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What is the best car insurance company in California? (2019)

Find the Cheapest Car Insurance Quotes in Your Area

Most people don’t spend enough time thinking about which insurance carrier to choose when buying a new car. Selecting the wrong company can cost you thousands of dollars or, even worse, leave you stranded when it comes time to cover an expensive medical or auto repair bill after an accident. Finding a good insurer is even more important in California compared to other states since it has some of the most expensive car insurance rates in the nation. Lucky for you, we’ve carefully studied insurers in this ‘Golden State’ to figure out what the best choice is for you.If “best” means “cheapest” for you, we recommend using the quote box above to compare rates from California auto insurance companies. However, if you’re a shopper who wants or needs to consider other factors, such as customer ratings, then please read on! This guide goes deep into California car insurance, and is continually being updated.

Cheapest Car Insurance in California

Most shoppers equate “best” with “cheapest” when it comes to insurance. That’s why we’ll first show you who has the cheapest rates. For our figures, we collected 11,000 quotes across 58 California insurance companies and compared them. Unsurprisingly, the cheapest insurers were small and niche providers, such as Everest National, Metromile and Horace Mann, who don’t cover a large area compared to national brands. Small insurers, although cheap in comparison to larger companies, can end up costing you more in the long run. These smaller companies lack infrastructure, and so they may be slower to process claims or harder to contact during irregular working hours. If you need 24/7 access to customer service, quality online experiences, or the ability to bundle policies (like with home or renters insurance), then you should consider a company like Geico, Allstate, State Farm or Progressive.
If price isn’t a huge factor for you, check out the next section where we go over the ratings that California car insurance companies received from independent third-party rating agencies such as J.D. Power.
Cheapest California Car Insurance Companies

Find the Cheapest Car Insurance Quotes in Your Area

For the sake of completeness, we also wanted to show readers which larger insurers, or national brands, were the cheapest in California. In this category, Metromile was the winner hands down, followed closely by Amica and Mercury. For comparison purposes, we’ve also included the average cost of car insurance in California as its own bar in the chart.
Cheapest California Car Insurance Companies (National Brands Only)

Find the Cheapest Car Insurance Quotes in Your Area

Please note that insurance pricing can vary greatly based on your location. That’s why your best bet is to get a quote from the cheapest car insurers in your city. We conducted surveys into select California cities, which we list below. Check those out for a more in-depth look into how prices can vary for your location. If your city isn’t listed, then please stay tuned! We will be covering more cities in the future.
Lastly, we wanted to point out that the best and cheapest car insurance company will also depend on your driver profile. What is a driver profile? Well, it’s a really a description of who you are as a driver, everything from your violations record to how long you’ve been driving. California doesn’t discriminate based on gender, like many other states do. That means women and men in California pay the same insurance rates, assuming all other factors be equal. However, things like age, the number of accidents you’ve been involved with, and the type of car you drive will all have an impact on what you’re quoted. Eventually, we will have a comprehensive guide for each specific driver profile. For now, we only cover student drivers (see the section below).

Best Auto Insurance Companies in California

There are a lot of different insurance rating agencies such as J.D. Power, A.M. Best, Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. Generally, for car insurance company ratings, we prefer J.D. Power, although all of these companies are reputable in their own right. Here’s how California car insurance companies scored in the latest J.D. Power Auto Insurance study.
California Car Insurance CompanyRating (out of 1,000)
Ameriprise862
Wawanesa844
Auto Club Southern California Insurance Group840
The Hartford835
21st Century822
Allstate820
Esurance818
Liberty Mutual816
CSAA Insurance Group814
State Farm813
California Average813
Safeco811
GEICO807
Progressive800
Nationwide796
Farmers795
Mercury975
Kemper774
Source: J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Auto Insurance Study | California Region
Please note that, technically, USAA (which we don’t include on our list) scored the highest. However, USAA is only available to U.S. military personnel and their families. If you live in California and fit that profile, we recommend checking them out if you haven’t already. Not only do they score well on customer satisfaction, USAA tends to have some of the most affordable auto insurance premiums in the state.
We’ve also included another rating agency – A.M. Best, for the sake of offering a more thorough comparison. Unfortunately, ratings weren’t available for as many companies in this case, but below you’ll find a snapshot of the top California car insurers as rated by A.M. Best:
CompanyA.M. Best
GEICOA++
ProgressiveA++
State FarmA++
NationwideA++
Liberty MutualA
Erie InsuranceA++
Amica Mutual InsuranceA++

Find the Cheapest Car Insurance Quotes in Your Area

Best Car Insurance for Students in California

Lastly, we wanted to show readers which car insurance companies in California are the best for students. To be more specific, these are cheap car insurance companies for younger drivers. People under the age of 25 years tend to pay some of the highest car insurance premiums in the country because of a few factors. Statistically, younger drivers get into more accidents than older, more experienced drivers and so insurers tend to take on greater risk when covering them and to hedge against this increased risk, insurers charge higher rates.
If you’re a student or young driver living in California, consider the following companies:
California Car InsurerWhy It’s Good for Students
State FarmUp to 25% off for college students who get good grades
USAADiscounts for students who get good grades (specific discount not disclosed).
AmicaGood grade discounts, roadside assistance (if you lose your keys!)
American FamilyDiscounts for good grades and going to college wihtout a car.
MetromileGreat if you don’t drive a lot. Sign up for Metromile Pulse. It will track your driving and give discounts if you don’t use your car too often.
AllstateProvides discounts if you’re going to school far away from home. (100+ miles from home)
Liberty MutualGood grade discounts (GPA 3.0 or higher) , Driver Training Discounts, and 10% discount for over 14k alumni associations.
FarmersUp to 24% off for good grades. Distant Student Discount if you live far from home.

Why is Car Insurance so Expensive in California?

We get this question a lot and we wish we knew! No, but seriously, all things considered, California isn’t that expensive. It tends to rank near No. 10-13 as far as state rankings go in regard to cost, depending on which insurance price aggregator you ask. When you control for median wages, California is one of the more affordable states for auto insurance in the country.
Still, it’s a fair question. Why do you pay whatever you pay?
The simplest answer: capitalism. The biggest factor driving insurance prices up (or down, if you’re lucky!) is the free market. Insurers in California set their prices according to the competitive landscape. Of course, other factors go into their pricing models. Factors like propensity for accidents in a given area, or car thefts can all drive up your costs. California has one of the highest driver and vehicle densities in the nation. More drivers on the road means a higher likelihood of an accident, which again, would cause insurers to increase their prices in order to hedge against that increased risk.We recommend watching the following interview. Here, Margot Gilman of Consumer Reports goes over car insurance pricing in detail.