California Car Insurance
California is one of the more expensive states to purchase car insurance, coming in at the sixth highest insurance premiums in the country. Discounting Michigan and Florida, which both have unique car insurance requirements that account for the cost, only Oklahoma, Montana and Washington, D.C. compete with the cost of premiums in California.
The average cost of car insurance in California is $1,513 per year. Of course, coverage plays a large role in determining the cost of your car insurance premiums and rates vary depending on your unique profile and needs.
Why is California car insurance so high?
There are several reasons that California car insurance premiums are higher than in some other states. California has the highest number of licensed drivers of any state, meaning that at any time there are more drivers on the roads than in nearly any other area. Commuting is also a common practice in California; while the major cities do employ public transportation, the transportation systems are not as thorough as the subways of New York or Chicago. Most people still drive to work on the highways, increasing the likelihood of accidents occurring.
California weather also plays a role in car insurance premiums. Earthquakes and wildfires are not uncommon in the area, and snow occurs frequently in some parts of the state. Many areas are also especially prone to flooding, which can cause substantial vehicle damage.
Theft is another major concern in California. The state’s proximity to the Mexico border and the size of its cities makes it a prime target for automobile theft. Of the top 10 worst cities for car theft, six are in California. This means that comprehensive coverage will cost more in this state than in other areas.
What car insurance requirement does California have?
Like all states, California has minimum requirements of car insurance coverage. You will need to maintain these car insurance limits in order to keep your vehicle registered; failure to maintain the proper insurance on your vehicle may lead to your license being suspended.
At minimum, you must carry bodily injury and property damage liability coverage on your vehicle. The minimum limits of liability for injury coverage are $15,000 for each person injured in the accident, up to $30,000 per accident. Liability limits for property damage are $5,000. The insurance company will pay up to the amount of the limit for any damage or injuries you cause; any bills above this amount would be charged to you directly.
These are very low limits, so it’s a good idea to maintain more insurance than the state requirements. $5,000 can quickly be exhausted repairing one luxury vehicle with moderate damage or two vehicles with minor damage. In states with congested highway traffic like California, multiple car accidents are fairly common.
Most people choose to keep at least $100,000 in bodily injury and $50,000 in property damage liability; you can go even higher than this as well.
Bear in mind also that because the liability limits are so low, there is a strong chance that you will be hit by someone who does not have enough insurance to cover your damage. In order to counteract this you can purchase underinsured motorist coverage that will make up the difference between the other person’s liability limits and the cost of your repairs. You can carry this coverage even if you do not buy any other first-party insurance for your vehicle.
There is no separate uninsured motorist coverage for vehicle damage in California. Instead, if you carry collision coverage and are involved in an auto accident with someone who does not have insurance, your collision deductible will be waived. This only applies for claims where the other party is known and proven uninsured, however, so you cannot use this coverage to waive your deductible for hit-and-run accidents. California does provide uninsured motorist injury coverage, however, and will require you to purchase this. Usually the limits of this coverage will be identical to your own liability coverage.
How can I save money on car insurance in California?
You can save money on your California comprehensive car insurance by making your vehicle less attractive to thieves. You can add an anti-theft device to the vehicle or keep it parked in a garage overnight. This will discourage potential car thieves and make your vehicle more secure.
The primary way to maintain low premiums on your auto insurance is to maintain a safe driving record. If you drive accident-free, your insurance company will provide you with safe driver discounts that can be used to make your auto premiums lower, reduce your deductible amount or otherwise save you money.