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Cheapest Auto Insurance in California & Minimum Coverage, plus Strategies to Maximize your Savings

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Updated November 1st, 2020

If you are a driver looking for coverage, you will find the cheapest auto insurance companies in California with Nationwide, CSAA (California State Auto Association), and Progressive.

Each carrier is from 19 to 36% lower than the median rate for drivers of similar age and profile.

If you are military or former military, your best option is going to be with USAA.

Other companies you want to put on your bucket list to get quotes are Grange, Allstate, and Mercury.

All three carriers can offer quotes from 16 to 30% lower than the median quote for similar age drivers.

Depending on the city you reside in, a good option is Allied, now owned by Nationwide.

They offer competitive quotes throughout many regions of California. 

This article will cover the least expensive car insurance companies by age and city, the minimum requirements to drive, and a few cost-saving tips to help you lower your monthly auto premium.

If you would like to skip to a certain portion of the article, there is a table of contents down a little and to the right. 

Cheapest car insurance by quote for 25-year-old driver in California.Note: A 25-year-old driver in California can find cheap car insurance with Nationwide, CSAA, and Progressive. I queried each at $1,833, $1,843, and $1,876 per year for full coverage. Which is at least 27% lower than the average premium of $2,565 in California.

Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements in California

CoverageCalifornia Minimum Liability CoverageRecommended Coverage
Bodily Injury Protection$15,000 / $30,000$100,000 / $300,000
Property Damage$5,000$15,000
Personal Injury ProtectionOptional$25,000 / $50,000
Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist BILOptional$50,000 / $100,000
Comprehensive CoverageOptional$500 deductible
Collision CoverageOptional$500 deductible

The minimum liability requirements are 15/30/5.

These numbers represent the minimum amounts in thousands of bodily injury and property damage liability each driver must maintain.

Bodily Injury Liability

The numbers (15 & 30) represent the minimum bodily injury liability coverage for motorists.

Bodily injury liability pays for passengers’ medical costs in the other automobile; $15,000 for a single person with up to $30,000 if they’re more than one individual is injured.

Low-cost car insurance for 30-year-old driver in California.Note: A 30-year-old driver in California can find the least expensive insurance quotes with Nationwide, CSAA, and Progressive. I queried each at $1,612, $1,654, and $1,670 per year for full coverage. Which is approximately 28% lower than the average premium of $2,288.

Property Damage Liability

Property damage liability insurance pays for damage to buildings, traffic signs, or the other party’s vehicle.

The minimum amount in California’s state is $5,000, represented by a number (5).

Who has the Cheapest Car Insurance in California?

Below are low-cost carriers for drivers from 25 to 55 years of age.

I queried quotes for 18 insurers to find the overall least expensive premiums based on an average per driver with no driving violations, good credit, and not married.

In California, the top carriers pretty much offer the lowest premium.

There is one “semi-local” carrier, CSAA, which offered the 2nd cheapest car insurance quotes for drivers.

The three lowest are Nationwide, CSAA, and Progressive.

Each insurer can offer quotes from 19% to 36% lower than the median rate for drivers of a similar age and profile.

Other carriers to put on your list to get quotes are Mercury, Grange, Allstate, and State Farm.

Each insurer can offer quotes from 16% to 30% lower than the median rate for similar profile drivers. 

Your best option is to get quotes from any of the carriers listed then compare quotes.

You have to take into consideration discounts which may be offered too.

Insurers may offer a discount while others may not.

In the end, if you want to get the least expensive premium, your best option is to maintain a clean driving record.

California CompanyAverage Rate 25 Y/O30 Y/O 35 Y/O 45 Y/O 55 Y/O
Nationwide$1,833$1,612$1,209$1,008$810
CSAA$1,843$1,654$1,256$1,078$814
Progressive$1,876$1,670$1,267$1,123$819
USAA$1,955$1,703$1,389$1,149$867
GEICO$1,987$1,743$1,399$1,167$898
Allstate$2,021$1,765$1,411$1,189$934
Allied$2,033$1,789$1,578$1,199$939
Travelers$2,044$1,811$1,589$1,234$987
21st Century$2,056$1,812$1,698$1,256$1,008
Farmers$2,087$1,832$1,734$1,276$1,023
Safeco$2,190$1,996$1,843$1,378$1,087
Grange$2,343$2,120$1,879$1,389$1,089
Unitrin$2,435$2,200$1,909$1,398$1,091
Hartford$2,521$2,265$1,998$1,439$1,078
Kemper Specialty$2,653$2,432$2,134$1,589$1,090
MetLife $2,764$2,497$2,145$1,689$1,149
Liberty Mutual$2,890$2,538$2,167$1,765$1,276

Best Discount Options in California

Although car insurance in California is higher than average, there are discounts available in the state, such as good driver discounts, student driver, and driver safety discounts.

Best auto insurance discounts to save in California

In the state of California, if you have driven for three years with no traffic violations, you can get more than twenty percent off your insurance premium.

If you are a student residing in California, you can get over twenty-five percent off your premium if you have good grades.

If you have traffic violations or are over the age of fifty-five, you can get thirty percent lower rates for taking a driver safety course.

Program for Low-Income Families

California has a program for drivers who cannot afford your typical plan, which is popular in Corona, Salinas, and Escondido.

Income Eligibility requirements for low cost Automobile Insurance Program Requirements

There are certain criteria to be excepted into the program.

If you cannot find a policy that fits your budget, you may want to look into the available program if you qualify.

Best Car Insurance Companies by Rating, Rate Change & Complaints

The best carriers by a rate change, written premiums, and consumer ratings are outlined in the table below.

Of course, the insurers with the most amount of written premiums will have more complaints.

The more customers, the more complaints any business is going to have.

The number of complaints is usually based on poor claims performance by a customer.

The numbers in the table shouldn’t be alarming.

However, you can use online customer reviews to help you make choices.

I am not going into much detail about that here since you are looking for the cheapest rate at the end of the day.

The rate change over an 18 month period is normal for most insurers.

One thing I noticed is the amount is slightly higher for smaller, more local companies.

You may want to consider that when shopping.

If you get a traffic violation, your rate change will be significantly greater.

The consumer ratings are based on JD Power & Associates, AM Best, and other reputable online sources to get an average.

You can use the customer’s experience when you shop for a premium.

However, the important factor is understanding what you are covered for and what the carrier will pay out when you file a claim if need be.

The insurers listed below have good financial strength and would pay out if a claim is filed. 

CompanyPremiumsRate Change # of ComplaintsRating out of 5
State Farm$3,655,463+3.4%1334.6
Farmers$3,051,681+3.5%1284.6
Allstate$2,204,330+3.3%2654.4
GEICO$2,091,720+3.4%2074.4
California Automobile Company$2,042,123+3.6%1274.2
Mercury$2,035,971+3.8%1874.4
USAA$1,127,170+3.3%1114.6
Progressive$1,017,900+3.6%1874.3
Liberty Mutual$846,362+3.6%874.2
Garrison Property & Casualty$657,948+3.9%784.2
Foremost$611,337+4.2%554.2
Hartford$611,554+4.1%854.4
California Casualty$608,386+4.2%1013.9
21st Century$589,557+4.4%434.7
National General$549,492+4.5%233.8
Allied$547,482+4.6%424.0
Infinity$411,583+4.2%284.0
Nationwide$336,476+4.2%234.4
Amica $333,429+4.2%224.5
Safeco$321,276+4.7%544.1
Loya $289,387+4.9%263.8
Wawanesa$211,453+3.6%114.3
California Capital$128,473+5.1%123.7

Average Price of Premium by City in California

Below are 30 cities detailing the average premium.

If you have a significantly higher price than those below, you may want to inquire about it to your carrier.

Look into your driving history, a lapse in your premium, or possibly your credit scores.

Each insurer determines your rate differently based on risk factors.

Location is another factor, as you can see in the table below.

One of the reasons a premium is much higher in one location of the state than the other.

The premium cost can be as low as $1,438 to as high as $2,200 per year, depending on the zip code you reside in.

If you would like more details based on cities, please read further below.

CityAverage RateCityAverage RateCityAverage Rate
Albany$1,653La Canada$2,500Porterville$1,541
Aliso Viejo$1,787La Crescenta$1,786Rialto$1,498
Arroyo Grande$1,631Lancaster$1,876Ripon$2,130
Apple Valley$2,098Loma Linda$2,006Red Bluff$1,876
Atwater$1,458Napa$1,678Salinas$2,376
El Centro$2,367Norwalk$2,097Sausalito$1,603
Escalon$2,333Oakhurst$1,599Sonoma$1,811
Fairfax$1,759Orange Cove$1,919Summerland$2,009
Glendora$2,003Oxnard$1,510Sylmar$2,321
Gonzales$1,731Pacoima$1,599Vacaville$2,007

Los Angeles, CA

Cheapest auto insurance in Los Angeles by quote.The cheapest insurance rates in Los Angeles, California, are found with Progressive, CSAA, and Nationwide.

I queried each at $1,833, $1,856, and $1,934 per year for a 30-year-old driver.

Which is approximately 23% lower than the average premium in Los Angeles.

If you are current or former military, a good option is with USAA. 

For a 45-year old, the least expensive options are with Nationwide, CSAA, and Progressive.

I queried each at $1,432, $1,533, and $1,634 respectfully per year for full coverage.

Which is approximately 36% lower than the average premium of $1,850 per year for a 45-year-old driver.

Carriers I queried for quotes do not include discounts.

Any insurers, including Allstate and Travelers, could be low-cost options if you include multi-policy options or other discounts for more savings. 

Los Angeles Company30 Y/O45 Y/O
Nationwide$1,833$1,432
CSAA$1,856$1,533
Progressive$1,934$1,634
USAA$2,053$1,645
Allstate$2,142$1,668
State Farm$2,287$1,824
Travelers$2,345$1,993

San Jose, CA

San Jose, CA affordable premiums by quote for drivers.In San Jose, the best companies to lower your insurance rates are CSAA, Nationwide, and Progressive.

I queried each at $1,332, $1,339, and $1,434 per year for a 30-year-old driver.

Which is 31% lower than the median rate for similar age drivers in San Jose.

For a 45-year old, the best options are with CSAA, Nationwide, and Progressive.

I queried each at $1,008, $1,032, and $1,044 respectfully per year for full coverage.

All three carriers are nearly 34% lower than the median quote for similar profile drivers.

Other insurers to put on your list of quotes are State Farm and Allstate.

Both carriers are more expensive; however, it may be cost-effective to get a policy with discounts or multi-policy options.

San Jose Company30 Y/O45 Y/O
CSAA$1,332$1,008
Nationwide$1,339$1,032
Progressive$1,434$1,044
USAA$1,487$1,087
Allstate$1,489$1,165

San Diego, CA

San Diego low-cost car insurance by price for 30 and 45 y/o drivers.In San Diego, California, the cheapest car insurance can be found with CSAA, Progressive, and Nationwide.

I queried each at $1,272, $1,313, and $1,378 per year for a 30-year-old driver.

Which is 39% lower than the average premium for similar age drivers in San Diego.

The current or former military would do well with USAA.

Other carriers to put on your list of quotes are Allstate and Travelers.

Both carriers can offer 15% savings over the average premium cost.

For a 45-year-old driver, inexpensive quotes can be found with CSAA, Progressive, and Nationwide.

I queried each at $895, $934, and $987 respectfully per year for full coverage.

Which is nearly 40% lower than the average premium for similar age drivers in San Diego. 

San Diego 30 Y/O45 Y/O
CSAA$1,272$895
Progressive$1,313$934
Nationwide$1,378$987
USAA$1,423$1,045
Allstate$1,499$1,086

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco least expensive premiums by quote for 30 and 45 y/o drivers.Affordable car insurance quotes in San Francisco begin with CSAA, Progressive, and Nationwide.

I queried each at $1,534, $1,588, $1,652 respectfully per year for a 30-year-old driver.

Which is 22% to 29% lower than the median rate in San Francisco.

Two other carriers you should put on your list of quotes are Grange and Allstate.

Each carrier is nearly as competitive as their cheaper counterparts.

Both insurers offer quotes over 19% lower than the average rate. 

For a 45-year old, the least expensive options are with CSAA, Progressive, and Nationwide.

I queried each at $1,212, $1,244, and $1,245 respectfully for full coverage.

You can find quotes 23% lower than the median rate for similar age drivers in San Francisco with all three carriers. 

San Francisco 30 Y/O45 Y/O
CSAA$1,534$1,212
Progressive$1,588$1,244
Nationwide$1,652$1,245
USAA$1,670$1,249
Allstate$1,732$1,258
Grange$1,956$1,487

Fresno, CA

Fresno, CA least expensive policies from Progressive, CSAA, Nationwide, USAA, and Allstate.The cheapest auto insurance in Fresno, California, is with Progressive, CSAA, and Nationwide.

I queried each at $1,411, $1,432, and $1,455 per year for a 30-year-old driver.

All three insurers are over 30% lower than the average premium for similar age drivers.

Other carrier options in Fresno are with Allstate, Grange, and GEICO.

All three carriers offer quotes 16% below the median rate. 

For a 45-year old, the cheapest premium options are with Progressive, CSAA, and Nationwide.

I queried each at $1,003, $1,009, and $1,113 per year for full coverage.

Which is 26% to 29% lower than the median rate for similar age drivers in Fresno. 

Fresno 30 Y/O 45 Y/O
Progressive$1,411$1,003
CSAA$1,432$1,009
Nationwide$1,455$1,113
USAA$1,532$1,117
Allstate$1,567$1,148

Long Beach, CA

Long Beach, CA cheapest car insurance by quote from Nationwide, Progressive, CSAA, USAA, and Allstate.Long Beach’s cheapest auto insurance companies are Nationwide, Progressive, and CSAA.

I queried each at $1,487, $1,560, $1,600 per year for a 30-year-old driver.

Which is 22% to 26% lower than the median quote for similar profile drivers.

Other carriers to put on your list of quotes are Allstate and Grange Association.

Both insurers can offer quotes from 14% to 18% below the average premium for Long Beach drivers with a decent driving history. 

For a 45-year old, the least costly insurers are with Nationwide, Progressive, and CSAA.

I queried each at $1,119, $1,156, and $1,238 respectfully per year for full coverage.

Which is 21% to 26% lower than the median rate for similar age drivers in Long Beach.

Long Beach30 Y/O45 Y/O
Nationwide$1,487$1,119
Progressive$1,560$1,156
CSAA$1,600$1,238
USAA$1,668$1,376
Allstate$1,723$1,438
Grange$1,945$1,529
 

Sacramento, CA

Sacramento, CA cheapest car insurance by quote from Nationwide, Progressive, CSAA, Grange, and Allstate.

Drivers in Sacramento, California, can find cheap car insurance with Nationwide, Progressive, and CSAA.

I queried each at $1,345, $1,355, and $1,421 respectfully for a 30-year old.

Which is approximately 30% lower than the citywide average premium.

The “mean” quote is over $2,000 per year, making any of the insurers illustrated worth getting quotes from.

A 45-year old can find inexpensive quotes with Nationwide and Progressive.

I queried each at $896 and $925 respectfully for full coverage.

Which is 32% lower than the average policyholder in Sacramento.

Sacramento 30 Y/O45 Y/O
Nationwide$1,345$896
Progressive$1,355$925
Century National$1,421$945
USAA$1,456$980
Allstate$1,563$1,012
Allied$1,580$1,065
Grange$1,700$1,155

Anaheim, CA

Anaheim, CA cheapest auto insurance by quote from Nationwide, CSAA, USAA, Allstate and Grange.

Drivers in Anaheim can get low-cost car insurance with Nationwide, CSAA, and Allstate.

I queried each at $1,455, $1,489, and $1,600 per year for a 30-year-old driver.

Which is 28% to 32% lower than the average premium in Anaheim.

Quotes clustered between $1,455 and $1,645, so all carriers illustrated are 16% lower than the “mean” rate.

For a 45-year old, the least expensive quotes can found with Nationwide, CSAA, and USAA.

Each queried at $1,043, $1,065, and $1,100.

All three insurers are 25% lower than the average policyholder’s premium price.

Allstate and Grange are worthy contenders since they are 18% lower than the median quote in Anaheim.

Anaheim30 Y/O 45 Y/O
Nationwide$1,455$1,043
CSAA$1,489$1,065
USAA$1,554$1,100
Allstate$1,600$1,143
Grange$1,645$1,187
Allied$1,800$1,328

Santa Ana

Santa, Ana, CA low-cost policy options from Nationwide, Allstate, CSAA, Grange and Allied.

Drivers of Santa Ana, California, can get cheaper car insurance options by getting quotes from Nationwide, Allstate, and CSAA.

I queried each at $1,321, $1,400, and $1,456 per year for a 30-year-old driver.

Which is 26% to 29% lower than the average premium in Santa Ana.

Century National and Grange are below the “mean” quote with prices at $1,506 and $1,575, respectfully.

A 45-year old can get the best prices with Nationwide and Allstate.

Each queried at $940 and $980 respectfully for full coverage.

Which is 30% to 32% lower than the median rate citywide.

Santa Ana 30 Y/O 45 Y/O
Nationwide$1,321$940
Allstate$1,400$980
CSAA$1,456$1,043
Grange$1,506$1,087
Allied$1,575$1,125

Stockton

Stockton, CA lowest cost insurers from CSAA, Nationwide, Grange, Allied and Allstate.

Drivers in Stockton can get the cheapest car insurance if they start with CSAA, Nationwide, and Grange.

I queried each at $1,344, $1,378, $1,450 per year for a 30-year-old driver.

Which is 29% to 33% lower than the median rate in Stockton.

In fact, all carriers illustrated are more than 17% lower than the average premium.

A 45-year old can get the lowest quotes with CSAA, Nationwide, and Grange.

I queried each at $912, $925, and $990 per year for full coverage.

Which is 29% to 32% lower than the average premium for a driver of similar age and profile.

Stockton 30 Y/O 45 Y/O
CSAA$1,344$912
Nationwide$1,378$925
Grange$1,450$990
Allied$1,508$1,076
Allstate$1,544$1,125

Irvine

Irvine, CA cheapest car insurance by quote from Nationwide, CSAA, Allied, Grange and Allstate.

Drivers in Irvine can enjoy low quotes, which are lower than drivers who reside in Los Angeles.

However, to get the lowest start with Nationwide, CSAA, and Allied.

I queried each at $1,400, $1,450, and $1,504 per year for a 30-year-old driver.

Which is 23% to 27% lower than the median rate in Irvine.

Grange and Allstate are 18% to 21% lower with quotes at $1,543 and $1,598, respectfully.

A 45-year old can get inexpensive quotes with Nationwide and CSAA.

I queried each at $955 and $987, which is 26% to 29% lower than the median premium.

Irvine 30 Y/O45 Y/O
Nationwide$1,400$955
CSAA$1,450$987
Allied$1,504$1,063
Grange$1,543$1,085
Allstate$1,598$1,132

Frequently Asked Questions

Which company has the cheapest car insurance in California?

It will depend on your driver profile if you have a clean record and other factors such as your age.

Companies to get quotes from are Nationwide, CSAA, Progressive, and Allstate for California drivers. 

If you are a former military, USAA is probably your cheapest option.

The best thing to do is get three or more quotes, then compare.

Why is auto insurance so expensive in California?

Car insurance in California is expensive because of the state’s densely populated areas with high-crime urban areas.

When you have more drivers, you have more accidents.

Thus, you will have higher premiums.

All drivers share in the increase in premiums.

Is there an auto insurance program for low-income drivers in California?

Yes, California has a low-income program for good drivers to get liability-only coverage.

The requirement is to have a valid California driver’s license, own a vehicle valued at $25,000 or less, and meet income requirements. 

Resources & Department of Motor Vehicles

Department of InsuranceDepartment of TransportationDepartment of Motor Vehicles
5999 Slauson Ave, Commerce, CA 90040
(323) 278-5000
100 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 897-3656
4375 Derrick Dr, San Diego, CA 92117
(800) 777-0133
WebsiteWebsiteWebsite

Sources

http://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/105-type/95-guides/01-auto/lca/

https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/

https://www.alliedinsurance.com/

https://www.nationwide.com/california-auto.jsp

Greg Fowler

Greg Fowler

Managing Member of AutoInsureSavings LLC, Greg has been in the insurance industry for 12 years and enjoys rebuilding vehicles. His goal is to help drivers save on anything related to automobiles. Travel and enjoying the outdoors are some of his hobbies. The best way to reach him is at his Twitter or Facebook Profile.

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