California Car Insurance [Rates + Cheap Coverage Guide]

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California Statistics SummaryDetails
Road MilesTotal in State: 225,531
Vehicle Miles Driven: 332.9 Billion
Driving DeathsSpeeding: 1,070 - 30%
Drunk Driving: 1,120 - 31%
VehiclesRegistered: 27,872,875
Total Stolen: 151,852
Most Popular VehicleHonda Civic
Average Premiums (Annual)Liability: $490
Collision: $397
Comprehensive: $101
Combined Premiums: $987
Percent of Motorists Uninsured15.2%
State Rank: 12th
Cheapest ProviderUSAA

A 2018 Gallup poll reports that 83 percent of Americans drive a car “at least several times a week,” with 64 percent who said they drive “every single day.”

That’s a lot of people who need car insurance since it’s required by law and all. In 2016 there were over 26 million licensed drivers in California alone, which makes this a very important topic.

The problem? Studies show most Americans have huge misconceptions about car insurance. The majority of car insurance customers don’t fully understand what they’re paying for or when the coverage will actually help them. Sadly, many find out when it’s much too late.

Drivers must pay about $1,000 a year in California just to reach the state’s minimum required car insurance coverage. Add even the smallest claim and that number jumps way up.

That’s a lot of money to be spending on something the average American feels (and proves to be) clueless about.

Start comparing rates today. Enter your zip code into our FREE comparison tool above!

Table of Contents

California Car Insurance Coverage and Rates

Are you tired of spending thousands of dollars on something that you don’t fully see the benefit of?

We are here to help! This guide will break down your seemingly endless policy options, explain why the coverage is important, and help make sense of the confusing lingo agents love to use.

See, you can trust us . . . we aren’t selling anything. Just experts on car insurance who are here to help YOU!

Let’s get this show on the road before you get back on the road without the proper protection for your investments.

– Minimum Car Insurance Requirements in California

Insurance RequiredMinimum Limits: 15/30/5
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage$15,000 per person
$30,000 per accident
Property Damage Liability Coverage$5,000 minimum

Explained: Liability insurance pays all individuals – drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists etc – who are owed compensation for property damage and/or injuries resulting from a car accident that you or anyone under your policy causes.

Your liability coverage will be in effect when any family member – or anyone you have given permission – is driving your vehicle. In California, this usually covers you in a rental car as well.

Broken Down: California law requires this minimum liability coverage as protection for others in the event you cause an accident:

  • $15,000 for injury or death for one person
  • $30,000 for injury or death if there’s more than one person
  • $5,000 for damage to property in an accident

Remember: These are only bare-bones coverage amounts. This is just what California motorists are required to have to drive – in order to not be a LIABILITY to all others on the roads around them.

In the tragic event of a deadly crash, there will be extensive injuries, damage, or possibly deaths. If you are found to be at faultyou alone will be held financially responsible. Minimum coverage will quickly run dry.

Can’t afford the minimum car insurance in California? See if you qualify for CLCA – discussed in detail below.

– Required Forms of Financial Responsibility in California

California law requires every driver and every owner of a vehicle to have proof of financial responsibility (proof of liability coverage) at all times.

Here are the four acceptable Forms of Financial Responsibility:

  1. Liability insurance policy card
  2. Receipt of deposit of $35,000 with the California DMV
  3. Surety bond for $35,000 obtained from a company licensed to do business in California
  4. Self-insurance certificate issued from the California DMV

Every time a motorist operates a vehicle he or she is required to have – on hand – one of the above four forms proving financial responsibility. This form must be available to show an officer at a traffic stop or after an accident.

If you fail to show proof of financial responsibility in California, you face a fine or having your vehicle impounded. Don’t let that be you!

Now let’s look at how much California residents are making versus how much they’re spending on car insurance.

– Premiums as Percentage of Income in California

In 2017, the annual per capita disposable personal income in California was $49,731.

Clarification: disposable personal income (DPI) is the total amount of money available for an individual to spend (or save) after their taxes have been paid.

The 2017 annual minimum coverage car insurance in California cost $1,120, which was over two percent of the average disposable personal income.

The average Californian has only $4,144 each month to buy food, pay bills etc. The car insurance bill alone will deduct about $100 out of that – and much more for anything over the minimum coverage and/or with a less-than-perfect driving record.

American Consumer Credit Counseling suggests saving 20 percent of every paycheck.  With California’s DPI, that’s a whopping $829 each month! How much are you putting aside for savings?

– Core Car Insurance Coverage in California

Coverage TypeAnnual Costs (2015)
Liability$490
Collision$397
Comprehensive$101
Combined$987

The above table illustrates the most recent data provided by the leading source on the matter, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Expect car insurance rates in California to be significantly higher for 2018 and on.

Don’t forget: California has minimum requirements for liability coverage, but experts suggest drivers purchase more than what state law requires especially when the coverage amounts are as low as 15/30/5.

Great News! In California insurance providers are not allowed to increase your rates due to a claim when you were not found to be “at fault” for the accident.

Let’s dig into some of the most popular coverage options to add to a basic auto insurance policy.

–  Additional Liability Coverage in California

Loss Ratio201220132014
Medical Payments (Med Pay)73%69%62%
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist60%59%58%

Fact: Med Pay, Uninsured, and Underinsured Motorist coverage are all optional in California, but they’re still important to have. Why? In 2015 15.2 percent of motorists in California were uninsured – these drivers would likely go bankrupt before they could pay off bills for damage and injuries they caused in a car accident.

California is ranked 12th in the nation for having such a high percentage of drivers choosing to ignore the minimum required car insurance laws.

The Golden State’s falling behind: The consecutive years of declining loss ratios seen above are concerning for the insurance customers. In 2015 the top insurance companies in the U.S. had loss ratios that ranged from 94 to 112 percent, which is far from what we’re finding in California.

Car insurance providers paid for claims amounting to only 60 percent of the premiums California residents paid on average in these two categories in 2014. Real-time example of a 60 percent loss ratio: you pay $1,000 for coverage and your provider pays $600 for damages — nope, not impressive.

Here’s how the attorneys at Murphy & Prachthauser explain it:

“Lower pay loss ratio means the insurance company is paying more for salaries, defense costs, and advertising, rather than paying the policyholders who purchased their coverage. All other things being equal, try to find car insurance companies with a higher pay loss ratio.”

– Add-ons, Endorsements, and Riders in California

We know getting the complete coverage you need for an affordable price is your goal.

Good news: there are lots of powerful but cheap extras you can add to your policy.

Here’s a list of useful coverage available to you in California:

You can also save money if you don’t drive much. Read on to find out how!

– Pay-As-You-Drive or Usage-Based Insurance in California

Motorists across the U.S. are putting tracking devices in their vehicles and with safe-driving reports, they’re shaving nearly $300, per car, off their premiums! Sounds like a major win for safe drivers, right?

Well, California’s Department of Insurance doesn’t see it that way. Legislators identify two major problems:

  1. Lack of privacy: motorists can be tracked and their destinations can be saved
  2. Unfair judgment: motorists shouldn’t be charged more because they drive through (or to) poor areas

California only allows insurance providers to track mileage and adjust premiums accordingly. Throughout the state, insurers are not allowed to discount or up-charge based on driving behavior.

Usage-based insurance can still be beneficial for California drivers; take this quiz to see if you’re a good candidate.

Actually, there’s more (scroll down) that California motorists might find is unfair about their car insurance rates.

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– Male vs Female Annual Car Insurance Rates in California

AgeMalesFemales
25 year-olds$1,128$1,116
55 year-olds$517$528

Popular myth: men pay more for car insurance. In most states that isn’t always true, and California is one of them.

In California, both Geico and Progressive charge females more than males who have the exact same profile and driving record.

How much more!? Our researchers discovered that females in California are charged as much as $50 a year more than males who are the same age and have identical backgrounds and driving records.

There are other key factors that play major roles in determining an individual’s car insurance rates. See the annual premiums below we collected with the help of Quadrant Information Services:

CompanySingle Female (17)Single Male (17)Single Female (25)Single Male (25)Married Female (35)Married Male (35)Married Female (60)Married Male (60)
Allstate Northbrook Indemnity$8,098.88$10,188.73$3,742.44$4,115.50$2,921.24$2,923.87$2,126.03$2,148.03
Farmers Ins Exchange$8,667.08$14,189.14$3,218.46$3,585.17$2,715.31$2,715.31$2,451.83$2,451.83
Geico General$5,433.56$5,529.48$2,566.22$2,624.98$1,786.81$1,787.80$1,680.52$1,680.52
SAFECO Ins Co of America$5,014.43$5,348.46$2,593.72$2,620.60$2,303.99$2,177.93$2,145.20$2,077.01
AMCO Insurance$8,318.27$9,186.72$3,904.76$3,858.43$3,272.83$3,124.42$2,863.68$2,699.52
United Financial Casualty$4,767.78$5,748.65$2,576.92$2,771.33$1,785.37$1,837.82$1,518.62$1,802.64
State Farm Mutual Auto$6,089.50$7,555.39$3,663.92$3,777.69$3,310.18$3,310.18$2,957.44$2,957.44
Travelers Commercial Ins Co.$5,165.60$5,906.73$3,249.64$3,179.78$2,497.45$2,417.86$2,206.26$2,182.92
USAA CIC$4,404.58$4,428.83$2,670.51$2,523.86$1,929.46$1,827.74$1,882.10$1,889.89

But, maybe those gender rate differences are a thing of the past considering the new law that was just passed:

“California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has issued new regulations that prohibit the use of gender in private passenger automobile insurance rating in California. The Gender Non-Discrimination in Automobile Insurance Rating Regulation became effective on January 1, 2019.” 

This is Jones’ third attempt since 2009 to remove gender as a price-setting factor. Hopefully, this one will stick.

– Cheapest California Car Insurance Rates by City and Zip Code

25 Most Expensive Zip Codes in CaliforniaCityAverage by Zip CodeMost Expensive CompanyMost Expensive Rate2nd Most Expensive Company2nd Most Expensive RateCheapest CompanyCheapest Rate2nd Cheapest Company2nd Cheapest Rate
90210BEVERLY HILLS$6,324.83Nationwide$8,533.47Allstate$8,190.66Liberty Mutual$4,414.40USAA$4,692.62
91606NORTH HOLLYWOOD$6,219.57Allstate$8,174.05Farmers$8,102.32USAA$3,931.76Liberty Mutual$4,611.35
90010LOS ANGELES$6,201.00Nationwide$8,610.21Allstate$8,225.60USAA$4,226.92Liberty Mutual$4,883.02
90211BEVERLY HILLS$6,199.34Nationwide$8,922.36Allstate$8,190.66USAA$4,245.23Liberty Mutual$4,439.85
91405VAN NUYS$6,198.55Nationwide$8,789.36Allstate$8,155.64USAA$3,931.76Liberty Mutual$4,683.16
90020LOS ANGELES$6,132.45Nationwide$8,382.09Allstate$8,360.06USAA$4,004.33GEICO$4,512.30
91203GLENDALE$6,086.66Nationwide$9,116.47Allstate$7,952.29USAA$4,004.56Liberty Mutual$4,116.05
91401VAN NUYS$6,073.88Nationwide$8,651.65Allstate$8,335.75USAA$3,828.03Liberty Mutual$4,506.46
90028LOS ANGELES$6,063.25Allstate$8,360.06Farmers$8,208.73USAA$4,004.33GEICO$4,393.74
90038LOS ANGELES$6,048.15Nationwide$8,518.96Allstate$8,360.06USAA$3,693.78GEICO$4,309.89
90046LOS ANGELES$6,045.78Allstate$8,225.60Nationwide$8,193.23USAA$3,966.93GEICO$4,399.92
90212BEVERLY HILLS$6,041.05Allstate$8,190.66Farmers$7,792.29USAA$4,245.23Liberty Mutual$4,539.22
90005LOS ANGELES$6,040.60Allstate$8,065.54Nationwide$8,057.13USAA$4,004.33Progressive$4,592.87
91605NORTH HOLLYWOOD$6,034.64Nationwide$8,737.86Farmers$7,959.34USAA$3,808.95Liberty Mutual$4,383.46
91204GLENDALE$6,015.40Nationwide$8,721.88Allstate$7,952.29USAA$4,004.56Liberty Mutual$4,268.49
91205GLENDALE$5,990.19Nationwide$8,439.18Farmers$7,685.36USAA$4,004.56Liberty Mutual$4,296.53
90029LOS ANGELES$5,934.84Farmers$8,227.86Allstate$8,197.40USAA$3,735.84GEICO$4,161.04
90004LOS ANGELES$5,928.00Allstate$8,189.47Nationwide$8,127.33USAA$3,847.79Progressive$4,373.15
90017LOS ANGELES$5,898.73Allstate$8,014.89Nationwide$8,005.94USAA$3,945.10Liberty Mutual$4,632.60
90027LOS ANGELES$5,897.67Nationwide$8,413.29Allstate$8,189.47Progressive$4,012.84USAA$4,015.30
90057LOS ANGELES$5,894.37Allstate$8,016.78Nationwide$8,012.71USAA$3,847.79Progressive$4,225.65
90077LOS ANGELES$5,878.05Allstate$8,190.66Farmers$7,517.86Liberty Mutual$3,925.51USAA$4,125.06
90048LOS ANGELES$5,877.67Allstate$8,276.46Nationwide$8,189.87USAA$3,719.43GEICO$4,058.38
91201GLENDALE$5,847.26Nationwide$8,736.98Allstate$7,952.29USAA$3,808.95Liberty Mutual$4,011.77
90069WEST HOLLYWOOD$5,844.28Allstate$8,276.46Farmers$8,037.83USAA$3,671.99Liberty Mutual$4,191.86
25 Least Expensive Zip Codes in CaliforniaCityAverage by Zip CodesMost Expensive CompanyMost Expensive Rate2nd Most Expensive Company2nd Most Expensive RateCheapest CompanyCheapest Rate2nd Cheapest Company2nd Cheapest Rate
93401SAN LUIS OBISPO$2,731.32Allstate$3,488.65Nationwide$3,336.13Progressive$2,177.96Liberty Mutual$2,285.77
96094WEED$2,752.73Farmers$4,037.15Nationwide$3,166.19Progressive$2,000.62GEICO$2,061.72
93428CAMBRIA$2,774.88Nationwide$3,395.32Allstate$3,380.26Progressive$2,234.71GEICO$2,242.78
96067MOUNT SHASTA$2,777.89Farmers$4,029.52Nationwide$3,347.10Progressive$1,989.83GEICO$2,080.16
93437LOMPOC$2,804.27Nationwide$3,512.04Allstate$3,460.07Progressive$2,098.30USAA$2,428.11
93427BUELLTON$2,807.43Allstate$3,442.05Nationwide$3,437.39Progressive$2,244.68USAA$2,289.13
93442MORRO BAY$2,807.97Allstate$3,396.50Nationwide$3,358.53Progressive$2,126.82Liberty Mutual$2,400.87
93402LOS OSOS$2,821.16Nationwide$3,411.51Allstate$3,392.02Liberty Mutual$2,324.69Progressive$2,336.39
93420ARROYO GRANDE$2,824.43Nationwide$3,543.40Farmers$3,404.34Progressive$1,980.83Liberty Mutual$2,298.66
93449PISMO BEACH$2,829.93Nationwide$3,707.40Allstate$3,450.72Liberty Mutual$2,283.28USAA$2,449.96
93433GROVER BEACH$2,834.19Nationwide$3,752.44Allstate$3,468.52Liberty Mutual$2,282.99Progressive$2,297.06
93514BISHOP$2,837.87Allstate$3,721.11Farmers$3,446.65Progressive$1,942.71GEICO$2,292.34
93441LOS OLIVOS$2,840.56Nationwide$3,594.51Allstate$3,442.05Progressive$2,327.04USAA$2,426.99
96064MONTAGUE$2,840.77Farmers$4,019.73Nationwide$3,532.73Progressive$1,971.09GEICO$2,250.66
96097YREKA$2,843.29Farmers$4,020.91Nationwide$3,291.50GEICO$2,197.64Progressive$2,200.87
93436LOMPOC$2,843.64Nationwide$3,536.94Allstate$3,462.90GEICO$2,325.67USAA$2,371.77
93444NIPOMO$2,843.90Nationwide$3,495.01Farmers$3,445.56USAA$2,299.41Liberty Mutual$2,337.28
93430CAYUCOS$2,850.58Nationwide$3,460.36Allstate$3,361.53Liberty Mutual$2,344.53USAA$2,423.24
93452SAN SIMEON$2,858.30Nationwide$3,497.26Allstate$3,487.46Progressive$2,305.34USAA$2,330.63
93463SOLVANG$2,861.18Allstate$3,888.44Nationwide$3,531.47Progressive$2,112.72USAA$2,362.05
93432CRESTON$2,862.60Farmers$3,526.64Allstate$3,487.46Progressive$2,239.41USAA$2,324.62
93422ATASCADERO$2,865.26Nationwide$3,610.36Farmers$3,438.02Progressive$2,058.51USAA$2,391.21
93455SANTA MARIA$2,877.52Nationwide$3,554.69Allstate$3,453.85GEICO$2,325.67USAA$2,363.73
96027ETNA$2,882.83Farmers$4,075.76Nationwide$3,501.68Progressive$2,071.13USAA$2,309.58
96032FORT JONES$2,885.83Farmers$4,329.09Nationwide$3,547.47Progressive$2,122.70USAA$2,266.86

Okay now that you have all that background information on car insurance requirements and rates in your state, let’s find out which insurance providers in California have the best ratings and reviews – don’t worry, we’ll share the ones with the most customer complaints too.

10 Most Expensive Cities in CaliforniaAverage by CityMost Expensive CompanyMost Expensive Rate2nd Most Expensive Company2nd Most Expensive RateCheapest CompanyCheapest Rate2nd Cheapest Company2nd Cheapest Rate
Beverly Hills$6,188.41Nationwide$8,410.69Allstate$8,190.66USAA$4,394.36Liberty Mutual$4,464.49
Van Nuys$5,897.85Nationwide$8,039.20Farmers$7,861.74USAA$3,761.84Progressive$4,503.60
Tarzana$5,798.47Farmers$7,945.28Nationwide$7,943.26USAA$3,843.04Liberty Mutual$4,034.36
North Hollywood$5,769.35Allstate$7,921.82Farmers$7,855.52USAA$3,629.33GEICO$4,203.12
Encino$5,744.64Nationwide$8,168.10Farmers$7,766.47USAA$3,757.52GEICO$3,997.59
Valley Village$5,718.12Allstate$8,335.75Farmers$7,716.75USAA$3,752.84Progressive$4,038.01
Panorama City$5,701.66Farmers$7,975.17Nationwide$7,804.98USAA$3,411.65Progressive$4,107.44
Studio City$5,649.18Allstate$8,225.60Farmers$7,795.23USAA$3,438.90Liberty Mutual$4,095.81
Reseda$5,593.76Farmers$7,828.71Allstate$7,329.09USAA$3,593.77Progressive$4,014.63
Sherman Oaks$5,562.19Allstate$7,945.09Farmers$7,897.13USAA$3,463.15GEICO$4,052.60
10 Least Expensive Cities in CaliforniaAverage by CityMost Expensive CompanyMost Expensive Rate2nd Most Expensive Company2nd Most Expensive RateCheapest CompanyCheapest Rate2nd Cheapest Company2nd Cheapest Rate
Los Ranchos$2,731.32Allstate$3,488.65Nationwide$3,336.13Progressive$2,177.96Liberty Mutual$2,285.77
Weed$2,752.73Farmers$4,037.15Nationwide$3,166.19Progressive$2,000.62GEICO$2,061.72
Cambria$2,774.88Nationwide$3,395.32Allstate$3,380.26Progressive$2,234.71GEICO$2,242.78
Mount Shasta$2,777.89Farmers$4,029.52Nationwide$3,347.10Progressive$1,989.83GEICO$2,080.16
Vandenberg AFB$2,804.27Nationwide$3,512.04Allstate$3,460.07Progressive$2,098.30USAA$2,428.11
Buellton$2,807.43Allstate$3,442.05Nationwide$3,437.39Progressive$2,244.68USAA$2,289.13
Morro Bay$2,807.96Allstate$3,396.50Nationwide$3,358.53Progressive$2,126.82Liberty Mutual$2,400.87
Los Osos$2,821.16Nationwide$3,411.51Allstate$3,392.02Liberty Mutual$2,324.69Progressive$2,336.39
Arroyo Grande$2,824.43Nationwide$3,543.40Farmers$3,404.34Progressive$1,980.83Liberty Mutual$2,298.66
Pismo Beach$2,829.93Nationwide$3,707.40Allstate$3,450.72Liberty Mutual$2,283.28USAA$2,449.96

Read on to find out the true reputation of the insurance provider who would be lucky to have your business.

Best California Car Insurance Companies

With the hundreds of car insurance providers out there today, it’s nearly impossible to know who you can trust.

You might be wondering, “Is it safe to switch to a new, smaller company that offers lower rates?” Let us help you figure that out!

Keep reading to get the inside scoop on who the best providers are (and why) across the Golden State.

– Ratings! How California Car Insurance Companies Compare

Let’s dive right in and begin with their financial strength.

– The 10 Largest California Car Insurance Companies’ Financial Ratings

Providers (Largest-Smallest)A.M. Best Rating
State FarmA++
Farmers InsuranceA
Berkshire HathawayA++
Allstate InsuranceA+
Auto Club EnterprisesA-
Mercury GeneralA+
CSAA InsuranceA
United ServicesA++
ProgressiveA+
Liberty MutualA

What’s just as important as how financially secure they are? How they treat YOU, the customer! Let’s see what the car insurance customers in California have to say.

– California’s Car Insurance Companies with the BEST Customer Ratings

“Cost is not the sole indicator of customer satisfaction in the auto insurance industry. Low prices may attract new customers, but it’s service that keeps them.” – J.D. Power Business Consultant

With an impressive total of 862 out of 1,000 possible points, Ameriprise was the auto insurance provider in California to win J.D. Power’s 2018 Study.

Due to how the regions were split up, there were only 11 first-place winners in the U.S. and Ameriprise was one of them! California residents had five car insurance companies they rated “better than most” or “among the best.”

Yes, it’s good to focus on the positive, BUT to be fully informed you need to know when customers aren’t happy too. One bad review isn’t a big deal, but when a provider is getting the most complaints in the entire state, it’s certainly worth noting!

– California’s Car Insurance Companies with the MOST Customer Complaints

Number of Justified Customer Complaints201520162017Total
Interinsurance Exchange374342122
Mercury General444238124
Allstate Insurance385061149
Geico General924432168
CSAA Insurance635564182
Infinity Insurance867646208
Alliance United12315687366
State Farm20411977400
Access Insurance88263460811

With 400 complaints in just three years, it’s clear customers aren’t always satisfied with the largest provider in the state of California.

However, State Farm did manage to rank 10th in the state for customers’ overall satisfaction. Hopefully being the biggest doesn’t make State Farm forget what’s essential to being the best.

– California’s Car Insurance Rates by Provider

CompanyAverageCompared to State Average (-/+)Compared to State Average (%)
Allstate Northbrook Indemnity$4,533.09$843.4718.61%
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%
AMCO Insurance$4,653.58$963.9620.71%
United Financial Casualty$2,851.14-$838.48-29.41%
State Farm Mutual Auto$4,202.72$513.1012.21%
Travelers Commercial Ins Co.$3,350.78-$338.84-10.11%
USAA CIC$2,694.62-$995.00-36.93%
Total Average$3,689.62

– California’s Best Companies by Commute and Annual Average

GroupCommute and Annual MileageAnnual Average
Farmers25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.$5,462.84
Nationwide25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.$5,198.37
Allstate25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.$4,979.93
Farmers10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.$4,535.69
State Farm25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.$4,355.54
Nationwide10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.$4,108.79
Allstate10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.$4,086.25
State Farm10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.$4,049.89
Travelers25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.$3,687.49
Liberty Mutual25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.$3,284.23
Geico25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.$3,150.55
Progressive25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.$3,115.09
Travelers10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.$3,014.07
USAA25 miles commute. 12000 annual mileage.$2,906.28
Liberty Mutual10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.$2,786.10
Geico10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.$2,621.93
Progressive10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.$2,587.19
USAA10 miles commute. 6000 annual mileage.$2,482.96

– California’s Best Companies by Coverage Type

GroupCoverage TypeAnnual Average
FarmersHigh$5,307.39
NationwideHigh$5,046.66
FarmersMedium$5,038.58
AllstateHigh$4,739.46
NationwideMedium$4,734.55
FarmersLow$4,651.83
AllstateMedium$4,572.72
State FarmHigh$4,541.30
AllstateLow$4,287.09
State FarmMedium$4,273.41
NationwideLow$4,179.52
State FarmLow$3,793.44
TravelersHigh$3,687.46
TravelersMedium$3,440.36
Liberty MutualHigh$3,219.54
GeicoHigh$3,127.30
Liberty MutualMedium$3,061.95
ProgressiveHigh$3,061.73
ProgressiveMedium$2,936.65
TravelersLow$2,924.52
GeicoMedium$2,918.49
USAAHigh$2,892.32
Liberty MutualLow$2,824.01
USAAMedium$2,746.50
GeicoLow$2,612.92
ProgressiveLow$2,555.04
USAALow$2,445.05

– California’s Best Companies by Driving Record

GroupDriving RecordAnnual Average
AllstateWith 1 DUI$7,223.45
NationwideWith 1 DUI$7,043.06
State FarmWith 1 DUI$6,756.08
FarmersWith 1 DUI$6,268.29
FarmersWith 1 accident$5,033.47
FarmersWith 1 speeding violation$4,998.06
AllstateWith 1 accident$4,597.86
USAAWith 1 DUI$4,363.10
TravelersWith 1 DUI$4,234.85
NationwideWith 1 accident$4,162.31
NationwideWith 1 speeding violation$4,162.31
GeicoWith 1 DUI$3,908.23
FarmersClean record$3,697.25
ProgressiveWith 1 DUI$3,680.03
TravelersWith 1 accident$3,644.10
AllstateWith 1 speeding violation$3,582.21
State FarmWith 1 accident$3,576.40
Liberty MutualWith 1 accident$3,529.11
State FarmWith 1 speeding violation$3,480.06
TravelersWith 1 speeding violation$3,290.14
NationwideClean record$3,246.63
Liberty MutualWith 1 DUI$3,185.41
ProgressiveWith 1 accident$3,171.49
GeicoWith 1 accident$3,114.92
State FarmClean record$2,998.34
Liberty MutualWith 1 speeding violation$2,791.65
AllstateClean record$2,728.84
ProgressiveWith 1 speeding violation$2,687.54
USAAWith 1 accident$2,664.41
Liberty MutualClean record$2,634.50
GeicoWith 1 speeding violation$2,503.62
TravelersClean record$2,234.04
GeicoClean record$2,018.18
USAAWith 1 speeding violation$1,960.95
ProgressiveClean record$1,865.51
USAAClean record$1,790.02

– The 10 Largest Car Insurance Companies in California

ProviderPremiums WrittenMarket Share
State Farm$3,910,35114.34%
Farmers Insurance$3,158,81411.59%
Berkshire Hathaway$2,502,8549.18%
Allstate Insurance$2,446,5648.97%
Auto Club Enterprises$2,312,2308.48%
Mercury General$2,095,5317.69%
CSAA Insurance$1,950,2577.15%
United Services$1,218,7924.47%
Progressive$1,147,1864.21 %
Liberty Mutual$929,0583.41 %

– Number of Car Insurance Providers in California

Property & Casualty InsuranceNumber Of Providers
Domestic99
Foreign671
Total770

Laws in California

In order to keep your car insurance rates low, you must follow the law. Well, you can’t do that if you don’t know the laws in your state.

It doesn’t get much worse than getting blindsided with a fine for doing something you didn’t realize was against the law!

Have no fear! We’re here to help prevent that from happening. Scroll down so you can know the laws in California and stay above them.

– California’s Car Insurance Laws

You’ll probably be surprised when you see how many laws are in place for car insurance. Their main purpose is to keep dangerous drivers off the road and hold the insurance providers accountable – that’s good for the responsible, safe drivers of California.

Stay with me…there’s some important stuff below.

– How California’s Insurance Rates & Laws are Determined

Back in the 70s and 80s, California’s car insurance rates were rapidly increasing and becoming too expensive for the average citizen to afford. Finally, in November of 1988, California’s Proposition 103 was voted into law and immediately went to work regulating insurers across the state.

In 1988, Proposition 103 required insurance companies to reduce their rates by 20 percent immediately, and it mandated that any future rate changes be approved by the California Department of Insurance.

All car insurance rates and forms must be filed and approved by California’s Department of Insurance before they can be used. No forms can be issued without commissioner approval or until 30 days after the filing was made.

– High-Risk Insurance in California

In California, a high-risk driver must purchase something called SR-22. This is a state filing that is added to your insurance policy.

Here are some reasons California drivers need an SR-22 once their driving privileges are reinstated:

  • License suspension or revocation due to a DUI
  • Being involved in an accident without insurance
  • Getting labeled a negligent operator
  • Having too many points on your driving record

The above events are just a sampling of reasons a motorist would be required to carry this more expensive, high-risk insurance as proof of their liability in California – usually for a minimum of three years.

Your insurance provider will file your SR-22 with the California DMV for all vehicles that are registered under your name or that are driven by you.

– Low-Cost or Low-Income Insurance in California

Worried you can’t afford car insurance required in California but don’t want to break the law? There’s a program in place that might be perfect for you!

In 1999 California adopted an insurance program into law, California’s Low Cost Auto (CLCA), so that lower-income drivers could afford liability car insurance.

Here’s a list of requirements for drivers to qualify for CLCA:

  • Be 19 years-old or older
  • Have a current driver’s license
  • Have a safe driving record
  • Meet income eligibility-dependent on combined household income
  • Own a car valued at $20,000 or less without unpaid loans

This is huge! Premiums for motorists under CLCA aren’t allowed to exceed $388 a year. 

Motorists who qualify for CLCA have lower liability requirements than what the state law typically mandates.

CLCA car insurance coverage:

Insurance RequiredMinimum Limits: 10/20/3
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage$10,000 per person
$20,000 per accident
Property Damage Liability Coverage$3,000 minimum

To see if you qualify and find out what your rates would be, check out this page dedicated to CLCA created by California’s Department of Insurance.

– California’s Windshield and Glass Repair Laws

It is against the law to drive on California roads with a cracked or chipped glass in the front or back of the vehicle that blocks the driver’s view in any way.

In regards to your vehicle repairs, state law prohibits CA car insurance providers from doing any of the following:

  • Require that you go to a specific shop
  • Suggest a repair shop (unless you ask or it’s in writing you can go where you want)
  • Require you to travel far for an inspection or to get an estimate

Motorists in California have the option of adding a zero deductible glass replacement benefit to their insurance policy, but this coverage is not required by state law.

In California, you are allowed to use aftermarket parts for your vehicle repairs IF they are equal in quality to the original parts in safety, fit, and performance.

– Car Insurance Cancellations or Non-Renewals in California

California law prohibits insurance providers from dropping customers whenever they feel like it, but there are certain reasons a car insurance company can cancel your coverage.

Here are several reasons California insurers are allowed to send you a non-renewal:

  • If you don’t pay your premiums
  • If you or any of the operators on your plan have had their license suspended or revoked
  • If your provider discovers you have been involved in fraudulent behavior
  • If your policy is a renewal type and it’s in the 180 day period before the effective date
  • If you or any operators on your plan give false information in regards to a claim
  • If you or any operators on your plan lie about any of the following: safety record, annual miles, year of driving experience, prior insurance claims, or any other factors that affect rates/claims
  • If there is a substantial, proven increase in the hazard your insurer has to cover

There’s still hope! You have 20 days after receiving your cancellation or non-renewal notice to rectify the situation with your insurer.

– The Statute of Limitations in California

Injured? Vehicle damaged? Here’s how long you have to file a claim and fight for the money owed to you:

California Statutes of Limitations 
Personal Injury2 years
Property Damage3 years

– Automobile Insurance Fraud in California

Unfortunately, you can’t trust all auto body shops or insurance providers.

Beware! Scams, lies, and fraud have surrounded car insurance in California for many years.

Below are illegal tricks and practices in regards to vehicle repairs that car owners need to watch out for in California:

  • Reporting parts lost or damaged when they’re not
  • Increasing cost above the original damage estimate
  • Billing for repairs that were not requested or signed for
  • Charging for original parts but using aftermarket or used/junkyard parts
  • Charging for brand new parts but pounding out dents or using glue
  • Reporting stolen or vandalized vehicles that were neither taken or damaged

The California Department of Insurance warns:

“It is always important for the consumer to review carefully all paperwork from auto body and repair shops in order to protect against potential fraud. Also, consumers should be cautious of any auto body or repair facility that makes referrals to medical or legal offices. This practice may be an indicator of “capping.” Capping (a felony in California) is the illegal referral of clients to legal offices for a fee.”

Another scary, fairly common insurance fraud practice in California is staging car accidents and lying about accident details.

Here is fraudulent behavior to look out for:

  • Suddenly stopping for no reason
  • Purposefully ignoring the right-of-way
  • Giving up the right-of-way to cause an accident
  • Reporting passengers in an accident that weren’t in the vehicle
  • Listing witnesses who weren’t at the scene of the accident
  • Claiming injuries that don’t make sense compared to vehicle damage
  • Driver with temporary vehicle registration
  • Prior damage exists that a driver wants covered in a new “accident”
  • Getting contacted by a lawyer when you never asked for one

The government warnings go on to say:

Organized accident rings and cappers actively solicit others in the community to participate in the creation of accidents. Often these accidents only exist on paper…Paper accidents have gained in popularity among fraud perpetrators, as they are less dangerous from a bodily injury standpoint, and there is less likelihood of police involvement.” 

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– California’s Laws Against Insurance Fraud

According to the Insurance Information Institute, “Premium leakage, defined as missing or erroneous underwriting information, amounts to about $29 billion a year for personal auto insurers.”

Here are four ways the state of California works to fight fraud and protect insurance customers:

  1. California law classifies insurance fraud as a crime
  2. California has immunity statutes to protect those who report suspected fraud
  3. California has established fraud bureaus to identify fraud and investigate cases
  4. California requires all insurers to have a fraud plan to identify and stop fraud
Insurance Fraud Penalties & SentencesJail Time:Fine:
Misdemeanorup to 1 yearup to $10,000
Felonyup to 5 yearsup to $50,000

That’s not all! The fine can be up to double the value of the attempted stolen amount, and a previous fraud conviction will add two years for each prior offense to the prison time.

California Insurance Code 1871 states:

“Insurance fraud is a particular problem for automobile policyholders; fraudulent activities account for 15 to 20 percent of all auto insurance payments. Automobile insurance fraud is the biggest and fastest growing segment of insurance fraud and contributes substantially to the high cost of automobile insurance with particular significance in urban areas.”

Turns out, there’s more behind those steep bills than you thought!

– California’s Automobile Claims Mediation Program

Is your insurance company not paying for medical bills or vehicle damages that should be covered? Mediation might be your next step.

Who is eligible for mediation?

Eligible:Not Eligible:
Customers with damage coverage3rd party claims
Active claim disputesCommercial coverage
Claims over $7,500Claims under $7,500
Dispute amounts over $2,000Dispute amounts under $2,000

What issues are eligible for mediation?

Eligible:Not Eligible:
Extent/amount of damageCoverage issues
Repair methodLegal interpretations
Cause of damageStatute of limitations
Prior vs. recent damageAgent/broker actions
Total loss vs. repairLender inclusion on claim
Value of total lossBad faith or extra demands

If you and your dispute are eligible, you should visit the page dedicated to this matter created by the California Department of Insurance. Here you’ll find seven detailed steps you’ll need to take to complete the mediation process.

– Fair Claims Settlement Practices in California

California has more laws to protect insurance policyholders than any other state in the country. These laws tell insurers what they must, can, and cannot do. – United Policyholders

The Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations list many rules insurance companies must follow as they sell insurance and deal with claims.

Below are just some of those regulations made law by California judges and legislators.

By California law, insurance providers MUST:

  • Accept or deny claims within 40 days of receiving proof, unless written notice for additional time is provided
  • Provide written explanation with a factual and legal reason for any claim that is rejected or denied
  • Thoroughly, fairly, and objectively investigate all claims, and only collect information that’s required to resolve the claim
  • Providing written notice to the customer of any statute of limitation or time requirement a claim may be denied
  • Never make unreasonably low settlement offers to close a claim
  • Never discriminate a customer or claim based on age, gender, race, religion, income, language, ancestry, or disability
  • Make payment or otherwise fulfill obligations on accepted claims within 30 days, unless an exception is provided in writing

This above list is a simplified, whittled down example of the rules governing insurance providers in the Golden State.

Do you believe your insurance company is breaking California law in the way they are treating you or handling your claims? Learn more about the laws and what you can do about it, here.

– California’s Vehicle Licensing Laws

Are you frustrated with how expensive car insurance in California is? You aren’t alone!

But let’s face it, it’s better to pay for the coverage than to break the law and drive without car insurance.

Here’s why it is never worth driving without car insurance in California:

Penalties for Driving without Insurance 
1st OffenseFine up to $200 + penalty assessments
Possible vehicle impounding
2nd OffenseFine up to $500 + penalty assessments
Possible vehicle impounding

California DMV can also Suspend Your Vehicle Registration.

Three reasons this can happen are if you:

  1. Cancel your insurance policy and don’t renew or replace it within 45 days
  2. Fail to provide proof of coverage to the DMV within 30 days of vehicle registration or transfer of ownership
  3. Register your vehicle with phony information or false evidence of insurance

The California DMV will send you a letter if your vehicle registration has been suspended. At that time you can properly register your vehicle by providing valid proof of insurance and paying $14.

Please note! You don’t just need to have active, valid car insurance, you have to be able to prove it to an officer.

Since 2012, California drivers have been able to show proof of insurance much easier. In the more tech-advanced states, the traditional mode via insurance card isn’t the only acceptable form of proof.

“Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law Assembly Bill 1708, which makes California the seventh state in the country that allows motorists to show they have auto insurance via their smartphone or other mobile electronic device.”
Sacramento Business Journal

– Teen Driver Laws in California

In the state of California, teens cannot get a learner’s permit, also called learner’s license, until they are at least 15 1/2 years old, and that’s just the beginning.

Requirements: Getting a Driver's License in CA 
Mandatory holding period6 months
Minimum supervised driving time50 hrs; 10 at night
Minimum age16 years old

For a teenager, finally having a driver’s license might feel like total freedom, but there are still quite a few restrictions in place for these young drivers in California.

Restrictions: Intermediate License in CA 
DrivingProhibited from 11pm to 5am
PassengersUnder 20 yrs-old prohibited (unless immediate family)

Dying for complete freedom? It might feel like it will never end, but the early license restrictions are lifted after 12 months and when the driver is at least 17 years-old.

– License Renewal Procedures and Older Drivers in California

Did you know? No matter how old you are, every driver in California must get their license renewed every five years.

Here are the two ways it’s different for drivers, aged 70 and older:

  1. They can’t renew online or by mail
  2. They must get their vision checked at every renewal

Who enjoys going to the DMV? Anyone? It’s usually a dreaded trip.

California allows drivers aged 69 and under to renew their license by mail or online; however, this method is limited to two consecutive renewals. They need to see you in person and check your vision at some point.

But hey, 10 years is a long time to avoid a trip to the DMV!

– New Residents or People Visiting California

Very Important! Not all auto insurance providers are allowed to insure you in California, and your agent might not come right out and warn you if this is the case.

Even with valid, sufficient car insurance from another state, you could get a hefty fine and get your license suspended for driving without California approved insurance.

Visiting or moving to California? Here are three things you need to do so you don’t lose your license if you get in an accident while you’re there:

  1. Ensure you have bodily injury and property damage coverage equal to or greater than California’s requirements
  2. Have your insurer file a power of attorney allowing the CA DMV to act as your agent if legal services are needed
  3. Insure your vehicle before you arrive because you can’t renew an out-of-state policy once it’s registered in California

Okay, now you know what you need to do before you get to California to be properly insured. Let’s look at what will quickly increase your rates – POINTS!

– Driving Record Points in California

Like in golf (only in this case your driving privilege depends on it) . . . these are the kind of points you want to avoid earning.

One Point:Two Points:
SpeedingReckless driving
Driving in bicycle laneDrunk driving
Running a red lightRacing
Disobeying a traffic signNarcotics
Following too closelyHit and run

The California DMV will keep a public record of all of your traffic citations and collisions. Every violation stays on your driving record for at least 36 months. More serious convictions will haunt you longer. 

If you get too many points, you’ll get your license suspended or revoked. Learn more about this process below.

– Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS)

California has a very organized, systematic way of dealing with dangerous drivers called the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS).

Negligent operators will receive warning letters and progressive penalties referred to as “NOTS Actions” in four levels:

Level 1 - Warning Letter 
Points:In Time Period:
212 months
424 months
636 months

Level 2 - Notice of Intent to Suspend 
Points:In Time Period:
312 months
524 months
736 months

Level 3 - 6 mo Suspension + 1 yr Probation 
Points:In Time Period:
412 months
624 months
836 months

Level 4 - Driving Privilege Suspended
Reasons:
Violation or collision during suspension
1 or 2 pt violation or at-fault collision during probation
Failure To Appear (FTA) or violation during probation
Under 18 driver violates probation or gets a violation

And since four levels isn’t enough for some drivers, California law breaks down probation violations by occurrence:

  • 1st and 2nd Violation of Probation: six-month suspension and a 12-month extension of probation
  • 3rd Violation of Probation: 12-month license revocation

– California Rules of the Road

After reading through all of the violations, penalties, and ways you can quickly pile on the points, don’t you want to do all you can to stay above the law?

We’re here to help!! Scroll down to quickly learn the MUST-KNOW LAWS in California that every driver needs to follow or else they’ll pay – in more ways than one.

– Fault vs No Fault

California is a “Fault State” in regards to car insurance. But what does this mean??

When a car accident occurs in California, one of the drivers will be found to be at-fault by the police. The at-fault driver will have to pay for medical expenses, damages, and all other costs caused by the collision.

There are no restrictions on how much the others involved in the accident can sue and file in their claim against the at-fault driver.

– Speed Limits in California

Before 1995, the U.S. Congress would withhold highway funds from states that had maximum speed limits set at over 55 mph.

Speed limit laws in America have loosened greatly in the past 30 years, and today California is one of 41 states that has speed limits at or above 70 mph.

Here are the speed limits across the state of California:

TypeRural
Interstates
Urban
Interstates
Limited
Access Roads
Other
Roads
Cars70 mph65 mph70 mph65 mph
Trucks55 mph55 mph55 mph55 mph

– Seat Belt and Car Seat Laws in California

Since January 1, 1993, seat belt rules in California have been primary laws, meaning that police officers can pull over drivers if anyone in the car appears to be breaking the restraint requirements. When it’s a secondary law, officers need another, bigger reason to pull the driver over.

Safety Belt Laws in California 
Effective SinceJanuary 1, 1986
Primary EnforcementYes
Age/Seats Applicable16+ years old in all seats
1st Offense Fine$20 plus fees

That’s not all! California is one of 30 states that has laws in place prohibiting passengers from riding in the bed of pick up trucks.

Laws get a lot more strict when kids are involved. We have to do all we can to keep those little passengers safe!

The chart below lays out the location in the vehicle, type of seat, and even the buckle that is required for your child passenger on California roadways.

Child Seat Laws in California 
Car Seat RequiredChildren 7 yrs old
and under

Rear-Facing Seat RequiredChildren who are:
- under 2 yrs old
- under 40 lbs
- under 40" tall
Forward-Facing Seat AllowedChildren who are:
- 2 to 7 yrs old
- 40" to 57" tall
Booster Seat AllowedChildren over 40 lbs
Adult Seat Belt AllowedChildren who are:
- 8 to 15 yrs old
- at least 57" tall
Rear Seats RequiredChildren who are:
- 7 yrs and under
- under 57" tall
1st Offense Fine$100 plus fees

Steep Penalties! On top of the $100 fine, motorists also face points being added to their record when breaking the child car seat laws in California.

– Ridesharing in California

In July of 2018 laws tightened for private ridesharing and public for hire ride-hailing services – such as Uber and Lyft – in California.

Drivers who are paid to transport passengers in California (ride-hailing services) may not have a BAC of .04 or higher, which is half the normal legal limit for motorists.

“People count on these drivers to get them home when they’ve been drinking, they don’t expect them to be drinking. They should be held to that standard of a lower BAC level.”San Diego Police Officer, John Perdue

Commercial driver licenses will be revoked for drivers caught with a BAC of .04 or higher in California.

More Laws: private (not for hire) drivers – such as shuttle and church bus drivers – must now get their intrastate authority certificates from the California DMV. And, in these large passenger vehicles, seat belts are required when available for passengers over 15 years old; passengers aged 8-15 must be in a seat belt at all times.

In September of 2018, California became the first state to regulate the pollution produced from ridesharing.

“Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 1014, a bill requiring transportation network companies (TNCs) to account for, and reduce, the greenhouse gas emissions of their operations.”Auto Rental News

It’s Official! At the start of 2018, an executive order was signed to have five million zero-emission vehicles on California roads by 2030.

California also recently passed a new bill (AB 5) that will change ridesharing, although in a less positive way than regulating pollution. The new bill will result in most rideshare drivers being classified as employees rather than contractors.

The downside of this? Rideshare driving will now become a job for most rideshare drivers, rather than a flexible way to make extra cash.

– Automation on the Roads in California

Ahead of the game! While most states only allow automatic vehicles to be tested, California is one of only 12 states that allows “full deployment” of automatic vehicles on its public roads.

Laws regarding autonomous vehicles in California – updated November 2018:

Autonomous Vehicle Laws in California 
Driving AllowedFull deployment
Operator License RequiredNot addressed
Operator Required to be in the VehicleNo
Liability Insurance Required$5,000,000

– Keep Right and Move Over Laws in California

On California roadways, motorists must keep right when they are driving slower than the “normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction” except when they are:

  • passing another vehicle
  • preparing to take a left turn

It’s important to note, in 2010 California passed a Move Over Law . . . which means you can’t always keep right.

“If you are driving down the freeway, and you see emergency lights on the side of the road, you must move over and pass, leaving an extra lane of clearance between you and the incident.” CBS 8

If you get a ticket for failing to move over, the penalty is one point on your record and a $150 fine.

Back to the Keep Right Law, the California DMV states:

“When you tow a vehicle or trailer or drive a bus or 3 or more axle truck, you must drive in the rightmost lane or in a lane specially marked for slower vehicles. If no lanes are marked and there are 4 lanes or more in your direction, you may only drive in either of the 2 lanes closest to the right edge of the road.”

– California’s Laws Against Driving Impaired

With nearly 30 percent of all the traffic deaths being caused by a driver impaired by alcohol, California is a top 15 worst state in the nation for drunk driving. Below are the laws and penalties in place.

DUI Laws in California 
Name for OffenseDriving Under the Influence (DUI)
BAC Limit.08
High BAC Limit.15 to .20+
Criminal StatusNon Injury DUI = Misdemeanor
4th+ DUI = Felony
Look Back Period10 years

Jargon Explained: the look-back or washout period is the amount of time an offense remains on your record. In regards to a DUI, California is one of the least forgiving states with this period lasting a decade – some states let you have a clean slate after only five years.

Here’s the break down for the first, second, third, and fourth DUIs in California:

DUI - 1st Offense 
License Revoked4 to 10 months
Jail Time96 hours to 6 months
Fine$390 to $3,600
Vehicle Impoundedup to 6 months
DUI Program3 months of Alcohol & Drug Education
Community ServiceDetermined in court
Mandatory Ignition
Interlock Device
Yes - in 4 counties
Required to get
License Reinstated
$125 fee
SR 22 insurance
Counselling
Probation3 to 5 years

DUI - 2nd Offense 
License Revoked2+ years
Jail Timeup to 1 year
Fineup to $4,000
Vehicle Impoundedup to 1 year
DUI Program12 hr Alcohol & Drug Education
1.5 year Multi-Offender Program
Community ServiceDetermined in court
Mandatory Ignition
Interlock Device
Yes - can't drive
anywhere without it
Required to get
License Reinstated
$125 fee
SR 22 insurance
52 hrs counselling
6 hrs Reentry Monitoring
12 mo Bi-Weekly Interviews
Probation3 to 5 years

DUI - 3rd Offense 
License Revoked3+ years
Jail Timeup to 16 months
Fineup to $18,000
Vehicle Impoundedup to 1 year
DUI Program12 hr Alcohol & Drug Education
2.5 year Multi-Offender Program
Community Serviceup to 300 hrs
Mandatory Ignition
Interlock Device
Yes - can't drive
anywhere without it
Required to get
License Reinstated
$125 fee
SR 22 insurance
Regular Interviews & Monitoring
78 hrs Counseling
Habitual Offender Status
Probation3 to 5 years

DUI - 4th Offense 
License Revoked4+ years
Possibly permanent
Jail Timeup to 16 months in state prison
Fineup to $18,000
Vehicle Impoundedup to 1 year
DUI Program12 hr Alcohol & Drug Education
2.5 year Multi-Offender Program
Community Serviceup to 300 hrs
Mandatory Ignition
Interlock Device
Yes - can't drive
anywhere without it
Required to get
License Reinstated
$125 fee
SR 22 insurance
Regular Interviews & Monitoring
78 hrs Counseling
Habitual Offender Status
Probation3 to 5 years

Ask yourself: Is having “one too many” worth risking the above penalties? We don’t think so!

So, we agree drinking and driving is a deadly combo with serious consequences, but marijuana is much safer and even legal in some states, right?

 On January 1, 2018 recreational use of marijuana became legal in the state of California, and it’s now home to the largest legal pot market in America.

But, there are strict laws that govern it, especially in regards to those operating heavy equipment such as motor vehicles.

You can’t smoke, vape or eat cannabis while sitting in a car, driving, or while riding in the passenger seat of a car. That also goes for a boat, aircraft and any other vehicle used for transportation. You can travel with cannabis in your vehicle, but it must be in a sealed container or in the trunk. It’s illegal to take it across state lines, even to another state where cannabis is legal.” Los Angeles Times

– Distracted Driving Laws in California

Crash data proves that driving distracted can be just as deadly as driving impaired.

California is one of 16 states where hand-held cellphone use while driving is illegal.

Here are the laws in California regarding phone use behind the wheel – updated November 2018:

Laws on Cellphones while Driving in CA 
Hand-held use bannedAll drivers
Primary Enforcement
All use bannedDrivers under 18
Secondary Enforcement
Texting bannedAll drivers
Primary Enforcement

Primary vs Secondary Laws in regards to police enforcement is explained here.

California takes cellphone use behind the wheel very seriously. In 2008, it was one of the first six states in the nation to adopt the texting ban.

California Can’t-Miss Facts

We have given you quite a bit of information in this California Auto Insurance Guide so far. Skimming through the above guide would allow you to have a good understanding of the laws surrounding car insurance in the Golden State.

So you know how car insurance works and the laws governing drivers, but do you know the risks involved with driving and owning a car in California?

As much as we want you to have insurance for when things go wrong, it’s more important to us that you know how to avoid having things go wrong in the first place.

The section below will give you quick, clear facts to help you know what dangers to look out for as a responsible car owner and operator in California

– Vehicle Theft in California

What car do you drive? Check out these stolen vehicles totals for 2015:

10 Most Stolen Vehicles in California  
Make & Model:Vehicle Year:Total Thefts:
Honda CR-V19992,033
Nissan Altima19972,281
Nissan Sentra19972,555
Toyota Corolla20143,339
Acura Integra19944,273
Ford Pickup20064,504
Toyota Camry19915,345
Chevrolet Pickup20066,048
Honda Civic199828,045
Honda Accord199628,345

Wow! That is a crazy jump from the third to second most-stolen car – 21,997 more! Beware Honda owners!

Most people think this stuff doesn’t happen where they live . . . hate to break it to you, but it does.

Here are the totals provided by the FBI for 2013:

10 Cities in California with the Most Vehicle TheftNumber of Stolen Vehicles:
Long Beach2,355
San Bernardino2,691
Sacramento2,861
Bakersfield2,937
Fresno4,057
San Francisco5,866
San Diego6,143
Oakland6,833
San Jose7,926
Los Angeles14,382

6,456 more cars stolen (in just one year) in Los Angeles than in the city with the second-most thefts.

– California’s Deadly Car Crash Statistics

Let’s dive right into an alarming Ten-Year Trend of Deaths resulting from car crashes on California roadways.

Road Type2008200920102011201220132014201520162017
Rural1,3241,3201,1621,1901,2001,2011,1701,4041,5931,404
Urban2,1101,7701,5581,6261,7661,9061,9311,9822,2442,195
Total3,4343,0902,7202,8162,9663,1073,1023,3873,8373,602

Big Question: “Where are these deadly crashes happening??”

Below are the ten cities in California with the highest death rates. The traffic death rate and total number of deaths in 2016 are listed for each city; data collected by the NHTSA:

City:Total Deaths:Death Rate (per 100k residents):
Riverside288.62
Modesto198.95
Santa Clarita179.34
Sacramento5010.1
Palmdale1710.8
Bakersfield4411.69
Pomona1912.46
San Bernardino2712.49
Stockton3912.7
Lancaster2716.86

And, here is a five-year trend for the ten counties in California with the most car crashes resulting in deaths:

County:20132014201520162017
Santa Clara95106133114105
San Joaquin938398119116
Fresno119117102150156
Sacramento123114139169172
Orange186173183204178
Kern131111138149182
San Diego198233246243231
San Bernardino262285260273271
Riverside228246242297294
Los Angeles625639651837658
10 County Total2,0602,1072,1922,5552,363
State Total3,1073,1023,3873,8373,602

Okay, we have covered the WHERE, now let’s move on to WHO.

What were these people doing when they were killed? Walking, riding a bike, travelling by car (and what type?), driving a motorcycle??

Here’s a five-year trend for California traffic deaths by who exactly was killed:

California Traffic Deaths by Person Type20132014201520162017
Motorcyclists463522494576529
Pedestrians734709819933858
Bicyclists147129136155124
Passenger Car Occupants1,0981,0661,1701,3571,269
Pick-up Truck Occupants239209294278279
Utility Truck Occupants241271288307336
Van Occupants6779888884
Large Truck Occupants3833324853
Bus Occupants11171203
State Total3,1073,1023,3873,8373,602

Now let’s answer another big question: “What types of crashes are killing all these people in California??”

Check out this very telling five-year trend for California’s traffic fatalities:

California Traffic Deaths by Crash Type20132014201520162017
Single Vehicle Crash1,9221,8611,9872,2732,067
Large Truck Involved259301305354361
Speeding Involved9929951,0321,1511,070
Rollover Involved697696770800796
Involving an Intersection7978118811,024927
Roadway Departure Involved1,4421,3741,5301,7541,588
State Total3,1073,1023,3873,8373,602

As you can, see motorists driving too fast is a huge problem in California.

Speeding has been the cause of over a thousand deaths in California for three consecutive years now.

Look below to see where specifically in California speeding is the biggest problem.

10 Counties in California with the Most Speeding Deaths20132014201520162017
Alameda3324272532
San Joaquin3626343635
Kern3227404945
Fresno2624224451
Sacramento4035425653
Orange6256515360
San Diego6771757678
Riverside6693879584
San Bernardino9290827288
Los Angeles245240231308214

Still not convinced speeding is a big deal? Well, it is! Don’t do it.

Shaving a few minutes off of your commute isn’t worth killing someone! 

Cold hard fact: in many parts of California, speeding claims more lives than drunk driving.

See for yourself. Compare the speeding death counts above with the drunk driving death counts below.

– Drunk Driving Deaths in California

Now that you know the DUI penalties in California including the fines and jail time, let’s look at the most serious consequence of driving drunk: death.

Check out this eye-opening trend for deaths caused by drivers impaired by alcohol in California:

10 Counties in California with the Most Drunk Driving Deaths20132014201520162017
Alameda2217202133
San Joaquin3425194338
Orange5141495547
Kern3433394048
Fresno3132293552
Sacramento4135475454
San Bernardino6789748076
San Diego5455718378
Riverside8171769295
Los Angeles187172149240192

Here’s a visual for how many lives speeding and drunk driving claimed in 2017 alone:

You can clearly see how deadly drunk driving is by the number of lives it claims each year, but are you aware of how early this treacherous behavior is starting?

There is no age when drunk driving is acceptable, but under age (illegal) drinking mixed with less experienced teen drivers is a downright horrifying combination.

Here’s some Under Age Drunk Driving stats for California in 2016:

Under Age Drinking & Driving in California  
Under 18 DUI Arrests:Under 18 DUI Arrest Rate:Under 21 Drunk Driving Death Rate:
4935.41.3

Note: The above drunk driving arrest rate is for every 100,000 residents under the age of 18, while the death rate listed is per 100,000 California residents of all ages.

– EMS Response Time in California

Enough morbid death talk. Time to move on to more encouraging statistics about California.

If you’re hurt in a car accident, the state is well equipped with medical teams to help!

Let’s see how fast California’s Emergency Medical Services are to arrive on the scene and get those who are wounded the help that they need.

EMS Response Time in California 
Time of Crash to EMS Notification5 minutes 5 seconds
Notification to EMS Arrival4 minutes 7 seconds
EMS Arrival to Hospital Arrival21 minutes 24 seconds
Time of Crash to Hospital Arrival35 minutes

Not bad! Only four minutes for help to arrive and just twenty for them to get you to the hospital.

The average EMS response times in California listed above were provided by the NHTSA for urban fatal car crashes in 2016.

– California Transportation

Ever wonder how many cars most Cali residents have in their driveways?

Interesting Fact: In California more families have three, four, or five plus cars to their name than the average U.S. family.

In 2016, 18.7 percent of California households had one car, 38.5 percent had two, and 22.2 percent had three. Check out this four-year trend comparing California to the U.S. average:

Overpopulation is a concern for California. A college student from Standford wrote:

“There are many reasons why Americans move to California: favorable weather and a leading culture of growth and advancement being a few of them. The lure of California has been so great that the state’s population has nearly doubled within the last 40 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The state grows at a rate of one person per minute, and is projected to be populated by 60 million people by 2050…”

What’s a major result of overcrowding? Traffic!

Drivers who commute in Los Angeles sit stuck in traffic for over 100 hours each year – more than any other city IN THE WORLD.

You can see in the below chart, for four consecutive years, California residents have had longer commute times than the average American.

For over 20 percent of California employees, it’s taking 45 to 90 minutes just to get to work! Some California workers are sitting in their cars for over three hours every weekday. That sounds insanely depressing.

Another interesting find: for four straight years now a higher percentage of the California workforce carpools than the national average.

Probably because sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for over an hour each day is less boring with a friend.

While we are on the topic of traffic, let’s look at what parts of California have it the worst.

– California Cities with the Most Traffic Congestion

It would be compelling enough to tell you the cities in California that have the most traffic. But, today you get one better. We’re going to expand that to see how traffic congestion in California cities compares to the rest of the world.

In 2017, INRIX (a team of traffic experts) performed the largest global traffic study in history, which analyzed congestion in over 1,360 cities in 38 counties. The findings were shocking for California.

Not just one, but two cities in California rank top five in the world for having the most traffic congestion! Commuters in these two cities, spend an average of 79 to 102 hours stuck in traffic each year.

Ranked first in 2017 for having the worst traffic in the world is Los Angeles, California. An award no city wants.

Let’s take a look at the five cities that fare the worst:

5 Cities in California with the Most Traffic CongestionAnnual Hours Stuck in Traffic:Portion of Commute Stuck in Traffic:
Santa Cruz3714%
Sacramento257%
San Diego4810%
San Francisco7912%
Los Angeles10212%

California has its lures, but free-flowing roads sure isn’t one of them.

Don’t wait a minute longer to protect what’s most important — start comparing car insurance today!

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