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Last updated: November 17, 2016 at 14:39 pm

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Car Insurance In California

California sign post

Like almost every other state in the United States, California requires every driver to be insured. You are required to be insured when you drive your own car, when someone else drives your car with your permission, and when you drive someone else’s car.

California even requires you to carry insurance on non-operational vehicles registered in your name—because you never know when that car you have had in the garage for the last five years is suddenly going to spring to life and cause an accident.

California requires insurance on cars, trucks, motorcycles, and any other vehicle that is powered by an engine. And it requires insurance coverage of residents, tourists, and people who are just thinking about making a move.

Do I Need to Have Car Insurance in California?

The State of California allows new residents 20 days to get their acts together to buy car insurance from a broker licensed by the California Department of Insurance. Any insurance company linked to this site is licensed by the State of California, but if you need to check out another company, you can call the Department of Insurance at 1-800-927-HELP.

If you are just visiting California for less than six months, then the policy you buy in your home state will do, as long as it provides at least 30/15/5 coverage ($15,000 for a single death or injury, $30,000 for death or injury to more than one person, and $5,000 for property damage).

Almost all auto liability policies afford this much protection, but if you are not sure that your policy does, call your agent before you drive in California.

Common California FAQs

What Happens If I Don’t Have Auto Insurance While Driving in California?

The penalties for driving without insurance in California are stiff. You will be fined at least $100 and possibly as much as $200 for the first offense, and $200 up to $500 for each subsequent offense in the next three years.

If your drivers license was issued by the State of California, you are likely to lose it for six months, and your California car registration will be canceled. Dont try to pass off an old proof of insurance card as current. The DMV is notified whenever policies are canceled.

And that’s not the worst of it…

States fall into two general categories for driver responsibility for damages caused by a car crash. Some states are no-fault states. That means that neither driver involved in a crash is treated as being at fault for a wreck.

California, however, is a tort state. This means that you can be taken to court to be sued by for causing an accident, and whether or not you caused the accident is something that is determined during the trial, not before it. There are no legal limits to how much you can owe if you lose the trial, or if you don’t have enough money to hire an attorney to represent you at trial.

Even if you were not in the wrong and you win your trial, you are still likely to have to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses. If you maintain your California auto liability insurance, however, your insurance company will defend you—at least within the limits of your policy.

Full Coverage Auto Insurance in California

If you operate a vehicle in California you mush carry at least the following coverage:

Getting a full coverage car insurance quote

Insurantly partners with 27 of the largest insurance companies including those who provide discounted rates in California. It is not always necessary to carry full coverage otherwise known as comprehensive coverage. It really depends on your vehicle and your needs. Read Insurantly’s Full coverage page here to learn more.

High Risk Car Insurance for California

Insurantly goes into detail about high risk auto insurance but for California specifically its not much different than any other state. If you are paying higher rates you likely have had some infractions on your driving record that caused your current insurance company to grade you as higher risk to insure.

The question is what are your options?

Some of the larger companies just do not price high risk drivers well. Therefore depending on who your policy is with it could benefit you to compare California auto insurance rates.

Again there are many factors; age, type of vehicle, how much you drive, whether you have a garage, and especially in California the rate can be heavily influenced by the zip code you live in.

Compare Multiple Car Insurance Quotes For California

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Online auto insurance quotes Comparison for California

If you are ready to compare auto insurance rates in California Insurantly can assist. We give you several options that most car insurance comparison website neglect.

  1. Most people today have a mobile device. Sometimes filling out forms on a website is kind of a pain. Regardless, with Insurantly you can go through out step process and obtain a quote,
  2. Pick from a list of qualified car insurance companies competing in your zip code,
  3. or Call to get a car insurance quote. 3 minutes could save you $100’s.

Saving Money on California Auto Insurance

Tips: Find an agent who may be able to bundle home or renters insurance with your car insurance. This could save you a few hundred dollars per year… One of the best ways to save money on your California auto insurance premiums is to be a safe driver. If you don’t have a record of crashes or claims, you will be rewarded with lower insurance rates.

If you have decided to change insurance providers you may want a refresher on how to compare companies. Let Insurantly help you compare car insurance online.

California low cost auto insurance

California is unique in that they have a low cost auto insurance program offered to California residents. explains “California Law requires that all drivers of vehicles within the State maintain evidence of financial responsibility.

California’s Low Cost Automobile Program (CLCA) was established by the Legislature in 1999 as a program designed to provide income eligible persons with liability insurance protection at affordable rates as a way to meet California’s financial responsibility laws.” Visit for program specifics.

It usually also helps to buy all of your liability insurance from the same company. Choosing the same insurer for both home and auto insurance sometimes saves you up to 30% on both policies.

And, finally, as previously mentioned it will help to drive safe and responsibly. Also to consider: the type of car you have and importantly its safety ratings, and the cost to replace its parts. So you need to ask yourself if you are having trouble affording your current car insurance if it is worth driving the car you have? That could be the reason your cost is so high.

Car Insurance in Popular California Cities

Cheapest auto insurance in California

To get cheap auto insurance in California you first must understand the following about liability coverage:

  • $15,000 for injury/death to one person
  • $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person
  • $5,000 for damage to property

Many California car insurance companies will offer cheap rates but you need to prove you are responsible as well. How is your driving record? Some things to keep in mind:

  • You should have proven good driving habits;
  • Not own a vehicle that is commonly known to be stolen or vandalized. Insurance companies have lists of vehicles that are prone to this.
  • Be over 25 years of age. Males under 25 unfortunately pay higher rates as a high risk driver. Females are still at risk but tend to pay lower rates.

If you are over 25 with a proven clean driving record consider shopping around Online and compare California car insurance companies.

What is cheap really anyway? Cheap could mean that you get the same or better coverage levels you currently have for a lower price. Make sure that when you compare rates that you compare apples to apples.

California car insurance discounts

Prop 103 in California brought about more auto insurance discount opportunities for drivers with clean and good driving records. California law now requires auto insurance companies to offer a 20% discount to good drivers.

How do I qualify for the California good driver discount?

    • You have had your drivers license for over 3 years
    • During these 3 years you have not:
  1. Obtained more than one point from traffic or various driver violations,
  2. had to take traffic school course due to multiple traffic violations,
  3. been at fault during a auto accident that resulted in serious injuries including death

Is my credit score a factor with Car insurance rates in California?

When California approved Prop 103 it made it illegal for California auto insurance insurance companies to use your credit scores as a factor in determining the rate of your car insurance premium. However, other factors may influence costs:

These may include:

  • Your driving record
  • Your age
  • Where you live
  • The make/model of your car
  • The purpose for driving your car
  • How many miles you drive per day

How you can find cheap car insurance estimates in California?

The process of finding cheap insurance estimates in California is no different than in other states. You should turn to the Internet since it is more convenient and quick. It will not also give you a rough idea of how much you will have to spend, you also can use your research to negotiate for lower rates with the insurance company of your choice.

Use the simple formula of compare-negotiate but you should give yourself time to do this by planning weeks ahead of the expiration of your current auto insurance. If you are planning to buy a new car on a loan, you have no choice but to follow the dealer’s insurance requirements and even sign up with their designated preferred insurance company.

Moreover, you need to be upfront with your driving record. At the end of the day, the insurance companies will find out and adjust the rates if there has been a problem in the past. By being upfront, you have the slight chance of gaining their trust.

What are the average car insurance rates California?
California Auto insurance does differ depending on your zip code. On the other hand, this is not an all-encompassing general statement because even within the same zip code, there are variances in rates.

In California the 2012 average insurance rate for a year among the top 6 insurance carriers is approximately $1,428. The national average is about $1,277. That being said, it is possible to get auto insurance in California for less than $960 if you shop around and have a good driver’s record.

The reason California has a high average rate is because it is one of the prime cities in the country. The cost of living in this state is higher than in Ohio where the average insurance rate is 50% cheaper. The easiest way to determine your auto insurance rate is by going online and inputting your zip code in the quick estimate button most insurance companies have on their website.

How can I get state-sponsored car insurance in California?
Only low-income drivers are qualified to avail of state-sponsored car insurance, and they have to be legitimate residents of California. As you may know there are strict requirements to qualify such as:
1.    Financial eligibility rule which requires an annual income of $38,000 or lower for an family of 3
2.    Minimum liability coverage of $10,000 for body injuries for one person
3.    Own a vehicle valued less the $20,000
4.    Good driving history

To apply here are the steps to follow:
1.    Send an email to requesting for the forms or
2.    Go to to find out if you qualify. There is an online questionnaire you can answer
3.    There is a link on this website that will help you get started and apply for the insurance
With this type of insurance, you have the comfort of knowing you’re covered against uninsured drivers and being low-priced should give you less to stress about.

How many years will my car insurance rate go up in California after a DUI?
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) penalties and consequences differ per state. In California, you will see an increase that will stay for at least 3 years.

It can stay up longer or increase if there are other tickets or citations within the 3 year period.  If this happens, the increase will continue for 5 years minimum. Definitely, you will not be able to get a safe-driver’s discount for at least 10 years starting from the date of your most recent DUI.

The insurance company will be required to issue an SR-22 if your license was suspended because of DUI. This is a certificate that is required by the state indicating your financial responsibility because of a DUI and/or any other driving offenses.

Your insurance company must sign the SR-22 and certify that you have the minimum coverage before the suspension of your license is removed. The SR-22 must be carried with you whenever you drive during the period of 3 years or more, as stated earlier.

What does California’s car insurance liability cover?
California’s car liability insurance is a responsibility every car owner and driver must have. It is part of the Financial Responsibility clause of every car owner under Section 16451 of the DMV’s Vehicle Code.

The minimum coverage for liability insurance in California is:
•    Bodily Injuries – $15,000 for one incident or one person; $30,000 for all persons in one accident
•    Property Damage – $5,000 for one accident

Under the California law, it is possible to self-insure which means you don’t get an insurance policy and pay monthly premiums. Instead, you put up a cash bond to be paid to the DMV worth $35,000. There are also other ways to comply with the Financial Responsibility clause such as a $35,000 surety bond and a 25-vehicle fleet self-insurance certificate.

Thus, if you get involved in an accident, your minimum car insurance will cover Bodily Injury of up to $15,000 for one person or $30,000 for more than one. The insurance company will pay up to $5,000 for property damage. If the costs are more, then you will have to shoulder the difference. That is, unless you bought a comprehensive auto insurance plan.

What is the penalty for driving a car that has no insurance and is not oped in California?
A new traffic law was passed recently penalizing drivers who do not have auto insurance in California. The fine for breaking this law is $796.

Aside from the fine, the car owner may have his or her license suspended. Keep in mind that the penalty will be charged to the car owner who not necessarily is the driver at the time the car was asked to pull over or an accident occurred. The driver’s responsibility would be not checking that the car is properly insured and thus, his or her license may also be suspended.

Under this new legislation, the insurance papers can be requested by a law enforcer under the following circumstances:
•    An accident
•    An inspection
•    Car registration renewal

If you just renewed your insurance and you do not have the paper, you have 2 choices. You can either wait for the insurance policy to be delivered to you before driving the car or you request your insurance carrier to provide you with a temporary binder.

Can a person get liability insurance to drive on a car they don\’t own in California?
If you plan on renting a car while in California, you need liability insurance. Not all car rental companies specify this in their lease contract. You have to ask them for a breakdown of insurance coverage since it is illegal to drive without liability insurance, and California is very strict about this.

If you plan on being a passenger on someone else’s car as in car pooling, you may get liability insurance but inform the insurance company about your situation. The last thing you need is to get surprised after-the-fact when making a claim that what you were paying for doesn’t apply. There are insurance policies called Non-Car Owner which is for the passenger, not the car.

This is a plan only available for non-car owners who drive cars.  There is no standard rate for this plan so you need to shop around for the best price. As with all policies, your history with insurance claims, past driver’s records, and other personal information will be requested from you by the insurance agent.  You might also want to look into short-term auto insurance.

How much does car insurance go up after a speeding ticket in California?
If you get a speeding ticket in California, your insurance rates will increase for most cases. However, it is not easy to provide an exact figure on how much the increase will be or if you can even get away with a slap on the wrist and warning from the insurance provider.

Your driving history will be reviewed and the traffic citation on speeding. For instance, you could be speeding by just 10 miles over the limit in which case, most insurance companies will disregard the violation. If it happens again, then the insurance company will apply an increase.

The safe estimate on how much the increase will be is about 25% minimum of what you are now paying. However, if the speeding case is serious, the insurance company may choose not to renew your policy when it expires.  If this happens, you will definitely have to pay higher with the new insurance company because there will be a note about the speeding in your record.

How much is car insurance for an 18 year old California?

Like all other states, car insurance for an 18-year old in California is higher than for an experienced drivers. At 18 years of age you are still considered at risk by most car insurance companies and therefore will pay higher rates. Statistics have always shown that younger drivers will get into accidents and obtain traffic tickets.

Based on these factors, the average cost for car insurance for 18-year old drivers living in California could be $175 to $250 a month. This is based on an insurance policy that is in your name, not your parents.

If you want a lower rate, you could ask your parents or guardian to help you provided they have a decent driving record.

Owning car insurance in California is part of the prerequisites to driving a car in the state. It is covered under a car owner’s financial responsibility. If you are pulled over and cannot show proof of auto insurance, you will get a ticket. And that’s not the end of it. The worst that could happen is your driver’s license is suspended and severe fines.

Traffic safety Courses in California to reduce your insurance rate

A great way to reduce auto insurance premiums in California for young drivers is to take steps to improve your driving skills. When insurance companies know you have taken the responsibility to learn safe driving behaviors most will offer some sort of discount. Fewer claims means less risk to insure which means a lower rate.

Look for approved driver training courses.