Auto insurance rates in California are among the most expensive in the nation, with annual premiums of $1,665 per year on average. Additionally, auto coverage rates in the state have increased 13% from 2017 to 2019 across the 10 largest insurers. While some price hikes are unavoidable, the best way to get low rates is to shop around and compare quotes.
How it works: Once I launched the quoting tool for auto insurance, I was greeted by a large-print brag that “Drivers Pay As Low As $29.32/Month for Car Insurance.” When I began filling in my vehicle information, the site offered to save me time by looking up the information for me—a frightening reminder of how much of our personal information is available online. The contact information fields were accompanied by text stating that “we respect your privacy” and “NO SPAM, privacy guaranteed.”

Ameriprise was the winner of the J.D. Power study, scoring a 5/5 stars overall. They got top marks in their billing practices and in the flexibility of policies they offer to customers. They had slightly lower marks in their claims handling process (4/5) as well as their agents' interaction with customers. We could not get pricing for Ameriprise but the company is generally known for offering affordable and competitive rates.
If you are or were in the military, or if your spouse or parents were, you are eligible for USAA car insurance. USAA scores five out five stars across the board for customer satisfaction in California. Customers of the military company are apparently very satisfied with how they handle claims, interact with customers and the number of policies they offer.
Now as to Hartford, I have had them for years and claims for uninured motorist on my car ins and for storm damage on my roof due to large hail. Both claims settled satisfactorily. Cost to the company will never be recovered thru cost of my policies. Also policy cost is in line with other large companies but defiantly not cheap. I just received a quote from Liberty Mutual on my car insurance $400 less that Hartford. However the agent seemed reluctant to send me the quote via email. I thought this strange since I wanted to verify the coverage was he same as I have, he said I just reviewed the coverage (via phone call) to which I replied I didn’t record the conversation so please send me an email detailing the cost and coverage, He stated he would but that was a couple hours age and still haven’ heard back. Go figure.
If you have a significant amount of financial assets, or regularly engage in activities that could lead to a liability claim being made against you, then umbrella protection is the best benefit to add to your coverage. It steps in when claims and payouts under all your other coverages are used up, such as your car insurance policy's liability coverage, but you still have more damages to pay. While infrequent, car pile-ups or severe accidents resulting in death are the types of incidents that could get covered by your umbrella policy. It's just a few dollars more, but can get you up to millions more in necessary protection when there's a lot to lose.
Getting the best insurance for your car is about having the right kind of coverage with appropriate limits. If you’re looking for the cheapest rates and minimum liability coverage, the best car insurance company for you will be different than the best option for a driver that wants full coverage and top-rated customer service. We'll walk you through deciding which ones or what level of protection make the most sense for you.
The Zebra is another free auto insurance comparison website. The site’s name refers to its founders’ goal of presenting “insurance in black and white.” TheZebra.com has a few articles about choosing car insurance, a car insurance calculator, and some basic information about other types of insurance in addition to its quoting tool. It is rated 4.7 out of 5, and has 565 user reviews on ShopperApproved.

Car insurance rates vary greatly depending on age. Your risk profile as a driver will change throughout your life, so you may be eligible for discounts at some points in your life while other times you may see your car insurance premium increase. This is why you want to keep shopping for car insurance throughout your life so you ensure the best value.
Results: Compare produced seven quotes ranging from $148 per month to $329 per month. The quotes were all from fairly obscure companies; I didn’t see any of the big-name providers. The site allowed me to customize coverage, but only by going back to the coverage selection part of the process—meaning that I had to wait for the quotes to re-load each time. It also didn’t allow as many customization options as Insurify. Only one of the quotes permitted online checkout; all the others required speaking on the phone with an agent. I did like that the quotes all let you choose between a pay-as-you-go policy (with a down payment) or a pay upfront policy (at a slight discount).
{"id":4,"isAgeFieldVisible":true,"isInsuranceTypeFieldVisible":false,"isInsuredStatusFieldVisible":true,"customEventLabel":"","defaultZip":"","defaultProduct":"auto","quoteWizardEndpoint":"https:\/\/quotes.valuepenguin.com","trackingKey":"_best-cheap-car-insurance-california","title":"Find the Cheapest Auto Insurance Quotes in Your Area","vendor":"vp"}
Getting the best insurance for your car is about having the right kind of coverage with appropriate limits. If you’re looking for the cheapest rates and minimum liability coverage, the best car insurance company for you will be different than the best option for a driver that wants full coverage and top-rated customer service. We'll walk you through deciding which ones or what level of protection make the most sense for you.
[1] Availability varies. Enrollment discount applies during data collection; final discount is calculated on driving behavior and could be zero. Discounts do not apply to all coverage elements; actual savings vary by state, coverage selections, rating factors and policy changes. Final discount applies at the next policy renewal and remains until drivers or vehicles on the policy change.

If you are or were in the military, or if your spouse or parents were, you are eligible for USAA car insurance. USAA scores five out five stars across the board for customer satisfaction in California. Customers of the military company are apparently very satisfied with how they handle claims, interact with customers and the number of policies they offer.
We first looked for companies that received an "A-" or better (“strong”) from A.M. Best, a rating agency specifically focused on the insurance industry. Then, because the III recommends getting ratings from more than one agency, the best needed to earn at least an "AA-" (“very strong”) from S&P Global or an "Aa3" (“excellent”) or higher from Moody’s.

There are two types of insurance comparison websites: quote comparison sites and lead generation sites. Auto quote comparison websites present users with rates based on information submitted during the shopping experience. You can then decide which quote to pursue, and the data you entered is transferred to the agent or company website, greatly shortening the purchasing process. These sites do not sell your information to insurance carriers or agencies.


Shopping for car insurance? You've come to the right place! State Farm keeps you and your family covered with great auto insurance that's also a great value. Get an online auto insurance quote, or find a car insurance agent or representative, any time, day or night. Either way, you'll learn how competitively priced auto insurance from the industry leader can be.
Liability auto insurance protects you from that worst case scenario by providing a cushion between your assets and the amount you’re on the hook for. For this reason, choosing the right auto liability limits is the most important part of your car insurance quote comparison. NerdWallet typically recommends having at least as much liability coverage as your net worth.
Also, we accept most cars and drivers. (Yes, that means you too!) We offer free auto insurance quotes for drivers that have had a history of driving violations or accidents (in most cases considered high-risk drivers), have let their insurance expire, or have less than perfect credit. We always offer the same flexible rate plans and outstanding customer service, regardless of your driving record.

If you have an anti-theft device, Progressive offers a discount for that too. The company also offers pet injury coverage — which is included with collision and comes standard in most states. However, Progressive’s scores across the board were only average, and we couldn’t justify recommending it over our top picks. Also, its mobile app ratings average out to just under 3 out of 5 stars.


Products underwritten by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Affiliated Companies. Not all Nationwide affiliated companies are mutual companies, and not all Nationwide members are insured by a mutual company. Subject to underwriting guidelines, review, and approval. Products and discounts not available to all persons in all states. Nationwide Investment Services Corporation, member FINRA. Home Office: One Nationwide Plaza, Columbus, OH. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and other marks displayed on this page are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, unless otherwise disclosed. © 2019 Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.
Farmers Insurance fell just shy of the benchmark we set for financial stability. It took earned an “A” from A.M. Best (passing), and an “A” from S&P Global (two steps below the required “AA-”). These scores mean that Farmers has strong financials, and offers solid backing for your policy — it’s just a little less likely to weather a major financial crisis than other companies. This is why, like Liberty Mutual, we don’t rank it among the best of the best.
Results: After working my way through the DMV.org quoting process, I discovered that they don’t actually provide car insurance quotes. Instead, they just provide you with links to other websites where you can get a quote. In my case, it gave me exactly two links: to Esurance and Allstate. Clicking a link to go to one of these websites required me to start all over with the quoting process, leaving me wondering why I’d bothered with DMV.org in the first place.
Each insurance company evaluates personal factors in its own way, and they keep their methods as hidden as possible. So we can’t tell you which company puts high value in your occupation or emphasizes a clean driving history more than others. But to help you get going, we can show you a car insurance rate comparison for the same hypothetical driver and car, using average rates from across the country.
Auto insurance is financial protection, and not just for the investment you made when you bought your car. After a really serious accident, bills for damage and injuries can easily reach into hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you happen to cause such a wreck, the victims could sue you. In the worst case scenario, assets such as your savings and home could be seized.
You’ll notice that none of that liability coverage pays for your car or injuries, nor for any injuries your passengers sustain if you cause a wreck. This is why many people — particularly those whose car isn’t yet paid off — want “full coverage” car insurance. This isn’t actually a type of coverage, but instead typically refers to policies that include liability coverage, plus comprehensive and collision coverages.

Our pick for the best car insurer for members of the military is undoubtedly the United States Automobile Association (USAA). Time and time again, USAA and its affiliates have the cheapest rates we've seen in our rate studies. Policyholders must be either active or retired members of the military (coverage is extended to family members too). In addition to affordable rates and great coverage, the USAA offers additional military-specific discounts. For example, armed force members who garage their cars on a military base can save up to 15% on their comprehensive coverage. The best benefit, however, is the network of community support and forums that USAA hosts on their website to support spouses and veterans. Members also have access to experts with experience in navigating and advising financial considerations of military members. Customers consistently rave about the excellent customer service and claims fulfillment they receive from representatives, and the company continues to win awards from industry associations such as JD Powers.
Nationwide pulls lower customer ratings than our top picks. The company scored an 88 from Consumer Reports (putting it in 22nd place out of 27 companies), and an “average” rating from J.D. Power. In other words, Nationwide doesn’t knock it out of the park for either customer service or claims process — which are both crucial for a great insurer. It also missed our financial stability benchmark by a hair, with S&P Global and Moody’s ratings just below the “very strong” or “excellent” benchmarks that we look for.
Basically, collision coverage covers damages after your car crashes into something - such as a car or stationary object. Comprehensive (also known as OTC) coverage is everything else: Mother Nature, and acts of God, to thefts and vandalism (more info). Comprehensive and collision get bundled together, and pay for repairs or replacements up to the car’s current cash value (car's market value - salvage value).
Whether this coverage is right for you depends on the value of your car and where you live. If you have a new car and live in an area with lots of storms and a large deer population, you should likely get comprehensive and collision coverage. If you have an old car, however, the current cash value your policy pays might not be worth the cost of the premiums and deductible for the coverage. It's generally not cost-effective when the current cash value of your car is less than $3,000. Weigh the annual out-of-pocket cost to you (both premiums and deductible) against the current cash value to see if it makes sense.
As we mention above, Nationwide was the best company in California for cheap car insurance. The large auto insurer even bested typically cheap insurers like GEICO and Progressive. In most cities that we surveyed in the Golden State, Nationwide was the go-to local company for low cost rates. In terms of the company's customer satisfaction however, Nationwide is only mediocre according to the J.D. Power auto insurance study of California. Nationwide scored mostly 3/5 stars in most categories including interaction with agents, and their method of billing. They did score 4/5 stars however when it came to the claims handling process

You’ll notice that none of that liability coverage pays for your car or injuries, nor for any injuries your passengers sustain if you cause a wreck. This is why many people — particularly those whose car isn’t yet paid off — want “full coverage” car insurance. This isn’t actually a type of coverage, but instead typically refers to policies that include liability coverage, plus comprehensive and collision coverages.

Nationwide’s coverage selection is more or less on par with companies like Progressive, Allstate, and GEICO. It includes all the core coverage options — from liability to uninsured motorist — as well as some add-ons that may be hard to find elsewhere, like GAP insurance, rideshare coverage, and accident forgiveness. Like other top companies, Nationwide also offers plenty of discounts. Customers can save by bundling home and auto insurance, installing safety devices on their car, taking a defensive driving course, staying accident free, and more.


[1] Availability varies. Enrollment discount applies during data collection; final discount is calculated on driving behavior and could be zero. Discounts do not apply to all coverage elements; actual savings vary by state, coverage selections, rating factors and policy changes. Final discount applies at the next policy renewal and remains until drivers or vehicles on the policy change.
Liability insurance covers you if you’re in an accident deemed to be your fault. It will cover repairs to damaged property, as well as medical bills resulting from injury to the other driver and his or her passengers. Most states require at least a minimum amount of liability insurance, but it’s a good idea to purchase extra protection if you can afford it.
Comprehensive covers theft or damage caused by something other than a collision with another car or object. This includes vandalism, natural disasters, and damage caused by animals. If you live in an earthquake-prone region or one with high deer populations, comprehensive coverage will protect against those environmental factors beyond your control.
Yes, we offer a discount to customers who pay in full in most states. Where applicable, discounts are offered to customers who pay their auto insurance policies in full for both 12-month and 6-month policies. In addition, some states offer discounts when choosing to pay quarterly. No matter what you decide, you can have faith you’re getting cheap car insurance that’s worry-free.
[1] Availability varies. Enrollment discount applies during data collection; final discount is calculated on driving behavior and could be zero. Discounts do not apply to all coverage elements; actual savings vary by state, coverage selections, rating factors and policy changes. Final discount applies at the next policy renewal and remains until drivers or vehicles on the policy change.

So how much liability coverage should you get? We recommend purchasing as much protection as you can afford and reasonably covers your exposure if you're at-fault in a collision. For reference, the average auto bodily injury liability claim is over $15,000, and the average auto property damage liability claim is over $3,000. But the severity, or size, of a claim will vary significantly. If the driver or passenger in another vehicle was killed, for instance, the costs could easily exceed $100,000, as fatal claims are some of the most expensive. Or if the other vehicle was very expensive, such as a Mercedes, you will face much higher property damage costs as opposed to an accident with a cheaper vehicle.
Using complaint and exposure data from the California Department of Insurance, we calculated the justified complaint ratio for auto insurance companies in California. We've listed them from the best (lowest complaint index) to the worst (highest complaint index). If a company has an index of 1.05, then that means it has a 5% higher share of complaints compared to its share of underwriting exposure.
Auto Insurance is required by law for drivers in most states. Drivers who own a car and drive it often should definitely have auto insurance to cover the risk of damages to their car and personal injury and the liability of harm to other people and property. Otherwise, repairs and medical costs, particularly when you’re liable for an accident, can be very expensive.
J.D. Power and Consumer Reports give American Family strong ratings for customer service and claims: two factors that are incredibly important when it comes to insurance. But where AmFam really sets itself apart is in the discount department. The company offers generous savings opportunities for almost any driver — from price cuts for safe drivers, good students, and families, to discounts for vehicle safety features, policy bundling, paperless billing, and more. If AmFam is available in your area, try getting a quote to see whether these discounts can help you save on car insurance.
×