We found that Wawanesa has the cheapest car insurance rates in California at an average of $80 per month. That’s $959 per year, or $878 cheaper than the average cost for a full-coverage policy in California.
Our other picks for the best and cheapest car insurance in California are GEICO, USAA, Mercury, and National General. You should be sure to compare rates before buying coverage to find the cheapest company for you.
Cheapest car insurance companies in California
On average, Wawanesa has the cheapest car insurance rates in California. At just $80 per month, full-coverage car insurance from Wawanesa costs $878 less per year than the state average for a full-coverage policy.
We also found that Wawanesa remains affordable compared to its competitors even for drivers with an accident, DUI, or speeding ticket on their records — all of which can mean serious price increases at most car insurance companies.
GEICO is the cheapest car insurance company in California when it comes to larger carriers. A full-coverage policy from GEICO costs an average of $122 per month (or $1,465 per year), which is $372 less per year than average in the state. If you’ve got a recent driving violation, though, GEICO can be one of the more expensive companies for car insurance.
USAA is among the cheapest auto insurance companies in California, but it’s only an option if you’re a current or former member of the military (or a part of a military family). On average, USAA costs California drivers $125 per month (or $1,502 per year). That’s $335 less each year than average in the state.
Mercury is one of the cheapest car insurance companies in California. We found that the average cost of auto insurance from Mercury is $127 per month ($1,520 per year). That’s $317 less than average. Mercury can also be slightly cheaper than average after a driving violation.
National General rounds out our list for the cheapest car insurance companies in California. On average, car insurance from National General costs California drivers $130 per month, or $275 less than the statewide average. Besides having low average rates, National General is known for offering coverage to drivers who are considered high-risk.
That means that California drivers with a recent accident, DUI, traffic ticket, or a suspended license who are having trouble getting covered elsewhere should consider National General.
Best car insurance companies in California
The best car insurance company in California is Wawanesa. According to J.D. Power’s Auto Insurance Study, which ranks insurers based on price, transparency, and overall satisfaction, Wawanesa has the highest score of any company in California. 
This makes it both the best and cheapest car insurance company in California. USAA, and Mercury are some of our other picks for the best and cheapest companies in California, since they offer both cheap average rates and J.D. Power scores that are above the statewide average, which is 820.
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Cheapest car insurance companies by age in California
Compared to their older counterparts, young adult drivers typically have very high insurance rates. That’s because their inexperience behind the wheel means they are more likely to be in an accident and make a claim than older drivers.
We found that the cheapest company in California for young drivers is Wawanesa.
Choosing the right car insurance company in California
Choosing the best car insurance company for you doesn’t have to be difficult. There are several factors to consider, including:
Cost: Nobody wants to pay too much for car insurance, so getting quotes from multiple companies can help you find the most affordable option.
Coverage: Choosing a plan that offers enough coverage to protect you in case of an accident is vitally important. Before you shop, figure out how much car insurance you need.
Customer service: Having an easy, painless experience when buying a policy or filing a claim is extremely valuable and could even be worth paying a little more for insurance coverage.
If you're ready to start shopping for insurance, Policygenius can help you compare options and find the right insurance coverage for your needs.
Car insurance rates for drivers with driving violations in California
Your driving history is one of the factors insurance companies use to help determine your rates, which means an accident or a traffic ticket could have a significant impact on how much you pay for insurance.
Keeping your driving record clean is the easiest and most effective way to keep your insurance costs low, but if you’re in an accident (or get another type of driving violation) Wawanesa usually has the lowest average rates in California after an incident.
Cheapest car insurance for drivers with bad credit in California
IInsurance companies in some states rate drivers based on their credit score. Theoretically, this is because drivers with lower credit scores are more likely to file a claim, but in practice it sometimes ends up unfairly penalizing some drivers. Because of this, California laws prevent insurance companies from rating based on credit history.
Car insurance costs in California cities
Things like crime rates, population density, or the number of accidents in a given area mean that insurance costs can vary significantly from one city to another. Here’s how car insurance rates compare in the ten biggest cities in California.
Los Angeles: $2,613
San Diego: $1,754
San Jose: $1,808
San Francisco: $2,161
Long Beach: $2,046
Buying car insurance in California
California requires everyone who owns a vehicle in the state to carry one of the following types of auto insurance:
Motor vehicle liability insurance policy
Cash deposit of $35,000 with DMV
DMV-issued self-insurance certificate
Surety bond for $35,000 from a company licensed to do business in California
Drivers who choose to carry a liability insurance policy must have no less than the state’s required levels of liability insurance:
$15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident for bodily injury liability
$5,000 for property damage liability
Drivers who don’t carry minimum levels of liability insurance or higher will have their registration suspended by the state, which means the car cannot legally be driven or parked on public streets.
In order to provide cheap liability insurance, California minimum insurance requirements are very low. This means they may not provide enough protection if you are at fault for an accident that is more than a simple fender bender.
The state also does not require you to carry anything more than basic bodily injury and property damage liability coverage, which means drivers carrying state minimum coverage levels don’t have coverage for damage to their own vehicle and they have no protection against uninsured or underinsured motorists.
California is also one of several states that have made it illegal for policy providers to use gender to determine insurance rates. Other states with similar laws are Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
How to get cheap car insurance in California
There are many ways for drivers to save money on their insurance, including bundling policies, keeping their driving record clean, and increasing their deductibles. However, sometimes that isn’t enough. For people who can’t afford even a basic minimum liability insurance policy, the state offers California's Low Cost Auto Insurance Program.
California’s Low Cost Auto Insurance Program offers consumers the opportunity to purchase lower levels of coverage. The CLCA policy includes basic liability levels of:
$10,000 bodily injury or death per person
$20,000 bodily injury or death per accident
$3,000 property damage liability per accident
For an additional charge of $39-$104 per year, drivers can also purchase:
$1,000 medical payments per person
$10,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
$20,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
Find your city:
Policygenius has analyzed car insurance rates provided by Quadrant Information Services for every ZIP code in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. For full coverage policies, the following coverage limits were used:
Bodily injury liability: $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident
Property damage liability: $50,000
Uninsured/underinsured motorist: $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident
Comprehensive: $500 deductible
Collision: $500 deductible
In some cases, additional coverages were added where required by state or insurer.
Rates for overall average rate, rates by ZIP code, and cheapest companies determined using averages for single drivers ages 30, 35, and 45. Our sample vehicle was a 2017 Toyota Camry LE driven 10,000 miles/year.
Rates for driving violations and “Poor” credit determined using average rates for a single male 30-year-old driver with a credit score under 578.
Some carriers may be represented by affiliates or subsidiaries. Rates provided are a sample of costs. Your actual quotes may differ.