Cheap Car Insurance California
Sitting at approximately 163,696 square miles, California is a grand state with a lot of ground to explore. There’s the glorious coastline to drive along and roads that take you past the larger-than-life Hollywood sign. California practically screams adventure and road trip but before you get too into your journey, have you thought about car insurance? All California drivers must carry auto insurance. But just because coverage is mandatory doesn’t mean you need to break the bank trying to get a policy. Outlined below is how you can get cheap car insurance in California.
Car Insurance Requirements in California
Every driver in California must carry car insurance in order to legally operate their vehicle on the road. Much like other states, California has a mandatory minimum amount of coverage you must meet. Failure to carry at least the specified minimums can result in serious penalties. Outlined below are the mandatory minimum amount of car insurance every California driver must carry.
- $15,000 for bodily injury per person
- $30,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $5,000 for property damage
Penalties For Driving Without Insurance in California
Failing to carry the required car insurance in California comes with some serious penalties. After your first offense, you could be hit with a fine ranging anywhere from $100-$250. There is also the possibility that the court will have your vehicle impounded. After a second conviction (within three years of your first), the fine goes up to $200-$500, and, again, your vehicle can be impounded. You should also be prepared to pay any reinstatement fees and court costs. Not to mention there will be costs in order to regain possession of your vehicle.
California Low-Cost Auto Insurance Program
While car insurance is mandated for every driver in California, it can get a bit pricey. Even the cheapest of policies may fall outside what you can afford. For this reason, California runs an affordable car insurance program for drivers who struggle to pay for coverage. Costs are low, with premiums ranging from $300-$500. Coverage limits, though, are also low as what you are provided with falls below the state-mandated minimum. However, despite this, you are still considered covered and can legally drive. In order to qualify, you must meet the following requirements:
- Age 16 and older
- Hold a valid California driver’s license
- Own a vehicle worth less than $25,000
- Good driving record
- Income below the state-specified limit
Alternatives to Car Insurance in California
A rare thing for states, California offers drivers alternatives to carrying traditional car insurance coverage. These alternatives come with hefty price tags, but if you are able to afford them, they may be worth considering. These insurance alternatives require a one-time fee and allow you to practically opt-out of traditional car insurance. If traditional coverage is not the route for you, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offers these alternatives:
- $35,000 cash deposit with the DMV
- Self-insurance certificate issued by the DMV (also comes with its own payment)
- $35,000 surety bond from a California-licensed business
Essentially, through all the aforementioned methods, you are deciding to be self-insured. The certificates and payments are just meant to officiate the process with the state. However, you should be cautious about taking this route. Your $35,000 cash deposit can be blown through pretty quickly if you end up in a serious accident. That is also a lot of money compared to your monthly car insurance payments. Many drivers in California still choose to take the car insurance route.
How Much Does Auto Insurance Cost in California?
There’s a lot that goes into determining the cost of auto insurance. Every driver is different, meaning every quote will be different. However, trying to establish a baseline for the average cost of auto insurance in California can be helpful for insurance shoppers to see where they fall in comparison. According to rough estimates, California drivers pay around $1,700 annually for car insurance coverage, on average. Keep in mind that this is just an estimation, and what you are quoted can easily be above or below the average. Insurance premiums of any kind are personalized, and what you pay will be different from your neighbor’s.
What Determines Your Auto Insurance Premiums?
Your car insurance rates are determined by a variety of personal factors. Since every driver is different, each car insurance policy is different. Aspects like your age and where you live are taken into consideration in order to determine your insurance premiums. It is important to understand what is looked at by insurers so you have some idea of areas you can improve in an attempt to lower your rates. Outlined below are just some of the common factors car insurance providers look at when figuring your annual premiums.
Your age will be a major factor when it comes to determining your car insurance rates. The general rule is that the younger you are, the more expensive your rates will be. This is due to the fact that young drivers have less experience behind the wheel. There is little to no driving record available for insurers to be able to judge your insurability risk. You could be a fantastic driver, but there is no valid proof of that, meaning insurance companies need to prepare for the worst. As you get older and accumulate more hours on the road, your rates will begin to decline. This is the trend until you hit a certain age. In your late 50s or early 60s, your insurance rates will begin to rise once again. This is due to the fact that senior drivers are seen as high-risk. When you are older, your reaction time starts to slow down, which can lead to more accidents. Age is one area of your car insurance premiums that you have no control over, but you should still be mindful of it when evaluating your rates.
Not only does the state you live in determine your car insurance rate but something as specific as your zip code and address will be taken into consideration by providers. They have to look at this to determine the population and crime rates in the area where you reside. Highly-populated, dense cities tend to have higher crime rates than rural towns, which can mean vehicle vandalism and theft. There is also the fact that more people means more traffic and thus more car collisions. Living in a city like Los Angeles puts you at a higher insurability risk than a driver who lives in the countryside. Affordable car insurance is still obtainable in the area where you live, but it just might take more research.
Car Insurance History
The minute you obtain your California driver’s license, you’ll need car insurance coverage. This applies even if you do not own a vehicle. If insurance companies find that you have a driver’s license but no car insurance, they may assume you have been driving uninsured, which is illegal and incredibly dangerous. It is possible that they will consider you a high-risk driver, which will raise your car insurance premiums. Insurance companies never want to see any gaps in your coverage history. Having unexplainable lapses in insurance can make you appear to be financially irresponsible. Insurers are less likely to want to offer you coverage if this is the case.
Shockingly, your relationship status will actually affect your car insurance premiums. Married drivers pay less for coverage than drivers who are single. This is due to the fact that married people are believed to be financially stable and practice cautious driving habits. Married drivers may bundle their insurance policies as well, which can contribute to lower car insurance rates.
Type of Vehicle
The type of car you have will impact your insurance premiums pretty significantly. A pricey, new vehicle will be more expensive to insure than your everyday sedan or minivan. The make, model, and year of your vehicle will be taken into consideration when determining your car insurance rates. Just remember that the newer your vehicle is, the more it will cost to insure. Some insurance companies also have concerns about drivers who own fast vehicles like sports cars. They believe someone with a sports car is more likely to speed than someone driving a run-down sedan. It’s best to keep this in mind if you are shopping for a new vehicle.
The cleaner your driving record is, the lower your car insurance rates will be. Drivers with multiple infractions, like speeding tickets or moving violations, will be considered high-risk drivers, resulting in higher insurance premiums. If this is the case, you may struggle to find coverage or insurance at a reasonable price point. It’s not impossible as there are insurance companies that offer coverage for high-risk drivers, but it still can be an annoying process. You should also expect your insurance rates to be higher than the average driver no matter where you go. Practicing safe driving habits are not only a lifesaver, but they are also a money saver.
Credit Score, Gender, And California Car Insurance Laws
It is illegal for car insurance providers in California to consider your gender and credit score when determining your insurance premiums. Typically, gender would be taken into consideration because it is believed that men drive more recklessly than women. This leads to an increase in insurance premiums for men. However, for California drivers, their gender will not be a factor they have to worry about when pulling quotes.
At the same time, credit scores are not allowed to be assessed in order to establish car insurance premiums. Credit scores are usually looked at by insurance providers in order to determine how financially responsible you are. The poorer the credit score, the less financially responsible you are and thus the more likely you are to file an insurance claim. Insurers in California cannot take your credit score into consideration, but this does not mean they can’t judge how financially responsible you are. Other factors like auto insurance history and marital status will be analyzed in order to determine your premiums. It’s good to keep this in mind when you are shopping for coverage so you have a better understanding of what can and cannot be improved in order to get a better rate.
Cheapest Basic Car Insurance in California
Basic car insurance is when a driver purchases only the state-mandatory minimum amount of coverage. In California, drivers are required to carry liability insurance. As previously mentioned, there are certain coverage limits you must at least meet in order to be considered a legal driver in California. While it is not recommended that you only carry liability insurance, it is still legal for you to do. The cheapest basic car insurance policy in California goes for around $400 annually. Still, basic auto policies can get as high as $1,000 per year, depending on your driving circumstances and how your provider prices coverage.
Cheap Full Coverage Car Insurance in California
Full coverage auto insurance refers to policies that contain both comprehensive and collision coverage on top of the state-mandated liability insurance coverage. Full coverage insurance tends to also exceed the coverage limits required for California drivers. While liability is used to cover the other party’s damages, comprehensive and collision coverage will pay for repairs to your vehicle. Due to this extended protection, full coverage car insurance will naturally cost more than basic car insurance. In California, on average, drivers may pay anywhere from $1,000-$1,500 per year for a policy. However, full coverage policies can easily cost you up to $2,000 per year, depending on various personal factors. But try not to be scared off by the prices. Basic car insurance can be appealing thanks to the lower premiums, but it does not provide the amount of protection that full coverage car insurance does.
Traffic Violations And Califonia Car Insurance Rates
Getting a ticket due to a traffic violation can be detrimental to your car insurance premiums in California. While one ticket may not hike up your rates right away, accumulating several violations, especially in a short amount of time, will seriously impact your premiums. Exactly how much it will affect your insurance rates depends on several factors like the severity of the violation and an insurance company’s pricing algorithm. For example, a reckless driving conviction comes with the possibility that your insurance premiums will increase by 170%. A racing ticket in California can raise your rates by 164%. There are some serious consequences for these equally serious violations. California does not take traffic violations lightly. Handling ticket fees and court costs are only just the beginning. Traffic violations can stay with you for either a few years or the rest of your life, depending on their severity.
Cheap Car Insurance For Good Drivers in California
You will be considered a good driver by your insurance provider when you have no blemishes on your driving history. Drivers of such pristine status are clear of speeding tickets, DUI citations, and at-fault car accidents. For drivers in California, having a clean driving record can not only keep your insurance rates low, but you can also receive an additional discount. California mandates that all car insurance companies provide a 20% discount on your car insurance premiums if you meet California’s good driver standards. Some requirements include:
- You have been licensed for the past three years.
- No more than one driving pound on your records in the last three years
- You have not taken traffic school following a violation
When it comes to looking at how much you will be paying for car insurance coverage as a good driver, on average, California drivers can pay as little as $500 per year for coverage. But be mindful of your personal factors and policy details. Some drivers may pay more in the range of $1,200 per year for car insurance. Either way, it seriously pays to be a safe, smart driver. Practicing good driving habits will save you on auto insurance pretty much no matter where you drive.
Cheapest Car Insurance For Young Drivers in California
Car insurance providers consider you a “young” driver when you are between the ages of 16 and 25. Young drivers pose great risks for car insurance providers. This is mainly due to the fact that young drivers come with no driving record and can be reckless on the road. Since you may have little to no driving history, insurance providers must assume the worst. Due to this, you may be paying tens of thousands of dollars per year for insurance. However, low-cost car insurance is still out there even if you are under the age of 25. On average, the cheapest car insurance premiums for young California drivers range anywhere from $1,000-$2,000 per year. But these types of policies can easily cost you over $4,000 per year for coverage, so do not be alarmed if you are having a hard time finding cheap car insurance. It’s simply what comes with being an inexperienced driver. As you get older, your insurance premiums will start to decline, so long as you stay relatively claim-free slowly. If you can, it would be wise to have your parents add you to their car insurance policy for a lower rate.
Cheapest Car Insurance For Seniors in California
Much like the case with young drivers, senior drivers can expect to be paying higher premiums for coverage than adult drivers. This is due to the fact that insurance companies assume the older you are, the less of a skilled driver you are. Reaction times can decrease as you age which may lead to more auto accidents. Older drivers are responsible for various collisions every year on the road. In California, senior drivers pay around $1,400 annually for car insurance coverage. However, there are cheaper insurance policies available, with premiums being as low as $500 per year, on average. But do not be surprised if car insurance policies you come across are around $1,000 per year. It would be beneficial for you to look around for any senior discounts providers may offer to help lower your premiums even further. Taking a driving safety course in your senior years can also help you save on insurance rates.
Affordable Car Insurance After a DUI in California
As with pretty much any state, receiving a DUI conviction in California is a serious matter. Not only will your insurance premiums rise, but you could also be facing other severe penalties like expensive fines and jail time. A DUI conviction makes you very unappealing to car insurance providers, many of which will refuse you coverage due to your infraction. If you are offered insurance by a provider, you will likely be considered a high-risk driver. Due to this, your insurance premiums will be pricey. Finding cheap car insurance following a DUI conviction in California will be tricky. On average, cheap auto insurance policies for drivers in California with a DUI can be anywhere from $1,000-$3,000 per year. Some policies may even be up into the $4,000 range for annual coverage. Always be prepared for a high quote if you have a DUI conviction on your record. This is a serious traffic offense that affects not only your insurance policies but other factors in your life.
Cheapest Auto Insurance For California Drivers With Speeding Tickets
Accumulating traffic tickets will result in your insurance rates going up. While it will not be as much as with a violation like a DUI conviction, it will still be noticeable to both you and your wallet. But panicking may not be necessary as your premiums tend to go back down following a set number of years after the ticket. Typically, after three to five years, your rates will decrease. However, that is still a long time to pay high insurance premiums. It would be helpful for you to shop around and pull quotes. Cheap car insurance is still available even if you have some traffic violations, like a speeding ticket, on your record. While your premiums will never be as low as someone who is considered a good driver, you can still try to save some money here and there. When it comes to cheap car insurance for drivers with speeding tickets in California, policies can cost anywhere from $700-$1,300 per year. Remember that insurance providers all have their own methods for setting rates, so you may even receive quotes in the $2,000 range.
Cheap Auto Insurance After an Accident in California
Like traffic tickets and DUI convictions, causing a collision will raise your car insurance premiums in California. Also, similar to traffic tickets, your insurance premiums will only really be affected for three to five years after an at-fault accident. Once the established time has passed, your rates will go back down. However, that is still a pretty long time to pay high insurance premiums. For cheap California car insurance, drivers with at-fault accidents on their records, on average, pay around $700-$2,600 per year for coverage. Some reports have found that the cheapest policy may actually be around $3,000 per year, so you should be mindful of that when shopping. Car insurance rates depend on more than just your driving record, although it is a significant factor. Having an at-fault accident on your record will also label you as a high-risk driver, making purchasing insurance even more tricky. It is best to shop around for a policy and price that best suits you.
Auto Insurance For Military And Veterans in California
California is home to hundreds of thousands of active-duty military personnel and millions of veterans. There are some car insurance providers working in California that specially offer coverage to military personnel and veterans. Some companies offer military discounts in order to get you affordable rates. You just have to be mindful of your driving record, as having poor driving habits may prevent you from getting the affordable auto insurance you want. In California, a 25-year-old military service member pays, on average, around $2,200 for car insurance coverage. Statistics show this amount will decrease as they get older. Older veterans end up paying more like $1,700 for coverage. Depending on your driving situation, you could easily pay below these averages. It would be in your best interest to seek out car insurance providers that specialize in coverage for military personnel. They tend to have some of the lowest rates in the state.
Car Insurance Prices by California Cities
Where you reside in California will impact your car insurance rates significantly. Being from California alone is already taken into consideration by your insurer, but they will also look at your address and zip code. Much as is the case in other states, California cities and towns have their own average car insurance rates. As outlined in a previous section, highly-populated cities have higher insurance rates than suburban or rural towns. High populations mean a greater chance for accidents and crimes. You’ll find the most expensive insurance rates in Glendale and Los Angeles. On average, drivers in these cities spend around $2,200-$2,800 per year for coverage. On the other end of the spectrum is Santa Marie and Chula Vista. Drivers from these towns, on average, pay around $1,000-$1,700 for car insurance per year. If you live in one of these cities, know that these amounts are not set in stone. What you end up paying for coverage can easily be below these averages due to your other personal factors.
How to Find Cheap Car Insurance in California
Getting a cheap car insurance policy in California is a reasonable goal, no matter what your driving situation may be like. It may not always be the cheapest rate possible, but finding something that can nestle into your budget just right is an achievable task. Outlined below are some tips and tricks to help you find good car insurance in California at an even better price.
Compare Car Insurance Quotes
It’s crucial that you shop around and get quotes from several insurance companies. Expanding your search to include local California providers can be very beneficial. This can be especially helpful if you have driving violations, as local insurance companies are more likely to provide coverage for high-risk drivers. National insurance companies typically do not want the risk on their plate. As you pull quotes, you can also get an idea of what the insurance rates are in your area. Don’t forget to also analyze the policies insurers offer. Low rates are important but may not be worth it if the coverage is terrible.
Understand What Determines Car Insurance Premiums
There are some factors that affect your car insurance premiums that you can change in order to get a better quote. For example, moving out of California may not be a reasonable option, but you can keep a clean driving record to help your insurance rates. Making sure to stay on top of the payments for the insurance coverage you currently have is also crucial in keeping your rates low. Being aware of what affects your California car insurance rates will help you learn what areas can be adjusted in order to get a more appealing quote.
Keep Consistent Insurance Coverage
Do your best not to let your insurance coverage lapse. If insurance providers see significant gaps in coverage, they have more reason to increase your rates. Gaps in your insurance history may portray you as being financially irresponsible, leading to insurers labeling you as a high-risk driver. California drivers who are not stable financially are believed to make more insurance claims than other drivers. It is also important to remember that in California, you need insurance even if you do not own a car. Not having a vehicle is not an excuse to not have coverage.
Adjust Coverage When Needed
Every year or before your policy is set to renew, reevaluate your car insurance policy and make sure you still need all the coverage you are paying for. Liability insurance is a must in California, but other types of insurance like comprehensive and collision coverage may not be very useful as your vehicle ages. Just be mindful of what kinds of coverage you are dropping. You never want to be skimping on insurance. It is also worth looking at your insurance deductible and deciding if it can be adjusted. Raising your deductible will decrease your insurance premiums and vice versa. If you are in the position to do so, maybe consider tweaking your car insurance policy.
Utilize Car Insurance Discounts
Car insurance companies offer a variety of discounts to help California drivers save some money on coverage. Discounts tend to relate to personal factors like being a good driver or homeowner. There are also breaks available for those who have clean driving records. As you go about shopping for coverage, be aware of any discounts companies list on their websites. You should also ask your insurance agent about them, as many providers do not disclose every discount they offer. Policy discounts are some of the easiest ways to reduce your annual premiums.
Want to learn more, check out one of our blog articles about How to Sell a Car in California.
Insurance Navy provides online auto insurance quotes to all California residents!
Insurance Navy can help you get the cheap California car insurance you need, whether you live in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Fransico or one of their suburbs. Call an Insurance Navy Insurance Agent now at 888-949-6289 or get a free quote online now. We’ll get back to you with a cheap California auto insurance quote in three minutes or less.