California Auto Insurance [Providers + Rates]

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California Statistics Summary Details
Road Miles Total in State – 195,834
Vehicle Miles Driven – 335,539 million
Vehicles Registered – 28,595,129
Total Stolen – 170,993
State Population 39,512,223
Most Popular Vehicle Honda Civic
Uninsured Motorists 15.20%
State Rank – 12
Total Driving Fatalities 2009–2018
Speeding – 10,127
Drunk Driving – 9,289
Average Annual Premiums Collision – $364.56
Comprehensive – $99.29
Liability – $462.95
Cheapest Providers USAA + United Financial Casualty

California is the state of Yosemite, Death Valley, Silicon Valley, and Disneyland. The Golden State is divided into NorCal and SoCal, and Californians can tell you that, yeah, there’s a big difference.

With the largest population and the third-largest landmass out of all 50 states, California makes a big impact. Its influence on the rest of the country is apparent in many ways, only one of which is the entertainment that streams into every American’s living room.

Whether you’re taking in the beauty along SR 1 or slowly inching through Los Angeles during rush hour, you’ll want to know you have the best insurance policy possible.

Searching for the information you need to make a decision is time-consuming and tedious, but we have assembled the data that you need to make a choice.

We have everything you need to know right here. Enter your ZIP code to compare auto insurance rates right now.

Table of Contents

Cheap California Car Insurance Rates

Whether you’re going to one of California’s festivals or a Napa Valley winery, you’ll be traveling along some of the 195,834 miles of roadway. It’s important to have the right coverage for your vehicle so that you can focus on enjoying your journey.

Check out the video below for some fun places to drive to California.

We’re going to be going over a lot of information that is important to know as a driver in California, including different factors that influence car insurance rates, state laws, and some facts about drivers in the state.

What is California’s car culture?

Cars have been important to Californians since they’ve been a thing. Take a few minutes to watch the video below and see how California has shaped car culture in America.

The Golden State was one of the first to create a freeway system, and there was a sense of freedom that came with driving along the coast. There was joy in driving on the wide-open road.

Things have changed. Today, it’s far more likely you’ll be driving in a heavily congested area. You may need to budget a lot of time to go a short distance in some places.

As the third-largest state by landmass, California has 155,973 square miles, which makes it harder to cover with consistent public transportation. A car is a necessary part of life in California.

Not only that, but cars are also a status symbol in some places — like L.A. People tend to spend a lot of money to show off with their vehicles.

How much coverage is required for California minimum coverage?

So, what do we mean by minimum coverage requirements?

California follows an at-fault system for liability from car accidents.

This fault-based system determines who takes on the financial responsibility in an accident. Basically: you broke it, you bought it.

If you are found at fault in a car accident, you’ll be responsible for all fees associated with property and personal damage — both for yourself and any other drivers and vehicles involved.

Because of this, California requires all drivers to carry at least the following minimum liability insurance in the event that you cause an accident:

  • $15,000 for injury or death to one person
  • $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person
  • $5,000 for damage to property

You may hear this referred to as the 15/30/5 Rule. You will need to carry at least this amount.

Why would you want to do more than that, though? Insurance is expensive. Let’s say you are involved in an accident, but the other driver is found at fault. What if they don’t have insurance?

Despite it being required by California law, 15.2 percent of drivers in the state are uninsured. California ranks 12th out of all U.S. states for uninsured drivers.

That’s why it’s a really good idea to have more than the minimum required amount of insurance. More is more in this case. If you spend a few hundred dollars now, that can save you a lot of money and some headaches later on.

What are forms of financial responsibility in California?

What is a “form of financial responsibility?” That’s essentially just another way of saying proof of insurance.

You must be able to produce proof of financial responsibility if asked by a peace officer.

If you are unable to comply, you may have to pay a fine between $100 and $200, plus additional assessment penalties. If it happens again within three years, that fine increases to somewhere between $200 and $500, plus additional assessment penalties.

One thing to note is that California does have other options for proof of insurance. While most people will take the insurance option and get a policy for the minimum required amount, there are a few other ways to comply with California financial responsibility law:

It’s easier for the majority of people to just comply with an insurance policy to fulfill California’s financial responsibility requirements.

When asked by a peace officer to show proof of insurance, California does allow drivers to show electronic proof. So, if you have trouble remembering to put your insurance card in the glove compartment, this allows you to show it from your phone.

It’s acceptable to take a screenshot or save a picture of the insurance card, and that will keep you from getting fined and possibly having your vehicle impounded.

How much percentage of income are premiums in California?

How much of your paycheck do you think went to car insurance last year? It varies from person to person, and if you make more money, you’re going to be spending a lower percentage on premiums.

California’s premiums in 2014 were less than one percent, which is higher than the national average, but the disposable income for the typical Californian was eight percent higher. Premiums increased each year from 2012 to 2014, but the average income also went up.

So, that works out to mean that you really won’t be spending as high of a percentage of your income on car insurance. That means more money in your pocket.

Neighbors in Oregon may have lower premiums costs, but they also make less on average. Overall, Californians fare better than any of their neighbors in Nevada, Arizona, or Oregon — all of which spend a greater percentage of their incomes on insurance.

You can try out the calculator below to see what percentage of your income you pay for car insurance.

CalculatorPro

What are the core coverages in California?

The following compiled data is pulled directly from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Coverage Type 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Liability $489.66 $478.71 $463.56 $443.41 $439.39
Collision $396.55 $374.31 $361.34 $348.94 $341.65
Comprehensive $100.54 $98.73 $97.80 $99.34 $100.02
Full Coverage (Combined Liability, Collision & Comprehensive) $986.75 $951.75 $922.69 $891.68 $881.07

As you can see, liability and collision insurance premiums increased each year from 2011 to 2015. Comprehensive coverage has been up and down over the years, with an average price of $99.29.

This data is just through 2015, so expect that these rates have increased slightly since then. This information is based upon the state minimum requirements.

What additional liability is available in California?

Why would you want to get more insurance than the law requires? Well, additional insurance is what can come in handy and save your bank account from getting wiped out. There are a few additional liability options in California.

Loss Ratio 2015 2014 2013
MedPay (Medical Payments) 59.76% 61.78% 68.62%
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist 68.68% 57.95% 59.49%

First, uninsured/ underinsured coverage helps pay the bills when you are involved in an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t have their own insurance (or not enough coverage).

Ranking 12th in the nation, 15.20 percent of drivers in the Golden State are uninsured.

Then there’s MedPay (Medical Payments) that helps pay for any injuries to you and your passengers, regardless of who the at-fault party is.

The loss ratios tell a story. This number refers to the relationship between premiums take in by the company and claims paid out to the customer. For instance, a loss ratio of 65 means that the company paid out $65 in claims for every $100 the company earned.

The closer a loss ratio is to 100, the more claims are being paid. However, if it is too close or over 100, the company is paying out more than it is bringing in.

These loss ratios are all well within the ideal range of 40 to 75 percent.

What add-ons, endorsements, and riders are available in California?

Is this still not enough insurance for you? Perhaps you have a muscle car or want to know more about

  • Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)
  • Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)
  • Rental Reimbursement
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance
  • Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
  • Non-Owner Car Insurance
  • Modified Car Insurance Coverage
  • Classic Car Insurance
  • Pay-As-You-Drive or Usage-Based Insurance

The video below goes over a few of the banned car modifications in the Golden State.

To save yourself some headache (and money loss) later, check your local laws before adding modifications to your ride.

Do gender and age affect my car insurance in California?

Here are the average rates for 2018 based upon gender, age, and marital status.

Company Single 17-year-old female Single 17-year-old male Single 25-year-old female Single 25-year-old male Married 35-year-old female Married 35-year-old male Married 60-year-old female Married 60-year-old male
Allstate Northbrook Indemnity $8,098.88 $10,188.73 $3,742.44 $4,115.50 $2,921.24 $2,923.87 $2,126.03 $2,148.03
AMCO Insurance $8,318.27 $9,186.72 $3,904.76 $3,858.43 $3,272.83 $3,124.42 $2,863.68 $2,699.52
Farmers Ins Exchange $8,667.08 $14,189.14 $3,218.46 $3,585.17 $2,715.31 $2,715.31 $2,451.83 $2,451.83
Geico General $5,433.56 $5,529.48 $2,566.22 $2,624.98 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Safeco Ins Co of America $5,014.43 $5,348.46 $2,593.72 $2,620.60 $2,303.99 $2,177.93 $2,145.20
State Farm Mutual Auto $6,089.50 $7,555.39 $3,663.92 $3,777.69 $3,310.18 $3,310.18 $2,957.44 $2,957.44
Travelers Commercial Ins Co. $5,165.60 $5,906.73 $3,249.64 $3,179.78 $2,497.45 $2,417.86 $2,206.26 $2,182.92
United Financial Casualty $4,767.78 $5,748.65 $2,576.92 $2,771.33 N/A N/A N/A N/A
USAA CIC $4,404.58 $4,428.83 $2,670.51 $2,523.86 N/A N/A N/A N/A

Allstate is not the best option unless you’re older, with it offering the best rates for 60-year-olds. USAA has good rates for most age groups, but this company only offers its services to military personnel and their families.

There was up to a 64 percent increase from females to males in the same age group.

It certainly doesn’t seem fair that insurance companies base rates upon your gender. Well, the good news is that the state of California doesn’t think so, either.

Beginning in 2019, The Gender Non-Discrimination in Automobile Insurance Rating Regulation prohibits insurers from basing rates upon gender.

This is especially good news for young male drivers who typically spend the most on their insurance. The video below talks a little about this change.

Even without looking at gender, the biggest takeaway from the table above is that rates decrease as you get older. As long as you keep a clean driving record and decent credit score, you should be able to see your rates steadily drop through the years.

Since 2017, California has included a non-binary gender option for its driver’s licenses.

What are the cheapest rates by ZIP code in California?

Where you live can change how much your house is worth or what your rent will be. Whether you like the peace and quiet of the countryside or the hustle-and-bustle of city life, your location changes how much you’ll spend on necessities. This holds true for car insurance, as well.

Automotive insurance rates are calculated based upon ZIP codes, for one. This is because factors like crime rate, automotive fraud, and stolen vehicles change how much risk the company takes on by insuring a customer within that geographic area.

The table below shows the 25 most expensive ZIPs in The Golden State.

ZIP Code Average Allstate Farmers Ins GEICO SAFECO AMCO Insurance United Financial Casualty State Farm Travelers USAA
90210 $6,324.83 $8,190.66 $8,075.13 $5,087.15 $4,414.40 $8,533.47 $5,274.21 $6,642.25 $6,013.59 $4,692.62
91606 $6,219.57 $8,174.05 $8,102.32 $4,897.11 $4,611.35 $8,084.28 $5,028.19 $6,958.72 $6,188.33 $3,931.76
90010 $6,201.00 $8,225.60 $7,934.31 $4,922.31 $4,883.02 $8,610.21 $5,052.24 $6,144.83 $5,809.53 $4,226.92
90211 $6,199.34 $8,190.66 $7,618.96 $4,979.75 $4,439.85 $8,922.36 $5,302.83 $6,571.75 $5,522.71 $4,245.23
91405 $6,198.55 $8,155.64 $7,922.82 $4,897.11 $4,683.16 $8,789.36 $4,930.09 $6,692.88 $5,784.17 $3,931.76
90020 $6,132.45 $8,360.06 $8,154.52 $4,512.30 $4,919.64 $8,382.09 $4,697.72 $6,264.15 $5,897.24 $4,004.33
91203 $6,086.65 $7,952.29 $7,428.43 $4,981.01 $4,116.05 $9,116.47 $5,031.25 $6,423.22 $5,726.62 $4,004.56
91401 $6,073.88 $8,335.75 $7,922.82 $4,768.98 $4,506.46 $8,651.65 $4,719.68 $6,322.26 $5,609.28 $3,828.03
90028 $6,063.25 $8,360.06 $8,208.73 $4,393.74 $4,557.64 $8,186.10 $4,531.15 $6,362.31 $5,965.23 $4,004.33
90038 $6,048.15 $8,360.06 $8,240.54 $4,309.89 $4,611.39 $8,518.96 $4,785.83 $6,143.06 $5,769.85 $3,693.78
90046 $6,045.78 $8,225.60 $8,180.20 $4,399.92 $4,476.43 $8,193.23 $4,890.23 $6,299.06 $5,780.46 $3,966.93
90212 $6,041.05 $8,190.66 $7,792.29 $4,556.62 $4,539.22 $7,776.24 $5,174.13 $6,578.45 $5,516.64 $4,245.23
90005 $6,040.60 $8,065.54 $7,981.84 $4,680.35 $4,903.30 $8,057.13 $4,592.87 $6,392.86 $5,687.21 $4,004.33
91605 $6,034.64 $7,386.88 $7,959.34 $4,624.81 $4,383.46 $8,737.86 $4,771.62 $6,447.90 $6,190.93 $3,808.95
91204 $6,015.40 $7,952.29 $7,685.36 $4,605.26 $4,268.49 $8,721.88 $5,492.96 $6,022.48 $5,385.28 $4,004.56
91205 $5,990.19 $6,346.42 $7,685.36 $5,227.43 $4,296.53 $8,439.18 $5,243.60 $6,956.98 $5,711.65 $4,004.56
90029 $5,934.84 $8,197.40 $8,227.86 $4,161.04 $4,674.71 $8,180.61 $4,738.09 $6,018.51 $5,479.46 $3,735.84
90004 $5,928.00 $8,189.47 $7,840.01 $4,399.36 $4,666.03 $8,127.33 $4,373.15 $6,164.80 $5,744.06 $3,847.79
90017 $5,898.72 $8,014.89 $7,676.78 $4,668.37 $4,632.60 $8,005.94 $5,179.97 $5,876.00 $5,088.89 $3,945.10
90027 $5,897.67 $8,189.47 $8,170.37 $4,076.09 $4,354.82 $8,413.29 $4,012.84 $6,150.89 $5,695.99 $4,015.30
90057 $5,894.37 $8,016.78 $8,012.14 $4,309.89 $4,906.32 $8,012.71 $4,225.65 $6,396.14 $5,321.93 $3,847.79
90077 $5,878.05 $8,190.66 $7,517.86 $4,222.43 $3,925.51 $7,494.20 $5,298.69 $6,622.72 $5,505.36 $4,125.06
90048 $5,877.67 $8,276.46 $7,681.40 $4,058.38 $4,431.11 $8,189.87 $4,892.06 $6,006.52 $5,643.80 $3,719.43
91201 $5,847.26 $7,952.29 $7,391.51 $4,512.91 $4,011.77 $8,736.98 $5,123.14 $5,683.35 $5,404.46 $3,808.95
90069 $5,844.28 $8,276.46 $8,037.83 $4,399.36 $4,191.86 $7,666.21 $4,955.37 $5,586.55 $5,812.91 $3,671.99

Beverly Hills (90210) is the most expensive ZIP code in the state. With a crime rate of 55 crimes per 1,000 residents, the ZIP has one of the highest crime rates in the country.

Here are the 25 least expensive ZIP codes in California.

Zip code Average Allstate Farmers Ins GEICO SAFECO AMCO Insurance United Financial Casualty State Farm Travelers USAA
93401 $2,731.32 $3,488.65 $2,992.54 $2,403.77 $2,285.77 $3,336.13 $2,177.96 $2,991.49 $2,554.99 $2,350.57
96094 $2,752.73 $3,135.64 $4,037.15 $2,061.72 $2,512.07 $3,166.19 $2,000.62 $2,995.25 $2,546.94 $2,318.98
93428 $2,774.88 $3,380.26 $3,165.32 $2,242.78 $2,514.83 $3,395.32 $2,234.71 $3,098.96 $2,597.87 $2,343.85
96067 $2,777.89 $2,929.61 $4,029.52 $2,080.16 $2,592.52 $3,347.10 $1,989.83 $3,146.02 $2,567.23 $2,318.98
93437 $2,804.27 $3,460.07 $2,994.66 $2,503.39 $2,639.10 $3,512.04 $2,098.30 $2,952.39 $2,650.39 $2,428.11
93427 $2,807.43 $3,442.05 $3,042.70 $2,537.51 $2,418.79 $3,437.39 $2,244.68 $3,250.68 $2,603.92 $2,289.13
93442 $2,807.96 $3,396.50 $3,147.90 $2,605.58 $2,400.87 $3,358.53 $2,126.82 $3,072.18 $2,709.70 $2,453.61
93402 $2,821.16 $3,392.02 $3,335.87 $2,438.41 $2,324.69 $3,411.51 $2,336.39 $3,228.08 $2,572.90 $2,350.57
93420 $2,824.43 $3,399.95 $3,404.34 $2,531.57 $2,298.66 $3,543.40 $1,980.83 $3,132.17 $2,652.52 $2,476.45
93449 $2,829.93 $3,450.72 $3,166.06 $2,503.39 $2,283.28 $3,707.40 $2,484.18 $2,912.15 $2,512.26 $2,449.96
93433 $2,834.19 $3,468.52 $3,111.54 $2,438.41 $2,282.99 $3,752.44 $2,297.06 $2,890.63 $2,506.12 $2,760.02
93514 $2,837.87 $3,721.11 $3,446.65 $2,292.34 $2,616.96 $3,410.32 $1,942.71 $3,225.60 $2,586.10 $2,299.06
93441 $2,840.56 $3,442.05 $2,940.63 $2,624.47 $2,512.57 $3,594.51 $2,327.04 $3,154.75 $2,542.04 $2,426.99
96064 $2,840.77 $3,090.18 $4,019.73 $2,250.66 $2,604.36 $3,532.73 $1,971.09 $3,160.11 $2,601.64 $2,336.44
96097 $2,843.29 $3,077.47 $4,020.91 $2,197.64 $2,649.00 $3,291.50 $2,200.87 $3,116.56 $2,648.87 $2,386.81
93436 $2,843.64 $3,462.90 $3,004.22 $2,325.67 $2,653.07 $3,536.94 $2,393.54 $3,217.80 $2,626.85 $2,371.77
93444 $2,843.90 $3,435.20 $3,445.56 $2,450.63 $2,337.28 $3,495.01 $2,421.14 $3,138.34 $2,572.56 $2,299.41
93430 $2,850.58 $3,361.53 $3,175.94 $2,524.48 $2,344.53 $3,460.36 $2,476.97 $3,146.73 $2,741.46 $2,423.24
93452 $2,858.30 $3,487.46 $3,056.11 $2,524.48 $2,536.68 $3,497.26 $2,305.34 $3,296.73 $2,689.98 $2,330.63
93463 $2,861.18 $3,888.44 $2,932.73 $2,568.70 $2,371.94 $3,531.47 $2,112.72 $3,267.79 $2,714.75 $2,362.05
93432 $2,862.60 $3,487.46 $3,526.64 $2,380.87 $2,458.14 $3,457.74 $2,239.41 $3,222.25 $2,666.31 $2,324.62
93422 $2,865.26 $3,421.28 $3,438.02 $2,568.70 $2,430.29 $3,610.36 $2,058.51 $3,241.31 $2,627.69 $2,391.21
93455 $2,877.52 $3,453.85 $3,086.14 $2,325.67 $2,528.26 $3,554.69 $2,419.92 $3,308.07 $2,857.39 $2,363.73
96027 $2,882.83 $3,090.18 $4,075.76 $2,314.00 $2,701.03 $3,501.68 $2,071.13 $3,204.65 $2,677.46 $2,309.58
96032 $2,885.83 $3,090.18 $4,329.09 $2,376.65 $2,626.10 $3,547.47 $2,122.70 $3,038.16 $2,575.27 $2,266.86

California’s cheapest ZIP code — 93401 — has an annual rate of $2,731.32. Beverly Hills’ 90210 is 132 percent higher and nearly $3,600 pricier.

What are the cheapest rates by city in California?

As with ZIP codes, rates vary by city. If you know there are a lot of thefts in your town, you’ll likely be paying more.

These are the most expensive cities in California.

City Average Annual Rate
Beverly Hills $6,188.41
Calabasas $5,293.70
Canoga Park $5,306.80
Encino $5,744.64
Glendale $5,556.12
Granada Hills $5,200.12
Los Angeles $5,301.77
North Hills $5,268.19
North Hollywood $5,769.36
Northridge $5,350.90
Pacific Palisades $5,149.35
Panorama City $5,701.66
Reseda $5,593.76
Sherman Oaks $5,562.20
Studio City $5,649.18
Sun Valley $5,297.48
Tarzana $5,798.46
Toluca Lake $5,147.43
Tujunga $5,190.92
Universal City $5,348.81
Valley Village $5,718.12
Van Nuys $5,897.84
West Hollywood $5,844.28
Winnetka $5,326.45
Woodland Hills $5,172.91

The most expensive city, of course, is Beverly Hills. That probably wasn’t surprising. Beverly Hills is known for its expenses, but it also has a high crime rate.

Here are the rates for the 25 least expensive cities in California.

City Average Annual Rate
Arroyo Grande $2,824.43
Atascadero $2,865.26
Bishop $2,837.87
Buellton $2,807.43
Cambria $2,774.88
Cayucos $2,850.58
Creston $2,862.60
Dunsmuir $2,891.51
Etna $2,882.83
Fort Jones $2,885.83
Grover Beach $2,834.19
Lompoc $2,823.96
Los Olivos $2,840.56
Los Osos $2,821.16
Montague $2,840.77
Morro Bay $2,807.96
Mount Shasta $2,777.88
Nipomo $2,843.90
Oceano $2,897.95
Pebble Beach $2,920.03
Pismo Beach $2,829.93
San Simeon $2,858.30
Solvang $2,861.18
Weed $2,752.73
Yreka $2,843.29

The least expensive city is Arroyo Grande, a city of just 17,252 residents about 130 miles west of Bakersfield.

Best California Car Insurance Companies

How do you choose the best car insurance company for you? There are hundreds out there, and the information can get overwhelming. Next up, we are going to go over some scores that are probably important to you — like customer service, cost, and complaint rates.

First, let’s look at the financial ratings for the largest insurers in California.

What are the financial ratings of the largest car insurance companies in California?

Look at the table below, and you can see all of the top insurance providers in California with their individual A.M. Best Rating.

Company A.M. Best Rating Direct Premiums Written Loss Ratio Market Share
Allstate A+ $2,446,564 64.73% 8.97%
Auto Club Enterprises A- $2,312,230 65.03% 8.48%
CSAA Insurance Group A $1,950,257 64.30% 7.15%
Farmers Insurance A $3,158,814 68.26% 11.59%
GEICO A++ $2,502,854 84.78% 9.18%
Liberty Mutual A $929,058 77.26% 3.41%
Mercury Gen Group A+ $2,095,531 61.91% 7.69%
Progressive A+ $1,147,186 62.78% 4.21%
State Farm A++ $3,910,351 75.94% 14.34%
USAA A++ $1,218,792 72.98% 4.47%

What are A.M. Best Ratings? Check out the video below for a quick explanation.

It looks like State Farm, Geico, and USAA have the best ratings in the state.

Which car insurance companies have the best ratings in California?

Is customer service important to you?

Another trusted source for company ratings is J.D. Power, which tracks customer satisfaction ratings. The chart below shows the customer satisfaction index for the top companies.

Company Name Overall Customer
Satisfaction
Index
Ranking (based on
a 1,000-point scale)
JDPower.com Power
Circle Ratings™
Allstate 808 3
Ameriprise 830 4
Auto Club of Southern California Insurance Group 834 4
CSAA Insurance Group 809 3
Esurance 847 5
Farmers 808 3
Geico 825 4
Kemper 778 2
Liberty Mutual 808 3
Mercury 805 3
Nationwide 780 2
Progressive 821 3
Safeco 822 3
State Farm 824 4
The Hartford 821 3
USAA 884 5
Wawanesa 828 4

USAA is the top-rated company, but J.D. Power leaves this off the rankings, as USAA is only available to military personnel and their families. Barring that, Esurance takes the top spot in the California region — and is the only ranked company with a five-star J.D. Power Circle Rating.

Which car insurance companies have the most complaints in California?

Why rank best in customer service if you’re not also going to rank complaints? The data below comes from the NAIC.

Here are the top 10 worst companies by complaint ratio in the state of California.

Number of Justified Customer Complaints Number of Complaints (2017) Complaint Ratio (2017)
Access Insurance 460 117.7
Alliance United 87 9.2
Anchor General 23 21.9
Hartford Underwriters 22 11.2
Integon National 25 12
Liberty Mutual 38 9.7
Permanent General Assurance 11 16.4
Progressive Select 26 12.3
Western General 35 40.3

The worst company for complaints was by far Access Insurance with 460 complaints. That company has since gone into liquidation. The next worst complaint ratio was Western General with 35 complaints in 2017.

Number of Justified Customer Complaints Number of Complaints (2017) Complaint Ratio (2017)
21st Century Insurance 12 2
AMCO 1 0.3
California Capital 1 1.4
Government Employees Insurance Co (Part of Geico) 8 2
Interinsurance Exchange of the Auto Club 42 1.8
Mid Century 9 1.6
United Services 6 1.4
USAA 8 1.7
Viking Insurance 5 1.9

AMCO has the best complaint ratio in the state.

Keep in mind that a higher complaint ratio doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad company. These ratios are in direct correlation to how many complaints versus how many customers the company has.

More complaints have a heavier impact on small companies.

What are the cheapest car insurance companies in California?

Chances are at least part of why you’re here is to get an affordable insurance option.

Company Average Compared to State Average Percent Compared to State Average
Allstate $4,533.09 $843.47 18.61%
AMCO Insurance $4,653.58 $963.96 20.71%
Farmers $4,999.27 $1,309.64 26.20%
Geico $2,886.24 -$803.38 -27.84%
Safeco $3,035.17 -$654.45 -21.56%
State Farm $4,202.72 $513.10 12.21%
Travelers $3,350.78 -$338.84 -10.11%
United Financial Casualty $2,851.14 -$838.48 -29.41%
USAA $2,694.62 -$995.00 -36.93%

It looks like USAA and State Farm have the lowest average rates in the state.

Does my commute affect my car insurance rate in California?

It may not seem fair — and you may have never even thought about this being a factor — but commute rate can influence how much some companies charge for insurance.

The following table lists the differences for these companies based upon shorter or longer commutes.

Group 10-Mile Commute.
6,000 annual mileage.
25-Mile commute.
12,000 annual mileage.
Allstate $4,086.25 $4,979.93
Farmers $4,535.69 $5,462.84
Geico $2,621.93 $3,150.55
Liberty Mutual $2,786.10 $3,284.23
Nationwide $4,108.79 $5,198.37
Progressive $2,587.19 $3,115.09
State Farm $4,049.89 $4,355.54
Travelers $3,014.07 $3,687.49
USAA $2,482.96 $2,906.28

A lot of states have top insurers that don’t make a distinction based on commute, but California’s top options all charge more for traveling farther. These companies charge anywhere from 8 to 27 percent more for a commute of 25 miles / 12,000 annual mileage.

Can coverage level change my car insurance rate with companies in California?

Sometimes, it can be worth it to compare pricing. Here are costs by insurance level.

Group Low Medium High
Allstate $4287.09 $4,572.72 $4,739.46
Farmers $4651.83 $5,038.58 $5,307.39
Geico $2612.92 $2,918.49 $3,127.30
Liberty Mutual $2824.01 $3,061.95 $3,219.54
Nationwide $4179.52 $4,734.55 $5,046.66
Progressive $2555.04 $2,936.65 $3,061.73
State Farm $3793.44 $4,273.41 $4,541.30
Travelers $2924.52 $3,440.36 $3,687.46
USAA $2445.05 $2,746.50 $2,892.32

You can get high-coverage insurance from companies like Progressive and Geico for less than a low-level policy from companies such as Allstate and Farmers.

It pays to shop around.

How does my credit history affect my car insurance rate with companies in California?

Credit normally makes a big impact on how much you’ll pay for car insurance.

According to Experian, the nation’s average credit score reached an all-time record of 703 in 2019. California’s average was even higher at 708. While there are many reasons to keep an eye on your credit score, your car insurance rates aren’t one of them anymore.

It is now illegal in California for companies to base their rates upon a person’s credit score.

It’s still important to keep up with your credit score or work on pulling that number up. The good news — if you’re still working to increase your score — is that you don’t need to worry about your car insurance premiums.

How does my driving record change my rates with car insurance companies in California?

Driving record is the most important factor that determines your rates in California. Even one event can have a big impact. Take a look below.

Group Clean record With One
speeding violation
With One accident With One DUI
Allstate $2,728.84 $3,582.21 $4,597.86 $7,223.45
Farmers $3,697.25 $4,998.06 $5,033.47 $6,268.29
Geico $2,018.18 $2,503.62 $3,114.92 $3,908.23
Liberty Mutual $2,634.50 $2,791.65 $3,529.11 $3,185.41
Nationwide $3,246.63 $4,162.31 $4,162.31 $7,043.06
Progressive $1,865.51 $2,687.54 $3,171.49 $3,680.03
State Farm $2,998.34 $3,480.06 $3,576.40 $6,756.08
Travelers $2,234.04 $3,290.14 $3,644.10 $4,234.85
USAA $1,790.02 $1,960.95 $2,664.41 $4,363.10

Rates increase across the board for driving record tarnishes. Premiums will go up by:

  • One accident – 19 to 70 percent increase
  • One speeding violation – 6 to 47 percent increase
  • One DUI – 21 to 165 percent increase

The average rates per incident type are below.

  • Clean Record – $2,579.26
  • One Speeding Violation – $3,272.95
  • One Accident – $3,721.56
  • One DUI – $5,184.72

As you can tell, it really depends on the company. Liberty Mutual is most lenient for speeding and DUI violations, but State Farm is most forgiving for one accident.

Which car insurance companies are the largest in California?

Check out the information below to see the biggest car insurance providers in California and their market shares.

Company Name Direct Premiums Written Loss Ratio Market Share
Allstate Insurance Group $2,446,564 64.73% 8.97%
Auto Club Enterprises Insurance Group $2,312,230 65.03% 8.48%
CSAA Insurance Group $1,950,257 64.30% 7.15%
Farmers Insurance Group $3,158,814 68.26% 11.59%
Geico $2,502,854 84.78% 9.18%
Liberty Mutual Group $929,058 77.26% 3.41%
Mercury Gen Group $2,095,531 61.91% 7.69%
Progressive Group $1,147,186 62.78% 4.21%
State Farm Group $3,910,351 75.94% 14.34%
USAA Group $1,218,792 72.98% 4.47%

State Farm and Farmers have the largest market shares in the state.

How many car insurance companies are available in California?

As you can see below, there are far more foreign insurers than there are domestic.

Licensed Insurer Type Total Number of Licensed Insurers
Domestic 99
Foreign 671
Total 770

As far as this data is concerned, domestic insurers were formed under the laws of the state of California. Foreign insurers were created in other states.

California Laws

Let’s talk about California’s state laws. We will be getting into how laws are determined, licensing laws, rules of the road, and safety laws.

Let’s jump into it with car insurance laws in California.

What are the car insurance laws in California?

There are way too many state laws to slog through here, but we will be touching on some of the most important ones you need to know as a driver in California.

Hopefully, this will help you stay safe while driving up the coast or through some of the dense traffic in the state. Let’s get started.

How State Laws for Insurance Are Determined

State insurance laws are determined by California’s State Legislature. First, the laws governing financial responsibility are found in the Vehicle Code, Division 7. This also details penalties for not obeying the laws. California enacted Proposition 103 in 1988, and it was put in place to control insurance company ratings.

Proposition 103 includes a mandated 20 percent discount for good drivers.

California also requires rate changes to have prior approval by the Department of Insurance.

Windshield Coverage

Are you wondering if your insurance will cover a replacement windshield? The mandatory laws vary by state, and after that, it is up to the insurer.

According to carwindshields.info, aftermarket parts are allowed with written notice, but they must at least be as good as original parts. You are also able to choose where the repairs are done.

California does not require windshield coverage, but it may be offered through many company’s comprehensive policies.

High-Risk Insurance

Drivers who get caught driving under the influence may be required to get SR-22 insurance to get their license reinstated. It’s also a possible requirement if you are being negligent or get involved in an accident while uninsured.

SR-22s are not insurance, but they are proof of financial responsibility.

The California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP) was created to help drivers who have been turned down by traditional insurance companies.

CAARP will assign the driver to a car insurance company, which is then required to provide coverage to the driver. This spreads the high-risk around so that every company shares it.

Low-Cost Insurance

California is one of only three states — the others being Hawaii and New Jersey — that has a program designed to help offset the costs of car insurance for low-income families.

California’s Low-Cost Auto Insurance (CLCA) provides liability insurance for those who are income-qualified. You must also meet these requirements to sign up:

  • Have a valid California driver’s license
  • Meet income eligibility
  • Your vehicle must be valued at $25,000 or less
  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Have a good driving record

Each person can buy up to two policies, to cover two separate vehicles.

Automobile Insurance Fraud in California

Insurance fraud is a crime everywhere, and California has taken steps to keep these issues from occurring in the state.

The Fraud Division, which is part of the California Department of Insurance, is dedicated to investigating fraud. They have a lot to do. At a cost of over $40 billion a year, insurance fraud is a huge problem.

According to an Insurance Research Council (IRC) study, fraud was the reason for between 15 percent and 17 percent of total claims payments for auto insurance bodily injury in 2012.

If you are convicted of committing automotive insurance fraud, you will face some serious consequences.

Type of Crime Jail Time Fines
Misdemeanor Fraud Up to one year Up to $10,000
Felony Fraud Two to five years $50,000 or double the amount defrauded, whichever is greater

You may also need to pay possible restitution for committing fraud.

If you know of any fraud and want to report it, the information for California’s Department of Fraud follows below.

California Department of Insurance
Fraud Division
2400 Del Paso Road, Suite 250
Sacramento, CA 95834
fraud@insurance.ca.gov

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is the amount of time after a qualifying event that you can make a claim for damages from it.

In California, you have two years from the date of the accident to make a personal injury claim. You have three years from the date to make a property damage claim.

With literally years of time, that should be plenty to get any needed claims in.

California-Specific Laws

California certainly has some weird rules on the books. Did you know it’s illegal for a woman to drive while wearing her housecoat? The state also has a few state-specific programs that are designed to help consumers who are going through the claims process.

The Automobile Claims Mediation Program is just that — a mediator with the insurance company over claims. It’s there to help settle disputes between policyholders and insurance providers without the cost of lawsuits.

The Fair Claims Settlement Practices is there to ensure fairness to both sides in regard to how claims are handled.

Just don’t drive to the meetings in your housecoat.

What are the vehicle licensing laws in California?

Let’s take a look at this important data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) regarding licensing laws.

REAL ID

By now, you’ve probably heard of REAL ID and know how you should get one.

Take a few minutes and watch the video below for some information on REAL ID in California.

California is compliant with the REAL ID Act. If you plan to access federal facilities or nuclear power plants, you’ll need a REAL ID.

More relevant for most people, you’ll need a REAL ID to fly on federally regulated commercial aircraft.

It’s best to go ahead and bite the bullet on this one. The California DMV has a checklist that is pretty handy for when you are ready to get your REAL ID.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

As we’ve touched on earlier, 15.20 percent of drivers in California are uninsured. It’s always best — for your own financial benefit — to have insurance coverage, but it’s also illegal to drive without it.

Offense Penalties
First Offense Fine up to $200 + penalty assessments
Possible vehicle impounding
Second Offense Fine up to $500 + penalty assessments
Possible vehicle impounding

You also face the possibility of being sued by the other driver if you’re found at-risk for the accident.

Teen Driver Laws

Do you have a brand-new driver in the house? There are some things you should know.

The video below talks about teen driver licensing.

The minimum age for obtaining a learner’s permit is 15 years and six months.

Before getting an intermediate license, teens must meet the following requirements:

  • 50 hours of driving, 10 of which must be at night
  • Must turn 16 and have learner’s for six months

After meeting these, teens can obtain a restricted license. During this time, the following applies:

  • Unsupervised driving is prohibited from 11 p.m.–5 a.m.
  • No passengers under 20 can be in the car, with the exception of the immediate family
  • 12 months of nighttime restrictions after obtaining initial license

There are a few exceptions to the provisional license restrictions:

  • Medical necessity
  • School or school activities
  • Employment necessity
  • Family necessity

Twelve months after getting the initial learner’s permit, restrictions can be lifted. The driver must be at least 17 at this time.

Older Driver License Renewal Procedures

No matter what age you are, California requires all residents to renew their licenses every five years. When renewing in person, all drivers must provide proof of vision, but drivers over the age of 70 have to do it every time.

Mail-in or online renewal is permitted for the general population. However, it is limited to two consecutive renewals. After that, you’ll have to go to the DMV.

Ages 70 and older have to go in every time, as mail-in and online renewal is not an option for them.

New Residents

Have you just moved to California, or are you planning a move now? You’ll need to know what the requirements are for new Golden State residents.

A great place to start is with the California Driver Handbook.

You have 10 days to change your driver’s license from the time you establish residency in the state of California.

10 days go by fast when you’re getting settled into a new place, so it’s best to get your driver’s license changed over quickly.

License Renewal Procedures

According to AAA, all first-time licenses expire on the fifth birthday of the driver that follows the date of the application. After that, it continues to need renewal every fifth year.

Mail-in or online renewal is permitted for the general population.

All drivers must provide proof of vision when renewing in person.

California allows a non-binary gender designation on its driver’s licenses. When applying for a new license or renewing, you can choose to have the designation of X instead of just M or F for gender.

Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS)

California has a Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) that uses points to record violations on your license. If you get enough points on your license, you’ll be considered a negligent operator. If this happens, you’ll be facing some penalties.

If you get the following number of points within these designated time period, you could have your license suspended for six months and get one year of probation.

  • 4 points in 12 months
  • 6 points in 24 months
  • 8 points in 36 months

If you violate probation at this point, you will have your license suspended for a longer period.

You can earn points by running a red light, speeding, or making an unsafe lane change. You’ll get two points for DUI, reckless driving, or speeding over 100mph.

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What are the rules of the road in California?

What do we mean by rules of the road?

We are going to be taking a closer look at seat belt and car seat laws, move over laws, and speed limits — among other things.

Fault Versus No-Fault

California is considered to be an at-fault state. If you’re found at fault, you can be held legally and financially responsible for an accident you cause.

You can see why it’s so important to have liability insurance, but you also want to cover yourself. More insurance is generally a good choice.

Seat Belt and Car Seat Laws

State law requires drivers to use a seat belt at all times. In addition, all passengers over the age of 16 years old must utilize a seat belt. If not, the minimum fine is $20. It’s also far safer to use the seat belt.

Kids aged 8 to 15 can use adult belts as long as they are at least 57″ tall.

All children 7 and under are required to be in the appropriate car seat, and they must all ride in the backseat.

Here are the rules for child car seats in California.

Car Seat Type Age, Height, and Weight
Rear-Facing Seat Under 2 years old
Less than 40 lbs
Less than 40" tall
Forward-Facing Seat 2 to 7 years old
40" to 57" tall
Booster Seat Over 40 lbs
Adult Seat Belt 8 to 15 years old
57" tall

Here is a short video on determining the correct car seat for your child.

Children rely on adults to keep them safe, and these laws are here to help.

Riding in the back of a pickup truck is not allowed, with few exceptions.

Keep Right and Move Over Laws

California law requires that you keep right or move over. That means that if you are moving slower than the average speed of traffic around you, you must get over and allow other drivers to pass on the left.

You must also move over if there is an emergency vehicle or tow truck on the shoulder if it is safe to do so. If it is not safe to move over, slow down.

Speed Limits

Speed limits are there to keep drivers safe, and they are generally set by the road type. Here are the current speed limits in California.

Road Type Passenger vehicles Trucks
Rural Interstates 70 55
Urban Interstates 65 55
Other Limited Access Roads 70 55
Other Roads 65 55

Large trucks have a state-wide speed limit of 55 mph.

Ridesharing

If you drive for Uber or Lyft, you’re going to want to get ridesharing insurance. Your personal insurance policy covers you when you’re using your vehicle for personal use, but the minute you go to work ridesharing, that changes.

Driving Purpose/
Time Period
Insurance Required Covered By
Personal Use California legal minimum Driver's personal policy
App is active but rider not matched $50,000 per person/$100,000 per incident bodily injury
$30,000 property damage
Additional $200,000 excess liability
50/100/30 by driver
$200,000 excess by company
Rider in Vehicle $1,000,000 liability Rideshare company

Your car’s insurance rules will change based upon where it is in the ridesharing process. The driver must have 50/100/30 insurance, and the company pays more. All drivers working for a rideshare service need to have an insurance policy that covers the extra liability.

These companies currently offer ridesharing insurance in California.

  • Allstate
  • Farmers
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Mercury
  • Metlife
  • Metromile
  • State Farm
  • USAA

In September 2019, California passed a new bill that changes things. Rideshare drivers will be classified as employees.

Automation on the Road

California does allow automated vehicles on its roads.

This video discusses some safety issues concerning self-driving cars.

While the driver does not need to be in the vehicle, the liability insurance required is $5 million.

What are the safety laws in California?

Safety is the single biggest thing to focus on when driving in California.

Anybody can get into a car accident because of a split-second error in judgment. However, accidents that come from distracted driving or driving under the influence are not nearly as forgivable.

Let’s look at some of the laws created to keep you safe. We will be going over DUI, marijuana, and distracted driving laws.

DUI Laws

With 1,120 alcohol-related fatalities in 2017, drunk driving is a big problem in California. Most DUIs in California are considered misdemeanors, but they are charged as felonies sometimes depending on the circumstances.

Here’s a look at the penalties:

Offense Number ALS or Revocation Imprisonment Fine Other
First Offense Four months 96 hours to six months, including 48 continuous hours $390–$1000 $125 license reinstatement fee ($100 under 21 yr. old suspended under Zero ToleraneLaw) +CA Ins Proof Certificate (SR 22/SR 1P) +DUI program for license reinstatement
Second Offense One year if offense within 10 years of previous 96 hours to six months, including 48 continuous hours $390–$1000 For license reinstatement during DL sus/rev period, must do DUI program, install IID and agree not to drive anywhere w/o it, file SR 22, pay reissue and restriction fees.
Third Offense 18 months if offense within 10 years of previous 120 days to one year, including 48 continuous hours NA NA
Fourth Offense One year if offense within 10 years of previous NA NA NA

A BAC of 0.08 is enough to get a DUI, with a BAC of 0.15–0.2; 0.2+ considered to be a high BAC.

Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws

Recreational marijuana has been legal since 2017 in the Golden State.

However, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of cannabis.

As the video below shows, peace officers are trained at recognizing the signs of impairment.

If that doesn’t deter you, look at the consequences that you could face for driving under the influence of marijuana.

Number of Offense ALS or Revocation Imprisonment Fine Other
First Offense Four months 96 hours to six months, including 48 continuous hours $390–$1000 $125 license reinstatement fee ($100 under 21 yr. old suspended under Zero ToleraneLaw) +CA Ins Proof Certificate (SR 22/SR 1P) +DUI program for license reinstatement
Second Offense One year if offense within 10 years of previous 96 hours to six months, including 48 continuous hours $390–$1000 For license reinstatement during DL sus/rev period, must do DUI program, file SR 22, pay reissue and restriction fees.
Third Offense 18 months if offense within 10 years of previous 120 days to one year, including 48 continuous hours NA NA
Fourth Offense One year if offense within 10 years of previous NA NA NA

Driving under the influence of marijuana carries the same consequences as a DUI by alcohol. There is no legal limit for THC in the laws, so an officer can make an arrest based upon their judgment.

Distracted Driving Laws

It is illegal for all drivers to use a cell phone while driving. Residents can’t have their phone in their hands or use them to text while driving.

School bus drivers are not allowed to use a cell phone while operating the vehicle.

Driving in California

Insurance premiums are determined by more than just an individual’s history and demographics. There are other state-specific things that go into the determination.

Let’s get into these and talk about vehicle thefts, EMS response times, road fatalities, and more.

How many vehicle thefts occur in California?

It looks like everybody was stealing Hondas in sunny California in 2017. The Accord and Civic are neck and neck with each other.

Rank Make/Model Year of Vehicle Thefts
1 Honda Accord 1996 28,345
2 Honda Civic 1998 28,045
3 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size) 2006 6,048
4 Toyota Camry 1991 5,345
5 Ford Pickup (Full Size) 2006 4,504
6 Acura Integra 1994 4,273
7 Toyota Corolla 2014 3,339
8 Nissan Sentra 1997 2,555
9 Nissan Altima 1997 2,281
10 Honda CR-V 1999 2,033

The year shown is the most popular model year stolen. The number of thefts listed as stolen for that make and model includes all years.

Below are the thefts by city in California.

City Motor Vehicle Theft
Bakersfield 2,777
Fresno 2,789
Long Beach 2,729
Los Angeles 19,193
Oakland 5,495
Sacramento 2,718
San Bernardino 2,277
San Diego 5,135
San Francisco 4,834
San Jose 8,068

Is your vehicle one of the most stolen? The most thefts occurred in Los Angeles, San Jose, and Oakland.

How many road fatalities occur in California?

We’ll be taking a look at this information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

They regularly publish data about crashes, fatalities, and their causes. First, let’s see what the most fatal highway in the state is.

Most Fatal Highway in California

According to Geotab, The Needles Freeway is the most dangerous road in California. This stretch of I-40 averages 11 of the approximate 136 fatal crashes a year.

Knowing which stretch of highway to avoid if you can then not only help you save money; it could save your life.

Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition

Weather conditions and time of day play a role in how many motor vehicle crashes happen on the road. You can see some of these broken down below.

Weather Condition Daylight Dark,
but Lighted
Dark Dawn or Dusk Other / Unknown Total
Normal 1,286 883 779 136 5 3,089
Rain 51 58 54 6 0 169
Snow/Sleet 4 0 4 1 0 9
Other 10 7 17 0 0 34
Unknown 0 2 1 0 0 3
Total 1,351 950 855 143 5 3,304

The highest number of fatal crashes occurred in normal weather during the day time. This makes sense, as that is when most people are on the roads.

However, 50 percent of fatal crashes happened in normal weather in either dark or dark, but lighted conditions. Five percent occurred while it was raining.

Fatalities (All Crashes) by County

Check out the table below, which shows fatalities by county in California.

County Total Fatalities
2014
2015 2016 2017 2018 Fatalities per
100,000 Population
2014
2015 2016 2017 2018
Alameda 83 90 79 102 72 5.16 5.51 4.79 6.15 4.32
Alpine 1 1 7 4 2 92.42 92 662.25 356.82 181.65
Amador 7 8 14 12 11 19.05 21.6 37.4 31.13 27.93
Butte 24 33 36 40 35 10.73 14.68 15.89 17.45 15.13
Calaveras 8 11 9 20 14 17.91 24.47 19.87 43.82 30.7
Colusa 7 5 5 10 12 33.02 23.51 23.2 46.14 55.49
Contra Costa 44 76 81 66 74 3.97 6.76 7.12 5.76 6.43
DelNorte 8 15 8 6 10 29.41 55.05 29.17 21.88 35.94
El Dorado 23 26 19 26 32 12.56 14.08 10.21 13.78 16.78
Fresno 117 102 150 160 113 12.17 10.51 15.34 16.22 11.36
Glenn 12 6 11 9 9 43.08 21.6 39.5 32.19 32.09
Humboldt 33 28 21 39 24 24.53 20.72 15.41 28.57 17.6
Imperial 46 28 34 25 37 25.81 15.63 18.86 13.77 20.35
Inyo 0 6 7 11 0 0 33.01 38.9 61.29 0
Kern 111 138 149 185 144 12.76 15.73 16.89 20.81 16.06
Kings 12 35 30 26 21 8.02 23.3 20.07 17.37 13.87
Lake 7 17 15 17 10 10.93 26.46 23.48 26.5 15.53
Lassen 5 9 10 8 12 15.77 28.68 32.36 25.7 38.96
Los Angeles 639 651 837 751 670 6.36 6.45 8.27 7.42 6.63
Madera 32 29 39 26 36 20.83 18.86 25.3 16.68 22.83
Marin 10 8 12 12 16 3.84 3.06 4.6 4.62 6.16
Mariposa 5 3 5 7 4 28.23 17.02 28.65 40.14 22.9
Mendocino 19 10 25 30 38 21.77 11.47 28.61 34.21 43.38
Merced 37 54 72 70 55 13.98 20.25 26.87 25.8 20.02
Modoc 3 3 1 0 2 33.04 33.16 11.19 0 22.79
Mono 5 6 1 5 10 35.36 42.73 7.04 35.12 70.18
Monterey 32 49 55 57 46 7.46 11.36 12.65 13.09 10.56
Napa 6 15 12 15 14 4.27 10.63 8.5 10.68 10.04
Nevada 5 13 12 16 18 5.07 13.17 12.13 16.08 18.05
Orange 173 183 204 210 176 5.53 5.8 6.43 6.6 5.52
Placer 13 21 40 30 28 3.52 5.63 10.55 7.78 7.12
Plumas 6 5 10 6 6 32.15 27 53.27 32.02 31.91
Riverside 246 242 297 305 292 10.61 10.31 12.47 12.62 11.91
Sacramento 114 139 169 172 134 7.73 9.3 11.18 11.26 8.7
San Benito 9 9 11 9 12 15.55 15.45 18.57 14.95 19.5
San Bernardino 285 260 273 345 298 13.57 12.28 12.79 16.02 13.72
San Diego 233 246 243 240 255 7.17 7.49 7.34 7.22 7.63
San Francisco 33 38 36 25 24 3.88 4.4 4.12 2.84 2.72
San Joaquin 83 98 119 121 107 11.66 13.57 16.25 16.3 14.22
San Luis Opispo 32 34 32 34 40 11.5 12.14 11.35 12.02 x
San Mateo 25 33 52 33 28 3.3 4.31 6.77 4.29 3.64
Santa Barbara 23 35 34 42 33 5.23 7.91 7.65 9.43 7.39
Santa Clara 106 133 114 117 111 5.6 6.94 5.91 6.05 5.73
Santa Cruz 20 19 20 19 20 7.38 6.94 7.28 6.91 7.29
Shasta 22 40 26 30 30 12.3 22.43 14.56 16.71 16.66
Sierra 0 1 1 3 1 0 33.38 33.82 99.7 33.48
Siskiyou 9 12 11 14 18 20.75 27.69 25.3 31.98 41.17
Solano 49 45 37 33 56 11.42 10.38 8.42 7.43 12.54
Sonoma 40 46 45 41 39 8.02 9.18 8.94 8.15 7.8
Stanislaus 62 49 79 76 83 11.73 9.18 14.64 13.94 15.1
Sutter 11 17 8 23 24 11.6 17.82 8.34 23.85 24.79
Tehama 14 19 18 13 22 22.3 30.12 28.41 20.4 34.42
Trinity 8 5 8 5 8 60.96 38.19 62.35 39.29 63.82
Tulare 60 75 80 85 71 13.17 16.38 17.39 18.35 15.24
Tuolumne 11 17 11 14 9 20.44 31.75 20.48 25.91 16.5
Ventura 46 56 57 52 46 5.46 6.61 6.71 6.11 5.41
Yolo 19 26 36 20 29 9.11 12.26 16.7 9.16 13.16
Yuba 9 9 10 12 22 12.23 12.15 13.33 15.63 28.19

The same five counties topped the list every year from 2014 to 2018. Here are the five-year totals for these counties.

  • Los Angeles County – 3,548
  • San Bernardino County – 1,461
  • Riverside County – 1,382
  • San Diego County – 1,217
  • Orange County – 946

Meanwhile, the county that topped most years for fatalities per 100k population was Alpine County — a county with a population of just 1,120 in 2017. With a smaller population, even small numbers of fatalities can push up the rate.

Traffic Fatalities

In many places, fatality rates are influenced by the longer EMS response times in rural areas.

Traffic Fatalities 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Rural 1,320 1,162 1,190 1,200 1,201 1,170 1,404 1,593 1,423 1,072
Urban 1,770 1,558 1,626 1,766 1,906 1,931 1,982 2,244 2,458 2,490
Unknown 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 3 1
Total 3,090 2,720 2,816 2,966 3,107 3,102 3,387 3,837 3,884 3,563

In California, there are still more urban fatalities than rural. Nearly 40 percent of fatalities in the 10-year period between 2009 and 2018 occurred in rural areas, but 61 percent were in urban places.

Traffic can impact how fast EMS can reach and transport a patient in need, and seconds can be critical when this happens. With California’s many congested cities, that certainly impacts these numbers.

Fatalities by Person Type

Here are the fatality rates broken down by pedestrian, motorcyclist, or pedestrian.

Person Type 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Passenger Car 1,066 1,170 1,357 1,363 1,219
Light Truck – Pickup 209 294 272 287 245
Light Truck – Utility 271 288 307 346 372
Light Truck – Van 79 88 88 91 77
Light Truck – Other 6 9 6 6 10
Large Truck 33 32 54 53 45
Bus 17 1 20 3 0
Other/Unknown Occupants 26 14 18 24 25
Total Occupants 1,707 1,896 2,122 2,173 1,993
Total Motorcyclists 522 494 576 578 488
Pedestrian 709 819 933 940 893
Bicyclist and Other Cyclist 129 136 155 145 155
Other/Unknown Nonoccupants 35 42 51 48 34
Total Nonoccupants 873 997 1,139 1,133 1,082
Total 3,102 3,387 3,837 3,884 3,563

For each year, the highest percentage of fatalities occurred in passenger cars, at about 35 percent each year. Total occupant crashes consistently made up approximately 55 percent of the totals.

With so many cities — and therefore so many people walking place-to-place — California has a large number of pedestrian fatalities, making up nearly a quarter of the total each year.

Fatalities by Crash Type

Here is a breakdown of what types of crashes caused the traffic fatalities in California from 2014 to 2018.

Crash Type 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Total Fatalities (All Crashes) 3,102 3,387 3,837 3,884 3,563
Single Vehicle 1,861 1,987 2,273 2,234 2,034
Involving a Roadway Departure 1,374 1,530 1,754 1,669 1,557
Involving Speeding 995 1,032 1,151 1,164 927
Involving an Intersection (or Intersection Related) 811 881 1,024 1,038 919
Involving a Rollover 696 770 800 827 809
Involving a Large Truck 301 305 375 383 352

For each year, nearly 60 percent of traffic fatalities involved single vehicles; 23 to 32 percent involved speeding.

Five-Year Trend for the Top 10 Counties

Look below for the five-year fatality trend for the 10 largest counties in California.

Rank County 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
1 Los Angeles 639 651 837 751 670
2 San Bernardino 285 260 273 345 298
3 Riverside 246 242 297 305 292
4 San Diego 233 246 243 240 255
5 Orange 173 183 204 210 176
6 Kern 111 138 149 185 144
7 Sacramento 114 139 169 172 134
8 Fresno 117 102 150 160 113
9 Santa Clara 106 133 114 117 111
10 San Joaquin 83 98 119 121 107

There are 58 counties in the state of California, but just 10 of these counties accounted for 66 percent of the state’s total traffic fatalities.

Los Angeles County alone accounts for approximately 20 percent each year. With the highest population for the state, this is not surprising.

Fatalities Involving Speeding by County

In the 10 years between 2009 and 2018, there were 10,127 traffic fatalities involving speeding. There’s a reason for posted speed limits.

County Total Fatalities
2014
2015 2016 2017 2018 Fatalities per
100,000 Population
2014
2015 2016 2017 2018
Alameda 24 37 25 34 22 1.49 2.26 1.51 2.05 1.32
Alpine 1 0 6 1 1 92.42 0 567.64 89.21 90.83
Amador 1 0 2 0 3 2.72 0 5.34 0 7.62
Butte 11 13 4 15 3 4.92 5.78 1.77 6.54 1.3
Calaveras 2 1 3 4 3 4.48 2.22 6.62 8.76 6.58
Colusa 1 2 2 2 5 4.72 9.4 9.28 9.23 23.12
Contra Costa 13 26 36 19 20 1.17 2.31 3.17 1.66 1.74
Del Norte 2 2 5 1 4 7.35 7.34 18.23 3.65 14.37
El Dorado 8 6 9 13 7 4.37 3.25 4.84 6.89 3.67
Fresno 24 22 44 52 21 2.5 2.27 4.5 5.27 2.11
Glenn 1 2 3 2 0 3.59 7.2 10.77 7.15 0
Humboldt 9 8 6 8 3 6.69 5.92 4.4 5.86 2.2
Imperial 11 9 3 9 5 6.17 5.02 1.66 4.96 2.75
Inyo 0 1 0 2 0 0 5.5 0 11.14 0
Kern 27 40 49 46 36 3.1 4.56 5.55 5.17 4.01
Kings 3 11 5 7 3 2.01 7.32 3.34 4.68 1.98
Lake 0 6 4 3 1 0 9.34 6.26 4.68 1.55
Lassen 1 5 1 1 2 3.15 15.93 3.24 3.21 6.49
Los Angeles 240 231 308 238 215 2.39 2.29 3.04 2.35 2.13
Madera 7 8 10 4 2 4.56 5.2 6.49 2.57 1.27
Marin 3 1 3 6 6 1.15 0.38 1.15 2.31 2.31
Mariposa 2 0 0 1 1 11.29 0 0 5.73 5.72
Mendocino 5 3 3 9 9 5.73 3.44 3.43 10.26 10.27
Merced 9 16 14 16 13 3.4 6 5.22 5.9 4.73
Modoc 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mono 2 0 0 0 3 14.14 0 0 0 21.05
Monterey 7 4 9 12 13 1.63 0.93 2.07 2.76 2.98
Napa 2 2 3 1 4 1.42 1.42 2.12 0.71 2.87
Nevada 3 5 4 4 6 3.04 5.07 4.04 4.02 6.02
Orange 56 51 53 71 53 1.79 1.62 1.67 2.23 1.66
Placer 3 2 11 11 5 0.81 0.54 2.9 2.85 1.27
Plumas 2 2 4 1 4 10.72 10.8 21.31 5.34 21.27
Riverside 93 87 95 86 70 4.01 3.71 3.99 3.56 2.86
Sacramento 35 42 56 53 32 2.37 2.81 3.7 3.47 2.08
San Benito 5 0 2 2 3 8.64 0 3.38 3.32 4.88
San Bernardino 90 82 72 114 84 4.28 3.87 3.37 5.29 3.87
San Diego 71 75 76 84 70 2.18 2.28 2.3 2.53 2.09
San Francisco 8 10 12 5 5 0.94 1.16 1.37 0.57 0.57
San Joaquin 26 34 36 36 39 3.65 4.71 4.92 4.85 5.18
San Luis Obispo 11 7 8 14 7 3.95 2.5 2.84 4.95 2.46
San Mateo 5 12 16 11 6 0.66 1.57 2.08 1.43 0.78
Santa Barbara 6 10 14 19 2 1.37 2.26 3.15 4.26 0.45
Santa Clara 32 39 33 34 34 1.69 2.03 1.71 1.76 1.75
Santa Cruz 11 5 4 7 3 4.06 1.83 1.46 2.54 1.09
Shasta 6 19 4 6 6 3.35 10.65 2.24 3.34 3.33
Sierra 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 99.7 33.48
Siskiyou 2 2 2 4 5 4.61 4.62 4.6 9.14 11.44
Solano 22 23 14 6 11 5.13 5.3 3.19 1.35 2.46
Sonoma 17 11 12 14 9 3.41 2.19 2.38 2.78 1.8
Stanislaus 27 12 13 17 24 5.11 2.25 2.41 3.12 4.37
Sutter 1 1 4 9 1 1.05 1.05 4.17 9.33 1.03
Tehama 6 4 3 1 6 9.56 6.34 4.74 1.57 9.39
Trinity 5 1 2 0 2 38.1 7.64 15.59 0 15.96
Tulare 13 15 13 17 11 2.85 3.28 2.83 3.67 2.36
Tuolumne 2 0 1 2 1 3.72 0 1.86 3.7 1.83
Ventura 9 12 16 17 10 1.07 1.42 1.88 2 1.18
Yolo 6 10 9 8 6 2.88 4.72 4.18 3.66 2.72
Yuba 6 3 5 2 6 8.16 4.05 6.67 2.61 7.69

Once again, Los Angeles County tops the list every year for the number of fatalities. Alpine County had a spike in 2016, with 567.64 out of every 100,000 people. That translated to six people, though, as it is a small county.

Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver by County

There were 9,289 alcohol-related driving fatalities between 2009 and 2018.

On average, there were 930 deaths a year caused by alcohol-related crashes.

The legal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08, so all of the deaths in the table below were caused by someone who drank enough to become impaired and chose to drink and drive. It’s great to live in a time when you can call an Uber or a Lyft.

County Fatalities
2014
2015 2016 2017 2018 Fatalities
per 100,000 Population
2014
2015 2016 2017 2018
Alameda 17 20 22 32 17 1.06 1.22 1.33 1.93 1.02
Alpine 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 178.41 90.83
Amador 0 2 4 4 6 0 5.4 10.68 10.38 15.23
Butte 10 14 13 16 8 4.47 6.23 5.74 6.98 3.46
Calaveras 4 5 3 4 3 8.95 11.12 6.62 8.76 6.58
Colusa 1 0 0 4 0 4.72 0 0 18.45 0
Contra Costa 14 19 24 21 28 1.26 1.69 2.11 1.83 2.43
Del Norte 2 2 2 3 2 7.35 7.34 7.29 10.94 7.19
El Dorado 11 5 6 7 6 6.01 2.71 3.22 3.71 3.15
Fresno 32 29 33 49 30 3.33 2.99 3.37 4.97 3.02
Glenn 1 2 1 7 0 3.59 7.2 3.59 25.04 0
Humboldt 11 9 7 16 7 8.18 6.66 5.14 11.72 5.13
Imperial 9 4 7 6 10 5.05 2.23 3.88 3.3 5.5
Inyo 0 1 2 1 0 0 5.5 11.11 5.57 0
Kern 33 39 40 48 48 3.79 4.45 4.53 5.4 5.35
Kings 3 8 7 9 9 2.01 5.33 4.68 6.01 5.95
Lake 2 6 5 7 3 3.12 9.34 7.83 10.91 4.66
Lassen 1 4 5 1 1 3.15 12.75 16.18 3.21 3.25
Los Angeles 172 149 242 206 198 1.71 1.48 2.39 2.04 1.96
Madera 11 7 14 7 10 7.16 4.55 9.08 4.49 6.34
Marin 4 2 3 4 5 1.54 0.77 1.15 1.54 1.93
Mariposa 2 2 2 5 1 11.29 11.35 11.46 28.67 5.72
Mendocino 3 1 10 3 11 3.44 1.15 11.44 3.42 12.56
Merced 8 17 22 16 17 3.02 6.38 8.21 5.9 6.19
Modoc 1 2 0 0 0 11.01 22.1 0 0 0
Mono 1 2 0 4 0 7.07 14.24 0 28.1 0
Monterey 8 11 16 15 21 1.86 2.55 3.68 3.44 4.82
Napa 1 7 3 3 2 0.71 4.96 2.12 2.14 1.43
Nevada 1 3 1 4 5 1.01 3.04 1.01 4.02 5.02
Orange 41 49 54 56 55 1.31 1.55 1.7 1.76 1.73
Placer 3 5 9 9 6 0.81 1.34 2.37 2.33 1.53
Plumas 3 2 1 3 2 16.08 10.8 5.33 16.01 10.64
Riverside 71 76 89 95 103 3.06 3.24 3.74 3.93 4.2
Sacramento 35 47 51 49 38 2.37 3.15 3.37 3.21 2.47
San Benito 6 1 1 3 5 10.37 1.72 1.69 4.98 8.13
San Bernardino 89 74 80 94 100 4.24 3.49 3.75 4.37 4.6
San Diego 55 71 84 77 68 1.69 2.16 2.54 2.32 2.03
San Francisco 7 7 8 4 6 0.82 0.81 0.92 0.45 0.68
San Joaquin 25 19 41 38 30 3.51 2.63 5.6 5.12 3.99
San Luis Obispo 8 12 12 12 12 2.87 4.28 4.26 4.24 4.23
San Mateo 4 7 13 5 6 0.53 0.91 1.69 0.65 0.78
Santa Barbara 8 8 9 14 9 1.82 1.81 2.02 3.14 2.02
Santa Clara 36 30 36 28 22 1.9 1.56 1.87 1.45 1.14
Santa Cruz 5 8 5 5 4 1.84 2.92 1.82 1.82 1.46
Shasta 12 11 10 11 9 6.71 6.17 5.6 6.13 5
Sierra 0 1 0 1 0 0 33.38 0 33.23 0
Siskiyou 4 5 2 3 4 9.22 11.54 4.6 6.85 9.15
Solano 11 13 11 12 19 2.56 3 2.5 2.7 4.25
Sonoma 16 10 12 19 12 3.21 1.99 2.38 3.78 2.4
Stanislaus 23 16 22 27 29 4.35 3 4.08 4.95 5.27
Sutter 2 6 2 9 6 2.11 6.29 2.09 9.33 6.2
Tehama 5 5 6 5 7 7.96 7.93 9.47 7.85 10.95
Trinity 5 2 3 2 4 38.1 15.27 23.38 15.72 31.91
Tulare 13 17 24 30 29 2.85 3.71 5.22 6.48 6.23
Tuolumne 3 7 3 5 2 5.57 13.07 5.59 9.25 3.67
Ventura 15 11 19 21 14 1.78 1.3 2.24 2.47 1.65
Yolo 5 7 9 6 12 2.4 3.3 4.18 2.75 5.44
Yuba 0 3 5 3 7 0 4.05 6.67 3.91 8.97

As with most of our other lists in this section, Los Angeles County tops the list with 967 drunk-driving deaths from 2014 to 2018.

Drinking and driving is always a bad idea no matter what age, but it’s worse when it involves underage drinking.

Teen Drinking and Driving

Underage drinking has turned into a real problem in the United States, and that’s certainly true for California.

DUI Arrests in California Details
Under 18 years old 493
Under 18 years old – Total per million people 54.22
Rank 36

In 2016, there were 493 DUI arrests made in California of people under the age of 18.

California’s average teenage DUI rate is 54.22 per million people. The national average is higher at 94.84.

The underage drinking fatality rate in California is 1.3, which is slightly higher than the national average of 1.2.

EMS Response Time

Any time you’re stuck in traffic when an ambulance comes tearing down the shoulder toward a wreck, that may be the worst day of someone’s life. Seconds can be critical in such times.

When a wreck happens in a rural area, it can take a while for Emergency Medical Services to get there and provide help. Then, if a hospital is not nearby, it can be even longer before the patient can be helped.

As the most populated state in the U.S., California does have a lot of rural areas. This is reflected in the below chart, which shows EMS response time.

Location of Accident Time of Crash to EMS Notification EMS Notification to EMS Arrival EMS Arrival at Scene to Hospital Arrival Time of Crash to Hospital Arrival Total Fatal Crashes
Urban 2.71 minutes 4 minutes 8 minutes 24.17 minutes 2,062
Rural 2 minutes 39 minutes NA 5 minutes 1,239

It may take longer to arrive on the scene after EMS notification, but the time between notification to hospital arrival is, on average, much faster in rural areas. The heavily congested areas in California definitely affect these numbers.

What is transportation like in California?

Insurance companies use national and state averages to come up with their rates. Some of this information includes car ownership, commute time, and the method people use to travel to work every day.

Let’s take a closer look at these numbers from datausa.io.

Car Ownership

In car ownership, California follows the national trend of owning two cars per household.

In fact, 37.4 percent of California homes have two vehicles.

After that, 22.9 percent own three, and 17.9 own just one. Only 3.14 percent of homes have zero cars.

Commute Time

Employees in California have a longer commute than the average American.

Employees commute an average of 28.4 minutes, compared to the national average of 25.7 minutes. Additionally, 4.38 percent of commuters have “super commutes,” which is a fancy term for a commute that is over 90 minutes.

Commuter Transportation

In 2018, the most common method of transportation for Californian workers was to drive alone, easily winning this with 73.8 percent of the workforce.

Ten percent carpooled, and 6 percent worked from home.

Traffic Congestion

As the most populous state in the nation, California has a lot of congestion. In fact, the state is home to seven of the world’s most congested cities. The table below comes from data from inrix.com and shows the cities and their rankings, as well as the costs of congestion.

City United States Rank World Rank Hours Lost
in Congestion
Cost of Congestion
(per driver)
Bakersfield 53 205 50 $700
Fresno 55 208 43 $594
Los Angeles 5 47 128 $1,788
Sacramento 30 156 69 $957
San Diego 40 184 56 $781
San Francisco 8 65 116 $1,624
Stockton 60 214 38 $525

As you can see, Los Angeles is the most congested city in the state.

Depending on the time of day, you may find yourself driving pretty freely or crunched into a traffic jam.

  • Peak hours – 28.37 mph
  • Off-Peak hours – 42.07 mph
  • Free-flow hours – 58.39 mph

According to tomtom, L.A. has a 42 percent congestion level. Drivers spend an extra 44 minutes per day stuck in traffic. That works out to 167 hours — which is nearly seven full days — just stuck in traffic.

Commuters lose about 19 minutes for the morning commute. The evening drive home is even worse — with about 25 minutes lost each time. Highways are typically 46 percent congested, but non-highways aren’t much better at 40 percent.

For this next part, there are a few terms you need to be familiar with.

  • Traffic Index – combined time in traffic due to job commute, estimation of time consumption dissatisfaction, CO2 consumption estimation in traffic and overall ineffective traffic system
  • Time Index – average one-way time needed to transport (in minutes)
  • Inefficiency Index – estimation of inefficiencies in the traffic. High inefficiencies are usually caused by the fact that people drive a car instead of using public transport or long commute times

Los Angeles’s traffic index in 2019 was 238.96. The time index was 47.16, and L.A’s inefficiency index was 316.44.

So, there you have it. If you want to start shopping for your own policy, you can start by using our free tool by entering your ZIP code in the box below.

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