California Car Insurance FAQ - Quick Answers

The average annual car insurance premium in California is $1,643, coming in much higher than the national average of $1,311 per year. For exact pricing on your car insurance rates, consult with a licensed professional, free of charge.  

Here is how your California auto insurance can help cover different losses that could occur:

  • Bodily injury liability: Pays for medical expenses of others.
  • Property damage liability: Pays for property damage of others.
  • Personal injury protection: Pays for your medical expenses.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist: Pays for an accident involving an uninsured/underinsured motorist

California is an at-fault state when it comes to car accidents. This means that the driver who caused the accident is responsible for covering the damage. You're also required to carry minimum liability limits of $15,000 per person/ $30,000 per accident/ $5,000 property damage.

California car insurance is mandatory at the state minimum limits, but not everyone follows this law. The current rate of drivers that are uninsured in California is 15.2%. If your auto policy has uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you'll have protection when you get into an accident with one of these drivers.

Your car insurance can be found through a variety of carriers. In California, Nationwide, Progressive, Travelers, and Stillwater insurance companies are among the top-rated for car insurance. This is due to their superior claims service and broad coverage selection. 

Do You Know What Your California Car Insurance Covers?

Find the best car insurance in your city

How does your city measure up to the national average?

National average time spent commuting 26.9 Min

National average car thefts per 1,000 2.3 Year

National average car insurance cost $1,311 Year

CityCommute time (min)Auto thefts / 1,000Annual insurance cost
Anaheim28.93.5$1,554
Bakersfield23.07.5$1,765
Chula Vista30.03.0$1,508
Fresno22.24.4$1,560
Long Beach31.05.0$1,756
Los Angeles32.03.9$1,707
Oakland33.411.6$1,952
Riverside31.44.5$1,834
Sacramento26.25.3$1,746
San Diego24.53.6$1,500
San Francisco33.84.8$1,909
San Jose30.95.9$1,898
Santa Ana25.54.0$1,653
Stockton31.15.4$1,777

Bodily Injury Requirements in California

Bodily injury liability covers medical payments of another driver when you're at fault. In California, you're required by law to carry the minimum limits of liability coverage. For bodily injury, you must have at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident.

Your liability insurance on your California auto policy is meant to pay for the other person's injury or damage due to an accident that you caused. The state minimums are the lowest you can go on coverage. However, most agents recommend more robust protection.

Property Damage Requirements in California

Property damage liability covers the cost of damage to another party's vehicle or structure when you're at fault. The state of California requires you to carry the minimum limits of $5,000 for property damage coverage. Unfortunately, $5,000 usually doesn't even scratch the surface when it comes to a property loss.

While you're only required to have the state minimum limits for property damage in California, you'll want to consider more. A trusted adviser will usually suggest an increase starting at $100,000 in property damage when obtaining quotes.

Personal Injury Protection Requirements in California

In California, you'll be able to add personal injury protection your auto policy. This coverage will pay for your medical expenses when you're in an at-fault accident. 

Contrary to popular belief, without personal injury protection, you'll be responsible for any medical bills on your own. This can add up to a lot of out-of-pocket costs that you may not recover from.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage in California

Uninsured motorist coverage can be added to your auto policy, and helps protect against damage or injuries sustained when involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. Limits usually mimic your bodily injury and property damage coverage and can be raised or lowered to your liking.

Some states mandate uninsured motorist protection in addition to your bodily injury and property damage liability insurance. In California, uninsured motorist coverage is not a requirement. However, it's necessary if you want to be fully covered.

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Optional Car Coverage in California

Each California auto policy will come with the state minimum limits of liability that can be adjusted. Most agents recommend raising these required limits and then obtaining additional coverage for full protection. Collision insurance and comprehensive insurance will help pay for damage to your vehicle when involved in an accident and can be added to any car policy. 

If you want to go even further, you can add roadside assistance, which pays for towing or help with a broken down vehicle. Rental reimbursement can also be included to pay for a replacement auto when yours is being worked on due to a covered loss. All of these extra limits of protection can be obtained for an additional premium.

Car Insurance Discounts to Ask for in California

When you obtain more than one policy with the same carrier, you'll get a 30% discount or more on coverage. The same is true for safe vehicles. The more safety standards your auto carries, the better your discount on insurance.

If you're part of an association such as a teachers union, attorney group, or government agency, insurance companies reward you with a 5% to 10% discount in most cases. Likewise, carriers usually provide a loyalty discount that saves you money when you've been with the same insurance company for a specific number of years.

How to File a Car Insurance Claim in California

When an auto accident occurs, it can be overwhelming and hard to remember what to do next. Filing a loss doesn't have to be difficult when you work with the right people. Check out these 4 easy steps to filing a car insurance claim in California.

First, get to a safe place so that you're out of harm's way and seek medical attention if necessary. Second, call your independent insurance agent to have them report the claim to your auto coverage carrier. Third, after your agent has filed the loss, obtain the claim number and how to get a replacement vehicle if needed. Last, set up a meeting with your adjuster once they've been assigned.