Cost of Car Insurance in California

The state of California follows a full-tort auto insurance model, which means that somebody has to be found at fault in an accident and pay for the damages and eventual bodily injuries.

Insurance requirements in California

The state of California requires its motorists to hold at least a 15/30/5 liability insurance policy:

  • $15,000 in bodily in bodily injury liability per injured passenger, up to $30,000 for the whole accident and
  • $5,000 in property damage liability.

If you are a driver in the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (AARP), then the minimum limits are of 10/20/3.

Experts recommend that you buy (a lot) more than the minimum state-mandated insurance package. With the cost of medical treatment going through the roof and cars not getting any cheaper, you can find that $15,000 in medical bills per injured passenger or $5,000 in property damage are way too little to cover your liabilities in a serious accident. You will be solely responsible to cover all expenses that go over the covered thresholds.

Average auto insurance premiums in California

As of October 2012, the average cost of insurance in California is of $1,401.24, which is considerably lower than the national mean figure of $1,725.34. Santa Rosa and Chula Vista are among the cheapest major cities to be insured in, with average premiums of $1,217 and $1,289, while the most expensive urban areas are Los Angeles and Glendale with $1,910 and $1,892. 90005 is the priciest ZIP code in Los Angeles, with an average cost of insurance of almost $2,500, while 93401, San Louis Obispo comes with quotes starting at $801 per year.

Factors that impact the cost of car insurance in California

Here are some of the main factors that influence how much you are going to spend on auto insurance if you are a Californian resident.

  • If your car is financed, then the lien holder will usually demand that you buy a collision policy, a comprehensive one and liability of at least 100/300/50. Requirements may vary from one lender to another.
  • Teenagers and very young drivers are charged a lot more than mature ones. Statistics show that kids are much more prone to reckless driving than drivers in their forties, so they are regarded as very risky drivers and billed accordingly.
  • Drivers with a poor record will always have to pay more than those who haven’t filed any claims and haven’t received any tickets in the last couple of years.
  • Married drivers pay less than single ones because, on average, they have proved to be better drivers. Similarly, women tend to be charged a bit less than men for the same reason.
  • Drivers with poor FICO scores are charged more. A score of 700+ usually puts you on the safe side and 650-700 is a gray area. Once you drop below 650, you might notice some significant surcharges because statistics have shown that drivers with a low score tend to file more claims and even attempt to commit insurance fraud.