Auto Insurance in San Francisco, CA (The Complete Guide)
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UPDATED: May 26, 2022
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|SUMMARY OVERVIEW OF SAN FRANCISCO, CA||DETAILS|
|Density||18,939 people per square mile|
|Average Cost of Insurance in San Francisco||$5,939.82|
|Cheapest Car Insurance Company||Geico|
|Road Conditions||Poor: 71%
San Francisco is one of the most popular cities in California. The city has been named as one of the “Top 10 Cities” by Forbes Magazine. With its beautiful weather, great food, artsy vibe, and world-class attractions, it is no wonder
San Francisco is among the engines of the modern American economy. The city is home to the headquarters of five major banking institutions and numerous digital giants such as Fitbit, Salesforce, Reddit, Dropbox, Dolby, Airbnb, Yelp, Pinterest, Twitter, Uber, Lyft, Mozilla, Craigslist, and many more.
The digital giants are part of Silicon Valley in San Fran that is a global center for innovation and technology.
San Francisco is known by many famous nicknames, such as Fog City, The Golden City, The City (to locals) and San Fran (not used much by locals, but well used outside of the Bay Area).
The global recognition of the city attracts a lot of tourists and other short-term visitors. With its steep hills, high population density, one-way streets, and hoards of tourists, San Fran is one of the trickiest cities to navigate.
Therefore, it is imperative that you have the best car insurance to protect you and your family. With so many insurance options, we understand that the purchase process can be a bit confusing.
Through this complete guide to auto insurance in San Francisco, we hope to give you all the knowledge on factors impacting your auto insurance, such as coverage type, driving behavior, rate calculation, and more.
We hope that by using this guide, you will be able to decide the right coverage for your needs confidently.
You can also use our FREE tool to seek car insurance quotes from multiple insurance carriers in San Francisco. Read along to see how you can save money on your premiums.
The Cost of Car Insurance in San Francisco
To find the best price for your car insurance policy in San Francisco, you need to understand the factors that auto insurers use to set your rates.
Which city you live in will have a major effect on car insurance. That’s why it’s vital to compare San Francisco, CA against other top US metro areas’ auto insurance rates.
Car insurance companies consider several factors, including your driving history, marital status, and even your credit score. But that’s not all.
In this section, we will discuss all the major factors that have an impact on your auto insurance rates.
Male vs. Female vs. Age
Your age is an important factor in helping insurers determine your auto insurance rates.
These states no longer use gender to calculate your car insurance rates — Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. But age is still a large factor because young drivers are considered high-risk drivers in San Francisco. San Francisco, CA does use gender, so check out the average monthly car insurance rates by age and gender in San Francisco, California.
We all know that teen drivers usually pay the highest premium for their car insurance. Younger drivers, especially teens, lack driving experience, and therefore insurers usually consider them riskier to cover.
San Francisco, California car insurance rates by company and age is an essential comparison because the top car insurance company for one age group may not be the best company for another age group.
Insurance providers have observed that, on average, teen drivers tend to engage more in reckless driving.
However, the good news is that insurance rates for teens drop drastically with age because insurance companies believe that teen drivers gain experience with age and become less risky.
The median age in San Francisco is 38.3 years.
This means that the majority of San Franciscans do not have to worry about high insurance rates.
In fact, residents close to the median age may see their insurance rates drop to nearly the minimum average in the city.
Here’s the table summarizing the average insurance rates by age in San Francisco:
|Average Annual Rate||$8,141.88||$3,711.49||$2,888.10||$2,558.96||60|
As we can see clearly, the average insurance rates are the highest for teens. On average, a teen in San Francisco is expected to spend $8,141 annually on car insurance. The rate drops drastically to $3,711 within the next five to six years.
But the highlight is the average car insurance rate around the median age of the residents. Drivers around the age of 35 can expect to pay, on average, around $2,888. That’s a drop of nearly 65% of what teens have to pay on average.
But remember, these are average annual rates. Your rates might be different due to a variety of factors that we will discuss later in this guide.
What about your gender? Does it play a role in your auto insurance rate?
The good news is that it does not. California does not allow insurers to use gender when calculating your insurance rates. California is among the seven states that do not allow gender-based pricing – the other six states are North Carolina, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, Pennsylvania, and parts of Michigan.
Another factor that can influence your insurance rate is your marital status. It is one of the minor factors that can impact your insurance rate.
Nobody is getting married to save on auto insurance, but it is a great tip to know when reviewing auto insurance quotes.
Let us review the impact of marital status on your insurance rates. Here’s the summary of insurance rates organized by age and marital status:
|Single 17-year old female||$7,333.86|
|Single 17-year old male||$8,949.91|
|Single 25-year old female||$3,655.71|
|Single 25-year old male||$3,767.27|
|Married 35-year old female||$2,914.98|
|Married 35-year old male||$2,861.22|
|Married 60-year old female||$2,557.04|
|Married 60-year old male||$2,560.88|
Insurance rates in the table differ by gender because the ban on gender-based pricing was introduced in 2019.
As you can see from the table, marital status may have an impact on your auto insurance rates. Auto insurers have observed that married people are less risky and therefore are less likely to file a claim.
Cheapest ZIP Codes in San Francisco
Your demographics are not the only things having an impact on your auto insurance premiums. Where you live can also have a substantial effect on how much pay for auto insurance.
Find more info about the monthly San Francisco, CA car insurance rates by ZIP Code below:
Where you live may help insurance companies determine your risk profile. It can help insurers understand the following:
- Number of accidents reported per year from your neighborhood or ZIP code
- Numbers of claims made
- Cost of living
- Car thefts in your ZIP code
- Crime rate
Let us review the average rates by ZIP code in San Francisco:
|Zip code||Average Rate|
Where you live in San Fran makes a considerable impact on your auto insurance rate. The difference between the most expensive ZIP code (94124) and the least expensive ZIP code (94128) is, on average, around $1,160.
What’s the best car insurance company in San Francisco?
With so many insurance providers to choose from, we understand that it can become complicated.
The cheapest San Francisco, CA auto insurance company can be discovered below. You then might be asking, “How do those rates compare against the average California auto insurance company rates?” We cover that as well.
Determining which car insurance company is the best in San Francisco will depend mostly on your needs.
Insurance carriers may weigh various factors differently and therefore offer varying insurance rates. You should consider things such as your driving requirements, drivers covered under your coverage policy, coverage required, etc. to figure out which insurance company suits you best.
In this section, we will review these factors and find the best insurance companies for each of them.
Cheapest Car Insurance Rates by Company
Given that all major insurance companies offer coverage in San Francisco, you can shop around to get the best discount for your policy.
Depending on your overall risk profile, you may end up with slightly different insurance quotes from various insurance providers. As we discussed earlier, insurance companies may offer varying rates based on a complicated method to calculate your premium.
Here’s a table that shows the cheapest insurance carriers based on average insurance rates:
|Group||Single 17-year old female||Single 17-year old male||Single 25-year old female||Single 25-year old male||Married 35-year old female||Married 35-year old male||Married 60-year old female||Married 60-year old male||Average|
As per average insurance rates, GEICO and Progressive seem to be the cheapest insurance providers in San Fran. However, rates vary by carrier and various factors.
While a Farmers auto insurance policy may cost a 17-year-old male driver around $17,490, GEICO may only quote around $5,747 for the same policy.
However, Farmers is not the most expensive provider for each of the age brackets. For a 60-year-old male driver, State Farm and Nationwide may offer more expensive rates compared to Nationwide.
These are all because the rate calculation for each of these providers is slightly different. However, these are only average rates and may not represent a correct estimate of your likely rate.
Let us review different individual factors and corresponding cheapest insurance carriers.
Best Car Insurance for Commute Rates
If you usually clock high annual mileage or expect to in the near future, you can expect your auto insurance premiums to be slightly higher.
The average rates we discussed may not necessarily apply to you.
If you drive higher than average commute, some insurance providers may see the additional commute as a risk and therefore increase your premium. Nevertheless, some insurance companies do not increase insurance rates for a reasonable increase in annual commute.
You should shop around to find the cheapest auto insurance quotes for your higher than average commute.
But what is the average commute in San Francisco?
According to the Federal Highway Administration, an average driver in California drives around 13,414 miles in a year, which is slightly less than the national average of 14,132 miles.
Given the public transportation and population density, the commute might be even less for an average driver in San Francisco.
With the help of Quadrant Data Solutions, we analyzed the impact of commute on your insurance rate. The table below shows the average insurance rate organized by the insurance carrier and broken down by annual mileage:
|Group||10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.||25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.||Average|
As you can see, some insurance carriers are more lenient than others. While State Farm might be the most lenient for the additional commute with an increase of around $322, Nationwide seems to be the most stringent carrier with an average increase of around $1,370.
Despite the hike in insurance rates, GEICO, Progressive, and USAA remain the cheapest carriers in San Francisco. However, we recommend you seek additional quotes as rates may vary depending on your estimated mileage.
Best Car Insurance for Coverage Level Rates
It is always advisable that you purchase adequate coverage for you and your family based on your circumstances. Adequate coverage might mean buying additional liability protection or opting for other types of coverage.
Your coverage level will play a major role in your San Francisco, CA car insurance rates. Find the cheapest San Francisco, California car insurance rates by coverage level below:
However, any additional purchase of liability protection or coverage might increase your auto insurance rates. When we buy higher insurance coverage, we are asking the auto insurance company to take on additional risk on our behalf.
The additional risk may mean a higher premium amount for you.
But the increase in amount may vary by insurer and the type of coverage you want to add to your policy.
We again took the help of Quadrant Data Solutions to see the impact of different coverage levels on your premium amount. Here’s the table summarizing the average auto insurance rates organized by insurance carriers:
If you choose to opt for a high coverage auto insurance policy, insurance carriers in San Francisco may increase your auto insurance premium by an average of around $630.
Some insurance companies are more lenient, such as Liberty Mutual, which may increase your premium by only $411. Others, such as Nationwide, may increase your premium by as much as $938.
However, the difference between low and high insurance coverage is reasonable in San Francisco and therefore provides you an excellent opportunity to purchase adequate protection for you and your family.
Before you can decide on what coverage to opt for, you should understand what low and high coverage means.
The low coverage is usually the minimum liability coverage you must buy to drive your car legally in California.
The minimum liability coverage required in San Francisco is:
- Bodily Injury Liability — $15,000 for one person / $30,000 per accident
- Property Damage Liability — $5,000 per accident
But given the population density, vehicle accident, and theft, you may also consider opting for collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.
Any additional liability or coverage you purchase will make your policy either a medium or a high coverage policy.
Some of the optional coverages you can purchase are:
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist
- Personal Injury Protection
What coverage you need depends on several factors, such as what car you drive, whether it is on a lease, who in your family drives the car, and where you live in San Francisco.
Keep in mind that prioritizing what coverage you need is a great way to save on premium, along with keeping adequate coverage.
Best Car Insurance for Credit History Rates
Across the country, insurance carriers may also consider your credit history while calculating your auto insurance rates.
However, credit scores are not relevant in the case of California.
Because California insurance law prohibits insurers from using your credit history to determine insurance rates.
Best Car Insurance for Driving Record Rates
Your driving record is probably the most important factor in determining your auto insurance rate. If you have a bad driving record, you indicate a high-risk potential to insurance carriers.
Your driving record will affect your San Francisco auto insurance rates. For example, a San Francisco, California DUI may increase your auto insurance rates 40% to 50%. Find the cheapest San Francisco, CA auto insurance rates by driving record.
Therefore, auto insurance carriers will charge higher premiums to compensate for the high risk.
Insurance companies can use your motor vehicle report (MVR) to access the driving record. The MVR will help auto insurance companies to know the following:
To understand the impact your driving record has on auto insurance premiums in San Francisco, we teamed up with Quadrant Data Solutions. Here’s the summary of the average premium rate in San Francisco organized by violations:
|Group||Clean record||With 1 speeding violation||With 1 accident||With 1 DUI||Average|
As we can see, any violations on your driving record may increase your auto insurance rate significantly. The increase in your auto insurance premium may depend on the violation and the insurance carrier.
A speeding violation can increase your auto insurance premium anywhere between $198 (USAA) to $1,600 (Farmers). A DUI on the driving record is even more damaging to your risk profile. With a DUI, you can expect your auto insurance premium to increase by an average of $3,000.
In San Francisco, USAA, GEICO, and Progressive may increase your rate by close to $2,000 for a DUI offense. The most lenient carrier for a DUI offense is Liberty Mutual – which may increase your rate by $664 on average.
However, Liberty Mutual is not the most lenient when it comes to accidents. The carrier can increase your auto insurance rate by more than $1,000 for causing an accident.
These violations provide a direct indication of your risk. The rise in premium is to safeguard against the potential loss to the insurance companies.
A clean driving record gives you the best chance to get insurance discounts.
Our FREE comparison tool provides a convenient way of seeking quotes. To start comparison shopping today, you just need your ZIP code below to get started!
Car Insurance Factors in San Francisco
Many factors impact your auto insurance premiums. Some factors, such as your driving record, are directly in your control; however, there are external factors that may also influence your auto insurance rate.
Factors affecting auto insurance rates in San Francisco, CA may include your commute, coverage level, tickets, DUIs, and credit. Controlling these risk factors will ensure you have the cheapest San Francisco, California auto insurance.
In this section, we will look at several factors specific to San Francisco that might influence your auto insurance rates.
Metro Report – Growth & Prosperity
Over the last 10 years, the San Francisco metro area has been one of the fastest growing in the country.
The Brookings Institute ranks the San Francisco metro area fifth in growth and third in prosperity nationwide.
- Prosperity (3rd)
- Productivity: +14.8% (seventh of 100)
- Standard of living: +18.7% (third of 100)
- Average annual wage: +20.2% (third of 100)
- Growth (5th)
- Jobs: +16.9% (12th of 100)
- Gross metropolitan product (GMP): +34.2% (fourth of 100)
- Jobs at young firms: +11.7% (third of 100)
The San Francisco metro area has been registering phenomenal growth over the last 10 years. The gross metropolitan product for the San Francisco metro area grew by a whopping 34.2%.
San Francisco metro area attracts and supports a range of industries and is at the center of global business.
The metro area of San Fran handles nearly 30% of the West Coast trade.
However, San Francisco’s biggest impact is on modern technology. The city’s South Park neighborhood is home to some of the most innovative companies in the world. The nearby Silicon Valley and Stanford University are at the leading edge of technology innovation.
The city is home to Fitbit, Salesforce, Reddit, Dropbox, Dolby, Airbnb, Yelp, Pinterest, Twitter, Uber, Lyft, Mozilla, Craigslist, and many more.
Median Household Income
Some neighborhoods in San Francisco are among the richest in the country. U.S. Census data places the median household income in the city at $119,136, whereas the national median household income is $67,521.
The rapid growth of the last 10 years has also increased the median household income in the city.
Although auto insurance rates in San Francisco may be higher than most of California’s, due to the higher household income, the residents of San Fran may have to pay a smaller part of their income to car insurance.
|MEDIAN INCOME LEVEL||AVERAGE CAR INSURANCE PREMIUM||PREMIUM AS A PERCENTAGE OF INCOME|
Homeownership in San Francisco
Being a homeowner does not directly impact your auto insurance rates or the ability to qualify for a plan. However, it can help you get some additional discounts or may indicate financial stability to the insurer.
However, buying a home in San Francisco is difficult. Redfin’s real estate market data shows the median property value in San Francisco is $1,490,000, which is considerably higher than the national median property value of $193,500.
The steep property costs are the reason why the city has a low homeownership rate of 36.5%.
Education in San Francisco
Ever wondered why auto insurers ask about your educational qualification in your insurance application?
Because your education is a factor that can influence your auto insurance rates, insurance companies associate higher education with lower risk.
San Francisco has been at the forefront of STEM education in our country. If you consider the larger San Francisco area, it has some of the best universities not just in the U.S., but in the world.
San Francisco metro area is home to Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.
If we only consider the city of San Francisco, various universities provide education in many different concentrations. The three most common courses in San Fran are:
- General Biological Sciences (444 degrees)
- General Psychology (378 degrees)
- General Business Administration & Management (1,623 degrees)
In 2016, a total of 9,489 degrees were awarded by various universities in San Francisco. The top three universities in the city are:
- San Francisco State University (7,039 degrees awarded)
- The University of San Francisco (3,344 degrees awarded)
- City College of San Francisco (3,147 degrees awarded)
Wage by Race & Ethnicity in Common Jobs
Asians, whites, and people belonging to “two or more races” are the highest-paid ethnicities in San Francisco.
Here’s the average annual wage in San Francisco organized by ethnicity:
|RACE & ETHNICITY||AVERAGE SALARIES|
|Two or More Races||$51,776|
Wage by Gender in Common Jobs
While insurance rates are not dependent on gender, there is gender disparity in wages. This would mean that gender does impact how much of our income goes toward maintaining auto insurance coverage.
The average annual salary for a male in San Francisco is $70,050, whereas the average annual salary for a female is $59,658.
Poverty by Age & Gender
In writing this guide to San Francisco, we found that around 11.7% of the city’s population lives below the poverty line. This would mean that approximately 100,000 people live below the poverty line in San Francisco. However, this is still less than the national average poverty rate of 13.4%.
Poverty impacts both genders in San Francisco. The top four demographics affected by poverty in the city are all young people between the age of 18-34. The rapid growth has negatively impacted the economic wellbeing of the majority of the young generation.
Auto insurance rates will be considerably tougher to maintain for young people living below the poverty line. The auto insurance rates may be significantly higher than the average due to their age and economic situation.
This double whammy would mean that they have to shell out an even higher percentage of their income to sustain auto insurance premiums.
Poverty by Race & Ethnicity
Regional and national studies have shown that poverty impacts people of all races in San Francisco. Asian, white, and Hispanic people are the worst affected by poverty in the city. They collectively make around 75% of the people living below the poverty line.
Employment by Occupations
In 2017, there were 535,000 people employed in San Francisco across various occupations. The top three professions in the city are management occupations (15.9%), sales (9.8%), and office & administrative support occupations (9.1%).
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Driving in San Francisco
We thus far discussed factors specific to you and the city. However, insurance carriers may also consider yet another set of factors related to driving, such as the car you drive, how much you drive, and the local road conditions.
In this section on driving in San Francisco, we will discuss the road conditions, speed traps, vehicle thefts, and much more.
Roads in San Francisco
The roads in the downtown core of the city are arranged in a grid pattern. These are numbered and may help you reach your destination even without the GPS. You just have to remember the cross street.
Market Street diagonally crosses the grid pattern. However, many other roads connect different parts of San Francisco.
In this section, we will discuss the main roads in the city and the respective road conditions.
Major Highways in San Francisco
San Francisco is at the intersection of several major highways. Let us look at the map of interstates and other highways in the San Francisco area.
U.S. 101, S.R. 1, and the Pacific Coastal Highway connect the West Coast and intersect in San Francisco. The city is connected to the east by Interstate 80 and the U.S. 50. The loops 580 and 680 connects to the Interstate 5, which is a major North-South road along the West Coast.
Popular Road Trips/Sites
San Francisco has some iconic sites that are also internationally recognized symbols of the United States. The prime example is the Golden Gate Bridge, which connects San Francisco with Marin County.
Lombard Street is another famous road that is associated with the image of our country. This road is located in the Russian Hill neighborhood and is often touted to be the most crooked street in the world. Lombard Street attracts around two million visitors annually.
There are several things to see and do in and around San Francisco. You can visit Alcatraz Island or drive down the beautiful Pacific Coastal Highway to see the Big Sur.
Here’s a short video highlighting more things to see and do in the city:
If you are looking for adventures beyond the city, San Francisco is also a gateway to many iconic West Coast destinations. You can visit the Napa Valley wine country, the beautiful seaside town of Monterey, and the majestic Yosemite National Park.
All of these sites are merely a day trip away from the city.
According to TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based transportation research group, San Francisco has one of the worst roads in the country. The research found that the San Francisco-Oakland area has around 71% of roads in poor condition.
To add to that, around 16% of roads are in mediocre condition.
|Road Condition||Poor (%)||Mediocre (%)||Fair (%)||Good (%)||Vehicle Operating Costs|
The abysmal road conditions in San Fran forces an average motorist to spend around $1,049 a year in car repair costs.
The city introduced SB1 that raised gas and diesel taxes. The move is designed to generate $5.2 billion in funds that can be used to revamp the aging transport infrastructure in San Francisco.
Does San Francisco use speeding or red light cameras?
Although there are no speeding cameras in San Francisco, the city does use red light cameras to enforce illegal red light running and illegal right turns.
According to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), the Automated Enforcement Program has resulted in a 66% citywide drop in injury collisions resulting from red light running between 1996 and 2017.
You can find red light cameras at following intersections in San Francisco:
- 4th St at Harrison St (southbound, westbound)
- 6th St at Bryant St (eastbound, southbound)
- 6th St at Folsom St (southbound)
- 8th St at Folsom St (southbound)
- 19th Ave at Sloat Blvd (northbound, southbound)
- Divisadero St at Bush St (northbound)
- Fell St at Masonic Ave (westbound)
- Hayes St at Polk St (southbound, westbound)
- Market St at Octavia Blvd (eastbound illegal right turns)
- Oak St at Octavia Blvd (eastbound, northbound, eastbound right-turn lanes will be newly enforced)
- Park Presidio Blvd at Lake St (southbound)
- So. Van Ness Ave at 14th St (northbound)
- Van Ness Ave at Broadway (southbound left-turn lanes)
Vehicles in San Francisco
San Francisco has a robust public transportation network, but people also drive to the city from neighboring counties. Due to the high population density, the number of cars on the streets can be overwhelming.
In this section, we will take a look at data around cars in San Francisco.
Most Popular Vehicles Owned
What car you drive has a strong influence on your premium amount, because insurance carriers would know the following:
- The relative safety of the car
- Likelihood of theft
- How much they’ve had to pay in collision claims
These can help determine the risk attached to the vehicle you are driving.
In San Francisco, the most popular car is the Toyota Prius. Prius is the most successful hybrid car in the North American market.
The car is exceptionally frugal and cheap to maintain. The thrifty car is also one of the safest cars to drive on the road.
Toyota Prius is the top safety pick by the IIHS.
The modern Prius is loaded with safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, eight airbags, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-Lock brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop Technology (SST).
How Many Cars Per Household
San Francisco households own only one car on average, which is less than the national average of two cars per household.
In fact, the percentage of households owning only one car is significantly higher in San Francisco than the national average. Around 35% of households in San Fran own only one car, whereas only 20% of households own one car nationally.
Households Without a Car
It is even more staggering that more than 22% of households do not own a car in San Francisco. This is significantly higher than the national average of only around 4%.
However, not owning a car doesn’t mean you should not buy auto insurance coverage.
If you occasionally drive for work or pleasure, you can choose to buy a non-owners policy. It provides cheaper coverage for your occasional drive than the waiver programs offered by car rental companies.
Speed Traps in San Francisco
Speeding can cause not only physical injury but financial injury, as well. If you are caught speeding in San Francisco, you can expect your insurance rates will rise by as much as $1,000.
To force motorists to observe legal speed limits, law enforcement in San Francisco are allowed to use speed traps.
These are the most common speed traps in the San Francisco Bay Area:
- Fulton Street near Park Presidio
- Golden Gate Bridge near Highway 101
- Interstate 80 near Fairfield
- Interstate 280 near lower Crystal Spring
- Market street near Embarcadero
- The San Mateo Bridge
Vehicle Theft in San Francisco
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement in San Francisco reported a total of 4,217 motor vehicle thefts in 2018.
The high rate of vehicle theft in the city is partly the reason for the high auto insurance costs. However, the city is also facing other crime-related issues lately.
According to NeighborhoodScout, San Francisco is one of the most crime-ridden cities in the country.
San Francisco is safer than only 2% of U.S. cities.
You have a relatively higher chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in San Francisco. In California, you have a one in 223 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime, whereas, in San Francisco, you have a one in 138 chance of becoming a victim.
However, there are relatively safer pockets in San Francisco. Here is the list of top 10 safest neighborhoods in San Fran:
- Alemany Blvd / Huron Ave
- Clement St / Legion Of Honor Dr
- Dwight St / Bowdoin St
- Fort Winfield Scott
- Garfield St / Grafton Ave
- Lincoln Way / 45th Ave
- Ocean Ave / Miramar Ave
- Taraval St / 20th Ave
- Teresita Blvd / Los Palmos Dr
- Vicente St / 19th Ave
While we like our cars, nobody likes getting stuck in traffic. It is a productivity killer that only leads to stress.
However, with the appropriate information, you can be better prepared to handle congestion.
Traffic Congestion in San Francisco
San Francisco is notorious for its traffic congestion.
According to Inrix, San Francisco is the 65th-most congested city in the world and eighth-most congested in the country.
The congestion results in an average loss of 116 hours for a driver. The cost of congestion per driver in the Bay Area is $1,624.
To ease congestion, the city is contemplating several measures. The following video discusses ways to ease congestion in the San Francisco metro area:
San Francisco is known for its innovation in mass transit. It is one of the rare cities in the U.S. where the majority of commuters opt to use public transit for their daily commute.
More than 34% of the commuters prefer to take public transit, whereas only 32% of commuters preferring to drive alone to work.
The high congestion and long commutes result in a higher-than-average commute time.
According to DataUSA, commuters in San Francisco spend more than 31 minutes in their daily commute. This is considerably more than the average commute time of 25.1 minutes for a typical U.S. worker.
Around 27% of commuters have an average daily commute time of over 45 minutes.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, highways around San Francisco are very busy. The San Francisco metropolitan area has one 12 lane highway. The Nimitz Freeway in Oakland is also infamous for its congestion.
How safe are the streets & roads in San Francisco?
Despite the significant number of vehicles on the road, San Francisco is relatively safer than some of the other large counties in California.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that, between 2014 and 2018, San Francisco saw an average of around 31 traffic-related fatalities per year.
The following table shows the main reasons behind traffic-related fatalities in San Francisco:
|Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver||7||7||8||4||6|
|Single Vehicle Crash Fatalities||29||29||22||20||19|
|Fatalities in Crashes Involving a Large Truck by County for 2017||4||0||0||4||3|
|Fatalities in Crashes Involving Speeding||8||10||12||5||5|
|Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Intersection||13||16||23||12||12|
|Passenger Car Occupant Fatalities||4||2||10||0||3|
|Fatalities (All Crashes)||33||38||36||25||24|
According to the NHTSA data, single-vehicle crashes at intersections involving pedestrians are one of the primary causes of road-fatalities in San Francisco.
We can also use NHTSA data to understand which roads are relatively safer to use. Here’s the summary of the NHTSA data on fatalities by road type in San Francisco:
|OTHER PRINCIPAL ARTERIAL||11|
We can see that other major principal arterial roads are the most fatal. You can understand how NHTSA classifies different types of roads by reading the definition on their website.
Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report
To understand the driving behavior in San Francisco, we can refer to the study conducted by Allstate. The insurer publishes a periodic study on driving behavior across 200 major cities in the country.
Here’s how drivers in San Francisco ranks in the country:
|2018 Best Drivers Report Ranking||183rd|
|Average Years Between Claims||6.3|
San Francisco ranks 183rd in driving behavior among 200 U.S. cities. This means that motorists in the city have to file claims far sooner than the rest of the country.
San Francisco has a robust public transportation network. However, ridesharing can also play a crucial rule in reducing vehicular congestion in the city.
Following ridesharing options are available in San Francisco:
E-star Repair Shops
After an accident, one of the major concerns we have is where to find a reputable repair shop.
Esurance has launched the E-star network to help us identify reputable repair shops near our location.
Here’s the list of top five repair shops in San Francisco:
- Alioto’s Garage – Bayshore
- Alioto’s Garage – Folsom
- Carstar Chilton San Francisco
- F. Lofrano & Son, Inc – Folsom
- German Motors Collision Center
San Francisco has a Mediterranean-type climate with dry summers and moist, mild winters.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the year-long weather in San Francisco:
|Average Annual High Temperature||62.4°F|
|Average Annual Low Temperature||52.3°F|
|Average Annual Rainfall||22.1 inches|
San Francisco receives around 22 inches of rainfall every year, most of which is between the period of November and March. The area around the city is less prone to natural hazards than the rest of the country. The city has experienced floods (three), winter storms (two), an earthquake, a hurricane, and a landslide.
San Francisco is known for its innovation in public transit. You can find buses, streetcars, subway, cable cars, and ferries.
The 54 buses and 17 streetcars are called “Muni” and are managed by the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority (SFMTA).
San Francisco also has a subway line along with the Bay Area Rapid Transit, which is a regional transportation service that connects the Bay Area around the city.
You can purchase tickets in a variety of ways. You can use the MuniMobile app, Clipper Card, cash, or the Metro Ticket Machine. Here are the regular fares to ride the Muni transit:
|Metro Ticket Machine||$3.00|
You can save on fare by using the mobile app or the Clipper Card. Senior citizens, people with disabilities, and children below the age of 18 can ride the Muni at a discounted fare of $1.25.
If you don’t want to drive in the city, you can use a bike and e-scooter rental to meet your transportation needs. San Francisco was among the first cities to allow e-scooters to be deployed in the city.
However, the permits were canceled after many residents complained to the city council.
In October 2019, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) again issued permits to Uber, JUMP, Scoot, Lime, and Spin to operate electric scooters services.
However, the city has now established a cap of 500 e-scooters per operator, which will likely increase to 750 in December and 1,000 by February. Only Scoot is allowed to operate 1,000 scooters right from the get-go.
Parking in Metro Areas
Parking in San Francisco can be a hassle, especially during the weekdays and holidays. The good thing is there are several options to book your parking ahead of time:
- Parking Panda
- PayByPhone parking application to pay for metered parking
Air Quality in San Francisco
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, vehicles emitting pollutants such as particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contribute to poor air quality.
The traffic congestion and population density have an impact on the quality of air in San Francisco.
According to the Environmental Pollution Agency (EPA), here’s the summary of air quality in San Francisco:
|YEAR||GOOD||MODERATE||UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS||UNHEALTHY||VERY UNHEALTHY|
San Francisco had good quality air only for 147 days in 2018. There were 19 days in 2018 when the air quality plummeted to unhealthy levels.
Although there are no military bases in San Francisco, Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield is an hour away. The Travis AFB is the largest military aerial port in the United States that provides global mobility through airlift and aerial refueling.
San Francisco is also home to a large population of military personnel who have served in Vietnam and the Gulf Wars.
For military personnel, the following insurance carriers may provide additional discounts:
- Farmers Insurance
- The General
- Liberty Mutual
- State Farm
Here are the average insurance rates in California:
|Carrier||Average Annual Premium ($3,688.93)||Higher/Lower (%)|
USAA is generally the most cost-effective insurer for military personnel in California, followed by GEICO.
Unique City Laws
Every city in the U.S. has some unique laws. San Francisco has a few that we should be aware of while driving.
Handheld Device Laws
California laws don’t allow a driver to use a handheld device while driving in San Francisco. The police in California have primary enforcement authority and may stop and fine you for using your handheld device while driving.
San Franciscans loves food trucks. There are numerous food trucks and food truck festivals to indulge in San Francisco.
Here’s a video showcasing the food truck culture in the city:
In case you are interested in starting a food truck of your own, you need to follow a few rules. Apart from the regular business identification, such as company registration and tax documentation, you would need to keep in mind the following:
- Obtain a mobile food facility permit
- Obtain proof of commissary (which are commercial kitchens that you must use to prepare and store food)
- Obtain a health permit
- Pass a state-approved food safety certification
- Obtain a food handler permit
Metered parking applies between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. If you park in the unpainted metered zone outside of this time slot, you can score free parking. You can also use the metered parking spots for free on Sunday.
The following rules are also unique to San Francisco:
- If you are parking on a slope in San Francisco, the front wheels of your car should be angled in such a way that in case the brake fails, the car would roll into the curb. Therefore, angle the front wheels toward the curb when parking on a downhill and away from the curb when parking uphill.
- Remember the color codes for parking:
- Red curb: no parking allowed
- White curb: only five-minute parking zone for picking up and dropping off passengers
- Green curb: only 10-minute parking zones
- Yellow curb: reserved for commercial vehicles only
- Blue curb: reserved for people with disabilities
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San Francisco Car Insurance FAQs
Let us review some routinely asked questions on car insurance in San Francisco:
How much does car insurance cost in San Francisco?
The cost of insurance varies by age, driving history, driving record, and several other factors, but the average annual car insurance premium in San Francisco is $5,939.
What is the minimum insurance required to drive legally in San Francisco?
In San Francisco, you must have the following insurance to drive:
- Bodily Injury Liability — $15,000 for one person / $30,000 per accident
- Property Damage Liability — $5,000 per accident
Which carriers are cheapest in San Francisco for drivers with high annual mileage?
According to our analysis, GEICO, Progressive, and USAA are the cheapest providers of insurance in San Francisco. However, we recommend you seek additional quotes as rates may vary depending on your estimated mileage.
Which carrier offers the cheapest car insurance in San Francisco?
Car insurance companies may offer varying rates based on various risk factors. But the cheapest auto insurance provider in San Francisco is GEICO, followed by Progressive.
I cannot afford my premiums. What can I do?
For drivers with low income, California provides a Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program. To qualify for the program, you must have the following:
- Have a valid California Driver’s License
- Meet income eligibility guidelines
- Own a vehicle valued at $25,000 or Less
- Be at least 16 years of age
- Have a good driving record
Use our free tool below to get rate quotes from car insurance providers in your area.