Most people consider car insurance research to be a dull and dense task but it is an extremely important chore. The mere task of getting a quote can throw an inquisitive shopper for a loop. Even after days of research, you likely will find yourself still asking, “so, exactly how much is car insurance in California?”
In this post, we break down some insurance basics, what makes California different, and what discounts you can take advantage of for some great savings.
Car Insurance Basics
Mandatory State-Required Coverage
There is a standard level of car insurance required by most states in the US. These plans give financial protection in the case of an accident and include the bare minimum required by the state. While state required coverage plans may cost less than other plans, it’s still important to research what exactly is covered. These plans can seem appealing with their lower costs but they can leave you open to major personal financial responsibility in an accident.
Here are all state-required coverages:
- Liability Coverage for Bodily Injury: This coverage helps with any costs connected with injuries or death caused by an auto accident.
- Liability Coverage for Property Damage: This coverage compensates others for harm that anyone driving your car causes to someone else’s car or property.
Frequently State-Required Coverage
Some states have more requirements than others in regards to necessary car insurance coverage. It’s important to know the differences in state-required coverage, as what may have covered you fully in one state might be illegal in another.
Here is coverage that is frequently required by states:
- Coverage for Medical Payments: This coverage gives restitution for medical costs for damage to you or any passengers. In addition to reimbursing injuries, it also helps to recuperate lost income and other expenses incurred.
- Coverage for Uninsured Motorists: This coverage kicks in when you get in an accident at the hands of an uninsured driver or when a driver flees the scene. In addition to the previously mentioned coverage, it also helps when the other driver doesn’t have the funds to pay all accident costs.
The state-required coverage helps cover the cost of harm caused to other vehicles but it does not assist with your own car’s damage. To prepare for these accidents, here’s additional options for car insurance:
- Collision Liability Coverage: Collision insurance coverage repays you for harm to your personal car that happens due to an accident with a different vehicle or object and you are the party at fault.
- Comprehensive Liability Coverage: This coverage is aptly named as it helps to protect against expenses associated with car theft or damage brought on by an something other than a collision.
- Glass Liability Coverage: This is a common optional coverage provided by some car insurance companies.
California Car Insurance Coverage
Now that we’ve highlighted the different standard coverage options, let’s learn more about the specifics of California car insurance.
According to the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles, this is the state-required liability insurance minimum:
- $15,000 for injury/death to one person
- $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person
- $5,000 for damage to property
This liability insurance reimburses someone other than the policy holder for a personal injury or damage to property. It’s important to note that comprehensive and collision insurance plans do not meet the vehicle financial responsibility requirements.
Other California Car Insurance Coverage Options
While the state of California only requires liability insurance, there are a number of additional options. Comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, rental car coverage, and towing and labor coverage.
While comprehensive and collision coverage is considered optional, many lending or leasing car companies will require that you purchase these coverage options.
California Car Quick Facts
As all states vary slightly in regards to car insurance regulation, but here are some California specifics:
- Electronic Insurance Cards: California allows the use of electronic insurance cards in place of a hard copy. Many insurance companies cater to this by utilizing a mobile application.
- Variation Across California Cities: California tops the list of states with the most stolen cars in America. This can affect car insurance rates as some cities have more car theft than others. It’s common for insurance to vary across cities and car types. For a list of the most stolen cars, head over here to see if your car type might raise your rates.
- Car Cell Phone Use Regulations: It’s illegal to use a cell phone if you are under 18 years old. If you are over 18, you may use a phone hands-free. As not all states have this law, ensure that you know the legislature as a ticket may cause your rates to increase.
- Credit Scores and Car Insurance: It is illegal to use a credit score in California to determine car insurance rates. Companies now heavily consider details like age, experience, car type, city, and car purpose.
Average California Car Insurance Cost
The average person in California is paying $164 monthly for car insurance. To learn more about your specific situation, the California Department of Insurance has a comparison tool which shows insurance premiums across providers.
Let's compare the cheapest car insurance rates in California cities for a 2017 Honda Accord for a 30-year old female who is renting an apartment with a clean driving record:
|City||Insurer||Cost Per Month|
|San Francisco||Century National||$31|
|San Diego||Century National||$22|
|San Jose||Century National||$25|
California Car Insurance Discounts & Benefits
The state of California has a few discount programs in place to help drivers to afford car insurance. Below are some car insurance discounts for California drivers:
- Good Driver Discount Policy: Due to Prop 103, California necessitates that insurance companies offer a 20% discount to good drivers.
- California's Low Cost Auto Insurance Program: The Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program (CLCA) is in place to help driver’s with a certain income to get car insurance at a reasonable price to fight the number of drivers lacking car insurance.
- California's Auto Claims Mediation Program: This program was put in place to help drivers settle disputes with their car insurance provider, depending on the issue at hand. This program offers drivers a free third party mediator.
- Automobile Assigned Risk Plan: The California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP) is a program that caters to drivers who have difficulty getting car insurance due to a lackluster driving record. The goal of CAARP is to help all drivers to get insurance.
While the search for car insurance is a daunting process, it’s important to stay informed to ensure your coverage matches your needs. Understanding the legal requirements from your state will help you determine your minimum coverage needs but you can add optional coverage to better protect yourself.Stay educated on potential discounts which can help bring your insurance premiums down, making your car insurance quest a success.
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