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Fortunly's Guide

Best Car Insurance in California for 2021

By
G. Dautovic

October 20,2021


California’s roads are packed with 27 million licensed drivers, and the state has the second-highest number of deadly car accidents in the country. These disturbing statistics are coupled with high theft rates in many of the state’s urban areas, which is why it’s important to have the best car insurance in California.

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4 Best Car Insurers in California

Esurance Logo
Esurance
Our Rating
4.5 stars
Overview

Esurance is one of the most popular car insurance companies on the market and the safest choice on our list. For many of its customers, it’s the very best car insurance company in southern California. It offers affordable pricing to drivers with a clean record and has powerful web-based tools as well as a robust mobile app. You can purchase and customize your insurance policy online without having to visit the company's offices or talk to an agent.

Read Full Review
Coverage: Excellent
Pricing & Discounts: Excellent
Add-ons: Excellent
Customer Satisfaction: Good

AVERAGE MONTHLY PREMIUM:

$242.13

Get a Quote
State Farm Logo
State Farm
Our Rating
4 stars
Overview

State Farm is the largest car insurer in the US, serving millions of drivers across the country. It’s one of the few companies that offer rideshare insurance, and it has a rich selection of discount options.

Read Full Review
Coverage: Excellent
Pricing & Discounts: Very Good
Add-ons: Excellent
Customer Satisfaction: Very Good

AVERAGE MONTHLY PREMIUM:

$108.33

Get a Quote
National General Logo
National General
Our Rating
4 stars
Overview

National General Insurance focuses on providing quality coverage to high-risk drivers. While these drivers would otherwise be stuck with astronomical premiums, NGI offers an affordable solution to those with recent violations or accidents on their record.

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Coverage: Excellent
Pricing & Discounts: Very Good
Add-ons: Excellent
Customer Satisfaction: Good

AVERAGE MONTHLY PREMIUM:

$102.71

Get a Quote
The Hartford Logo
The Hartford
Our Rating
4.5 stars
Overview

The Hartford is commonly found on lists that feature the top 10 best car insurance companies in California thanks to its low fees and impressive features. However, its policy discounts are reserved exclusively for AARP members, and its pricing is tailored to senior drivers. Younger drivers might find the premiums too costly.

Read Full Review
Coverage: Excellent
Pricing & Discounts: Very Good
Add-ons: Excellent
Customer Satisfaction: Very Good

AVERAGE MONTHLY PREMIUM:

$116

Get a Quote
Evaluation Criteria

Our Methodology for Reviewing the Best Car Insurance in California

Before you start searching for the right California auto insurance provider, it’s crucial that you familiarize yourself with terms like liability coverage, deductibles, and the different pricing tiers. All this can get very confusing even for experienced drivers, let alone for someone who just got their first set of wheels.

Our evaluation methodology enables us to thoroughly assess and rate different auto insurance providers in an unbiased manner. So when you’re driving down that dark road in search of the best car insurance companies in California, follow our tail lights and we’ll guide you to your destination.

Mandatory Coverage

There are only two states where you aren’t legally required to have car insurance, and California is not one of them. Failure to insure your vehicle can result in fines or even jail time. The main purpose of insurance is to provide financial coverage for any injuries or damages caused by you or other drivers.

Mandatory car insurance requirements vary by state, and the CA auto insurance requirements are listed below. Naturally, the best-rated car insurance companies in California offer this type of coverage.

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: minimum of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability coverage: minimum of $5,000
  • Uninsured motorist property damage coverage: minimum of $3,500
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage: minimum of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident

In our reviews, we examine mandatory coverage options that the companies offer. We compare the quality of coverage and evaluate other important metrics such as pricing and additional features.

Optional Coverage

You won’t find the best car insurance company in California by searching for providers that offer the minimum mandatory coverage at the lowest rate. While the price is important when choosing a car insurance company, especially for low-income individuals, optimal coverage is usually what separates the best providers from the competition.

The mandatory or minimum coverage is the level of insurance you’re obliged to have by law. But that’s usually not sufficient; it can leave you with high accident bills. The best car insurance providers in California should offer various optimal coverage options, roadside assistance, and rental expenses. You might be tempted to choose the cheapest option, but keep in mind that accidents can end up costing more than higher premiums.

High-Risk Driver Fees

So, what is the best car insurance in California? That largely depends on your record. Premiums are calculated by determining whether an individual is a low-risk or a high-risk driver.

When you’re searching for the best-priced car insurance in California, the key is to identify companies that offer the most affordable options for your risk level. Experienced, older drivers with no previous accidents, DUIs, or tickets are considered lower risks, and therefore they pay lower premiums and get various discounts.

High-risk drivers are those with speeding tickets, DUI convictions, or at-fault accidents. Drivers under the age of 30 are also considered high risks due to their lack of experience behind the wheel.

Low-risk drivers will have a much easier time getting the best car insurance deal in California because they qualify for much lower premiums. That doesn’t mean that high-risk drivers can’t find affordable insurance. In our reviews, we include the best options for younger drivers and those with imperfect driving records.

Pricing

Arguably the most important aspect of any purchasing decision is the price. Choosing policies from car insurance companies in California is no different. Prices for car insurance can go from a few hundred dollars to several thousand per year – a considerable cost not to be taken lightly. Therefore, we rely on the price to make a distinction between different car insurance companies.

One of the main purposes of this article is to bring you the best rates for car insurance in California. While the cost of insurance is crucial, we also analyze other important features mentioned in our methodology.

Additionally, many car insurers offer a variety of discounts if you fulfill certain prerequisites. The most commonly found discounts are for drivers with clean records. Some companies also include discounts for multiple policies, homeowners, and students with good grades. The general rule is the more discounts, the better, as drivers from different walks of life get a shot at smaller premiums.

Additional Features

In addition to identifying the best car insurance rates in California, we search for any additional incentives or services that companies offer. These can include additional coverage options, discounts for other services, and useful mobile app functionalities.

Customer Satisfaction

Last but not least, we examine the level of customer satisfaction. Many CA auto insurance companies may look great on paper but disappoint customers when resolving claims.

Quick Breakdown

4 Best Car Insurance Companies in California for 2021:

Best Insurance Companies in California for Drivers: Reviews

Esurance Review
Esurance Review Logo Get a Quote

On Official Website

Average monthly premium:
$242.13
Discounts and bundles:
Yes
Online application:
Yes
Financial strength:
A+ (A.M. Best)
  • Great for web-savvy users
  • Powerful mobile app
  • 13 discounts to choose from

Esurance is owned by Allstate - “the good hands people” - an established institution that has sold auto insurance to American drivers since 1967. Unlike Allstate, which relies on dedicated agents, Esurance is one of the best auto insurance options in California for those who prefer to handle their policies online.

Coverage

Esurance’s main selling point is the number of options that it offers through its web platform and mobile app. You can handle everything related to car insurance online without once setting foot inside an office. If you’re a driver with a penchant for doing business online, Esurance is probably the best car insurance option in California. 

Esurance allows you to select the type of coverage you want. You can get a personalized quote for different coverage options by answering a series of questions and providing personal details and vehicle information. The company has three main coverage plans for automobile insurance in California: minimum, economy, and standard. The cheapest coverage includes bodily injury, property damage, and permissive user liability buy-back.

The economy plan adds uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage. But if you’re looking for the best car insurance in southern California, you should go with the priciest plan, standard, which includes collision coverage as well as medical and funeral service payments. Of course, the pricier the plan, the higher the coverage limits.

Coverage add-ons include towing and roadside assistance, rental reimbursement, gap coverage for leased vehicles, and insurance for custom parts and equipment.

Pricing

To assess price levels, we looked at the fees Esurance charges a 30-year-old driver with a good driver discount.

The minimum coverage sets you back $100.96 per month or $576 for six months. The bodily injury limits are $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. The property damage limit is $10,000.

If you’re not looking for the best cheap car insurance in California, consider the economy plan, which costs $242.13 per month or $1,423.33 for 6 months. The limits are the same as those in the basic plan.

The standard coverage quote we were given is $273.11 per month or $1,609.33 for 6 months. Bodily injury limits jump to $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, while the property damage limit increases to $25,000.

Esurance offers numerous discounts to drivers:

  • Good driver discount
  • Getting a quote online discount
  • Homeowner discount
  • Multi-policy discount
  • Paying the full premium upfront discount
  • Emergency road assistance discount
  • Pac-12 discount
  • Good student discount
  • Emergency road assistance discount
  • PayPal discount
  • Multi-car discount 
  • Anti-theft devices discount
  • Renters coverage discount

Additional Features

Esurance is widely considered one of the best auto insurance companies in California because of its useful online tools. These include gas price predictions, a coverage counselor, a repair shop finder, and a variety of great mobile app features. The most useful of these is DriveSense, which keeps track of your driving habits. It’s free to use even if you aren’t an Esurance customer, but if you are, you’ll be rewarded with additional discounts for good conduct.

The mobile app also enables you to file and track claims and make payments for your premiums.

Customer Satisfaction and Conclusion

According to the 2017 US Auto Claims Satisfaction Study, Esurance had an average customer review rating of 3 on a scale from 1 to 5. Online customer reviews are mixed. Some say the company offers the best car insurance in California, but ratings for some services weren’t very high. A few customers complained about delayed claim payments.

Still, Esurance remains one of the best car insurance companies in California, especially for tech-savvy customers. While its fees are higher than the competition’s, there are plenty of discounts. And the overall service provided by the company is worth the money.

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State Farm Review
State Farm Review Logo Get a Quote

On Official Website

Average monthly premium:
$108.33
Discounts and bundles:
Yes
Online application:
Yes
Financial strength:
A++ (A.M. Best)
  • Rideshare insurance for Uber and Lyft drivers
  • Generous discounts
  • High customer satisfaction

If you’re looking for the most popular California car insurance provider, you’ll be in good hands with State Farm. This is the largest car insurance company in the US. That doesn’t necessarily make it the best auto insurance option in California, but State Farm is on our list for a reason. The company offers great rideshare insurance and many generous discounts.

Coverage

State Farm can provide you with any type of car insurance you need. In addition to mandatory coverage, you can get collision, liability, rental, and travel coverage as well as emergency road service and medical payments. All of these are standard options - nothing you wouldn’t find with other providers. However, State Farm is probably the best rideshare car insurance in California. 

You can add rideshare insurance if you’re driving for companies like Uber and using your personal car. This will extend the coverage you’ve purchased previously to include the time you spend driving for rideshare companies.

Another standout feature at State Farm is rental and travel insurance. Typical rental insurance found among competitors usually covers only the expenses of renting a vehicle in case yours is undergoing repairs. State Farm goes one step further, paying for lodging and meals if you’re stranded more than 50 miles from your home.

Pricing

As you’ve probably noticed by now, the best car insurance California rates are reserved for middle-aged, experienced drivers with clean records. Factors such as the make and model of your car can also impact your premiums. Before you purchase coverage, you should always get your own car insurance quotes in California to get precise cost estimates.

On average, State Farm’s quotes fall on the affordable side. The average six-month premium for State Farm is about $650.

In addition to low rates, State Farm offers plenty of discounts: 

  • Good driver discount
  • Student away at school discount
  • Vehicle safety discount
  • Owning multiple vehicles discount
  • Good student discount
  • “Drive Safe and Save” discount
  • “Steer Clear” discount
  • Driver training discount
  • Accident-free discount
  • Passive restraint discount

Additional Features

State Farm is also one of the best car and home insurance companies in California thanks to its additional features. These include the Drive Safe & Save program, which nets you lower premiums if you are careful behind the wheel. There are also driver training programs and locators for repair shops and ATMs. 

The mobile app lets you file and track claims, get quotes, and view your insurance policy details.

Customer Satisfaction and Conclusion

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, State Farm has an average number of complaints for a company of its size. In some states, its rating is below average, but in California, it has very few complaints.

Due to its training programs and discounts, State Farm is probably the best car insurance for new drivers in California. When you factor in low fees, there’s no shortage of reasons to give State Farm a chance.

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National General Insurance Review
National General Insurance Review Logo Get a Quote

On Official Website

Average monthly premium:
$102.71
Discounts and bundles:
Yes
Online application:
Yes
Financial strength:
A- (A.M. Best)
  • Ideal for high-risk drivers
  • $250 customer satisfaction guarantee
  • Guaranteed repairs

Most car insurance companies tailor their coverage options and related fees to drivers with clean records. National General Insurance is one of the few vendors that seek to accommodate high-risk drivers. In addition to providing coverage for drivers with DUIs, speeding tickets, and other violations, NGI can file SR-22 forms for you. This paperwork testifies that you are meeting your legal obligation to have insurance. States sometimes require drivers with multiple violations to carry SR-22 certification with them. NGI will even waive part of your deductible - up to $250 - if you’re unsatisfied with how a claim was resolved. But these services don’t come cheap.

Coverage

The cheapest insurance in California is largely reserved for people without any violations on their driving records. DUIs, speeding tickets, and at-fault collisions tarnish your record and increase your premiums. For high-risk drivers, the road to cheap car insurance in California leads to NGI.

The company’s plans cover collisions, liability, medical, personal injury, uninsured motorists, and roadside assistance. High-risk drivers can get more affordable premiums with NGI than with other companies on our list. But if you have a good driving record, you should look into other entries on the best low-cost car insurance companies in California list.

Pricing

The price of car insurance depends on numerous factors related to individual drivers. When it comes to National General Insurance, your premiums largely depend on the number of violations and accidents on your driving record.

Getting a quote from NGI is easier than with other companies. You don’t need to provide your license or Social Security number - a requirement to get many of the best car insurance rates in southern California. We’ve requested a quote for a 30-year-old married male with one accident and two violations on his record. Without any discounts, our annual price was a $135.66 down payment plus 10 monthly payments of $102.71. 

NGI offers the usual list of discounts:

  • Multi-policy discount
  • Multi-vehicle discount
  • Pay upfront discount
  • Driver safety course discount
  • Good driver discount
  • Anti-theft features discount
  • Automatic payments discount
  • Paperless discount
  • Low mileage discount

Additional Features

Providing the best car insurance in California to those with a bad driving record, NGI offers two unique features. For starters, it helps with SR-22 forms and first-class coverage. Moreover, the company guarantees customer satisfaction by offering to refund or waive your deductible if you’re not happy with how a claim was resolved.

Customer Satisfaction and Conclusion

NGI’s public customer reviews are less than stellar. The customer satisfaction rating is below average with a high number of complaints for a company of its size.

Nevertheless, it’s a great choice for high-risk drivers. Just be prepared to dish out more cash for premiums.

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The Hartford Review
The Hartford Review Logo Get a Quote

On Official Website

Average monthly premium:
$116
Discounts and bundles:
Yes
Online application:
Yes
Financial strength:
A+ (A.M. Best)
  • Cheapest insurance for seniors
  • Great AARP membership discount
  • 12-month premium rate lock

This is the best car insurance for seniors in California. Policy discounts at The Hartford are exclusively reserved for members of AARP, the American Association of Retired People. All of The Hartford’s services are tailored to drivers over the age of 50. This is also one of the oldest car insurance companies in the US. It was founded in 1810.

Coverage

The Hartford offers a standard set of coverage options. If you aren’t an AARP member, you can buy them through independent insurance agents. But this isn’t the best car insurance for college students in California. While its premiums are affordable for seniors, younger drivers can do better with other companies.

Bodily injury, liability, uninsured motorist, comprehensive, and collision coverage are all available with The Hartford. As far as optional coverage goes, this auto insurance company in California includes first-accident forgiveness, deductible waivers, one deductible for two-vehicle claims, and more. Unfortunately, one of the best offers - a disappearing deductible for drivers with clean records - isn’t available in California. 

Any policies you get via The Hartford come with discounts for AARP members, especially older ones. You’d be hard-pressed to find cheaper coverage for seniors.

Pricing

Is this the best car insurance company in California when it comes to costs? We requested a quote for a 55-year old married male with a clean driving record and were given a price of $116 per month or $1,387 per year.

The Hartford also protects your car insurance rate for 12 months, locking your premium for the entire year. Most competitors offer only six-month rate protections.

There are a variety of discounts to choose from:

  • Multi-policy
  • Younger driver training
  • Good student
  • Anti-theft devices
  • Upfront payment
  • Defensive driver course
  • Alternate fuel types
  • Multiple airbags

Additional Features

While it might not be the best car insurance for new drivers in California, The Hartford has other great features that sweeten the deal for seniors. The RecoverCare feature covers your cooking, cleaning, lawn mowing, and other costs if you’re unable to do these things yourself after an accident.

Additionally, if your car is totaled within 15,000 miles or 15 months from the purchase date, The Hartford will cover expenses for a replacement vehicle of the same price and type. You also get lifetime car repair insurance if you use authorized repair shops

Customer Satisfaction and Conclusion

When it comes to customer satisfaction, The Hartford performs better with property claims. In other areas, it has an average number of complaints for a company its size.

Is The Hartford the cheapest car insurance in California? If you’re a senior and an AARP member, yes. Drivers who fall into this category probably won’t find a better deal. Others, however, should probably check out other names on our list.

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FAQ
Who has the best auto insurance rates in California? +

Your premiums depend on numerous factors, including your driving record and the demographic you belong to. For example, those looking for the best car insurance for college students in California will get the best rates from Esurance, while The Hartford is the best option for seniors.

What is the average cost for car insurance in California? +

The average annual cost of car insurance in California ranges from $1,800 to $2,000 - 20% more expensive than the national average.

Why is California car insurance so expensive? +

Because California has a huge number of licensed drivers and a high number of accidents. Furthermore, California’s urban areas have high crime rates, raising the prospects of damaged vehicles.

Is it illegal to not have car insurance in California? +

Yes, you’re legally obligated to have car insurance in California. The minimum coverage you need is also referred to as mandatory coverage. Check our list of companies that provide the best car insurance in California and find the most affordable rates for mandatory coverage.

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