely be worth the money.

Are there any add-ons and endorsements?

Additional liability coverage is not the only way to protect yourself in case of an accident or loss when behind the wheel in California.

Many car insurance providers also offer the following options for beefing up your policy and protecting your assets:

  • Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)–If your car is ever totaled or stolen GAP insurance will pay any money that is remains owed on the lease or loan. Be sure to pay attention to any limitations on your vehicle use that might come with this type of add-on though.
  • Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP) — When your liability limits have been reached PUP kicks in to help protect you from lawsuits which may result from an auto accident.
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance — Don’t get caught on the side of the road alone. If your car breaks down or you have a flat this addition to your policy will help you to pay for the cost of roadside repairs or a tow if need be.
  • Rental ReimbursementIf your car the shop due to a traffic incident rental reimbursement will help you pay the costs of renting a car until your repairs are finished.
  • Mechanical Breakdown Insurance — Need repairs that were not due to an accident then this type of coverage is for you.
  • Non-Owner Car Insurance — This type of coverage is perfect for you if you don’t own a car but still drive on occasion because it provides you with limited liability coverage even if the car you are driving isn’t registered to you.
  • Pay-As-You-Drive (Usage-Based) Insurance — This type of coverage is based on the way you drive based on information collected by your car insurance provider regarding your speed, distance traveled, and other such factors and issues discounts based on that information.
  • Classic Car Insurance — California residents appreciate the finer things like a bottle of good wine and a classic car. Residents of the Golden State also know that classic cars need special attention. Classic Car Insurance coverage helps ensure that if something happens to prized possession you will both be well protected.
  • Modified Car Insurance — As car connoisseurs, Californians appreciate the art of a finely modified car. This type of insurance covers most modifications made to your vehicle that may not be covered by your general policy should you be involved in an accident.

Not all modifications to your car are legal in the Golden State which is why it is good to talk to your car insurance provider before souping up your wheels.

The type of car you drive and/or the modifications that you make to it are not the only things that can impact your rates or the type of coverage you need. Sometimes just being you can cost you. Keep scrolling to find out how.

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What are the average car insurance rates by age & gender in CA?

If you are going to drive a car in the Golden State you are going to need an auto insurance coverage. There is more to purchasing your policy than just finding the cheapest rates though.

Part of being a savvy shopper is knowing just which factors auto insurance companies use to determine the cost of your premiums.

Some of these factors include things that you can’t do anything about though; like your age or your gender.

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The insurance companies’ use of sex as a rating factor does not seem to reveal much in the way of a consistent risk assessment.
This has caused many in the industry to question whether sex should be used at all as a means for determining a person’s car insurance rates.

Your gender is not the only thing that could cost you more either.

Sometimes your age and your marital status also play a major role in the amount that you will pay for car insurance.

CompanyMarried 35-year old female annual rateMarried 35-year old male annual rateMarried 60-year old female annual rateMarried 60-year old male annual rateSingle 17-year old female annual rateSingle 17-year old male annual rateSingle 25-year old female annual rateSingle 25-year old male annual rate
Allstate Northbrook Indemnity$2,921.24$2,923.87$2,126.03$2,148.03$8,098.88$10,188.73$3,742.44$4,115.50
AMCO Insurance$3,272.83$3,124.42$2,863.68$2,699.52$8,318.27$9,186.72$3,904.76$3,858.43
Farmers Ins Exchange$2,715.31$2,715.31$2,451.83$2,451.83$8,667.08$14,189.14$3,218.46$3,585.17
Geico General$1,786.81$1,787.80$1,680.52$1,680.52$5,433.56$5,529.48$2,566.22$2,624.98
SAFECO Ins Co of America$2,303.99$2,177.93$2,145.20$2,077.01$5,014.43$5,348.46$2,593.72$2,620.60
State Farm Mutual Auto$3,310.18$3,310.18$2,957.44$2,957.44$6,089.50$7,555.39$3,663.92$3,777.69
Travelers Commercial Ins Co.$2,497.45$2,417.86$2,206.26$2,182.92$5,165.60$5,906.73$3,249.64$3,179.78
United Financial Casualty$1,785.37$1,837.82$1,518.62$1,802.64$4,767.78$5,748.65$2,576.92$2,771.33
USAA CIC$1,929.46$1,827.74$1,882.10$1,889.89$4,404.58$4,428.83$2,670.51$2,523.86
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The table reveals that the cost of car insurance in California for a married woman in her thirties is only slightly lower across the board in the Golden State when compared to the rates for a single woman in her twenties.

According to the data, this seems to be the case for men as well-meaning that California is pretty equitable when considering demographics as factors in considering how your car insurance rates will be set.

Age, sex, and gender are just a few of the things that car insurance providers take into account when determining how much you will pay for your car insurance policy in California. Your rates can also go up or down all within a matter of a few blocks.

What are the cheapest car insurance rates by zip code?

Most people think about their neighborhood as the people that they share their street with or the conveniences that their street address has close by.

When it comes to buying car insurance the street you live on can really make a difference though. Take a look below to see how.

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Here are the 25 cheapest zip codes in California.

CityZipcodeAnnual AverageAllstate Northbrook IndemnityFarmers Ins ExchangeGeico GeneralSAFECO Ins Co of AmericaAMCO InsuranceUnited Financial CasualtyState Farm Mutual AutoTravelers Commercial Ins Co.USAA CIC
SAN LUIS OBISPO93401$2,731.32 $3,488.65 $2,992.54 $2,403.77 $2,285.77 $3,336.13 $2,177.96 $2,991.49 $2,554.99 $2,350.57
LOS OSOS93402$2,821.16 $3,392.02 $3,335.87 $2,438.41 $2,324.69 $3,411.51 $2,336.39 $3,228.08 $2,572.90 $2,350.57
ARROYO GRANDE93420$2,824.43 $3,399.95 $3,404.34 $2,531.57 $2,298.66 $3,543.40 $1,980.83 $3,132.17 $2,652.52 $2,476.45
ATASCADERO93422$2,865.26 $3,421.28 $3,438.02 $2,568.70 $2,430.29 $3,610.36 $2,058.51 $3,241.31 $2,627.69 $2,391.21
BUELLTON93427$2,807.43 $3,442.05 $3,042.70 $2,537.51 $2,418.79 $3,437.39 $2,244.68 $3,250.68 $2,603.92 $2,289.13
CAMBRIA93428$2,774.88 $3,380.26 $3,165.32 $2,242.78 $2,514.83 $3,395.32 $2,234.71 $3,098.96 $2,597.87 $2,343.85
CAYUCOS93430$2,850.58 $3,361.53 $3,175.94 $2,524.48 $2,344.53 $3,460.36 $2,476.97 $3,146.73 $2,741.46 $2,423.24
CRESTON93432$2,862.60 $3,487.46 $3,526.64 $2,380.87 $2,458.14 $3,457.74 $2,239.41 $3,222.25 $2,666.31 $2,324.62
GROVER BEACH93433$2,834.19 $3,468.52 $3,111.54 $2,438.41 $2,282.99 $3,752.44 $2,297.06 $2,890.63 $2,506.12 $2,760.02
LOMPOC93436$2,843.64 $3,462.90 $3,004.22 $2,325.67 $2,653.07 $3,536.94 $2,393.54 $3,217.80 $2,626.85 $2,371.77
LOMPOC93437$2,804.27 $3,460.07 $2,994.66 $2,503.39 $2,639.10 $3,512.04 $2,098.30 $2,952.39 $2,650.39 $2,428.11
LOS OLIVOS93441$2,840.56 $3,442.05 $2,940.63 $2,624.47 $2,512.57 $3,594.51 $2,327.04 $3,154.75 $2,542.04 $2,426.99
MORRO BAY93442$2,807.96 $3,396.50 $3,147.90 $2,605.58 $2,400.87 $3,358.53 $2,126.82 $3,072.18 $2,709.70 $2,453.61
NIPOMO93444$2,843.90 $3,435.20 $3,445.56 $2,450.63 $2,337.28 $3,495.01 $2,421.14 $3,138.34 $2,572.56 $2,299.41
PISMO BEACH93449$2,829.93 $3,450.72 $3,166.06 $2,503.39 $2,283.28 $3,707.40 $2,484.18 $2,912.15 $2,512.26 $2,449.96
SAN SIMEON93452$2,858.30 $3,487.46 $3,056.11 $2,524.48 $2,536.68 $3,497.26 $2,305.34 $3,296.73 $2,689.98 $2,330.63
SANTA MARIA93455$2,877.52 $3,453.85 $3,086.14 $2,325.67 $2,528.26 $3,554.69 $2,419.92 $3,308.07 $2,857.39 $2,363.73
SOLVANG93463$2,861.18 $3,888.44 $2,932.73 $2,568.70 $2,371.94 $3,531.47 $2,112.72 $3,267.79 $2,714.75 $2,362.05
BISHOP93514$2,837.87 $3,721.11 $3,446.65 $2,292.34 $2,616.96 $3,410.32 $1,942.71 $3,225.60 $2,586.10 $2,299.06
ETNA96027$2,882.83 $3,090.18 $4,075.76 $2,314.00 $2,701.03 $3,501.68 $2,071.13 $3,204.65 $2,677.46 $2,309.58
FORT JONES96032$2,885.83 $3,090.18 $4,329.09 $2,376.65 $2,626.10 $3,547.47 $2,122.70 $3,038.16 $2,575.27 $2,266.86
MONTAGUE96064$2,840.77 $3,090.18 $4,019.73 $2,250.66 $2,604.36 $3,532.73 $1,971.09 $3,160.11 $2,601.64 $2,336.44
MOUNT SHASTA96067$2,777.89 $2,929.61 $4,029.52 $2,080.16 $2,592.52 $3,347.10 $1,989.83 $3,146.02 $2,567.23 $2,318.98
WEED96094$2,752.73 $3,135.64 $4,037.15 $2,061.72 $2,512.07 $3,166.19 $2,000.62 $2,995.25 $2,546.94 $2,318.98
YREKA96097$2,843.29 $3,077.47 $4,020.91 $2,197.64 $2,649.00 $3,291.50 $2,200.87 $3,116.56 $2,648.87 $2,386.81
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Conversely, this table shows the 25 most expensive zip codes in the state.

CityZipcodeAnnual AverageAllstate Northbrook IndemnityFarmers Ins ExchangeGeico GeneralSAFECO Ins Co of AmericaAMCO InsuranceUnited Financial CasualtyState Farm Mutual AutoTravelers Commercial Ins Co.USAA CIC
LOS ANGELES90004$5,928.00 $8,189.47 $7,840.01 $4,399.36 $4,666.03 $8,127.33 $4,373.15 $6,164.80 $5,744.06 $3,847.79
LOS ANGELES90005$6,040.60 $8,065.54 $7,981.84 $4,680.35 $4,903.30 $8,057.13 $4,592.87 $6,392.86 $5,687.21 $4,004.33
LOS ANGELES90010$6,201.00 $8,225.60 $7,934.31 $4,922.31 $4,883.02 $8,610.21 $5,052.24 $6,144.83 $5,809.53 $4,226.92
LOS ANGELES90017$5,898.72 $8,014.89 $7,676.78 $4,668.37 $4,632.60 $8,005.94 $5,179.97 $5,876.00 $5,088.89 $3,945.10
LOS ANGELES90020$6,132.45 $8,360.06 $8,154.52 $4,512.30 $4,919.64 $8,382.09 $4,697.72 $6,264.15 $5,897.24 $4,004.33
LOS ANGELES90027$5,897.67 $8,189.47 $8,170.37 $4,076.09 $4,354.82 $8,413.29 $4,012.84 $6,150.89 $5,695.99 $4,015.30
LOS ANGELES90028$6,063.25 $8,360.06 $8,208.73 $4,393.74 $4,557.64 $8,186.10 $4,531.15 $6,362.31 $5,965.23 $4,004.33
LOS ANGELES90029$5,934.84 $8,197.40 $8,227.86 $4,161.04 $4,674.71 $8,180.61 $4,738.09 $6,018.51 $5,479.46 $3,735.84
LOS ANGELES90038$6,048.15 $8,360.06 $8,240.54 $4,309.89 $4,611.39 $8,518.96 $4,785.83 $6,143.06 $5,769.85 $3,693.78
LOS ANGELES90046$6,045.78 $8,225.60 $8,180.20 $4,399.92 $4,476.43 $8,193.23 $4,890.23 $6,299.06 $5,780.46 $3,966.93
LOS ANGELES90048$5,877.67 $8,276.46 $7,681.40 $4,058.38 $4,431.11 $8,189.87 $4,892.06 $6,006.52 $5,643.80 $3,719.43
LOS ANGELES90057$5,894.37 $8,016.78 $8,012.14 $4,309.89 $4,906.32 $8,012.71 $4,225.65 $6,396.14 $5,321.93 $3,847.79
WEST HOLLYWOOD90069$5,844.28 $8,276.46 $8,037.83 $4,399.36 $4,191.86 $7,666.21 $4,955.37 $5,586.55 $5,812.91 $3,671.99
LOS ANGELES90077$5,878.05 $8,190.66 $7,517.86 $4,222.43 $3,925.51 $7,494.20 $5,298.69 $6,622.72 $5,505.36 $4,125.06
BEVERLY HILLS90210$6,324.83 $8,190.66 $8,075.13 $5,087.15 $4,414.40 $8,533.47 $5,274.21 $6,642.25 $6,013.59 $4,692.62
BEVERLY HILLS90211$6,199.34 $8,190.66 $7,618.96 $4,979.75 $4,439.85 $8,922.36 $5,302.83 $6,571.75 $5,522.71 $4,245.23
BEVERLY HILLS90212$6,041.05 $8,190.66 $7,792.29 $4,556.62 $4,539.22 $7,776.24 $5,174.13 $6,578.45 $5,516.64 $4,245.23
GLENDALE91201$5,847.26 $7,952.29 $7,391.51 $4,512.91 $4,011.77 $8,736.98 $5,123.14 $5,683.35 $5,404.46 $3,808.95
GLENDALE91203$6,086.65 $7,952.29 $7,428.43 $4,981.01 $4,116.05 $9,116.47 $5,031.25 $6,423.22 $5,726.62 $4,004.56
GLENDALE91204$6,015.40 $7,952.29 $7,685.36 $4,605.26 $4,268.49 $8,721.88 $5,492.96 $6,022.48 $5,385.28 $4,004.56
GLENDALE91205$5,990.19 $6,346.42 $7,685.36 $5,227.43 $4,296.53 $8,439.18 $5,243.60 $6,956.98 $5,711.65 $4,004.56
VAN NUYS91401$6,073.88 $8,335.75 $7,922.82 $4,768.98 $4,506.46 $8,651.65 $4,719.68 $6,322.26 $5,609.28 $3,828.03
VAN NUYS91405$6,198.55 $8,155.64 $7,922.82 $4,897.11 $4,683.16 $8,789.36 $4,930.09 $6,692.88 $5,784.17 $3,931.76
NORTH HOLLYWOOD91605$6,034.64 $7,386.88 $7,959.34 $4,624.81 $4,383.46 $8,737.86 $4,771.62 $6,447.90 $6,190.93 $3,808.95
NORTH HOLLYWOOD91606$6,219.57 $8,174.05 $8,102.32 $4,897.11 $4,611.35 $8,084.28 $5,028.19 $6,958.72 $6,188.33 $3,931.76
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Looking at the data shows you just how much a few blocks could cost you. For instance, living in Compton with a zip code of 90221 could save you around $400 compared to your neighbors in Compton who live in the zip code are designated as 90222.

The differences in the prices of premiums across the Compton area demonstrate that when it comes to shopping for your car insurance policy it is wise to compare.

Part of comparison shopping is investigating the rates of your friends and neighbors before making a decision.

The street you live on is not the only geographic consideration you should be looking at before you make your purchase. Sometimes just living in the right city or town could save you big bucks.

What are the cheapest rates by city?

From the mountain towns that surround the peak of Mount Whitney to the San Fransico Bay, California has some amazing places to live.

Navigating each of these cities also presents a driver with its own unique experiences.

Sometimes navigating through the wealth of options provided to you when it comes to purchasing car insurance can be challenging as well.

With the right information at your fingertips and all of the facts and data collected for you in one place, shopping for a car insurance policy doesn’t have to be frustrating.

Looking at the price of car insurance rates in Beverly Hills versus those that the residents of Weed pay shows you just what the type of car you drive could do to your car insurance rates.

This is because expensive cars require expensive replacement parts if something happens to them.

Replacing the parts in your car after an accident will require you to file a claim.

Should things ever come to that it will be good to know where your car insurance provider stands in comparison to its competitors in the Golden State. That is where we come in.

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What are the best California car insurance companies?

Proper planning and careful research before you purchase your car insurance policy will go a long way after an accident.

Part of this planning and research involves knowing which car insurance providers in your state are considered to be the best at what they do.

We have collected a list of the top-rated car insurance companies in the Golden State according to AM Best to help you make an educated decision when it comes to choosing the right provider to help protect you and your loved ones.

What is the financial rating of the largest companies?

AM Best is the only global credit firm that has a singular focus on the insurance market. For this reason, it has become a trusted agency used by NAIC and other leaders in the insurance field when determining the overall health and viability of insurance providers around the world.

Best Rated CompaniesRatingOutlook
Allstate Insurance GroupA+Stable
Auto Club Enterprises Insurance GroupA-Stable
CSAA Insurance GroupAStable
Farmers Insurance GroupAStable
Liberty Mutual GroupAStable
Mercury Gen GroupA-Stable
Progressive GroupA+Stable
State Farm GroupA++Stable
USAA GroupA++Stable
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When you choose a company with an A-minus rating or better according to AM Best you can be sure that you are choosing a company that has a good loss ratio and is overall financially sound.

What does all of this translate to when you are making your decision regarding which car insurance provider is right for you?

It means that should you ever need to file a claim with one of the insurance providers on this list you can rest easy knowing they have the financial strength to pay claims.

Choosing a financially stable car insurance provider also means that you are less likely to suffer any negative consequences which could result if your car insurance company were to go bankrupt.

Which companies have the best ratings?

AM Best is not the only trusted advisor looking out for you as you make the decision about which car insurance provider is best for you. JD Powers also has your back, and what they have discovered is that consumer satisfaction among customers of the car insurance market is at an all-time high.

California JD Power Ratings

Anyone who has ever bought car insurance in the Golden State knows that it’s not always as pleasant as catching the perfect wave. Making sure that your experience is as good as it possibly can be is as easy as scrolling down to see who customers in the Golden State complain about the most.

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Which companies have the most complaints?

A good way to tell if the car insurance provider that you have your eye on is the right choice for you and your family is to look at its complaint ratio.

What this number tells you is just where your top picks stand in relation to their competitors.

The baseline for the complaint ratio is 1.0. This means that a company with a complaint ratio of 1.0 has an average number of complaints. The higher the complaint ratio the higher the number of complaints lodged against the company then.

Below is a list of the top 10 best car insurance companies in the Golden State along with their complaint ratios so that you can see how each one compares.

Company Direct Premiums writtenComplaint RatioLoss ratiomarket share
Allstate Insurance Group$2,446,5640.564.73%8.97%
Auto Club Enterprises Insurance Group$2,312,2300.6965.03%8.48%
CSAA Insurance Group$1,950,2573.9764.30%7.15%
Farmers Insurance Group$3,158,814068.26%11.59%
Liberty Mutual Group$929,0585.9577.26%3.41%
Mercury Gen Group$2,095,5310.5661.91%7.69%
Progressive Group$1,147,1860.7562.78%4.21%
State Farm Group$3,910,3510.4475.94%14.34%
USAA Group$1,218,7920.7472.98%4.47%
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Looking at these numbers might make you think that you should avoid Liberty Mutual because it has a 5.95 complaint ratio. The numbers are deceiving though when taken out of context.

When you look at Liberty Mutual’s complaint ratio in contrast with the small percentage of the market share that this company holds it makes a bit more sense.

Liberty Mutual only holds around 3.5 percent of the overall market share which means that it services fewer customers.

This means that the total of complaints filed against them becomes amplified in the complaint ratio because it is not spread out across a bigger share of the total car insurance market.

This helps explain why State Farm, which holds about 15 percent of the overall California car insurance market has such a small complaint ratio in comparison.

Should you ever need to file a complaint against your car insurance provider there are several ways to do it in the Golden State. Some of these include:


Now that you know how loss ratio works and what the complaint ratio means along with how to file a complaint if need be, it is time to start comparing rates.

What are the cheapest companies in California?

All smart shoppers know that when you are shopping for something it is always best to sort your prices from low to high. Smart shoppers also know that this is not all there is to making an educated decision. We are here to help give you the rest of the data you need.

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Take a look at the table below to see just how far your dollar can stretch when buying car insurance in the Golden State.

CompanyAnnual Average+/- Compared to State Average (Rate)+/- Compared to Average State (%)
Allstate Northbrook Indemnity$4,533.09$843.4718.61%
AMCO Insurance$4,653.58$963.9620.71%
Farmers Ins Exchange$4,999.27$1,309.6426.20%
Geico General$2,886.24-$803.38-27.84%
SAFECO Ins Co of America$3,035.17-$654.45-21.56%
State Farm Mutual Auto$4,202.72$513.1012.21%
Travelers Commercial Ins Co.$3,350.78-$338.84-10.11%
United Financial Casualty$2,851.14-$838.48-29.41%
USAA CIC$2,694.62-$995.00-36.93%
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Knowing just how far your hard earned money will go when you are shopping for your car insurance policy is important. It is also important to understand how each provider determines the rates that you will end up paying once you chose a provider.

Some car insurance providers may adjust your rates based on how long your commute is or what type of car you drive.

There are even a few instances when your education level might matter. Keep reading to find out how all of these things go into the price that you pay.

What are the average commute rates by company?

Many people don’t realize that the more they drive the higher their premiums for car insurance will be. This is because every minute you spend on the road your chances of being involved in an accident increase.

More accidents mean more claims, and more claims can raise the overhead of a car insurance provider causing them to raise their rates for everyone.

To guard against this these providers take the number of miles you put behind you into account as they set your rates.

The table below can help you put the numbers that car insurance provider use to determine the cost of your policy into perspective.

Company10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.
Liberty Mutual$2,786.10$3,284.23
State Farm$4,049.89$4,355.54
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The table above reveals that if you have a short commute then USAA might be the best choice for you. If your commute is longer though it might pay for you to go with State Farm given its total market share and solid complaint and loss ratios.

These ratios tell you as a consumer that if you are in an accident State Farm has the financial stability to back you up and they are less likely to reject any claim that you might be forced to file if you are in an accident.

Although your commute distance may affect your rates, you’ll be spared from higher rates due to bad credit!

Some states have banned discrimination based on your credit score when it comes to auto insurance rates, and this is one of those States.

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That is not all there is to rates though. You will also want to consider the coverage level rates of the companies that you are comparing.

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What are the coverage level rates by company?

You have seen how things like the loss ratio and the distance of your commute can impact the price you pay for your car insurance policy and the type of coverage you need. Now its time to start thinking about just how much coverage you might need.

The table below can help you get started.

CompanyAnnual Rate with Low CoverageAnnual Rate with Medium CoverageAnnual Rate with High Coverage
Liberty Mutual$2,824.01$3,061.95$3,219.54
State Farm$3,793.44$4,273.41$4,541.30
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It goes without saying that the more coverage you purchase the higher the price you will pay. That is why it is so important to shop around.

The price for the coverage amount isn’t the only thing to consider though.

As you make your decision about which car insurance provider is right for you, or how much coverage you might need it is also helpful to consider the age of your car. An older car may not need as much coverage as a new one fresh off the lot.

There are also factors at work when considering your rates, such as your driving record or your credit report in some states.

What are the credit history rates by company?

In 2015 Consumer Reports published an article that came as a shock to a lot of people looking to buy car insurance.  What they found was that:

Your credit score could have more of an impact on your premium price than any other factor.

This is important to keep in mind if you are a resident of most states in the Union. As a resident of California though, the law prohibits the use of your credit score as a factor for determining your car insurance rates.

If U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib gets her way then all Americans might enjoy this luxury as well.

Even if your credit score does not impact your car insurance premiums because you live in the Golden State you should still keep an eye on it.  This is especially true in California where, according to Experian, the average credit score is 680.

The inability of Californa car insurance companies to use your credit score to set your rates doesn’t mean that you should go out and start driving like a maniac either.

Defensive driving is always the safest bet for everyone.

What are the driving record rates by company?

How you behave behind the wheel can have a huge impact on the driving behaviors of those around you. Your driving record is also very important when it comes to determining just how much you will pay for car insurance in the Golden State.

Take a look at the table below to see how just a little too much speed or a bit too much celebrating can affect your rates.

CompanyClean RecordWith 1 Speeding ViolationWith 1 DUIWith 1 Accident
Liberty Mutual$2,634.50$2,791.65$3,185.41$3,529.11
State Farm$2,998.34$3,480.06$6,756.08$3,576.40
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Looking at the table it seems as if USAA might be the company for you if you accidentally find yourself the victim of the occasional lead foot.

If you find yourself involved in a traffic accident before you purchase your next policy then Liberty Mutual might be the best provider for you instead.

One thing is sure when looking at the data though. It never pays to drink and drive so always drink responsibly and designate a driver.

Another good way to keep your premiums down is to keep an eye on your driving record and report any discrepancies. The Golden State even provides you with a way to request a copy of your driving record online.

What are the largest car insurance companies in California?

Keeping an eye on your driving record and your credit report are just some of the ways to keep your car insurance rates low.

Knowing which car insurance provider is the largest one in your area, and understanding what that means to your wallet is another good way to make a sound investment when purchasing your policy.

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Part of your investment decision should include a better understanding of what the market share of a company means to your bottom line.

Largest CompanyDirect Premiums WrittenMarket Share
Allstate Insurance Group$2,446,5648.97%
Auto Club Enterprises Insurance Group$2,312,2308.48%
CSAA Insurance Group$1,950,2577.15%
Farmers Insurance Group$3,158,81411.59%
Liberty Mutual Group$929,0583.41%
Mercury Gen Group$2,095,5317.69%
Progressive Group$1,147,1864.21%
State Farm Group$3,910,35114.34%
USAA Group$1,218,7924.47%
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Investopedia states that:

Market share represents the percentage of an industry, or a market’s total sales, that is earned by a particular company over a specified time period.

There is more to it though when you are looking to purchase your car insurance policy than just what a company earns over time.

As we explained in an earlier post, a company’s market share works with its loss ratio and its complaint ratio to give you a better picture of the company’s financial stability and its ability to pay out if you should ever need to file a claim.

What’s the number of insurers by state?

There are 99 domestic insurance providers in the Golden State and 671 foreign ones. This means that when it comes to shopping for your car insurance policy you have 770 to choose from.

So what is the difference between a foreign or domestic insurer? Simply stated:

  • A Domestic Insurer is one that has been formed under the laws of the state of California
  • A Foreign Insurer is one that which has been formed under the laws of any state, district, territory, or commonwealth of the United States other than the state of California.

Both types of insurers must follow the laws of the Golden State that govern the car insurance industry.

Whether you choose to go with a domestic or foreign insurer you will still need to understand the laws that they were formed under. We are here to help you with that.

We have provided you with a brief overview of these laws in the next section.

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What are California state laws?

With all of the legal lingo and loopholes, it can be hard to determine just which laws apply to you after an accident. Car insurance and the laws that govern it don’t have to be frustrating and confusing though.

We are here to help you gain a better grasp of the laws that driers and insurers must follow according to the Golden State. Keep scrolling find all of the basic information you will need to make a wise decision when choosing the car insurance provider that is right for you.

What are the car insurance laws?

As we discussed in a previous section, the Golden State has set forth minimum coverage requirements for drivers in California as a means of protecting all of its residents when they take to the open road. That is not all there is to it though.

The Golden State also has various safety and licensing laws meant to ensure that every resident who hits the highway has the right amount of insurance coverage and driving skills to be behind the wheel in the first place.

You can do your part by understanding just how the laws in the state of California are determined and being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to doing your due diligence before purchasing your car insurance policy.

How state laws are determined

As with most states in America, before anything becomes law in the Golden State it must first be introduced as a bill by a member of the state legislature.

This bill will then pass through the hands of various committees and sub-committees as your legislators seek to determine the overall benefit that the proposed law might give to residents of California.

When a bill becomes law is when the rubber hits the road for drivers in the Golden State.

One of the most misunderstood aspects of the laws that govern car insurance in California concerns the grace period for notifying the DMV regarding your insurance policy and when and if you are responsible for notifying the DMV regarding changes in your insurance coverage.

There is a 30-day grace period for submitting your insurance information after you purchase a vehicle in the Golden State.

According to the California DMV, you must also notify them before you cancel your policy in order to prevent your registration from being suspended.

You must submit an Affidavit of Non-Use if your vehicle to the DMV is left disabled on the side of the road in the Golden State to the DVM online as well.

Knowing when and what to notify the DMV of is not the only thing that you should be aware of as a California driver.

There are also various safety laws that determine what is allowable on roads in the Golden State.

How to get windshield coverage

One of the most unsafe things that you can do as a driver is to operate your vehicle when your view is obstructed. The state of California recognizes this which is why it has passed various laws to ensure that your field of view is clear.

One of these laws can be found under California Vehicle Code 26710 which makes it illegal to drive a car if it has a crack that prevents you from seeing down the road clearly.

The California Legislature is not without compassion though. According to their website:

In the event any windshield or rear window fails to comply with this code the officer making the inspection shall direct the driver to make the windshield and rear window conform to the requirements of this code within 48 hours.

This means that you will have 48 hours to correct the matter.

Exceptions to the law include instances where, pursuant to Section 5004, the vehicle in question did not require a windshield at the time that it was first sold or purchased.

If you do get a ticket for damage to your windshield it could change how car insurance providers determine your rates so be aware.

How to get high-risk insurance

Tickets and accidents of any kind can do real damage to your ability to get a good price when it comes to car insurance. This is especially true if you are determined to be at fault.

High rates are not the only thing to worry about if you are determined to be a high-risk driver.

If you have a DUI on your record the Golden State you may be required to obtain an SR22.

This form is provided by your insurance company and, according to Shouse Law Group, it:

Verifies you have met this state’s requirement with respect to auto liability insurance.

Once you obtain it your car insurance provider will forward a copy of it to the DMV.

For residents of California being a high-risk driver isn’t always as frustrating as it is for high-risk drivers in other states though.

This is because of the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP). This program makes it easier for high-risk drivers to find a policy that they can afford.

While all car insurance companies in the Golden State must participate in CAARP it is not the only way to save on insurance if you are a high-risk driver.

Sometimes being a member of the military or a good student can go a long way towards lowering your rates through discount programs.

How to get low-cost insurance

Discounts are not the only way for residents of the Golden State to save money on car insurance.

According to NAIC, some residents of California may be eligible to purchase a low-cost auto policy with the following limits:

  • $10,000 in bodily injury protection for the injury/death of one person
  • $20,000 in bodily injury protection for the injury/death of more than one person
  • $3,000 in Property Damage coverage

This is only if they meet certain criteria though.

According to the Auto Insurance Plan Service Office (AIPSO), some of the criteria are as follows:

  • You must be 19 years old or older.
  • Your gross household income cannot exceed 250 percent of the poverty level.
  • You cannot have had had an at-fault accident with bodily injury or death within the past three years.
  • You can have no more than one property damage only accident or moving violation in the past three years.
  • The value of your vehicle cannot exceed $25,000.

California’s Low-Cost Auto Insurance Program also offers the following additions to your policy for a charge of between $19-68 per person:

  • $10,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $20,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $1,000 medical payments per person

Saving money is important when purchasing your car insurance policy. It is also important to know just what is expected of you as a car insurance consumer.

After all, ignorance is not a defense before the law.

Is there an automobile insurance fraud in California?

According to the California Department of Insurance (CDI):

Fraud occurs when someone knowingly lies to obtain a benifit or advantage to which they arenot otherwise entitled or someone knowingly denies a benifit that is due and to which someone is entitled.

So what does this mean to you as you shop for car insurance?

It means being aware of your rights as a consumer and of your responsibilities as a client of a car insurance provider.

CDI handles cases of automobile fraud including types of collisions such as:

  • Swoop and Squat — This is when one vehicle swerves in front of another vehicle so as to intentionally cause an accident.
  • Backing — This occurs when one vehicle intentionally backs out in front of another causing an accident.
  • Sudden Stop — When the car in front of you suddenly jams on its breaks so as to intentionally cause you to hit them as a means for collecting damages it is handled under this type of fraud.
  • Phantom Vehicle — This occurs when a person crashes their vehicle and then claims it was the result of a second vehicle that fled the scene.
  • And Medical Provider — This is what the CDI calls fraud perpetrated by a medical professional who intentionally inflates your bill.

This agency is also responsible for handling cases of automobile property damage fraud such as:

  • Faked Damages — When you or a repair shop report exaggerates vehicle damages and/or pre-existing or non-existent ones the CDI pursues this type of fraud.
  • Vehicle Theft — False claims of a vehicle or motor-home theft are considered vehicle theft fraud.
  • Inflated Damages — This type of fraud occurs when the repair shop participates in excessive billing.
  • Agent/Broker — If the insurance agent or broker withholds payments that should be rightfully yours by means of backdating your policy ect. it falls under this type of fraud.

As you can see then it is not just people who purchase car insurance that can be found guilty of fraud. Anyone from your agent to the mechanic you entrust your repairs to after an accident can commit insurance fraud which is why it pays to keep track of all of your expenses and transactions.

Be aware that Insurance Fraud is a felony in the Golden State. If you feel that you have been a victim of fraud you can file a Complaint of Suspected Insurance Fraud on the CDI’s website or by mail.

Simply download the necessary form and mail it to the California Department of Insurance, Enforcement Branch Headquarters, Intake Unit, 9342 Tech Center Drive, Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 95826.

What’s the statute of limitations?

As with all laws, the laws governing insurance fraud in the state of California have statutes of limitations. This limitation is six years.

There are also statutes of limitations on filing car insurance claims after an accident in the Golden State. They are as follows:

  • For Personal Injury there is a 2-year statute of limitations
  • For Property Damage the statute of limitations is 3 years.

These time limits start on the day that the injury, loss, or damage was incurred.

What are California specific driving laws?

While most of the laws that govern life on California’s roadways seem to be with purpose there are a few that raise eyebrows.

One of these laws makes it illegal to hunt wild game from a moving vehicle. That isn’t so weird, right? What is weird is the exception to this rule which is that it is perfectly legal to hunt whales from your moving car if you can manage it.

Another state law that is as gender-specific as it is strange is the one which makes it illegal for a woman to drive while wearing her ‘nighty’ (or bathrobe as it were).

California towns have some of their own peculiar laws like the one in passed in Eureka that makes it illegal to use the road as a bed.

On a more serious note:

California Court of Appeal upheld key components of the California Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations on September 20, 2018 and affirmed that the California Insurance Commissioner has the authority to penalize insurers for engaging in improper claim settlement practices based upon even a single act of misconduct.

It appears that it is not all fun and games in the State House in Sacramento.

What are the vehicle licensing laws?

Some of the other sets of laws that the Golden State takes seriously are the ones that dictate how California residents register their vehicles and how they obtain their driver’s licenses.

When it comes to registering your vehicle in the Golden State the following rules apply:

  • You must complete the Application for Title or Registration.
  • If the vehicle is from out-of-state then the out-of-state title must be presented.
  • You must also provide the vehicle’s out-of-state registration.
  • Proof of insurance is required.
  • A valid Smog Certificate must be presented as proof that the vehicle meets with California’s vehicle emissions standards.
  • You must also pay a $46 registration fee and a $23 California Highway Patrol fee.

Once a vehicle is registered you may be able to renew your registration online thereafter.

California also has requirements for getting your driver’s license. To apply for one you must present the following to the California DMV:

  • Proof of Identity
  • Proof of true full name (such as marriage license or adoption documents)
  • Social Security Number
  • and two Residency Documents

California also participates in the Real ID program.


The California DMV has a Real ID Checklist tool on its website that can help you be sure that you have everything that you need when you come to apply for your Real ID.

Whether you chose to get a Real ID or just your normal driver’s license you should always have it with you when you operate a motor vehicle.

Penalties for being caught without one can range from 6 months in jail to a $1,000 fine.

What are the penalties for driving without insurance?

Just as there are penalties for driving without a license in the Golden State there are ones for driving without insurance.

If you are caught in a random check you could face a fine from $100 to $200 if it is your first offense.

If you get into an accident without car insurance your license could be suspended for up to 4 years. You could also be required to obtain an SR22 Proof of Financial Responsibility.

What are the teen driving laws?

The Golden State also has a specific set of laws aimed at teenaged drivers.

At age 15 1/2, teenagers in California become eligible to apply for their Provisional Permit. In order to do so the teenager must come to the DMV with the following:

  • A parent or legal guardian
  • Their birth certificate
  • Their social Security Card
  • And proof of residency

The teenager will then take their traffic law, road sign, and vision tests and then complete a one-hour training session with an instructor and 50 hours of practice driving logged by their parent, guardian, spouse, or any other driver who is over the age of 25 and licensed to drive in California.

The next stage for the teenaged driver in the Golden State is the Provisional License which requires:

  • The driver to be 16 years of age
  • Have completed 50 hours of practice, including 10 hours at night
  • And have completed driver education and formal behind-the-wheel training

The teenaged driver must also pass the road test administered by the DMV.

Once this is done the teen driver can drive alone with a few restrictions.

These restrictions include:

  • No driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the first six months
  • No transporting passengers under the age of 20 unless accompanied by a licensed driver over 25 years of age

The teenaged driver must also maintain a clean driving record and is not allowed to use any hand-held devices while operating a motor vehicle.

At age 18 the teenager becomes eligible for a Full License so long as there are no suspensions of other court-ordered restrictions attached to their driving record.

What are the driver’s license renewal procedures?

Teenaged drivers are not the only ones who have a specific set of laws that pertain to them. Older drivers have restrictions when it comes to renewing their licenses as well.

In the Golden State, the general population is required to renew their license every five years and can do so by mail or online for up to two consecutive cycles according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Older drivers also required to renew their driver’s license every 5 years, but are not permitted to do so online or by mail if they are over the age of 70.

To renew your California driver’s license simply visit the California DMV website.

If online isn’t your thing then you can opt into snail mail.

Just complete the California Driver’s License By Mail Eligibility Form and send it with a check for the renewal fee to:

The Department of Motor Vehicles, ATTN: Renewal By Mail, PO Box 942890, Sacramento, CA 94290-0001

You can also renew your driver’s license in person by visiting your local California DMV office.

What is considered a negligent operator treatment system?

In the Golden State, the Negligent Operator Treatment System is a point system.  These points, also known as ‘negligent operator points’, generate a series of warning letters and sanctions as points are added to your license.

The state of California considers you a negligent operator when your driving record reflects the point counts as follows:

  • 4 points in a 12 month period
  • 6 points in a 24 month period
  • 8 points in a 36 month period

Points can be accrued for such infractions as:

  • Speeding – one point
  • Running a red light – one point
  • Reckless driving – two points
  • DUI – two points

Parking tickets, fix-it tickets, and talking or texting while driving does not put points on your license. Even though this is the case it is still a good idea to keep your car in good working order, your hands on the wheel, and your eyes on the road.

Doing all of these things can make the roads safer for everyone and keep your car insurance rates low.

What are the rules of the road?

From coast to coast, there are rules of the road in every state. Knowing what they are in the Golden State could help you keep those ‘negligent operator points off of your license.

Knowing the laws and driving responsibly could also help you keep your cool when shopping around for your car insurance policy.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know in order to make an educated decision when it comes to purchasing your car insurance policy.

Is California a no-fault or at-fault state?

When it comes to who is financially responsible after an auto accident the California Legislature has designated the Golden State an at-fault (or tort) state.

What does this mean exactly though? This means that after an accident the person who is deemed to be responsible for causing the crash is the one who bears the financial responsibility for all or the damages or injuries that may have caused.

Whether you live in an at-fault state like California or a no-fault state like the residents of Florida, there are some laws that cross every state line. Seat belt and car seat laws are among these.

What are the seat belt and car seat laws?

As of January 1, 1986, the state of California has required that anyone over the age of 16 wear a seat belt while riding in a motor vehicle regardless of which position they are sitting in.

This is a primary offense which means that law enforcement does not need another reason to pull you over and ticket your for a seat belt violation. The maximum penalty for a first-time offense is $20.

If a child is younger than 2 years of age, less than 40 pounds and/or is under 40 inches they must be in a rear-facing infant car seat.

Children under 7 years of age who are less than 57 inches tall must be seated in an appropriate child restraint system.

Children between the ages of 8-15 years of age or those who are over 57 inches tall may use an adult seat belt.

All children under 7 years of age who are under 57 inches in height must be in the back seat.

Failure to comply with child seat laws in the Golden State will result in a minimum of a $100 fine.

Riding in the cargo area of pickup trucks is forbidden unless the person is restrained by a restraint system that has been federally approved.

Farmer-owned vehicles also have a few exceptions to this restriction.

What are the keep right and move over laws?

According to the California Legislature, if you are driving below the speed limit or less than the normal speed of the moving traffic you must keep to the right.

California also has Move Over/Slow Down Law which states that:

When approaching emergency vehicles, tow trucks, or Caltrans vehicles displaying emergency or amber flashing lights, motorists are to move over to a lane not adjacent to the emergency vehicles or vehicle.

If this can not be done safely by the driver then they must reduce their rate of speed to a reasonable rate given the weather or road conditions.

What are the speed limit laws?

California State Senator John Moorlach is currently purposing a bill that would create two new lanes on two of the state’s major highways.

What does this mean for speed limits in the Golden State? It could mean a lot if the bill goes through.

This bill would remove the speed restrictions from the two new lanes making it possible for drivers to go as fast as they wanted to when traveling in them.

Opponents of the bill fall on conventional wisdom that states that speed kills, but it may not be as simple as that.

Those who support the bill cite successes in Nevada and Montana which were the last hold-outs in the United States when it came to passing speed restrictions.

For the moment though there are speed limits in California, and they are generally as follows:

  • On a multilane freeway — 65 MPH with some exceptions of 70 MPH
  • On two-lane highways-55 MPH
  • On city streets — 35 MPH
  • In school zones — 25 MPH

The Golden State also has laws designed to keep you safe even if you don’t own or drive a car.

How does ridesharing work?

As the first state to regulate Transportation Network Companies (TNC), California is leading the way in what the future of rideshare might look like when it comes to the law.

Some of the regulations that California has placed on TNCs in the Golden State include:

  • The requirement that the TNC obtain a license from the CPUC in order to operate in California.
  • A zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol infractions
  • The establishment of driver training programs

Existing laws also prohibit TNCs from employing people who have been convicted of:

  • Sex Offenses
  • Violent felonies
  • Acts of terror
  • Or misdemeanor assault or battery, domestic violence or DUI/drugged driving offenses in the last 7 years

Both the roads and the passengers are safer thanks to California’s approach to TNCs.

When it comes to car insurance for rideshare drivers NOLO states that:

Carriers can’t offer contingent liability insurance.

This means California drivers wishing to become rideshare drivers must either purchase a commercial policy or a rideshare endorsement for their current personal policies.

While ridesharing seems great in California, the California government recently passed the bill AB 5 that may make ridesharing less attractive. The majority of rideshare drivers will now be classified as employees.

This means that most rideshare drivers won’t be able to work as independent contractors, making ridesharing their job rather than a way to make extra cash.

Is there an automation on the road?

Automation and crash avoidance systems are all the rage these days. Everything from back-up cameras to proximity warnings and even driverless cars are now a reality.

California’s DMV even has regulations on autonomous vehicles that have been in place since April or 2018.

Under these regulations, cars without drivers in them must have a remote operator while being tested on California’s roadways.

To be sure, California probably never thought that it would see the day that its law against driverless cars traveling in excess of 60 MPH would be taken literally, but those days seem to be fastly approaching.

What are the safety laws?

Regulating things like rideshare and autonomous vehicles is not the only way that California is keeping its residents safe.

The Golden State also has laws that govern how average drivers are allowed to behave when behind the wheel as well.

Keep reading to find out what some of them are and how they apply to you.

What are the DUI laws?

Everyone knows that it is unsafe to get behind the wheel after one too many drinks. In the Golden State, such a lapse in judgment can cost you big time.

In 2017 alone there were a total of 1,120 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities according to Responsibility.org. Of those fatalities, 113 of them were people who were under the age of 21.

Let’s take a look at some of the DUI laws in California.

Penalties for driving while under the influence in the Golden State can include:

  • First Offense — A $390-$1,000 fine, possible jail time of between 48 hours to 6 months or 3 years of probation, and a possible license suspension.
  • Second Offense — A $390-$1,000 fine, possible jail time of between 96 hours to 1 year, a 2-year license suspension, probation of up to 3 years, and mandatory completion of an 18 to 30 month DUI training course.
  • Third Offense — A $390 to $1,000 fine, 120 days in jail, a 3-year license suspension, and probation of 5 years along with a requirement to complete a DUI training course

If you cause a death while driving while under the influence in the State of California you could also be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

It is not worth the risk to yourself or others so please drink responsibly and always designate a driver.

What are the marijuana driving laws?

While it may be legal to smoke marijuana recreationally in California it is not legal to get behind the wheel of a car while under its influences.

The fines and penalties for driving under the influences of Marijuana are the same as if you were to be caught driving under the influence of alcohol.

Bottom line, don’t take the risk.

What are the distracted driving laws?

California has a total ban on all hand-held devices. The Golden State also prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using their cell phones.

The distracted driving laws in California are primary enforcement laws which means that you can be pulled over on this type of offense alone.

If you are using a hand-held device using hands-free mode, and you are over 18 years of age, then you are within the letter of the law.

No driver, at any time, is allowed to use a wireless communication device to write, send, or read a text-based message while operating a motor vehicle.

What’s driving in California like?

As you have seen, driving in California has some risk attached to it. These risks extend beyond the road as well.

Everything from a deer crossing the highway late at night to the sunset or sunrise can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles.

Keep scrolling to discover some of the ways that we can help you protect yourself from theft, loss, or damage to your vehicle as well as from road fatalities.

Is there a vehicle theft in California?

The number one vehicle stolen in the Golden State is the Honda Accord.

Make/ModelRankVehicle YearTheft
Honda Accord1199628,345
Honda Civic2199828,045
Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)320066,048
Toyota Camry419915,345
Ford Pickup (Full Size)520064,504
Acura Integra619944,273
Toyota Corolla720143,339
Nissan Sentra819972,555
Nissan Altima919972,281
Honda CR-V1019992,033
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Even if your vehicle did not make the list it is still a good idea to talk with your car insurance provider about the types of coverage that could help you out should the worst ever happen.

One of these coverage options might be comprehensive insurance which could help guard you against the total loss of your vehicle in the case of a natural disaster such as wildfires or mudslides.

Thieves and natural disasters don’t discriminate. This is why it is so important to have the right coverage in place before the wrong thing happens.

What’s the number of vehicle thefts by city?

Just like where you live can determine how much you pay for car insurance where you live can determine your risk for vehicle theft.

To help you in ascertain just what type of coverage you might need we have collected a list of the top 10 cities for vehicle theft in the Golden State according to the FBI.

CityMotor Vehicle Thefts
Los Angeles14,382
San Jose7,926
San Diego6,143
San Francisco5,866
San Bernardino2,691
Long Beach2,355
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Looking at the data from the FBI database could make Los Angeles seem like a very dangerous place to live. When the amount of vehicles stolen is averaged out over the sheer number of people who reside in California’s largest city these numbers make more sense though.

No matter where you live it is always a good idea to consider carrying additional coverage options on your car insurance policy because you just never know what could happen.

What’s the number of road fatalities in California?

Everything from distracted drivers to light or weather conditions can be a factor in your ability to arrive at your destination safely.

You can increase your odds of remaining safe on the road by being aware of your surroundings and understanding which factors can make the roadways a more dangerous place.  Keep reading to find out more.

What’s the number of fatal crashes by weather and light conditions?

Dark nights, the perfect sunset, and snow falling peacefully in a field all sound like beautiful things to witness on this earth. Sometimes the perfect scenery for daydreamers or stargazers can become the wrong time of day to be behind the wheel though.

WeatherDaylightDark, but lightedDarkDawn or DuskOther / unknownTotal
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It is no wonder that more accidents occur in daylight hours under normal conditions given the number of people on the road at these times.

The data also reveals that rain can play a role in your ability to remain safe while on California roadways though. This is because water on the road can decrease the friction between your tires and the asphalt.

The best way to stay safe no matter what Mother Nature throws at you then is to drive defensively and slow down when weather or light conditions change.

What’s the number of fatalities by county?

Sometimes just where you live can make driving dangerous. Take a look at the table below which reveals the five-year-trend for the top 10 counties in California and their fatalities.

California Counties by 2017 Ranking2013 Fatalities2014 Fatalities2015 Fatalities2016 Fatalities2017 Fatalities
Los Angeles County625639651837658
Riverside County228246242297294
San Bernardino County262285260273271
San Diego County198233246243231
Kern County131111138149182
Orange County186173183204178
Sacramento County123114139169172
Fresno County119117102150156
San Joaquin County938398119116
Santa Clara County95106133114105
Top Ten Counties2,0602,1072,1922,5552,363
All Other Counties1,0479951,1951,2821,239
All Counties3,1073,1023,3873,8373,602
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It can be a bit scary to look at these numbers if you live in one of the counties on the list, but it doesn’t have to be. Just keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and pay attention to your surroundings and you will increase your chances of arriving at your destination safely.

Urban vs. rural

Everyone knows that more cars on the road usually leads to more accidents. This doesn’t necessarily mean that living in a rural area is safer.

Traffic fatalities do happen out on country roads, and typically they are caused by speed or driving under the influence.

Traffic Fatalities20132014201520162017
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Whether you live in the big city or in a small town in the Golden State staying safe while on the road should be your top priority as a California driver. You can do this by entertaining responsibly and slowing down.

What’s the percentage of fatalities by person type?

The NHTSA data reveals that when traveling on California roadways most traffic fatalities involve white occupants and non-occupants of passenger vehicles.

These types of drivers are almost 10 times more likely to die in a car accident than black non-Hispanics and nearly 60 times more likely to become victims than American Indian Non-Hispanics.

No matter what type of person you are, or where you come from in this great big world, staying safe for your loved ones when you are behind the wheel should be at the top of your list.

What’s the percentage of fatalities by crash type?

The NHSTA has also discovered that accidents involving single vehicles are at the top of the list of crash types overall in the Golden State.

Of the 3,602 fatalities recorded in 2017 in California 1,588 involved roadway departure. Keep this in mind the next time you glance down at your smartphone.

Nothing is more important than your safety and well being so please, keep your eyes on the road.

What’s the percentage of fatalities involving speed by county?

In this fast-paced world, it can sometimes hard to stop and take a breath. One place that you should slow down though is on the road.

Although you might be a little late to that next meeting you will save yourself the bigger delays caused by being in an accident.

Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino really seem to be in a hurry. Getting somewhere on time is not worth your life though.

What’s the percentage of fatalities in crashes involving alchohol-impaired persons?

We all like to have a good time. The celebration can come to an abrupt and unpleasant end though if you get behind the wheel after having one too many.

County2013 Fatalities2014 fatalities2015 fatalities2016 Fatalities2017 Fatalities
Contra Costa1314192322
Del Norte42223
El Dorado1611557
Los Angeles187172149240192
San Benito36112
San Bernardino6789748076
San Diego5455718378
San Francisco77774
San Joaquin3425194338
San Luis Obispo48121113
San Mateo1747146
Santa Barbara6881015
Santa Clara2836303430
Santa Cruz55855
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Looking at the numbers could fool you into thinking that the residents of Los Angeles are more irresponsible when it comes to letting the celebration get out of hand. The truth is that a bigger county means more people and therefore more or a probability for a bad decision to be made.

Californians, on the whole, are pretty responsible, so do your part and don’t drink and drive.

What are the teen drinking and driving laws?

Even though the legal drinking age in the Golden State is 21 many teenagers just can’t wait to grow up. Teens and their parents find even bigger trouble if these kids get behind the wheel after partying with their friends.

In 2018 lone there were 493 underage DUI arrests in California. That ranks the Golden State 36th in the nation.

According to LosAngelesDUIAttorney.com:

If you are under 21 and get a DUI in California, you are still liable for all of the same criminal penalties as an adult.

Some of these penalties include:

  • BAC of  0.01 percent or greater — you can lose your license for a year.
  • BAC of 0.05 percent or greater — This results in a criminal charge on your record, loss of your license for a year, a fine of $100, and mandatory enrollment in a three-month DUI course at your expense.
  • BAC of 0.08 percent or greater — You could be subject to thousands of dollars in court fees and fines and spend up to 6 months in jail or juvenile hall. You could also be forced to enroll in and pay for a 3-9 month DUI course and have your license suspended.

The bottom line then is that it is not worth the risk.

What’s the EMS response time?

For the most part, Californians are pretty responsible behind the wheel. When the worst does happen though drivers like you are depending on EMS to get to you as quickly as possible.

The response time for EMS can vary depending on traffic and weather conditions. It can also change based on urban versus rural areas.

On average in urban areas of the Golden State, it takes EMS 4 minutes from the time that they are notified to get to you if you are involved in a crash according to NHTSA.

In a rural area, this number increases to around 39 minutes.

This may seem like a long time considering that there are about 1,200 fatal crashes in rural areas a year, but the terrain is sometimes tough and weather conditions can change swiftly in mountainous areas so you can rest assured that EMS is going as fast as they safely can when they are trying to get to you in an emergency.

All the more reason to drive defensively at all times though.

What’s transportation like?

From bus to train to day-sailing, there are a lot of ways to see all that the Golden State has to offer.

And why not? From Yosemite National Park to Lava Beds National Monument, California is a magnificent state filled with beautiful scenery.

It is not surprising then that Californians really are on the go, and there are a lot of people trying to get places.

More people means more cars and congestion, Keep reading to find out what all of this means to you as you continue your adventure of finding the right car insurance policy.

What’s the percentage of car ownership?

In 2017 Data USA reported that the average household in California owned two cars, followed closely by families that owned three.

More cars per household mean higher car insurance premiums. This is especially true if one of the drivers in the house is a teenager.

Knowing that you are not alone in your search for a good price on car insurance should bring you some comfort. Another way to relax as you ease into making your investment in your car insurance policy is to understand just how long most people like you spend in traffic.

What is the average commute time?

As we discussed in a previous section, how far you drive can impact how much you pay for your car insurance policy. Given that the average Californian spends 28 minutes in traffic, according to Data USA, you will want to make sure that you are getting your money’s worth.

Residents of the Golden State spend more time in traffic than the average American which makes it all more important that they get a good pice when purchasing their policies.

What’s the preferred commuter transportation?

Almost 74 percent of all Californians drive alone every day. That is a lot of cars on the road increases the chances of an incident. This is why you should really shop around before you decide which car insurance provider is right for you.

Is there a traffic congestion in California?

According to World Atlas, the five biggest cities in California are:

  • Los Angeles with a population of 3,971,883
  • San Diego with a population of 1,394,928
  • San Jose with a population of 1,026,908
  • San Francisco with a population of 864,816
  • And Fresno with a population of 520,052

Given that Los Angeles is the biggest city in all of California it should come as no surprise that it ranks right at the top of TomTom’s list of most congested cities in North America.

San Fransico also made the list bringing up the bottom of the top five, and San Jose landed in the number 7 spot.

What does all of this mean to you?

Well, if you live in Los Angeles it is costing you approximately $1,800 a year just to sit in traffic. San Franciscans are paying around $1,600 for the same honor, and the two cities combined lose around 244 hours annually just waiting to get where they want to go.

All of this adds up to about $29 million in fuel costs alone.

Most of this congestion occurs at peak times for the most part, such as the morning or evening commute.

Given that California’s population grew in 2017 to approximately 39.5 million residents, and that about 27 million of these residents are licensed drivers, it will be a comfort for you to know that you have the right coverage and the perfect car insurance provider should things go wrong.

At the end of the day, we all have places to go and people to see. This means that there will always be traffic and accidents.

Doing your part by drinking responsibly, driving defensively, and being aware of all of the factors that go into making up your insurance rate can really help. That is why we have collected this data for you and helped you make sense of it all.

Are you ready to start looking for car insurance? Enter your zip code below to get started.


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