San Diego Car Insurance

Experts break down auto insurance costs, coverages, companies, and more.

Written by Meg Stefanac
Written by Meg Stefanac

Financial blogger and business owner, Meg Stefanac, has more than 15 years experience working in the financial services industry and enjoys helping individuals make solid financial decisions. Meg has extensive experience writing about insurance and finances and is a key contributor to

Happy girls having fun in convertible car in San Diego. Find San Diego California car insurance.

Accidents can happen to anyone. That is why drivers in San Diego are required to carry car insurance. Whether you find yourself in a fender bender on West Broadway or a multicar collision on Interstate 15, a good policy can save you from facing large financial losses as a result.

Local independent agents can help you find a suitable policy at a competitive price. If you are ready to start comparing customized quotes from some of the best car insurance companies in California, contact an independent insurance agent in San Diego to get started.

How Much Does Car Insurance Cost in San Diego, CA?

The average cost of car insurance in California is higher than the national average. Shopping around for the best rate has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars a year.

  • National average annual car insurance cost: $1,311
  • California average annual car insurance cost: $1,643

The cost of car insurance is calculated on a case-by-case basis. Insurance companies take several of the following factors into consideration.

  • The year, make, model, and value of the vehicle(s) you are insuring
  • Whether you own or rent your home
  • Your age, gender, occupation, and driving record
  • Information about other licensed drivers in your household
  • The amount of liability insurance you are purchasing
  • The coverage options you are including in your policy

If you are bundling your car insurance with other policies like homeowners insurance or renters insurance, you may earn rate reductions on all of your bundled policies. There are other discounts you may be entitled to, such as if you have a safe driving record or are a student with good grades.

When you compare policies and rates from a few competing insurance providers, you can be certain that you are choosing a policy that offers you the coverage you want at a great price. Independent agents make comparison shopping easy.

Is Car Insurance Required in San Diego, CA?

In California, vehicles must be insured, but residents have some options on how to go about that. Before you can legally take your car out on the road, you must have one of the following.

  • A $35,000 cash deposit with the CA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
  • A $35,000 surety bond issued by a company licensed to do business California
  • A DMV-issued self-insurance certificate
  • A car insurance policy that meets or exceeds the state’s minimum liability coverage requirements

Most people in San Diego opt to purchase a traditional car insurance policy.

What Does San Diego Car Insurance Cover?

Car insurance policies are a mixture of required and optional coverage. As a vehicle owner in San Diego, your car insurance policy must include the following coverage.

  • Liability insurance This can cover third-party injuries and damage if you cause an accident. Your policy must include:
    • Bodily-injury liability coverage of at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident
    • Property damage liability coverage of at least $5,000 per accident.

If you are leasing your car or are still paying for it with an auto loan, you will likely be required by your dealership or lender to also carry full coverage, which includes the following.

  • Collision insurance: This can pay to repair or replace your vehicle if it is damaged in a collision, regardless of fault.
  • Comprehensive insurance: This can pay for non-collision-related loss or damage to your vehicle, such as if an uprooted tree falls on it.

All other coverage is fully optional. Most car insurance providers will offer the following types of coverage options:

  • Uninsured motorist insurance (UIM): This can cover your incurred expenses if you are in a collision caused by an uninsured driver.
    • UIM body injury coverage: This can cover the cost medical treatment for you and your passengers. In California, if you have UIM bodily injury coverage, it must be in the same amounts as your bodily injury liability coverage.
    • UIM property damage coverage: In California, you can purchase up to $3,500 in property damage coverage. Collision insurance can also cover damage.
  • Medical payments insurance: This can partially cover medical treatments needed by you and your passengers if you are injured in a collision, regardless of fault. In California, if you buy this option, the minimum you can purchase is $1,000 in coverage.
  • Roadside assistance and towing: This can cover the cost of necessary assistance if your vehicle becomes disabled while you are out on the road or away from home.
  • Rental reimbursement coverage: This can cover the cost of renting a comparable vehicle while repairs are being made to your car following a covered event.

Even though a minimum-coverage policy will be your least expensive option, it is not always the best choice. If you cause a collision and your liability limits are too low, you will be expected to make up the difference out of pocket.

That is why many drivers in San Diego purchase more coverage than the state requires. If you want to have even more liability coverage than your car insurance carrier can offer, you can also buy an umbrella insurance policy. This is an affordable way to increase all of your personal liability coverage.


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What Is the Penalty for Driving without Insurance in San Diego, CA?

Even though driving without insurance in California is illegal, around one in seven drivers in this state is operating an uninsured vehicle.

  • Percentage of US drivers who are uninsured: 13.0%
  • Percentage of California drivers who are uninsured: 15.2%

In California, uninsured drivers can face penalties that include:

  • For a first offense:
    • A fine ranging from $100 to $250
    • A penalty assessment fee of $260 to $650
    • The possible impoundment of your vehicle/impoundment fees
    • Higher car insurance rates
  • For a second offense:
    • A fine ranging from $200 to $500
    • A penalty assessment fee of $1,020 to $1,800
    • The possible impoundment of your vehicle/impoundment fees
    • Higher car insurance rates

If you are involved in an accident while driving without insurance, in addition to the fines and fees mentioned above, you can have your driving privileges suspended for one to four years and you will need to maintain an SR-22 and proof of financial responsibility for three years.

If you carry uninsured motorist insurance, you can rest assured that if an uninsured driver is responsible for a collision with your vehicle, you will receive the compensation you are due without needing to go through expensive lawyers or time-consuming lawsuits to collect what is owed to you.

How High Is the Auto Theft Rate in San Diego?

The auto theft rate in California, and in San Diego specifically, is higher than the national average. Residents of this city report more than 5,000 auto thefts a year.

  • National auto theft rate per 1,000 people: 2.29
  • California auto theft rate per 1,000 people: 3.92
  • San Diego auto theft rate per 1,000 people: 3.59

You should be aware that if your car is stolen, you can only be reimbursed for your loss if your car insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage. This optional insurance covers against a wide variety of non-collision loss and damage to your car.

If you are financing or leasing your vehicle, chances are good you have this coverage already. If not, you may want to inquire about how much it would cost you to add it to your car insurance policy.

How Can an Independent Agent Help Me Find the Best Car Insurance in San Diego, CA?

When you are looking for the right car insurance policy for you and your family, a local independent agent can help. These agents can explain your various coverage options, answer your insurance-related questions, and provide you with a selection of customized quotes from reliable providers.

This enables you to choose the policy that offers the best value for your money. Arrange an obligation-free consultation with an independent insurance agent with an office near you to get more information and to learn more about San Diego car insurance.

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