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Best Cheap Car Insurance in California for 2019

March 19, 2019
Auto Insurance, Insurance
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If you’re looking for cheap car insurance in California, getting the best deal may require some patience. Rates can vary from one company to the next, so it pays to compare as many estimates as possible.

To make things easier, has done the heavy lifting for you. We analyzed rates from the largest 11 insurers in the Golden State and found the cheapest options for several common driver types.

Cheapest for good drivers

Esurance offered the best rates in California for good drivers, coming in at an average of $100 per month. The next-cheapest insurers were 21st Century and Geico, respectively.

InsurerAverage price
Esurance$1,196/year ($100/month)
21st Century$1,510/year ($126/month)
Geico$1,541/year ($128/month)

For this calculation, averaged rates for 40-year-old men and women with a clean driving record. With the exception of age, a large portion of drivers are closest to this profile, which carries standard “full coverage” insurance, including state-required coverage.

Cheapest for drivers with one at-fault crash

Esurance came in cheapest in California again, this time for drivers with one recent accident on record, followed by CSAA (a regional AAA group) and Mercury. Esurance’s average rate was $148 per month.

InsurerAverage price
Esurance$1,770/year ($148/month)
CSAA$2,279/year ($190/month)
Mercury$2,507/year ($209/month)
To get these figures, we averaged rates for 40-year-olds with one recent at-fault crash and the typical "full coverage" insurance. Your rates will remain high for three to five years after you cause an accident or have a moving violation. If you fall into this category, be sure to shop for new insurance rates just after the three-year and five-year anniversaries of your infraction.

Cheapest for low-mileage drivers

Esurance was the cheapest at $92 per month, on average, for those who don’t drive much in California. Geico and 21st Century weren’t far behind, both coming in under $100 per month.

InsurerAverage price
Esurance$1,101/year ($92/month)
Geico$1,168/year ($97/month)
21st Century$1,183/year ($99/month)
Whether you're retired, work at home or often use public transportation, you may be able to get cheaper car insurance simply because you drive less. The rates above are for 40-year-olds with typical "full coverage" insurance and a clean driving record who drive 5,000 miles per year instead of the standard 12,000.

Honorable mention: Metromile

Metromile targets drivers who put relatively few miles on their cars; its rates can be superior for those who drive under 5,000 miles annually. We can’t get rate estimates because this company charges a monthly base rate, a per-mile rate each month. But the less you drive, the less you pay.

Cheapest for minimum coverage in California

Geico was the cheapest insurer we found for minimum coverage in California, at about $38 per month. Esurance and CSAA round out the cheapest three.

InsurerAverage price
Geico$454/year ($38/month)
Esurance$548/year ($46/month)
CSAA$558/year ($47/month)
We calculated these numbers by averaging rates for 40-year-old good drivers who have only the minimum mandatory insurance in their state. Such light coverage isn't typically recommended, since it might not cover all the bills resulting from a car accident, but it's better than nothing — especially if you can't afford much more.

Cheap for military families

If you’re an active member of the military or a veteran — or have an immediate family member who is — chances are you’ll get a relatively cheap rate with USAA, a company that isn’t available to the general public.

Because of that restriction, USAA is not eligible for our overall rankings, but it was the among the cheapest three auto insurance options for every driver type listed above.

Minimum auto insurance limits required in California

California drivers must carry liability insurance in the following amounts:

  • $15,000 bodily injury liability per person.
  • $30,000 bodily injury liability per accident.
  • $5,000 property damage liability per accident.

Liability coverage helps pay for other people’s injury or property damage bills if you cause the accident. Experts recommend getting more than the bare minimum if you want to avoid dipping into your own savings to cover expenses.

For instance, California has a relatively low property damage minimum, only $5,000. If you cause an accident and total another driver’s car, the damage could easily exceed that amount, and you’d have to pay the difference out of pocket.

Check out’s guide to state car insurance requirements for more details on how the required and optional parts of your California policy work.

Alternative car insurance in California

If you have a high number of accidents, DUIs or other factors making it hard to find auto coverage on the voluntary market, you might qualify for insurance through the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan. This organization connects high-risk drivers to insurance companies that will cover them.

For more help finding the most competitive prices in California, try’s car insurance comparison tool.

Cheapest car insurance in California

CategoryCheapest option
Good driversEsurance
Drivers with one at-fault crashEsurance
Low-mileage driversEsurance
Drivers with a military connectionUSAA
Minimum coverageGeico

» MORE: Compare car insurance

For our “good driver” profile, averaged rates from the largest insurers in the state for 40-year-old men and women in 20 ZIP codes with 12,000 annual miles driven. The policy includes:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person.
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident.
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident.
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist coverage per person.
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist coverage per accident.
  • Collision coverage with a $1,000 deductible.
  • Comprehensive coverage with a $1,000 deductible.

We used the same assumptions for all other driver profiles, with the following exceptions:

  • For drivers with one at-fault crash, we added a single at-fault crash.
  • For low-mileage drivers, we adjusted the miles driven from 12,000 per year to 5,000.
  • For drivers with minimum coverage, we adjusted the numbers above to reflect minimum required coverage by law in the state.

We used a 2015 Toyota Camry in all cases. These are rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.