How to Score California Low-Cost Auto Insurance

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Is Car Insurance Really Necessary?

The state of California has about 27 million residents with a valid California driver's license, the most in any state by at least 10 million drivers. Of those drivers, about 16.6 percent were uninsured in 2019, according to an Insurance Information Institute report. Uninsured drivers face great risks, especially in California's car-centric culture. For example, if law enforcement catches you without insurance, you might only pay a $200 fine, but you could end up paying around $500, including fines, penalties and fees, for a second offense.

But if you have an accident without insurance, the story changes dramatically. Indeed, your vehicle could be impounded and you could lose your license for up to four years, whether or not you are responsible for the crash. What's more, if an uninsured driver is held legally responsible for tens of thousands of dollars in damage, they could face financial ruin: The other driver's insurance company may well come for the uninsured driver's assets, including their home, to cover the costs. The financial responsibility of being a driver in California is great, and that financial responsibility is yours alone.

The uninsured driver's precarious position relies on good luck and other drivers having uninsured-motorist liability. But luck eventually runs out, and uninsured-motorist coverage is only optional in California. Of course, there are plenty of accidents, some of them fatal, that don't involve another car. The wise driver will seek out an affordable, low-cost auto insurance program rather than take the risk.

As you can see, auto insurance is a serious matter, and SmartFinancial provides the best options for low-cost auto insurance. We compare real-time insurance quotes from every insurer operating in California, helping you to find the best low-cost auto insurance that fits your needs and budget. Start the free comparison online or call 855-214-2291 now to speak directly with one of our expert insurance agents. 

California Car Insurance: The Basics

California's 195,000 miles of roads are teeming with risk, liability and many a vehicle. Every state has its own basic minimum requirements for car insurance, and the Golden State is no different. If you don't have this bare-minimum coverage, you cannot legally drive. California requires three types of auto insurance:

  • Bodily injury coverage per person
  • Bodily injury coverage per accident
  • Property damage per accident

Now, for this basic, state-mandated auto coverage, your policy must cover a minimum of $15,000 per person for each bodily injury, $30,000 for each bodily injury per accident and $5,000 for property damage per accident. Of course, for each of these three types of liability coverage, you can always purchase a policy that goes above the state's bottom line.

You can also purchase other insurance products, including comprehensive, collision, loan/lease payoff, medical and funeral services, rental car reimbursement, roadside assistance, uninsured-motorist bodily injury, uninsured-motorist property damage and windshield replacement. Regardless of what products you choose, you can always find a low cost automobile insurance program if you compare car insurance quotes.

California Department of Insurance and California's Low Cost Insurance Program

Many customers blindly use search engines to investigate California low-cost auto coverage, typing in phrases like "cost automobile insurance program" or "insurance policies" or even just "California low" in hopes of tracking down low-cost automobile insurance.

Established in 1868, the California Department of Insurance offers a comprehensive overview of the laws that govern California car insurance as well as state-approved tips on purchasing insurance. The department-of-insurance website even provides worksheets that you can use while searching for California low-cost auto insurance. If you're a low-income driver, you may be eligible for a state subsidized program.

California Low-Cost Auto Insurance

SmartFinancial keeps track of low-cost auto insurance in California, from hour to hour, day to day. While individual rates vary according to your car's make and model and your age, gender and location, among other factors, your credit score by law cannot be used in the state of California, which focuses primarily on your driving record and annual mileage.

If you're looking for California low-cost auto insurance, here are SmartFinancial's 10 picks for the lowest auto insurance rates in California, which they can compare for you:

  Average Monthly Rate
Esurance $144.04
Unitrin $161.93
USAA $163.85
Mercury $174.61
Allstate $179.00
21st Century $181.06
California Capital $184.39
Safeco $187.49
Grange $192.54
CSAA $193.63

SmartFinancial examined eight of the biggest insurance firms to identify each one's best, most affordable low-cost automobile insurance program. Using state-of-the-art technology, our reporting has singled out the major companies that offer low-cost automobile insurance, based on a typical customer's average rate per month.

USAA $121/month
State Farm $162/month
American Family $171/month
Travelers $179/month
Nationwide $213/month
Allstate $237/month
Farmers $282/month
Liberty Mutual $313/month

Remember, the above figures change daily and were accurate at the time of publication. Still, they are a good estimate of the rates on average. Remember why it's important to compare auto insurance rates: Different insurers use different algorithms to weigh risk factors, and your individual rate can vary drastically depending on your age, location and driving history. SmartFinancial can find California low-cost insurance for your particular circumstances—for a free quote, all you have to do is start by entering your zip code.

Find Affordable Car Insurance

Finding a Low-Cost Auto Insurance Program with Discounts

One way to secure low-cost auto insurance is to look for discounts. For instance, if you purchase coverage for multiple cars or car-and-homeowner insurance from the same company, you may well qualify for a multi-policy discount or a bundle discount.

The smart shopper will ask about ways to save, including discounts for new vehicles, anti-theft devices, anti-lock brakes and other safety features, military service, affinity memberships and being a good student, among others. Over the long haul, these savings will add up.

Whether you have a low income, a poor driving record or an old jalopy, the Insurance Information Institute says you should consider these seven questions before looking for your California low-cost insurance.

1. How much do you drive?

Make sure your policy reflects how much you use your car. If you drive less than 100 miles a month, you should be paying less than someone who drives 1,000 miles a month. Mileage-based insurance provides lower-cost insurance for drivers who drive fewer miles. There are insurers who specialize in using telematics and apps for mileage-based insurance programs, so let SmartFinancial find you the right one.

2. Do you need your car to perform your job?

If you need your own vehicle to deliver pizzas, drive ride-share customers, act as a courier or any other commercial endeavor, commercial auto insurance is a necessity. A personal car insurance policy will not provide coverage for job-related activities.

3. What type of car do you drive?

Insurers maintain reams of data, and they understand in exacting detail what makes and models are likely to incur claims. For example, a new, beautiful sports car may be more likely to be stolen in your area than a 10-year-old family sedan. However, note that the affordable Honda Civic is the most stolen vehicle in America. Do some research before you buy a car.

Some modified or classic cars need specialty insurance. If you're looking for a low-cost auto insurance program, you should ask if your car is considered a "safe" bet—safety features and a strong safety record, for example—and if it qualifies for a discount.

4. How much do you love your car?

If you are proud of the way your car looks, you will want it to be fixed perfectly or replaced with the same model if it gets damaged. If so, consider purchasing the fullest range of insurance, including collision, comprehensive and glass coverage.

If you drive a utilitarian jalopy worth less than $4000 and seek low premiums, consider buy liability coverage at higher rates from SmartFinancial. Of course, the latter option is your best option for finding a low-cost insurance program.

5. Where is your household and where do you park?

Where you live affects your insurance rates and how much coverage you must purchase. For example, cars parked on the street in downtown areas face a greater risk for theft or vandalism, so comprehensive coverage might be a good option. If you move from the city to the suburbs, your rates will be lower.

6. Are you not the sole driver?

Generally, your car insurance will cover other occasional drivers. However, if other drivers live in your household and use your car—whether a spouse, a young driver or a roommate—they should be listed on your policy. Of course, even a California low-cost auto plan will take household and other drivers into consideration when assessing risk.

7. Is your car financed or leased?

If you still owe money on your car or have to return it in good condition when a lease expires, you'll likely be required to insure the car for its full value—and even for any gap between what you owe and the car's market value. Collision and comprehensive will cover damage to your car, and supplemental gap insurance will cover the rest.

SmartFinancial compares the policies of licensed insurance companies, from Los Angeles to San Francisco and everywhere else in the Golden State. Whether you're good drivers or bad, whether below the federal poverty level or not, you may be eligible for low-cost auto insurance. Even if you live in an urban county, are a new or older driver, most consumers are eligible for a low-cost auto insurance program. Our network of licensed agents is just a click or phone call away. You can start comparing rates for free by entering your zip code below or call 855-214-2291.

Get a Free Auto Insurance Quote Online Now.