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The Full California Auto Insurance Guide [Providers + Coverage]

California Statistic SummarySTATS
Road Miles225,531
Registered Vehicles28,595,129
State Population39,557,045
Most Popular VehicleHonda Civic
Percentage of Uninsured Motorists15.2%
Rank: 12
Driving DeathsSpeeding: 1,070
Drunk Driving: 1,120
Average Annual PremiumsLiability: $462.95
Collision: $364.56
Comprehensive: $99.29
Cheapest ProvidersUSAA CIC
United Financial Casualty

It could happen anywhere.

Cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway. Sightseeing on State Road 120. Stuck in traffic on Route 60.

One minute, you’re behind the wheel, heading to your destination. And the next, you’re the victim of a fender benderpulled over on the side of the road and lost in a haze of flashing lights.

It could happen to anyone. And with over 26.7 million licensed drivers in the stateit could happen to you.

Without a doubt, having reliable car insurance in California is critical, especially given its distinction as a state with a high number of fatal crashes.

What Golden State drivers need to know is that car insurance is about much more than meeting a legal requirement. It’s about knowing that in the face of the worst possible scenario, you have the assurance that you’re protected legally and financially.

Indeed, purchasing car insurance in Calfornia is an important decision. But beyond searching out the best rates, you’ll want to know:

  • How the largest car insurance providers stack up financially.
  • What risk factors could cost you more money.
  • Whether your city or zip code of residence is known for higher rates.

And that’s just the beginning.

Thanks to this comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide, getting the scoop on California car insurance doesn’t have to be complicated. We’re breaking down all of the essentials you need to make the best decision about your coverage — and that includes state-specific laws, traffic fatality trends, and vehicle theft statistics.

You can start your journey into exploring the best rates by entering your ZIP code into our free car insurance comparison tool.

Table of Contents

California Car Insurance Coverage and Rates

Given the state’s status as the most populous in the country, one thing is certain – the number of drivers hitting California’s roads isn‘t slowing down any time soon.

And whether you’re new to the state or you’re a familiar driver, most will agree that California’s roadways live up to their reputation for traffic headaches.

In fact, researchers with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute confirm this. According to the institute’s 2019 Urban Mobility Report, three of California’s largest urban areas — Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, San Francisco-Oakland, and San Diego — rank among the nation’s top 20 most congested.

Without a doubt — an ever-increasing population coupled with constant congestion makes for a good case to not only purchase the best car insurance coverage possible, but to also have a solid understanding of the sate’s minimum coverage requirements.

– California’s Minimum Coverage Requirements

California state law is clear — residents with registered vehicles must meet these minimum car insurance coverage requirements:

California Required CoverageAmount
Bodily Injury Liability$15,000 per person
$30,000 per accident
Property Damage Liability$5,000

To elaborate, this means drivers must have at least 

  • $15,000 in bodily injury liability per person. This type of insurance covers the costs associated with another person’s injuries or death in an accident that you caused, up to the policy’s limits.
  • $30,000 in bodily injury liability per accident.
  • $5,000 in property damage liability per accident. This type of coverage addresses property that was damaged in an accident that you caused.

From here, drivers need to be aware of two key takeaways.

First, these are the state’s minimum requirements, meaning, you can always purchase additional coverage. Remember, your insurance will cover costs up to its limits.

That means if you cause an accident with damage exceeding those minimums – let’s say, property damage totaling more than $5,000 — your insurance will only go so far. The rest could come out of pocket.

Second, liability insurance is designed to compensate people other than the policyholder. In other words, if you cause an accident and your own vehicle is damaged, these coverages won’t address those costs. You do, however, have options:

  • Comprehensive coverage. This kind of coverage addresses unpredictable, non-collision incidents like weather damage (sometimes referred to as “Acts of God“) vandalism, or hitting animals. Comprehensive coverage typically requires paying an initial deductible. Drivers who are leasing or financing cars are usually required to have comprehensive coverage.
  • Collision coverage. This type of coverage addresses physical damage done to your own vehicle as a result of a collision. As is the case with comprehensive coverage, collision coverage typically requires an initial deductible and is often required of those leasing or financing their cars.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage (UM/UIM). This helps covers costs in crashes involving drivers who have no insurance or insufficient coverage. UM/UIM  becomes even more compelling when you consider that, according to the Insurance Information InstituteCalifornia ranks 12th in the nation for uninsured drivers.
  • Medical Payments or MedPay. This coverage pays medical expenses for you, as well as your passengers, when injured in a car accident.

California drivers also need to know that the state follows a “fault” system.

Under a fault system, drivers who are found to be at-fault in causing an accident are held financially responsible.

– Forms of Financial Responsibility in California

It’s simple — proof of financial responsibility is required on all cars in California, even if they’re parked on a roadway.

This is known as the California Compulsory Financial Responsibility Law. It requires that you not only keep proof of financial responsibility in your car at all times, but that you also present it when —

  • It’s requested by law enforcement
  • You’re renewing your vehicle registration
  • You’ve been involved in an accident

The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reports that there are four forms of financial responsibility:

  • A motor vehicle liability insurance policy
  • A deposit of $35,000 with DMV
  • A surety bond for $35,000. This bond must be obtained from a company licensed to do business in the state. To find a company, you can contact the California Department of Insurance.
  • A DMV-issued self-insurance certificate.

Keep in mind that even though drivers have options that go beyond purchasing traditional car insurance, each presents a level of risk that could lead to high out-of-pocket costs.

Not complying with the state’s Financial Responsibility law can lead to fines, or having your vehicle impounded.

According to the AAA, a first offense of not complying can result in fines between $100 and $200, plus additional penalties. Subsequent offenses within three years can result in fines between $200 and $500, plus additional penalties.

– California Premiums as a Percentage of Income

Two percent.

It’s how much of a typical driver’s income goes toward car insurance, according to a 2017 Department of Treasury study on affordability.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) affirms this by revealing that drivers spent, on average, 2.29 percent of their income on car insurance 2014. That percentage is based upon an average disposable income of $40,726.23, and an average full coverage policy of $943.80.

Knowing that insurance costs and disposable incomes will vary by state, we took a closer look at numbers specific to California:

YearFull CoverageDisposable
Income
Insurance as Percentage
of Income
2014$951.75$43,978.002.16%
2013$922.69$41,945.002.20%
2012$891.68$42,451.002.10%
From these numbers, we see some key findings:
  • As of 2014, the average California resident spent 2.16 percent of their income on car insurance. This was lower than the national average that year.
  • The average cost of a full-coverage policy in California increased by 6.73 percent from 2012 to 2014.
  • The average disposable income for California residents also increased by 3.59 percent in the same time period.

We also compared California to its neighboring states:

State2014 Disposable Income2014 Full CoveragePercentage of Income
Toward Insurance
California$43,978.00$951.752.16%
Arizona$34,321.00$961.882.8%
Nevada$36,477.00$1,083.422.97%
Oregon$36,445.00$894.102.45%
Washington$45,143.00$952.102.11%

In addition to having the highest average disposable income, we can see that California residents are, for the most part, paying a lower percentage of their income toward their car insurance than those in neighboring states.

You can determine how much of your income is going toward car insurance by using our free CalculatorPro tool below:

CalculatorPro

– Core Coverage in California

To get a better idea of how California’s core coverages compare to the rest of the nation, we examined state averages according to the NAIC, as of 2015:

Coverage TypeAnnual Costs
Liability$489.66
Collision$396.55
Comprehensive$100.54
Combined Total$986.75

When comparing these averages to other states and Washington, D.C., we find that:

  • In 2015, California’s average cost of collision coverage ($396.55) was the fifth highest in the nation, surpassed only by Washington, D.C., Lousiana, Michigan, and Rhode Island.
  • California had the nation’s second-lowest average cost for comprehensive coverage in the nation ($100.54), higher only than Oregon.
  • California ranked 26th in its average liability costs ($489.66) and 19th in full coverage costs (986.75).

– Additional Liability in California

To better determine the financial health of California’s car insurers, we now look to the state’s loss ratio trends.

Investopedia defines loss ratio as a ratio of a company’s loss to gains. Loss ratios are given as a percentage, and they represent what an insurer is paying out in claims versus the money it’s bringing in through premiums.

This means that if an insurance company has a loss ratio that exceeds 100 percent, the company is paying out more in claims than they’re receiving through premiums. Experts say this could be an “indicator of financial distress,” and could lead to a company raising rates to make up for its losses.

On the flip side, if an insurer’s loss ratio is too low, this may be a sign that they are not paying out enough in claims.

In the end, a loss ratio between 60 and 70 percent is considered to be ideal.

Here’s a look at California’s loss ratio trends in Medical Payments and Uninsured/Underinsured motorists coverage:

Loss Ratio201320142015
Medical Payments (MedPay)69%62%60%
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM)60%58%69%

The good news for California insurers is that as of 2015, the loss ratio in both of these categories fell into the safe range of 60 to 70 percent. In the case of Medical Payments, we see a steady decline in the loss ratio. In the case of UM/UIM, we see a slight dip from 2013 to 2014, but an 11 percent increase from 2014 to 2015.

Remember, Medical Payments and Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage are optional in the state of California. However, in the words of financial expert Clark Howard, these coverages can “step in to protect your wallet.” It is also worth reiterating that California ranks 12th in the nation in uninsured motorists. Bottom line,

In the face of a car accident, these additional coverages can serve as much-needed financial support and protection for you and your family.

– Add-ons, Endorsements, and Riders

From the increasingly-popular usage-based insurance, and to additional coverages like GAP or Emergency Roadside Assistance. Here’s what California motorists need to know — they have plenty of options far beyond traditional car insurance coverage.

For the driver looking for additional levels of coverage, here’s a list of add-ons, endorsements, and riders to consider:

– California Rates by Gender (Male vs. Female), Age, and Marital Status

Where you live.

How old you are.

Whether you’re a man or a woman.

They’re all among common the factors insurance providers look to when assessing rates for motorists.

Experts say at the end of the day, what it all boils down to is risk. Where insurers see greater levels of risk, drivers will often pay a higher price.

For many car insurance companies, gender is a common risk factor that can lead to higher rates, as men have been statistically linked to higher rates of fatal car crashes. But in the state of California, that’s no longer the case.

As of January 1, 2019, insurers in the state are banned from using a driver’s gender as a factor in setting rates.  

This is formally known as the Gender Non-Discrimination in Automobile Insurance Rating Regulation. According to state officials, the regulation “mandates that all automobile insurance companies operating in California file a revised class plan that eliminates the use of gender as a rating factor.” 

Additionally, California’s Gender Recognition Act of 2017 allows drivers to use the term “binary” on their driver’s licenses.

That being said, we wanted to examine rates that shed more light on other factors that may still come into play with California motorists — that is, age and marital status.

To do so, we analyzed data purchased from Quadrant Information Services. What you see in the table below, and throughout this piece, represents the actual cost of car insurance coverage purchased by California residents.

This includes high-risk drivers (who often pay some of the highest premiums), as well as those purchasing minimum coverage.

CompanyMarried 35-year old femaleMarried 35-year old maleMarried 60-year old femaleMarried 60-year old maleSingle 17-year old femaleSingle 17-year old maleSingle 25-year old femaleSingle 25-year old male
Allstate Northbrook Indemnity$2,921.24$2,923.87$2,126.03$2,148.03$8,098.88$10,188.73$3,742.44$4,115.50
Farmers Ins Exchange$2,715.31$2,715.31$2,451.83$2,451.83$8,667.08$14,189.14$3,218.46$3,585.17
Geico General$1,786.81$1,787.80$1,680.52$1,680.52$5,433.56$5,529.48$2,566.22$2,624.98
SAFECO Ins Co of America$2,303.99$2,177.93$2,145.20$2,077.01$5,014.43$5,348.46$2,593.72$2,620.60
AMCO Insurance$3,272.83$3,124.42$2,863.68$2,699.52$8,318.27$9,186.72$3,904.76$3,858.43
United Financial Casualty$1,785.37$1,837.82$1,518.62$1,802.64$4,767.78$5,748.65$2,576.92$2,771.33
State Farm Mutual Auto$3,310.18$3,310.18$2,957.44$2,957.44$6,089.50$7,555.39$3,663.92$3,777.69
Travelers Commercial Ins Co.$2,497.45$2,417.86$2,206.26$2,182.92$5,165.60$5,906.73$3,249.64$3,179.78
USAA CIC$1,929.46$1,827.74$1,882.10$1,889.89$4,404.58$4,428.83$2,670.51$2,523.86

What these figures reveal is that married drivers are generally paying lower rates than single drivers. When we break the figures down by age, 60-year-olds have the lowest premiums. The lowest premium in this group falls to 60-year-old females insured with United Financial, at an average rate of $1,518.62.

What should come as no surprise? Seventeen-year-old drivers are paying the highest rates in this group. The highest premiums can be seen with 17-year-old men insured with Farmers Insurance Exchange, at an astounding average rate of $14,189.14.

– Cheapest California Rates by ZIP Code

To the average car insurance provider, ZIP codes do much more than reveal where their customers live. They reveal important data — namely, crime and car accident rates.

Experts report that some providers are looking beyond how much car-related crime —like break-ins, thefts, and vandalism — is taking place where you live. Some are also looking to measure trends in costs tied to car repair, and medical litigation 

Many advocates argue that the use of ZIP codes as a rate-setting factor is discriminatory, particularly toward those living in lower-income areas. So much so, a Consumer Federation of America Study found that drivers living in lower socioeconomic areas were paying significantly higher rates than their counterparts in different ZIP codes.

Our research shows that the zip code with the highest overall average rate of $6,324.83 is none other than the famed 90210, which includes Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood.

Among the highest rates included in this ZIP code are $8,000+ average annual premiums with Allstate Northbrook and Farmers Insurance Exchange.

Conversely, the ZIP code with the lowest overall average rate is 93401 at $2,731.32. This zip code includes the cities of San Luis Obispo, Avila Beach, and Edna. The lowest premium listed in this zip code is with United Financial Casualty at $2,177.96.

– Cheapest California Rates by City

Once more, Beverly Hills tops our list of communities with the highest average rates, at $6,188.41.

Among the state’s top ten cities with the highest average rates are:

  1. Beverly Hills, with an average rate of $6,188.41
  2. Van Nuys, $5,897.84
  3. West Hollywood, $5,844.28
  4. Tarzana, $5,798.46
  5. North Hollywood, $5,769.36
  6. Encino, $5,744.64
  7. Valley Village, $5,718.12
  8. Panorama City, $5,701.66
  9. Studio City, $5,649.18
  10. Reseda, $5,593.76

As for the state’s ten cities with the lowest rates, they are:

  1. Weed, with an average rate of $2,752.73
  2. Cambria, $2,774.88
  3. Mount Shasta, $2,777.88
  4. Buellton, $2,807.43
  5. Morro Bay, $2,807.96
  6. Los Osos, $2,821.16
  7. Lompoc, $2,823.96
  8. Arroyo Grande, $2,824.43
  9. Pismo Beach, $2,829.93
  10. Grover Beach, $2,834.19

Best California Car Insurance Companies

Finding the best car insurance provider isn’t just about rates.

It involves knowing that trusted organizations like A.M. Best have assessed the provider to be financially stable.

It involves knowing that consumers are satisfied with the company’s overall performance.

It also involves knowing that an insurer can resolve customer complaints in a quick and competent matter.

Without a doubt, having a fuller picture of all of these factors will aid any California driver in determining which provider will truly suit their needs. It’s why we’re spending the next few moments taking a closer look at all of these topics — and much more

– Financial Ratings for the Largest Companies in California

Anyone who’s ever been a student knows one thing for sure — grades tell an important story.

After all, whether a student gets an A or an F on a class project says a lot — about how well they know the topic, and whether they’ve truly mastered it.

The same can be said for car insurance companies.

For years, A.M. Best has provided financial insight into more than 3,5000 companies worldwide through the use of its Financial Strength Ratings (FSR) system. By assigning companies ratings ranging from an A++ to a D, consumers are told a story of how financially stable experts consider any given company.

Here’s a look at the A.M. Best’s FSRs for California’s largest car insurance providers:

Insurance ProviderRating
State Farm GroupA++
Farmers Insurance GroupA
GeicoA++
Allstate Insurance GroupA+
Auto Club Enterprises Insurance GroupA-
Mercury Gen Groupa-
(Long Term ICR)
CSAA Insurance GroupA
USAA GroupA++
Progressive GroupA+
Liberty Mutual GroupA

We can see that three major insurers in California have garnered A.M. Best’s top A++ rating, also known as “Superior” — Geico, State Farm, and USAA. Not too far behind are Progressive and Allstate, both earning an A+.

Although A.M. Best did not provide an FSR for Mercury Gen Group, it does provide something called a Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (ICR).

In short, an ICR represents an opinion of a company’s ability to meet its ongoing senior financial obligations. Mercury Gen Group’s ICR of an “a-” represents “an excellent ability to meet their senior financial obligations”

– California Companies with the Best Ratings

California drivers who want greater insight into customer satisfaction can turn to J. D. Power. Known for years of surveying consumers and analyzing their feedback, J.D. Power digs deeper into whether drivers are truly happy with their insurance provider.

Through its 2019 U.S. Auto Insurance Study, auto-insurance companies are ranked by region and measured in five areas (in order of importance):

  • Interaction
  • Policy offerings
  • Price
  • Billing process and policy information
  • Claims

J.D. Power additionally assigns “Power Circle Ratings” to each insurer. They are:

  • Five out of Five Circles, also known as “Among the Best”
  • Four out of Five Circles/“Better than Most”
  • Three out of Five Circles/“About Average”
  • Two out of Five Circles/“The Rest”

Here’s a look at how insurers fared in the study’s California region. We placed them in order of their customer satisfaction index rating, from highest to lowest:

Insurance ProvderCustomer Satisfaction
Index Rating
(out of 1,000)
JDPower.com
Power Circle Ratings
Esurance8475/5
Auto Club of Southern California8344/5
Ameriprise8304/5
Wawanesa8284/5
Geico8254/5
State Farm8244/5
Safeco8223/5
The Hartford8213/5
Progressive8213/5
California Average8173/5
CSAA8093/5
Allstate8083/5
Liberty Mutual8083/5
Farmers8053/5
Mercury8053/5
Nationwide7802/5
Kemper7782/5
USAA*

*provider not included
in rankings
8445/5

In reviewing these results, a clear front-runner can be seen in the Overall Customer Satisfaction Index Rating. Esurance tops this list with 847 out of 1,000 points. Additionally, with the company’s five-circle (“Among the Best”) Power Circle Rating, we know that Esurance has scored in the top ten percent of their study.

Companies that didn’t fare quite as well include Nationwide and Kemper. The two providers are the only ones on this list scoring in the 700-point range and with a two-circle (“The Rest”) Power Circle Rating.

Finally, it’s also worth clarifying USAA’s status on this list. Even though the insurer is part of the study, it is not ranked. This is because USAA is only open to U.S. military personnel and their families, and therefore, is not included in J.D. Power’s overall rankings. 

– Companies with Most Complaints in California

As we move from customer satisfaction to complaints, we gain even greater insight into how California providers are relating to drivers.

Thanks to a 2018 Consumer Complaint Study published by California’s Department of Insurance, we are able to track complaint data for the state’s largest insurers between 2015 and 2017:

Insurance Provider201720162015
State Farm Mut Auto Ins Co77119204
Farmers Ins Exch393240
Geico Gen Ins Co324492
Allstate Northbrook Ind Co615038
Mercury Ins Co384244
CSAA Ins Exch645563
USAA Cas Ins Co81425
Progressive Select Ins Co261015
Liberty Mut Fire Ins Co385528

We can immediately see that the company fielding the highest number of complaints is State Farm, which at one point had numbers in the triple digits. Though the numbers are highest for the provider, we do see a downward trend — with the number of complaints dropping significantly from 204 in 2015 to 77 in 2017.

As of 2017, the provider with the lowest number of complaints was USAA, registering only eight complaints in 2017.

– Cheapest Companies in California

To get a better idea of who’s offering the best rates, we broke down the average premiums among California’s largest auto insurers:

Insurance ProviderAverage RateCompared to
State Average
(higher or lower)
Compared to
StateAverage
(% higher or lower)
Allstate Northbrook Indemnity$4,533.09+ $843.47+ 18.61%
Farmers Ins Exchange$4,999.27+ $1,309.64+ 26.20%
Geico General$2,886.24- $803.38- 27.84%
SAFECO Ins Co of America$3,035.17- $654.45- 21.56%
AMCO Insurance$4,653.58+ $963.96+ 20.71%
United Financial Casualty$2,851.14- $838.48- 29.41%
State Farm Mutual Auto$4,202.72+ $513.10+ 12.21%
Travelers Commercial Ins Co.$3,350.78- $338.84- 10.11%
USAA CIC$2,694.62- $995.00- 36.93%

According to this data, Farmers has the highest average rate at $4,999.27. This rate represents a $1,309.64 increase above the overall average rate.

Of these insurers, only three providers have average rates that fall into the $2,000 range — Geico, United Financial and USAA. Of the three, USAA has the lowest average rate. At $2,694.62, this is a $995.00 decrease under the overall average.

– California Rates by Commute

To the Insurance Information Institute, the logic is simple —

The more miles you put on  your car, the more likely you are to get into an accident.

It’s why some insurers will charge drivers higher rates for a longer commute. This is important when you consider that as of 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration estimated that the average licensed California resident drove 13,414 miles annually. 

We reviewed our data to see whether California drivers with longer commutes were paying higher rates:

Insurance Provider10-Mile Commute/
6,000 Miles Annually
25-Mile Commute/
12,000 Miles Annually
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

Bottom line — every single insurance provider on this list charges drivers higher rates for a longer commute. 

  • The company with the smallest difference in commute rates is Progressive, at $305.65.
  • The company with the largest difference in commute rates is Nationwide, at $1,089.58.

For the California drivers who don’t put a lot of miles on their vehicle, here’s some good news — you may have discounts coming your way.

  • A number of large insurers offer low-mileage discounts, typically geared toward those who drive less than 7,500 miles annually.
  • Additionally, through pay-per-mile insurance, drivers are charged according to the number of miles they drive. This typically consists of a monthly base rate, as well as a per-mile rate.

– California Rates by Coverage Level

It goes without saying —  as drivers choose to purchase higher levels of coverage for their vehicles, their premiums will increase.

With this in mind, we took a closer look at what California drivers are paying for low, medium, and high coverage:

CompanyLow CoverageMedium CoverageHigh Coverage
Allstate$4,287.09$4,572.72$4,739.46
Farmers$4,651.83$5,038.58$5,307.39
Geico$2,612.92$2,918.49$3,127.30
Liberty Mutual$2,824.01$3,061.95$3,219.54
Nationwide$4,179.52$4,734.55$5,046.66
Progressive$2,555.04$2,936.65$3,061.73
State Farm$3,793.44$4,273.41$4,541.30
Travelers$2,924.52$3,440.36$3,687.46
USAA$2,445.05$2,746.50$2,892.32

Our analysis revealed that each insurer on this list progressively charges more when going from low, to medium, and to high coverage.

However, no matter what level of coverage California drivers are getting, one insurance provider is charging the highest rates across the board, and another is charging the lowest rates across the board:

  • The provider charging the highest average rates across the board is Famers, ranging from $4,651.83 for low coverage and $5,307.39 for high coverage.
  • The provider charging the lowest average rates across the board is USAA, ranging from $2,445.05 for low coverage and $2,892.32 for high coverage.

– California Rates by Credit History

They’re three digits than can change the course of your buying power with banks, lenders, and other financial institutions —

Your credit score.

When it comes to car insurance, the state of your credit is impactful, as it points to how financially responsible you are. The Insurance Information Institute reports that most states allow the use of credit-based insurance scores (also called “insurance scoring”) as a determining factor for rates. However, that is not the case in the Golden State. That’s because,

In the state of California, using credit-based scoring is prohibited under Proposition 103.

California also joins Massachusetts in Hawaii in prohibiting auto insurers from using credit scoring to set rates. However, some lawmakers are pursuing legislation in the hopes of making this a reality in all 50 states. 

– California Rates by Driving Record

Speeding tickets.

Car accidents.

DUIs.

For the California driver wondering whether their record can impact their car insurance premiums, the answer is yes. 

In fact, as stated in the video below, insurers “try to predict your future by looking at your past.” It’s why they’ll often look to the last three to five years of your driving record to predict your risk level.

We took a look at what the state’s largest providers are charging drivers with various infractions:

Insurance ProviderClean RecordWith 1 Speeding ViolationWith 1 DUIWith 1 Accident
Allstate$2,728.84$3,582.21$7,223.45$4,597.86
Farmers$3,697.25$4,998.06$6,268.29$5,033.47
Geico$2,018.18$2,503.62$3,908.23$3,114.92
Liberty Mutual$2,634.50$2,791.65$3,185.41$3,529.11
Nationwide$3,246.63$4,162.31$7,043.06$4,162.31
Progressive$1,865.51$2,687.54$3,680.03$3,171.49
State Farm$2,998.34$3,480.06$6,756.08$3,576.40
Travelers$2,234.04$3,290.14$4,234.85$3,644.10
USAA$1,790.02$1,960.95$4,363.10$2,664.41

Generally speaking, most insurers charge higher rates as drivers progress from a clean record, to one speeding violation, to one accident, and to one DUI conviction. However, there are some exceptions:

  • Nationwide charges the same average rate to drivers with one speeding violation and one accident
  • Liberty drivers with one accident are paying more than drivers with a DUI.

Also of note:

  • Drivers with a clean record are paying the least with Progressive and USAA, at rates of $1,865.51 and $1,790.02, respectively.
  • Drivers with one DUI are paying the highest rates with Allstate and Nationwide, with averages exceeding $7,000.

Knowing that your rates can skyrocket after an infraction will, without a doubt, encourage safer driving habits. For many providers, this will be an incentive for savings.

Several insurers offer discounts for being claim-free over a set period of time. Others, like Liberty Mutual, even offer accident forgiveness.

California drivers should also know that they can request a copy of their driving records. By clicking this link and setting up an account, they can receive the following information:

  • Convictions for three, seven, or 10 years
  • Departmental actions
  • Accidents on a person’s driver record

– Largest Car Insurance Companies in California

Knowing an insurance provider’s market share will help drivers gain a better understanding of how well it’s performing as a business.

A market share is a number that’s given as a percentage, and it illustrates a company’s portion of sales within the market it operates. In other words,

A company’s market share is a marker of its size in the market. The larger the market share, the more prominent the company.

To see which insurers in California have the largest market shares, we turned to the NAIC:

Insurance ProviderDirect Premiums WrittenMarket Share
Allstate Insurance Group$2,446,5648.97%
Auto Club Enterprises Insurance Group$2,312,2308.48%
CSAA Insurance Group$1,950,2577.15%
Farmers Insurance Group$3,158,81411.59%
Geico$2,502,8549.18%
Liberty Mutual Group$929,0583.41%
Mercury Gen Group$2,095,5317.69%
Progressive Group$1,147,1864.21%
State Farm Group$3,910,35114.34%
USAA Group$1,218,7924.47%

The NAIC reveals that in the state of California, the car insurance provider with the largest market share is State Farm, at a 14.34 percent share and $3,910,351 in direct premiums.

State Farm’s share of the market is 2.75 percent higher than the second provider on the list, which is Farmers Insurance Group at 11.59 percent.

– Number of Insurers in California

When it comes to the number of insurers in California, drivers have options — 770, to be exact.

That’s because our research shows that there are 99 domestic insurance providers and 671 foreign insurance providers in the state.

To elaborate, a domestic insurer has been formed under the laws of the state of California.

A foreign insurer has been formed under the laws of states, districts, territories, or commonwealths other than California.

California Laws

Without a doubt, the laws that govern drivers in any state can often seem overwhelming and complicated.

However, not having an understanding of those laws can lead to significant consequences — many which can negatively impact your driving record.

By spending the next few sections focusing on important state laws, we’re helping you become a more informed driver who will remain on the right side of the law.

– California Car Insurance Laws

Car insurance is big business in California. So much so, state officials report that California is the largest insurance market in the U.S., and the fourth-largest in the world.

When it comes to the state’s car insurance standards and practices, here’s what drivers need to know — they are highly regulated by state statutes and policies.

– How California State Laws for Insurance are Determined

Calfornia’s Department of Insurance enforces the insurance laws of the state and exercises authority over how insurance companies and licensees conduct business. This includes requiring prior approvals of property and casualty rates for personal auto insurance.

In fact, according to the CDI site, employees “… annually processes more than 8,000 rate applications, issue approximately 190,000 licenses (new and renewals) and perform hundreds of financial reviews and examinations of insurers doing business in California.”

– Windshield Coverage in California

To have a cracked windshield or rear window in the state of California is more than just a safety matter — it’s also a legal matter.

That’s because according to state law, it is “unlawful to operate any motor vehicle upon a highway when the windshield or rear window is in such a defective condition as to impair the driver’s vision either to the front or rear.”

This means that if an officer finds your windshield fails to comply with this code, you must fix in within 48 hours. Even further,

The officer could decide to arrest the driver, and give them notice to appear in court with evidence that the windshield or rear window has been fixed and conforms to code.

Drivers will want to check with their provider to see whether their comprehensive coverage covers windshield replacement or repair.

We checked in with CarWinshields.info and found that in California, drivers can choose where the repair work is done, and are entitled to an estimate. Aftermarket parts may be used in the repair, but only if they are equal in kind, quality, safety, fit and performance of OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts.

– High-Risk Insurance in California

California drivers who are considered high-risk may find it challenging to find providers willing to insure them.

The Insurance Information Institute shares that those who may be categorized as high-risk drivers include:

  • Drivers with a poor driving record (multiple traffic violations and citations, DUI/DWI convictions)
  • Drivers with no insurance, or a bad record of insurance  (lapsed coverage or missed payments)

Those who are considered high-risk may also be required to have an SR-22 filed with their insurance. According to the Shouse California Law Group,

An SR-22 is a certificate an insurer files with the DMV to confirm that you meet the state’s minimum requirements for liability coverage.

SR-22’s are usually mandated by the courts, and can be required for:

  • Reinstating your driving privilege following a DUI
  • Being involved in an accident when you were uninsured
  • Reinstating your driving privilege after it was revoked or suspended by the DMV, as a result of being declared a negligent operator (in other words, getting too many points on your record in a set period of time)

High-risk drivers who are unable to acquire traditional insurance coverage have a resource in California’s assigned-risk insurance pool. The California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP) serves as a last resort to drivers who have “in good faith” sought out insurance in the voluntary market but have had no success.

To learn more about CAARP, click here or contact:

California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan
1111 Broadway, Suite 1670 Oakland, CA 94607
Monday – Friday 8:00 – 4:00 PT
Phone: (800) 622-0954 / Fax: (415) 421-4013 / Email: caarp@aipso.com

– California Low-Cost Insurance

Liability coverage at affordable rates.

That’s the focus of California’s Low-Cost Auto (CLCA) Insurance Program, which was established in 1999 to help income-eligible drivers purchase car insurance.

Keep in mind, that under the state’s low-cost insurance program, the minimum liability coverage limits are lower than the state’s minimum coverage requirements. These limits, however, are legal for those who qualify:

Low-Cost Plan CoverageCalifornia Minimum Requirements
Up to $10,000 for injury/death to one person
Up to $20,000 for injury/death per accident
Up to $3,000 for property damage
$15,000 for injury/death to one person
$30,000 for injury/death per accident
$5,000 for property damage

To be clear, that’s

  • Up to $10,000 per person in case of bodily injury or death
  • Up to $20,000 per accident in case of bodily injury or death
  • Up to $3,000 for property damage

The CLCA program also offers drivers the option of purchasing Uninsured Motorist-Bodily Injury and Medical Payments coverage.

Under the Uninsured Motorist-Bodily Injury Optional Coverage, drivers will receive:

  • Up to $10,000 per person (for you or your passengers injured)
  • Up to $20,000 per accident

Under the Medical Payments Optional Coverage, costs at up to $1,000 per person injured would be provided.

Drivers interested in comprehensive or collision coverage can purchase them through the agent who assists them.

In order to qualify for CLCA, drivers must:

  • Have a valid California driver’s license
  • Meet income eligibility requirements
  • Own a car valued at $25,000 or less
  • Be at least 16-years-old
  • Have a good driving record

For additional information on eligibility, documentation requirements, and how to apply, visit the CLCA website.

– Automobile Insurance Fraud in California

Insurance fraud is a crime that costs insurers as much as $30 billion annually. In the state of California, the Department of Insurance has designated an entire division of over 275 staffers to “…protect the public and prevent economic loss through the detection, investigation, and arrest of insurance fraud offenders.” 

California officials define fraud as an occurrence in which someone knowingly lies to get a benefit or advantage they’re otherwise not entitled to. It can also be defined as someone who knowingly denies a benefit to someone who should not be denied.

Under California law, insurance fraud can be prosecuted when:

  • The suspect had the intent to defraud.
  • An act of fraud is completed. This includes written or oral statements made to an insurer with the intent to misrepresent.
  • An act and intent must come together. Both must occur to be considered a crime.
  • Officials also state that “actual loss is not needed as long as the suspect has committed an act and had the intent to commit the crime. No money necessarily has to be lost by a victim.”

The state’s Fraud Division regularly investigates auto collision and property damage cases that involve hit and runs, organized rings, sudden stops, phantom vehicles, arson, inflated damages, embezzlement, faked damages, and more.

To report suspected cases of fraud, contact a regional office or:

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

– Statute of Limitations in California

Should any California driver end up in a car accident, the law limits the amount of time in which they can pursue legal action. This is referred to as a statute of limitations, and can be defined as the maximum amount of time one can decide to initiate legal action following an accident.

In terms of personal injury and property damage claims in California, here’s what drivers need to know —

  • The statute of limitations is two years for personal injury claims, and
  • Three years for property damage claims

– California’s State-Specific Laws

In the state of California, it’s good news for good drivers.

That’s because state law mandates that those who qualify as good drivers are entitled to a 20 percent discount.

According to Consumer Watchdog, drivers must meet the following qualifications:

  • You’ve been licensed to drive a car for at least three years
  • You haven’t had more than one point violation over the last three years
  • You haven’t been at fault in an accident in the last three years that have resulted in death or injury
  • You haven’t been convicted of DUIs, drugs, or alcohol in the last seven years.

To learn more about this discount, read the code here.

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– Vehicle Licensing Laws in California

Simply put — California has more licensed drivers than any other in the nation.

But whether you’re a new resident, a teenage driver, or a long-time resident — sticking to the state’s laws will be key in ensuring you can retain the right to drive in the Golden State.

– Real ID in California

The Department of Homeland Security reports that nearly every U.S. state and territory is compliant with the federal REAL ID Act — including California.

The REAL ID Act was passed in 2005, and establishes a minimum set of security standards for state-issued licenses. Here’s what is essential for all drivers to know —

Drivers who don’t have compliant REAL ID licenses by October 1, 2020 (or an acceptable alternative ID) will not be able to get through most airport security checkpoints.

In the state of California, a driver’s license that meets the requirements set forth by the REAL ID Act is marked with a gold bear and star. Here’s a photographic example as seen on the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles REAL ID site:

California REAL ID examples

Under the REAL ID Act, drivers must provide specific pieces of documentation and proof that establish their identities – this includes an identity document (such as a birth certificate or passport), proof of your social security number (such as your social security card or a W-2 form), and proof of your residency (such as home utility bills, a tax return, or insurance documents).

To view a full list of eligible documents, click here. To learn more about getting a REAL ID, click here.

– Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in California

It’s simple — as long as California drivers are getting behind the wheel, they must always carry proof of insurance.

Not doing so can result in the following consequences:

  • First offense. Fines will range from $100-$200, plus penalty assessments.
  • Second offense. A second offense within three years can result in fines ranging from $200-$500, plus penalty assessments.

In either case, the courts may order the impoundment of your vehicle.

It should also be noted that the state of California will suspend your vehicle registration under these circumstances:

  • The Department of Motor Vehicles is notified that your insurance policy has been canceled, and a replacement policy hasn’t been submitted within 45 days
  • Your insurance information hasn’t been submitted to the DMV within 30 days of it being issued.
  • Your vehicle registration has been obtained by providing false evidence of insurance.

– California Teen Driver Laws

The statistics are compelling. According to the state’s Office of California Traffic Safety,

Teen driver fatalities increased 12.3 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Numbers like this are why the state requires teen drivers to comply with its graduated licensing laws. Under this system, teens are given the space to gradually gain more experience as competent and confident drivers.

To earn a permit, teens must:

  • Be at least 15½ years old.
  • Complete the proper Driver License & ID Card application
  • Have their parent or guardian sign the application.
  • Pass the knowledge test.

Drivers who are between 15½–17½ years old will need to provide proof that they:

  • Completed driver education OR are enrolled and participating in an approved integrated driver education/driver training program (Certificate of Enrollment in an Integrated [Classroom] Driver Education and Driver Training Program)

Young drivers should also note that their permits are not valid until they begin driver training. Instructors will need to sign their permits to validate them. 

Under the provisional permit, teens cannot drive alone at any time. They must be accompanied by a licensed California driver who is a parent or guardian, driving instructor, spouse, or adult over the age of 25.

To earn a Minors’ Drivers License (or Provisional License), teens must: 

  • Be at least 16
  • Prove that they’ve completed both driver education and driver training.
  • Have a California instruction permit (or from another state) for at least six months
  • Provide documentation certifying that you have completed 50 hours of supervised driving practice (10 hours must be night driving)
  • Pay a nonrefundable application fee
  • Pass each of the required knowledge tests
  • Pass the driving test, within three tries

Teens with a provisional license may drive alone as long as they don’t have any collisions or violations on their records. During the first year, they cannot drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., and can’t drive with passengers under 20 years old, unless accompanied by a California-licensed parent or guardian, driving instructor, or driver over 25. 

Once drivers turn 18, their licenses no longer become provisional.

To learn more about state laws dictating driving for teens, click here.

– Older Driver License Renewal Procedures in California

Experts agree — as drivers age so does the likelihood of vision and hearing impairments. But it doesn’t stop there.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that older drivers have some of the highest rates of vehicle fatalities among all age groups.

As a result, the state of California has specific license renewal procedures in place for older drivers. According to the IIHS:

  • Older drivers in California must renew their licenses every five years
  • However, mail or online renewal is not permitted for drivers over the age of 70. Renewal must take place in person.
  • Finally, when renewing, drivers over 70 will need to take a vision test.

– New California Residents

New to California? The Department of Motor Vehicles asks that new residents must get a driver’s license within ten days. Residency is established by:

  • Voting in a California election
  • Paying resident tuition
  • Filing for a homeowner’s property tax exemption, or any other benefit not typically available to non-California residents.

Residents who are over 18 and are applying for a driver’s license for the first time must:

  • Complete an application
  • Visit a DMV office
  • Provide your social security number
  • Verify your identity
  • Provide your true full name
  • Present your acceptable residency document if you have never had a California DL or California identification (ID) card
  • Pay a nonrefundable application fee
  • Give a fingerprint scan.
  • Pass a vision exam and all knowledge tests
  • Have your photograph taken
  • Pass the knowledge test(s)
  • Provide documentation in compliance with REAL ID requirements

To review the complete list of rules and requirements, click here.

– License Renewal Procedures in California

California licenses must be renewed every five years. Renewal can be done by mail as long as the license is not probationary and if in the last two years, drivers:

  • Have had no violation of specified traffic laws
  • Don’t have a point count more than one
  • Haven’t refused to submit to a chemical test
  • Have no license suspensions

Drivers can also renew online by visiting this site. However, keep in mind that you may not renew online if you wish to update or change your name, address, or gender. You also cannot apply for a REAL ID for the first time online.

– California Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS)

In the state of California, traffic violations, convictions, and collisions can have a lasting impact on your driving record — to the tune of 36 months or longer.

This is where the state’s Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) comes in. Some examples of what drivers can earn points for include:

  • Speeding (one point)
  • Unsafe vehicle (one point)
  • Condition of brakes (one point)
  • Hit and Run (two points)
  • DUI (two points)

As drivers progressively earn points against their record, they may be deemed a “negligent operator” if they reach the following thresholds:

  • Four points in 12 months
  • Six points in 24 months
  • Eight points in 36 months

To learn more about the state’s Negligent Operator Program, click here.

– California’s Rules of the Road

They’re all questions you could be asking.

  • What is the maximum speed limit?
  • When should my children be in car seats?
  • Should I be keeping right, or moving over?

Indeed, the rules of the road are important in any state, and California is no exception. From speed limits to car seats, and to ridesharing — we’re breaking them down below:

– Fault vs. No-Fault in California

As a reminder, California is considered a “fault” state. In other words, drivers who are considered to be at fault in causing an accident will be held financially responsible. Without a doubt, this underscores the importance of having car insurance, as to not shoulder these financial burdens on your own. 

According to Nolo.com, California law allows those who have suffered injury as a driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian to pursue the following legal actions in order to get compensation for what’s been lost:

  • Filing a claim under your own insurance policy.
  • Pursuing a third-party claim through the at-fault driver’s insurance
  • Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

– California’s Seat Belt and Car Seat laws

At the end of the day, experts say the effectiveness of seat belt use is all in the numbers. Case in point —

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that between 1960 and 2012, seat belts saved 329,715 lives.

California drivers need to be aware that state law requires that anyone 16 and older must wear a seatbelt, regardless of where they’re sitting in the car.

When it comes to children and car seats:

Finally, riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is generally not permitted, but there are some exceptions. According to the IIHS, that includes:

  • A passenger restrained by a federally approved restraint system
  • A farmer-owned vehicle used exclusively within farming land
  • Participation in a parade (going no more than 8 miles per hour)
  • Emergency situations

– California’s Move Over and Keep Right Laws

It’s a law that officers say was designed to protect lives.

However, some worry California’s “Move Over Law” is one that too many drivers neglect, ultimately putting people in harm’s way:

The state’s Move Over Law is simple —

As drivers encounter stationary emergency response vehicles with flashing lights, they must slow down and, if possible, vacate to the lane closest to them. This includes tow trucks, Caltrans vehicles with amber warning lights, and waste service vehicles.

Ultimately, by moving over, officers and other workers are protected from being struck as they conduct official business.

As for the state’s Keep Right Law, drivers are asked to keep right if they’re driving slower than the average speed of traffic around them.

– Maximum Speed Limits in California

Here’s a look at the state’s maximum speed limits:

Road TypeRural InterstatesUrban InterstatesOther Limited
Access Roads
Other Roads
Maximum Posted
Speed Limit (mph)
70
Trucks: 55
65
Trucks: 55
70
Trucks: 55
65
Trucks: 55

Drivers should also note that the speed limit on city streets is typically 35 miles per hour. Residential areas and areas near schools typically have a 25 mph speed limit.

– Ridesharing Car Insurance in California

Research continues to prove the obvious — ridesharing is on the rise.

In fact, a Pew Research Center study shows that

Thirty-six percent of all U.S. adults have used a ridesharing service like Uber or Lyft. This is compares to just 15 percent of those surveyed in 2015.

As more are turning to ridesharing as a source of income, they’re learning that not all car insurers will cover their needs. That’s because ridesharing drivers are using their cars for business, and not personal use.

However, according to the popular “The Rideshare Guy” blog, California is rideshare’s largest state, and therefore provides a number of options. This includes Allstate, Esurance, USAA, GEICO, State Farm, Mercury, AAA, and MetLife.

For more details, click here.

– Automation on the Road in California

Under California’s vehicle code, the Department of Motor Vehicles governs both the testing and public use of autonomous vehicles in the state. In fact, manufacturers can apply for:

  • Testing permits (requires a driver)
  • Driverless testing permits
  • Deployment (public use) permits

For companies seeking to test autonomous vehicles in California, know that there are strict financial guidelines. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety,

Companies testing autonomous vehicles in California are required to have a minimum of $5,000,000 in liability insurance in place.

 

– California Safety Laws

They’re dangerous acts that can result in car accidents, collisions, and even the loss of life.

Yet in spite of these consequences, many California drivers lack a true understanding of the laws that prohibit DUIs and distracted driving.

Through a careful examination of both topics, Golden State motorists will not only encourage better driving habits, but they can also save lives.

– California DUI Laws

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility reports that in 2017, 1,120 deaths occurred in California as a result of alcohol-impaired driving.

Statistics show that the state also had an alcohol-impaired driving fatality rate of 2.8 per 100,000 population — lower the national average of 3.4 per 100,000.

This leads us to take a closer look at the state’s DUI laws:

California DUI LawsDetails
BAC Limit0.08
High BAC Limit0.15-0.2; 0.2+
1st Offense - Imprisonment96 hours to 6 months, including 48 continuous hours
1st Offense - Fine$390-$1000
1st Offense - ALS or Revocation4 months
2nd Offense - Imprisonment96 hours to 6 months, including 48 continuous hours
2nd Offense - Fine$390-$1000
2nd Offense - DL Revocation1 year if offense in 10 years of previous
3rd Offense - Imprisonment120 days to 1 year, including 48 continuous hours

– California’s Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws

Even though the use of marijuana is legal in California, driving under its influence is notTo be clear,

Under the state’s vehicle code, driving under the influence of any drug is illegal.

This offense is better known as DUI of marijuana, and it carries nearly identical consequences to driving under the influence of alcohol.

California’s Office of Traffic Safety makes the following warnings regarding the effects of marijuana while driving:

  • Slower reaction times and the ability to make decisions
  • Impaired judgment, and memory
  • Lessened attentiveness, perception of time, and speed

Officials go on to warn that the effect of marijuana is strongest during the first 30 minutes after consumption. People who drive immediately after using marijuana may increase their risk of getting into a crash by 25 to 35 percent.” 

– Distracted Driving Laws in California

To the California drivers tempted to pick up their cell phones while commuting, know this — the state has a complete ban on the use of all hand-held devices while driving.

Drivers also need to know that this is considered a primary offense, meaning, officers can pull you over strictly for being on your phone.

California law only permits drivers to use phones while driving if it’s in hands-free mode. Some other points to remember:

  • Drivers under 18 cannot drive a car while using a cell phone, or any other wireless communications device
  • All drivers are banned from using a cell phone to write, send, or read texts while driving
  • School bus drivers may not use cell phones.

Driving Safely in California

They’re the kind of statistics that cause all drivers to pay attention.

For instance, where the FBI is reporting the highest number of vehicle thefts in the state.

Or, which California counties are seeing the most traffic fatalities.

And, which cities are most prone to traffic slowdowns.

As we wrap up our  California car insurance guide, we’re taking a closer look at the safety stats and trends that matter the most.

– Vehicle Theft in California

Vehicle theft is a crime that experts say cost drivers $6 billion in 2017.

As for the California cities with the highest amount of car theft, the FBI reports the following cities as the top 10:

  1. Los Angeles, 19,193 car thefts
  2. San Jose, 8,068
  3. Oakland, 5,495
  4. San Diego, 5,135
  5. San Francisco, 4,834
  6. Fresno, 2,789
  7. Bakersfield, 2,777
  8. Long Beach, 2,729
  9. Sacramento, 2,718
  10. San Bernardino, 2,277

Finally, here’s a list of the top 10 most stolen cars in the state:

Make/ModelRankVehicle YearTheft
Honda Accord1199628,345
Honda Civic2199828,045
Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)320066,048
Toyota Camry419915,345
Ford Pickup (Full Size)520064,504
Acura Integra619944,273
Toyota Corolla720143,339
Nissan Sentra819972,555
Nissan Altima919972,281
Honda CR-V1019992,033

– Road Fatalities in California

To gain more insight into fatal crashes in the state, we turn to data provided by the experts, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It’s in our analysis California drivers can learn more about where and how often these crashes are occurring.

– Most fatal highway in California

It is estimated that over 30,000 people are killed in road crashes in the United States each year. When it comes to highway fatalities in the California, Interstate 40 has garnered the distinction as being the most dangerous in the state. In fact, according to Geotab,

I-40 averages 11 fatal crashes annually, and ranks third nationally in its fatal crash rate.

– Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition

Rain or snow, dusk or dawn.

When examining fatal crashes taking place at various times of day and weather conditions, we see that most occur during normal daylight hours:

Weather ConditionDaylightDark, but LightedDarkDawn or DuskOther / UnknownTotal
Normal1,28688377913653,089
Rain51585460169
Snow/Sleet404109
Other107170034
Unknown021003
TOTAL1,35195085514353,304

– California Fatalities by County

In evaluating fatalities by county, we see the following five emerge with the highest numbers in 2017:

  1. Los Angeles County, 658 fatalities
  2. Riverside County, 294
  3. San Bernardino County, 271
  4. San Diego County, 231
  5. Kern County, 182
County20132014201520162017
Alameda8683907999
Alpine11174
Amador5781412
Butte2124333638
Calaveras7811920
Colusa975510
Contra Costa5044768163
Del Norte1281586
El Dorado2623261926
Fresno119117102150156
Glenn5126119
Humboldt2833282139
Imperial2846283423
Inyo306711
Kern131111138149182
Kings1612353025
Lake227171517
Lassen959108
Los Angeles625639651837658
Madera2132293926
Marin141081212
Mariposa35357
Mendocino1419102530
Merced4837547270
Modoc33310
Mono15615
Monterey3332495551
Napa166151214
Nevada155131216
Orange186173183204178
Placer2113214029
Plumas365106
Riverside228246242297294
Sacramento123114139169172
San Benito799119
San Bernardino262285260273271
San Diego198233246243231
San Fransicso3533383625
San Joaquin938398119116
San Luis Obispo2832343234
San Mateo5725335233
Santa Barbara3123353439
Santa Clara95106133114105
Santa Cruz1420192019
Shasta2422402629
Sierra20113
Siskiyou69121114
Solano3949453731
Sonoma3040464535
Stanislaus5462497974
Sutter141117823
Tehama1114191813
Trinity48585
Tulare5460758085
Tuolumne1311171114
Ventura6646565747
Yolo2119263620
Yuba17991011

– California Traffic Fatalities

We compared the number of traffic fatalities on rural and urban roads and found that in California, fatalities are happening more frequently on urban roads.

Traffic Fatalities20132014201520162017
Total3,1073,1023,3873,8373,602
Rural1,2011,1701,4041,5931,404
Urban1,9061,9311,9822,2442,195

– California Fatalities by Person Type

Statistics reveal that between 2013 to 2017, there were higher numbers of fatalities among car passengers in Calfornia. The next-highest number of fatalities can be seen among pedestrians.

Pasenger Type20132014201520162017
Passenger Car1,0981,0661,1701,3571,269
Light Truck - Pickup239209294278279
Light Truck - Utility241271288307336
Light Truck - Van6779888884
Light Truck - Other126966
Large Truck3833324853
Bus11171203
Other/Unknown Occupants2026141819
Total Occupants1,7261,7071,8962,1222,049
Total Motorcyclists463522494576529
Pedestrian734709819933858
Bicyclist and Other Cyclist147129136155124
Other/Unknown Nonoccupants3735425142
Total Nonoccupants9188739971,1391,024
Total3,1073,1023,3873,8373,602

– California Fatalities by Crash Type

Between 2013 to 2017, the greatest number of fatalities occurred in single-vehicle crashes, followed by roadway departures. However, in both of these categories, we see a decrease in fatalities from 2016 to 2017.

Crash Type20132014201520162017
Total Fatalities (All Crashes)3,1073,1023,3873,8373,602
Single Vehicle1,9221,8611,9872,2732,067
Involving a Large Truck259301305354361
Involving Speeding9929951,0321,1511,070
Involving a Rollover697696770800796
Involving a Roadway Departure1,4421,3741,5301,7541,588
Involving an Intersection
(or Intersection Related)
7978118811,024927

– Five-Year Fatality Trends for California’s Top 10 Counties

When comparing the 10 largest counties in the state, Los Angeles County has the highest number of fatalities in 2017. In 2017, Los Angeles County saw more than two times the number of fatalities of Riverside County, which held the number two spot.

County20132014201520162017
Los Angeles625639651837658
Riverside228246242297294
San Bernardino262285260273271
San Diego198233246243231
Kern131111138149182
Orange186173183204178
Sacramento123114139169172
Fresno119117102150156
San Joaquin938398119116
Santa Clara95106133114105
Top Ten Counties2,0602,1072,1922,5552,363
All Other Counties1,0479951,1951,2821,239
All Counties3,1073,1023,3873,8373,602

– California Fatalities Involving Speeding by County

Our analysis reveals that the California counties with the highest numbers of fatalities in 2017 were:

  1. Los Angeles County, 214 fatalities
  2. San Bernardino County, 88
  3. Riverside County, 84
  4. San Diego County, 78
  5. Orange County, 60
County20132014201520162017
Alameda3324372532
Alpine11061
Amador01020
Butte61113415
Calaveras22134
Colusa11222
Contra Costa1613263617
Del Norte42251
El Dorado586913
Fresno2624224451
Glenn11232
Humboldt79868
Imperial811937
Inyo10102
Kern3227404945
Kings331156
Lake60643
Lassen31511
Los Angeles245240231308214
Madera578104
Marin53136
Mariposa02001
Mendocino55339
Merced129161416
Modoc10000
Mono02000
Monterey374911
Napa72231
Nevada73544
Orange6256515360
Placer6321110
Plumas22241
Riverside6693879584
Sacramento4035425653
San Benito35022
San Bernardino9290827288
San Diego6771757678
San Francisco11810125
San Joaquin3626343635
San Luis Obispo8117813
San Mateo175121611
San Barbara116101418
San Clara2832393329
Santa Cruz711547
Shasta661946
Sierra10003
Siskiyou12224
Solano152223146
Sonoma517111211
Stanislaus1727121317
Sutter11149
Tehama46431
Trinity25120
Tulare813151317
Tuolumne32012
Ventura199121614
Yolo761098
Yuba26352

– California Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver by County

As for the counties with the highest number of fatal crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver, they are:

  1. Los Angeles County, 192 fatalities
  2. Riverside County, 95
  3. San Diego County, 78
  4. San Bernardino County, 76
  5. Sacramento County, 54
County2013 Fatalities2014 fatalities2015 fatalities2016 Fatalities2017 Fatalities
Alameda2217202133
Alpine10002
Amador10244
Butte710141215
Calaveras24536
Colusa01004
Contra Costa1314192322
Del Norte42223
El Dorado1611557
Fresno3132293552
Glenn21215
Humboldt5119716
Imperial69495
Inyo10123
Kern3433394048
Kings33879
Lake52656
Lassen31451
Los Angeles187172149240192
Madera2117157
Marin24223
Mariposa22225
Mendocino631117
Merced148172118
Modoc11200
Mono01204
Monterey38111615
Napa51734
Nevada61315
Orange5141495547
Placer5351010
Plumas13213
Riverside8171769295
Sacramento4135475454
San Benito36112
San Bernardino6789748076
San Diego5455718378
San Francisco77774
San Joaquin3425194338
San Luis Obispo48121113
San Mateo1747146
Santa Barbara6881015
Santa Clara2836303430
Santa Cruz55855
Shasta1012111010
Sierra00101
Siskiyou24523
Solano1111131012
Sonoma716101215
Stanislaus1423162326
Sutter12638
Tehama55565
Trinity25222
Tulare1613172430
Tuolumne23736
Ventura1015111920
Yolo85796
Yuba60352

– Teen Drinking and Driving in California

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility reports that in 2016, California’s rate of under-21 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities was 1.3 per 100,000 population — a rate that higher than the national rate of 1.2 per 100,000.

Our table below details DUI arrests among teens in California:

Teen Drinking ArrestsStatistics
DUI Arrest
(Under 18 years old)
493
DUI Arrests
(Under 18 years old)
Total Per Million People
54.22
Rank36

– EMS Response Time in California

Finally, here’s a look at the average response times for Emergency Vehicles in California:

Road TypeTime of Crash
to EMS Notification
EMS Notification
to EMS Arrival
EMS Arrival at Scene
to Hospital Arrival
Time of Crash
to Hospital Arrival
Rural239NA5
Urban2.714824.7

– Transportation in California

Just how much time are California drivers spending in traffic? And, what car ownership and car transportation trends are dominating the roads?

Through research provided by Data USA, we’re revealing the answers below.

– Car Ownership in California

When it comes to how many cars the typical California resident owns, statistics reveal the largest share of households owns two, at 37.7 percent. The next largest share can be found among those who own three cars, at 22.5 percent.

– Commute Time in California

As for commute time? Experts say the average for California drivers runs just under 30 minutes. In fact,

At 28 minutes, California employees have a longer average commute time than typical U.S. driver’s 25.5-minute commute. 

But it doesn’t stop there.

Data USA also reports that 4.19 percent of the state’s workforce has “super commutes” in excess of 90 minutes. 

– Commuter Transportation in California

When choosing between driving alone or carpooling, the overwhelming majority of California motorists prefer to drive alone. At a share of 73.9 percent, this figure far surpasses that of those who carpool (at ten percent) and those who work at home (5.97 percent).

– California Traffic Congestion

The fact that several California cities are known for bumper-to-bumper traffic should come as no surprise.

But, this naturally begs the question — which California cities have the most congestion? And, just how much time and money are drivers losing stuck in traffic? 

 

Thanks to the INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, we have more insight:

URBAN AREA2018 IMPACT
RANK (2017)
HOURS LOST
IN CONGESTION (2017)
COST OF CONGESTION
(PER DRIVER)
Los Angeles, CA47 (48)128 (76)$1,788
San Francisco, CA65 (65)116 (89)$1,624
Philadelphia, PA69 (67)112 (95)$1,568
Sacramento, CA156 (158)69 (166)$957
Bakersfield, CA205 (213)50 (197)$700
Fresno, CA208 (212)43 (209)$594

INRIX research shows that six California cities earned rankings on its 2018 scorecard. Unsurprisingly,

Los Angeles tops this list with a 47th place global ranking, with drivers losing an estimated 128 hours (or 5.3 days) and $1,788 behind the wheel.

Not too far behind L.A. is  San Fransico with a 65th place ranking, and drivers losing an estimated 116 hours (4.83 days) and  $1,624 in 2018.

Car Insurance in California: The Bottom Line

We get it. California is a big state with a lot of roads, a lot of insurers, and a lot motorists. But don’t let its size intimidate you.

When it comes to car insurance coverage in the Golden State, drivers should be comforted in knowing they have plenty of options, and countless opportunities to seek best rates and coverages.

Some additional benefits to consider —

  • California is one of the few states in the nation that offers low-cost insurance for low-income earners.
  • The state mandates that good drivers receive a substantial discount.
  • Finally, California lawmakers have distinguished themselves by prohibiting insurers from participating in certain price-setting practices. This includes using a driver’s credit history or gender as a basis for increased rates.

With all of the facts at hand, the next step for California drivers is clear — begin shopping for rates. You can do so by taking advantage of our FREE car insurance comparison tool. Simply enter your ZIP code to begin.

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