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.

J.D. Power ranks Farmers Auto Insurance better than most for claims satisfaction — an important endorsement, considering that on-time and fairly-sized claim payouts are the ultimate goal of insurance. Besides that, Farmers has a great coverage selection. A few options, like new car replacement and custom parts coverage, we didn’t see among all our top picks. We also like the company’s accident forgiveness program, which “will forgive one at-fault accident for every three years you drive without one.”
But liability coverage levels come in threes — you’ll probably see something like 50/100/50 up to 250/500/250 in typical policies. You can think of these limits like: individual injuries / total injuries / property damage. Insurers are a little more technical, calling them bodily injury liability, total bodily injury liability and physical damage liability.

While the above is the lowest amount of insurance coverage you can have, you should consider adding more if you have more to lose. For example, we typically advise drivers to match their liability coverage to what they have in total assets. If you own a house in one of the most expensive zip codes in California, Atherton, and have sizable savings and investment accounts, we'd recommend you increase your liability limits and consider adding umbrella coverage on top. On the other hand, if you're a first-year student at UCLA, you may be fine with liability limits that are closer to the minimum.
To get the cheapest car insurance rates in San Francisco, start with Century National, GEICO, Nationwide, Grange and State Farm. In aggregate, these companies charge an average of $1,288 a year to insure a car in San Francisco - about 32% less than the city average. Overall, the Golden Gate City was the 55th most expensive city in California. With over 963 miles of public roads and the beautiful 49-Mile Scenic Drive, there is a lot of territory for San Fran’s 805,000 residents to drive.

Nick Dehn is a writer currently serving as a content specialist for Insurify. A seasoned writer, Nick has produced feature pieces, opinion editorials, and press releases for start-ups, small businesses, and local news publications. He now develops content full-time for Insurify, researching and writing data-driven studies and producing insights on the insurance industry. Nick is an alumnus of Williams College, where he graduated cum laude with a degree in English and Sociology. He hails from Wilton, CT but has recently set roots in Cambridge, MA. Nick enjoys exploring the greater Boston area, making stir-fry, and award-show prognosticating.
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
Allstate thrives when it comes to discounts for young drivers and students. The company’s Smart Student Discount will apply to anyone under the age of 25 who is either a full-time student with good grades, has completed the teenSMART driver education program, or attends a school within 100 miles of their home. Young drivers are typically the most expensive to insure; this unique discount can alleviate some of those costs.
It’s nearly impossible to predict the cost of insurance for anyone other than yourself. Premiums are based on factors specific to the driver, including age, vehicle, driving history, credit score, and even where you’ll be doing most of your driving. Every insurer weighs these factors differently, which means the only way to find the best price for your policy is to get quotes from multiple auto insurance companies.

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.

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What is most important to you? Cost or personal interaction and local expertise? If you have a budget, then a national and direct insurance company that does most of their business online will likely get you better rates. An agent-based insurer focuses on providing a more high-touch and local experience - helpful when submitting a claim, but costs can be higher.
Everquote also provided checkboxes to opt out of receiving calls and emails from agents. However, under the “Show My Quotes” button, the usual legal boilerplate informed me that by clicking the above button I was providing express written consent to be contacted by Everquote and a whole laundry list of insurance companies and partners, whether or not my phone number was on the Do Not Call list.

I was with Liberty Mutual for about 15 years and was very satisfied with their prices and service, although I never filed a claim. When I retired and moved from California to Florida, my auto rate went up a ridiculous amount, to almost $10,000 a year even though I had no accidents and one minor moving violation in the last ten years. On top of that, Liberty Mutual screwed up my umbrella policy and told me it was “unenforceable,” whatever that means, but I had to pay for the policy anyway up to the time I canceled and switched to Progressive, which cost about one third the cost of Liberty Mutual for an identical policy. Even good companies change over time.
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