D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has appeared on legaladvice.com, themanifest.com, and vice.com.

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Oct 9, 2020

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California
California Statistic Summary
Road Miles 225,531
Registered Vehicles 27,872,875
State Population 39,557,045
Percentage of
Uninsured Motorists
15.2
Driving Deaths Speeding: 1,070 Drunk Driving: 1,120
Average Premiums Annually
Liability: $490 Collision: $397 Comprehensive: $101
Cheapest Provider: USAA

If you were hoping to live in a place that has it all, you chose wisely. California truly does have it all. From oceans to mountains, cities to farmlands, and deserts to woodlands, you’ll find it all in the state.

Whatever your favorite pastime is, you’re probably going to have to drive to do it. And if you drive, you’ll need California car insurance. Does Freeway insurance in Beaumont, CA offer good rates? Where can you find the best coverage? That’s what we’re here for.

With a population pushing 40 million, California has more residents than any other state in the U.S., yet it doesn’t even make the top ten for population density. What does that mean? There are still places to get out, stretch your legs, and connect with nature.

Before you get behind the wheel in California, we’ll take you through everything you need to know, including which car insurance companies offer the best rates, factors that affect the price of car insurance, and more to help you get started down your path to making an informed choice in car insurance.

One awesome resource we have to help you is a quote comparison tool. Enter your ZIP code right here to get started, and you’ll receive several rate quotes for car insurance in California. You might be surprised when you see how much you could save.

Table of Contents

Average California Car Insurance Coverage and Rates

You could spend a solid part of your week figuring out what kind of insurance you need and where to get it. Or you could find everything you need to know right here and go do something fun with all your extra time.

We’ll cover what’s required, optional car insurance coverage, and what you can expect for rates, including average car insurance rates in San Diego, Sacramento, CA, and more.

How much coverage is required for California Minimum Coverage?

Like in most states, there is a minimum insurance coverage requirement in order to legally drive in California. Comprehensive and collision insurance are not mandatory in California.

Liability coverage, however, is required in the state. If you damage property or injure a person in an accident, you’re liable for the costs incurred. Liability coverage helps you pay for that.

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The bare minimum that you must carry to comply with California car insurance requirements is as follows:

  • $15,000 – Bodily injury liability per person
  • $30,000 – Bodily injury liability per accident
  • $5,000 – Property damage liability

You’ll often see those figures shortened to this: 15/30/5.

Now, before we go any further, we want to make a case for getting a higher level of coverage. If you’ve been to a hospital recently, you’re well aware of how expensive it is.

If you cause an accident and the other party sustains a major injury that requires surgery and therapy, the costs can quickly exceed the $15,000 in minimum coverage required.

The $5,000 requirement for property damage is among the lowest in the nation. The average vehicle is worth far more than that, and a new vehicle could be in the $60,000 price range. If you cause significant property damage, your measly $5,000 of coverage will not go very far at all.

So, what? If the costs of the accident exceed your insurance limits, you could be liable for the difference. If you have assets right now, or you plan to have assets in the future, just one accident could throw you into a financial pit from which you might never recover.

A more realistically protective starting point for liability limits is 100/300/100, and higher levels would provide even better protection.

What are forms of financial responsibility in California?

In California, you must carry proof of financial responsibility in your vehicle at all times. The following forms are acceptable:

  • A document or identification card from your insurance company.
  • A DMV authorization letter if you are a cash depositor or are self-insured.
  • California Proof of Insurance Certificate (SR-22) form for broad coverage or owner’s policy.
  • Evidence that the vehicle is owned or leased by a public entity defined in California Government Code §811.2.
  • A Notification of Alternative Forms of Financial Responsibility (REG 5085) form for a vehicle covered by commercial or business policies and being registered for the first time.
  • A Statement of Facts (REG 256) form certifying the motor carrier has evidence of insurance on file with the Public Utilities Commission or DMV pursuant to CVC §34630.

If you go with the cash deposit option, you’ll need to deposit $35,000 with the DMV. You can also go with a surety bond for $35,000 from a company licensed to do business in California

Far and wide the most common form of financial responsibility, and the focus of this guide, is a standard car insurance policy.

How much percentage of income are premiums in California?

Want to know how much of your income you spend on car insurance in California? Take a look at this table.

California Car Insurance Rates as a Percentage of Income
YearAnnual Average Full Coverage RatesAnnual Average Disposable IncomeAnnual Average Percentage of Income Paid to Car Insurance
2012$891.68$42,451.002.10%
2013$922.69$41,945.002.20%
2014$951.75$43,978.002.16%
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Disposable personal income (DPI) is the money that is left after income taxes have been paid. Nationally, the average percentage of DPI paid for car insurance is 2.34 percent. Californians pay less of their income to car insurance than the average American.

When you compare the percentage of income going to car insurance with the states adjacent to California, you’ll see that California’s percentage is lower than Oregon’s, Nevada’s, and Arizona’s.

If you want to see what percentage of your income is being paid to car insurance, use our tool right here. You can use this car insurance calculator if you live in Los Angeles or anywhere else in the state.

CalculatorPro

What are the core coverages in California?

Take a look at this table to see average rates for liability, comprehensive, collision, and full coverage in California compared to national averages of the same.

Average Annual Core Coverage Rates in California
Core Coverage TypeAnnual Average Rates in California Annual Average National Dollar Amount Over/Under National Average
Liability$489.66$538.73-$49.07
Collision$396.55$322.61+$73.94
Comprehensive$100.54$148.04-$47.50
Full Coverage$986.75$1,009.38-$22.63
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Overall, California residents pay less for car insurance than the average American. The collision part of full coverage is higher than the national average, but the lower cost for the other coverages makes up for it.

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The above chart shows the monthly car insurance cost in California and every other state in the country.

What additional liability is available in California?

There are a couple of options for car insurance to protect yourself. Medical Payments (MedPay) will pay for your medical costs up to the limits in your plan regardless of who is at fault in an accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage will also pay for your injuries if you’re hurt in an accident when the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance.

You might also want to consider uninsured/underinsured property damage coverage. Considering $5,000 is all the property damage liability required in California, if your car is worth more than that, you could find yourself with a lot less compensation than you need.

Uninsured/underinsured property damage coverage would kick in once the other party’s insurance (or lack of insurance) is exhausted.

California’s uninsured motorist rate is 15.2 percent. That’s pretty high, in fact, only 11 states have a higher percentage. If an uninsured motorist causes a crash with you, you’ll be wishing you would have bought uninsured motorist coverage!

This table displays the loss ratios for MedPay and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages in California. Both are in good shape, as a healthy range is considered to be between 40 and 74 percent. The number given is the dollar amount paid to claims for every $100 earned in premiums.

California Loss Ratio Percentages for Additional Liability Coverage
Coverage TypeLoss Ratio 2012Loss Ratio 2013Loss Ratio 2014
Medical Payments (Med Pay)73%69%62%
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist60%59%58%
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If the loss ratio was approaching or exceeding 100 percent, you could expect steep rate hikes so the companies could keep up with claims. Such a scenario is not happening in California with MedPay and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages.

What add-ons, endorsements, and riders are available in California?

You can speak to a licensed insurance agent to find out if you need any of these add-ons, endorsements, or riders:

  • Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)
  • Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)
  • Rental Reimbursement
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance
  • Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
  • Non-Owner Car Insurance
  • Modified Car Insurance Coverage
  • Classic Car Insurance
  • Pay-As-You-Drive Insurance
  • Usage-Based Insurance

Usage-based insurance is a popular option some insurance companies offer.

By choosing a usage-based plan, you allow the insurance company to monitor your driving through a telemetric device installed in your vehicle or through an app. You are then rewarded for good driving habits.

Pay-as-you-drive plans take usage-based plans a step further. You only pay for the miles you drive! For example, Metromile offers exclusively pay-as-you-drive plans. Some of the major companies, like Allstate, are offering similar plans.

Does gender and age affect my car insurance in California?

Until 2019, car insurance companies in California used gender for auto insurance rate adjustments. The resulting differences in prices between men and women sometimes favored men and sometimes favored women. However, gender as a factor in adjusting insurance rates is no longer legal in California.

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Universally, 17-year-old males paid significantly more for car insurance than their female counterparts. The statistics for male teen drivers back up the argument that they present more risk to the insurance company. More risk equals higher rates.

Genderless car insurance rates are one of the natural outcomes of California’s law that adds a third choice to the gender options for drivers’ licenses and birth certificates. The choices are:

  • Male
  • Female
  • Non-binary

This law went into effect on January 1, 2019, and car insurance companies were given six months to comply with gender-neutral rates.

For the most part, residents haven’t experienced a huge impact on their rates, as already, the rates were split with some males paying slightly more and some females paying slightly more.

The demographic that will see the biggest financial impact are teen females. Despite their statistically lower risk than males, they will be charged identical rates as their male counterparts.

Our team partnered with Quadrant Data Solutions to find and compare rates for California residents. Because this law had not been enacted at the time of our data gathering, our quotes represent differing rates based on gender, rather than the more recent gender neutral car insurance laws in California.

For detailed average insurance rates in California by both age and gender combined, take a look at this chart.

Insurance Rates by Age and Gender in CA

We have averaged the male and female rates to give you a more accurate idea of the rates you can expect under current laws.

California Average Annual Car Insurance Rates by Age
Insurance CompanyAverage Annual Rate for a Single 17-Year-Old Average Annual Rate for a Single 25-Year-Old Average Annual Rate for a Married 35-Year-Old Average Annual Rate for a Married 60-Year-Old
USAA$4,416.71$2,597.19$1,878.60$1,886.00
Safeco$5,181.45$2,607.16$2,240.96$2,111.11
United Financial$5,258.22$2,674.13$1,811.60$1,660.63
Geico$5,481.52$2,595.60$1,787.31$1,680.52
Travelers$5,536.17$3,214.71$2,457.66$2,194.59
State Farm$6,822.45$3,720.81$3,310.18$2,957.44
Amco$8,752.50$3,881.60$3,198.63$2,781.60
Allstate$9,143.81$3,928.97$2,922.56$2,137.03
Farmers$11,428.11$3,401.82$2,715.31$2,451.83
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One thing that stands out about California car insurance rates is the older you get, the less you pay. The only exception to this in our data is that with USAA, 35-year-olds pay about seven dollars less than 60-year olds.

To look at it another way, below you’ll see the companies in order of lowest to highest rates for each age group.

Ranking (least to most expensive)Average Annual Rate for a Single 17-Year-Old by CompanyAverage Annual Rate for a Single 25-Year-Old by CompanyAverage Annual Rate for a Married 35-Year-Old by Companyverage Annual Rate for a Married 60-Year-Old by Company
1USAA - $4416.71USAA - $2597.19Geico - $1787.31United Financial - $1660.63
2Safeco - $5181.45Safeco - $2607.16United Financial - $1811.60Geico - $1680.52
3United Financial - $5258.22United Financial - $2674.13USAA - $1878.60USAA - $1886.00
4Geico - $5481.52Geico - $2595.60Safeco - $2240.96Safeco - $2111.11
5Travelers - $5536.17Travelers - $3214.71Travelers - $2457.66Allstate - $2137.03
6State Farm - $6822.45State Farm - $3720.81Farmers - $2715.31Travelers - $2194.59
7AMCO - $8752.49AMCO - $3881.60Allstate - $2922.56Farmers - $2451.83
8Allstate - $9143.80Allstate - $3928.97AMCO - $3198.63AMCO - $2781.60
9Farmers - $11428.11Farmers - $3401.82State Farm - $3310.18State Farm - $2957.44
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If you’re a younger driver, USAA or Safeco may be best for you, while as you get older, Geico and United Financial offer the lowest rates by age.

What are the cheapest rates by ZIP code in California?

If you want to live in America’s most famous ZIP code, you’re going to pay for it! Beverly Hills 90201 has the highest average car insurance rates in the whole state at $6324.83 per year!

Let’s take a closer look at how ZIP codes affect car insurance in California. In this first table, you’ll see California car insurance rates by ZIP code for the 25 cheapest ZIP codes in the state.

25 Cheapest Average Annual Car Insurance Rates by ZIP Code in California
RankZipcodeGrand TotalCity
193401$2,731.32San Luis Obispo
296094$2,752.73Weed
393428$2,774.88Cambria
496067$2,777.88Mount Shasta
593437$2,804.27Lompoc
693427$2,807.43Buellton
793442$2,807.96Morro Bay
893402$2,821.16Los Osos
993420$2,824.43Arroyo Grande
1093449$2,829.93Pismo Beach
1193433$2,834.19Grover Beach
1293514$2,837.87Bishop
1393441$2,840.56Los Olivos
1496064$2,840.77Montague
1596097$2,843.29Yreka
1693436$2,843.64Lompoc
1793444$2,843.90Nipomo
1893430$2,850.58Cayucos
1993452$2,858.30San Simeon
2093463$2,861.18Solvang
2193432$2,862.60Creston
2293422$2,865.26Atascadero
2393455$2,877.53Santa Maria
2496027$2,882.83Etna
2596032$2,885.83Fort Jones
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And for the 25 most expensive ZIP codes by car insurance rate in California, take a look at this table.

25 Most Expensive Average Annual Car Insurance Rates by ZIP Code in California
RankZipcodeGrand TotalCity
190210$6,324.83Beverly Hills
291606$6,219.57North Hollywood
390010$6,200.99Los Angeles
490211$6,199.34Beverly Hills
591405$6,198.55Van Nuys
690020$6,132.45Los Angeles
791203$6,086.66Glendale
891401$6,073.88Van Nuys
990028$6,063.25Los Angeles
1090038$6,048.15Los Angeles
1190046$6,045.78Los Angeles
1290212$6,041.05Beverly Hills
1390005$6,040.60Los Angeles
1491605$6,034.64North Hollywood
1591204$6,015.40Glendale
1691205$5,990.19Glendale
1790029$5,934.84Los Angeles
1890004$5,928.00Los Angeles
1990017$5,898.73Los Angeles
2090027$5,897.67Los Angeles
2190057$5,894.37Los Angeles
2290077$5,878.05Los Angeles
2390048$5,877.67Los Angeles
2491201$5,847.26Glendale
2590069$5,844.28West Hollywood
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San Luis Obispo residents had the lowest average rates in the state at $2,731.32. Beverly Hills 90210 residents pay far more than double what San Luis Obispo 93401 residents pay for auto insurance.

And as promised, the average cost of car insurance in San Diego is $3,446.12, which costs you less than insurance in San Leandro, CA, where the average is $3,805.59 per year. 

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Best California Car Insurance Companies

We’ve given you a peek into the rates in California, and shown you a few of the larger insurance companies’ rates for different areas and demographics. But there is so much more you need to know to make a wise choice.

Customer satisfaction and company financial ratings are two other variables that will have a big impact on your happiness with a company.

We’ll cover that information for California’s largest insurers. If you have to make a claim, you definitely need the company to be able to pay, and you also want the experience to go smoothly. You may also find that a California car insurance refund is being issued by many of these companies due to COVID-19.

What are the financial ratings of the largest car insurance companies in California?

Financial ratings matter because they give consumers a report on how an insurance company handles money. If a company has a poor rating, it could be at risk for bankruptcy. If a company has a good rating, they have every indication of being able to pay claims.

Below we list the ten largest car insurers in California with their financial rating awarded by A.M. Best.

A.M. Best Ratings for the Largest Car Insurance Companies in California
Providers (Largest-Smallest)A.M. Best Rating
State FarmA++
FarmersA
GeicoA++
AllstateA+
Auto Club EnterprisesA-
MercuryA+
CSAA A
USAAA++
ProgressiveA+
Liberty MutualA
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Nationwide the insurance companies with the largest market share tend to have good financial ratings. Things are no different in California. The largest insurers have positive financial ratings.

Which car insurance companies have the best ratings in California?

Customer satisfaction is another important subject to investigate when choosing an insurance company. A company with higher customer satisfaction rates is more likely to keep you happy as a customer. In this table we list some of the best auto insurance companies in California along with their average insurance rates.

California Average Annual Insurance Rates by Company
Insurance CompanyAverage Annual RateAverage Annual Rate Compared to State Average ($)Average Annual Rate Compared to State Average (%)
Allstate Northbrook Indemnity$4,533.09$843.4718.61%
Farmers Ins Exchange$4,999.27$1,309.6426.20%
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$963.9620.71%
United Financial Casualty$2,851.14-$838.48-29.41%
State Farm Mutual Auto$4,202.72$513.1012.21%
Travelers Commercial Ins Co.$3,350.78-$338.84-10.11%
USAA$2,694.62-$995.00-36.93%
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J.D. Power reveals the ranking of some of the major contenders in California, which we’ve summarized in this table.

J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index Rating for Insurance Companies in California
Insurance CompanyOverall Customer Satisfaction Index Rating (1,000 point scale)
USAA891
Wawanesa853
Auto Club of Southern California Insurance Group848
State Farm836
Ameriprise834
Geico828
Esurance825
Progressive823
Allstate819
CSAA Insurance Group810
Safeco807
Farmers801
Nationwide797
Mercury787
Liberty Mutual786
Kember784
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Other than USAA, which is not available to everyone (only members of the military and their families), Wawanesa, has the highest customer satisfaction rating.

Which car insurance companies have the most complaints in California?

This table shows a three-year trend for justified complaints from the 50 largest car insurance companies in California. The important numbers in the table are the complaint ratios.

California Insurance Company Complaint Ratio vs. Justified Complaint Data
Company2017 Approx. Exposure CountComplaint Ratio 2017Complaint Ratio 2016Complaint Ratio 2015Justified Complaints 2017Justified Complaints 2016Justified Complaints 2015
Amco Ins Co293,3590.32.42.4177
California Capital Ins Co72,2671.42.71.4121
United Serv Automobile Assn422,7671.42.44.061017
Mid Century Ins Co545,6801.61.33.39823
USAA Cas Ins Co482,1781.73.05.581425
Interins Exch Of The Automobile Club2,365,9851.81.91.8424337
Viking Ins Co Of WI258,6521.95.76.051312
Government Employees Ins Co397,2642.01.46.08521
21st Century Ins Co589,7812.04.94.6123230
State Farm Mut Auto Ins Co3,773,4782.03.15.477119204
Geico Gen Ins Co1,522,0952.13.37.7324492
California Cas Ind Exch141,7812.12.96.0348
Allied Prop & Cas Ins Co134,4522.21.51.5322
Mercury Ins Co1,551,6112.42.72.8384244
Geico Ind Co601,2672.51.77.815937
Amica Mut Ins Co73,7852.74.22.9232
Farmers Ins Exch1,352,8552.92.43.3393240
Safeco Ins Co Of Amer368,8333.06.18.3112128
Allstate Northbrook Ind Co1,997,2143.12.52.2615038
CSAA Ins Exch1,976,5573.22.93.5645563
Esurance Prop & Cas Ins Co276,1973.35.36.191416
Progressive Direct Ins Co121,7833.35.61.7472
California Automobile Ins Co300,4263.34.13.9101313
Wawanesa Gen Ins Co506,0864.14.63.5212317
Garrison Prop & Cas Ins Co140,2954.32.51.0631
Financial Ind Co160,5184.47.48.171010
Coast Natl Ins Co224,7804.45.28.2101530
Progressive West Ins Co329,5884.65.74.3151916
USAA Gen Ind Co206,2824.85.63.310105
Geico Cas Co238,0385.06.313.1121320
Trumbull Ins Co71,5075.63.91.5431
Infinity Ins Co819,4705.68.49.2467686
Nationwide Ins Co Of Amer143,6886.36.812.49915
IDS Prop Cas Ins Co438,2496.89.27.6303931
Kemper Independence Ins Co72,7246.90.05.2503
Farmers Specialty Ins Co116,9967.77.22.49102
Travelers Commercial Ins Co177,1577.93.216.91421
Loya Cas Ins Co210,3878.611.515.4182838
Commerce W Ins Co91,8578.79.510.58810
United Financial Cas Co435,7408.72.95.0381219
Metropolitan Drt Prop & Cas Ins Co144,5079.09.26.8131410
Alliance United Ins Co949,5569.216.915.987156123
Liberty Mut Fire Ins Co392,7509.714.57.4385528
Hartford Underwriters Ins Co196,04811.26.512.6221428
Integon Natl Ins Co209,17712.022.026.5253430
Progressive Select Ins Co211,93612.35.69.1261015
Permanent Gen Assur Corp66,90816.416.020.311911
Anchor Gen Ins Co104,93621.921.828.8232837
Western Gen Ins Co86,86440.357.886.4354141
Access Ins Co390,785117.778.127.146026388
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This information is very valuable. The state of California collects complaint reports from consumers, investigates those complaints, and then decides if the complaints are justified.

The complaint ratio is the number of complaints to the number of exposures. A larger company will tend to get more complaints than a smaller company just because of the higher number of customers. The complaint ratio levels the playing field.

Pay careful attention to the companies that consistently have a high complaint ratio (anything above a one is considered above average). If a company has three straight years of high complaint ratios, your chances for having a complaint-worthy experience are high if you choose them to insure you.

In the chart below, we highlight the ten largest insurers in California with their three-year average complaint ratios.

3 Year Complaint Ratio Data for Largest Insurance Companies

As you can see, Liberty Mutual has the highest number of complaints across the three-year time span.

What are the cheapest car insurance companies in California?

If the following average rates seem high to you, you’re probably a decent driver without much risk. Take a look at this table for average annual rates by company, compared to the state average.

Average Annual California Car Insurance Rates by Insurance Company
Insurance CompanyAverage Annual RateCompared to State Average ($)Percentage Over/Under State Average (%)
Allstate $4,533.09+$843.47+18.61%
Farmers $4,999.27+$1,309.64+26.20%
Geico $2,886.24-$803.38-27.84%
Safeco$3,035.17-$654.45-21.56%
AMCO $4,653.58+$963.96+20.71%
United Financial $2,851.14-$838.48-29.41%
State Farm $4,202.72+$513.10+12.21%
Travelers $3,350.78-$338.84-10.11%
USAA $2,694.62-$995.00-36.93%
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These averages include all driving records and all ages. If, for example, you’re 30 years old with a clean driving record, you can expect your rates to be much lower!

But, if you’re 17-years-old with a speeding ticket and an accident on your record, you could be looking at even higher rates.

For a visual representation of the difference in rates based on company, take a look at this chart.

California car insurance average rates by company

These rates just give you a starting point to see which companies are the most expensive and the cheapest overall. Your individual rates will vary.

Does by commute affect my car insurance rate in California?

Are you curious how much your commute is going to cost you? In most parts of the country, the length of your commute doesn’t make a huge difference in your rates. In California, it does, thanks to California’s consumer protection laws. Take a look at this chart to see a quick summary of some of the major factors that can affect insurance rates and by how much, including your commute.

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Rates in California must be set based on your driving record, years of experience, and annual mileage. And companies like Wawanesa insurance (www.wawanesa.com) request miles, specifically average annual mileage, from insureds for each vehicle on their policy to meet California state requirements.

Currently, California is the only state in which Farmers and Progressive offer any discount for low mileage.

Take a look at this chart to see by how much different companies adjust your rates, depending on your commute.

California car insurance rate comparison based on commute

As you can see, the biggest difference in rates based on commute is found from Nationwide.

Can coverage level change my car insurance rate with companies in California?

Take a look at this table to see how car insurance rates can vary based on coverage level.

Annual Average California Insurance Rates by Coverage Level
Insurance CompanyAverage Annual Rate for Low Coverage Average Annual Rate for Medium Coverage Average Annual Rate for High 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
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This is visually represented in the below chart.

CA Average Rates by Coverage Level

Different companies vary rates based on coverage level by different amounts.

How does my credit history affect my car insurance rate with companies in California?

California is one of three states that does not allow credit rating to be used in car insurance rate calculations. Good credit or bad credit, it won’t make a difference in your car insurance rates.

How does my driving record change my rates with car insurance companies in California?

As you might expect, a significant factor in adjustments to your insurance is your driving record. Take a look at the chart to see how much it can affect your rates in California.

California rate comparison based on driving history and company

A couple of interesting points include that Nationwide increases rates over a clean record by the same amount for a speeding violation as for an accident and Liberty Mutual charges $350 less for a DUI on your record than they do for an accident on your record

Which car insurance companies are the largest in California?

Take a look below to see the market share for the largest insurance companies in the state.

California Car Insurance Companies Ranked by Market Share, Loss Ratio, and Direct Premiums Written
Insurance Company2017 Direct Premiums WrittenLoss RatioMarket Share
State Farm$3,910,351,00075.94%14.34%
Farmers Insurance$3,158,814,00068.26%11.59%
Geico$2,502,854,00084.78%9.18%
Allstate$2,446,564,00064.73%8.97%
Auto Club Enterprises$2,312,230,00065.03%8.48%
Mercury$2,095,531,00061.91%7.69%
CSAA$1,950,257,00064.30%7.15%
USAA$1,218,792,00072.98%4.47%
Progressive$1,147,186,00062.78%4.21%
Liberty Mutual$929,058,00077.26%3.41%
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Looked at another way,

California car insurance market share

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The 10 largest companies have 79.5 percent of the market share while the other 760 companies licensed to sell auto insurance in California are competing for the remaining 20.5 percent.

Yes, you read that correctly! There are a total of 770 car insurance companies licensed in California.

  • Domestic insurers: 99
  • Foreign insurers: 671

Domestic insurers are those incorporated in California, while foreign insurers are those whose companies are incorporated somewhere else.

California Laws

It can prove to be difficult to study all of California’s laws and weed out the relevant ones to you and your car insurance. You could waste a lot of time. Or, you could just read on because we’re about to highlight the most important laws for you to know.

California has several unique laws concerning car insurance. You’ll want to see how these laws affect you.

Not only will we cover car insurance laws, but we’ll also cover road laws from car seat requirements to DUI penalties.

What are the car insurance laws in California?

California stands out from other states in how car insurance laws are determined. In 1988, Proposition 103 passed with a 51 percent vote. That bill is estimated to have saved Californians billions of dollars. Watch this video to learn more.

A 2013 report estimated 100 billion dollars of saving in the first 25 years since Prop 103 was passed.

Another stunning statistic is that consumers spent less on auto insurance in California in 2010 than they did in 1989, while the rest of the nation spent over 43 percent more.

Those who oppose Prop 103 argue that it was other laws that have resulted in consumer savings and that it is California’s extremely low liability requirements that rank California 22nd in the U.S. for insurance rates. Opponents say Prop 103 has removed the free marketplace for car insurance.

Whether you’re for or against Prop 103, it is the law of the land, and it’s how property and casualty insurance is regulated in California. Here’s how it works:

  • Rates must be based primarily on driving record, years of experience, annual mileage, and any other factor that can be scientifically shown to substantially relate to risk
  • Insurers must offer a 20 percent discount to any individual who requests it as long as they meet the criteria of a “good driver.” To be a good driver the following must be true:
    • Licensed to drive for the previous three years
    • Not convicted of more than one moving violation (this includes an at-fault accident) during the last three years
  • Rates from insurers must be filed and posted publicly
  • The Insurance Commissioner is an elected position
  • Consumers may challenge the actions of the insurance company or the decisions of the Commissioner

Public notices of insurance rate filings can be found at the end of each business week on the California Department of Insurance (CDI) website.

Windshield Coverage

A few states require that insurance companies provide deductible-free glass replacement. California does not. Repair and replacement parts may be aftermarket only if they are comparable quality to manufacturer parts.

High-Risk Insurance

If you have been convicted of a DUI, have been in an accident without insurance, have accumulated too many driving points, or committed another serious offense, you will be required to keep an SR-22 on file with the California DMV for three years.

An SR-22 is just proof that you have insurance. It is NOT insurance. If your coverage lapses, the insurance company must notify the DMV.

If you are required to file an SR-22, you’ll have to notify your insurance company. They can file it for you. If they decide to cancel your coverage because of whatever high-risk offense you committed, you can contact other insurance companies.

If you’re unable to find car insurance in the competitive marketplace, California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP) will be where you will turn. They will match you with an insurer. Since you must have insurance to drive, they will make sure you are able to do that.

Low-Cost Insurance

Nationwide, there are very few low-income car insurance programs. Hawaii offers a program to a very limited group of individuals. New Jersey has a program for individuals on Medicaid that costs a dollar a day and provides compensation for only immediate emergency injuries sustained by the policy-holder.

California is the third state that offers a low-cost insurance program for qualified applicants. Watch this video to learn more.

As we discussed earlier, you’re required to meet minimum insurance requirements set by the state in order to legally drive in California, and your insurer will report your coverage levels to the DMV. California’s low-cost auto insurance program helps low-income drivers meet this minimum requirement.

This is by far the broadest of the three states that have a low-income program.

To qualify, the following must be true of your situation:

  • Have a valid California driver’s license
  • Meet income eligibility guidelines
  • Own a vehicle valued at $25,000 or less
  • Be at least 16 years of age

And your income must be less than these maximum qualifications for household size:

Household Size Requirements for the CA Low Cost Insurance Program
Household Size (number of people)Maximum Yearly Income to Qualify (2019)
1$31,225
2$42,275
3$53,325
4$64,375
5$75,425
6$86,475
7$97,525
8$108,575
9$119,625
10$130,675
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If you qualify and decide to go with this program, here’s the coverage it will provide:

  • 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

You have the option to add:

  • Up to $10,000 per person uninsured/uninsured motorist protection
  • Up to $20,000 per accident uninsured/uninsured motorist protection
  • Up to $1000 Medical Payments

You can’t get comprehensive and collision coverage through this plan, but can purchase that directly through the agent that assists you.

How much can you save by using the low-cost program? Here’s a list of the annual rates below.

Average California Low Cost Car Insurance Rates by County
CountyLiabilityUninsured Motorist Bodily InjuryMedical PaymentsYouthful Male SurchargeInexperienced Driver SurchargeAge 16-18 Driver Surcharge
Alameda$321$39$25$417$449$642
Alpine$267$34$20$347$374$534
Amador$267$34$20$347$374$534
Butte$267$19$20$347$374$534
Calaveras$267$34$20$347$374$534
Colusa$267$19$20$347$374$534
Contra Costa$321$39$25$417$449$642
Del Norte$267$19$20$347$374$534
El Dorado$267$34$20$347$374$534
Fresno$247$32$22$321$346$494
Glenn$267$19$20$347$374$534
Humboldt$267$19$20$347$374$534
Imperial$267$34$20$347$374$534
Inyo$267$34$20$347$374$534
Kern$267$34$20$347$374$534
Kings$247$32$22$321$346$494
Lake$267$19$20$347$374$534
Lassen$267$19$20$347$374$534
Los Angeles$490$68$36$637$686$980
Madera$247$32$22$321$346$494
Marin$321$39$25$417$449$642
Mariposa$267$34$20$347$374$534
Mendocino$267$19$20$347$374$534
Merced$247$32$22$321$346$494
Modoc$267$19$20$347$374$534
Mono$267$34$20$347$374$534
Monterey$247$32$22$321$346$494
Napa$267$19$20$347$374$534
Nevada$267$34$20$347$374$534
Orange$490$68$36$637$686$980
Placer$267$34$20$347$374$534
Plumas$267$19$20$347$374$534
Riverside$267$34$20$347$374$534
Sacramento$321$39$25$417$449$642
San Benito$247$32$22$321$346$494
San Benito$267$34$20$347$374$534
San Diego$267$34$20$347$374$534
San Francisco$321$39$25$417$449$642
San Joaquin$321$39$25$417$449$642
San Luis Obispo$247$32$22$321$346$494
San Mateo$321$39$25$417$449$642
Santa Barbara$247$32$22$321$346$494
Santa Clara$321$39$25$417$449$642
Santa Cruz$247$32$22$321$346$494
Shasta$267$19$20$347$374$534
Sierra$267$34$20$347$374$534
Siskiyou$267$19$20$347$374$534
Solano$267$19$20$347$374$534
Sonoma$267$19$20$347$374$534
Stanislaus$321$39$25$417$449$642
Sutter$321$39$25$417$449$642
Tehama$267$19$20$347$374$534
Trinity$267$19$20$347$374$534
Tulare$247$32$22$321$346$494
Tuolumne$267$34$20$347$374$534
Ventura$267$34$20$347$374$534
Yolo$267$19$20$347$374$534
Yuba$267$34$20$347$374$534
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These rates certainly do not reflect California’s new genderless car insurance laws as males aged 19-24 must pay a 30 percent surcharge with this program. Their rates will likely be reformulated.

Having insurance is the most important thing. And if the only way to get it is to purchase the low-cost policy, then you need to do what it takes to do that.

However, if we cautioned previously that the standard liability limits are insufficient, we must also caution that these lowered limits are far less protective. Shop around to see if you could find a policy with adequate protection for a price you can afford.

Automobile Insurance Fraud in California

Automobile insurance fraud plays a big role in rates. It’s estimated the 10 percent of your rate is wasted on fraudulent activity. In other words, if there was no fraud, you’d pay 10 percent lower rates.

Fraud is a broad term. First, we’ll look at consumer vs. insurer fraud. A consumer who lies to an insurance company commits fraud. An insurance company who offers illegitimate policies to consumers commits fraud.

Now, let’s break down consumer fraud a bit more:

  • Soft Fraud – Any misrepresentation of yourself to your insurer. It can include omitting household residents and lying about where you park your car.
  • Hard Fraud – Any fraudulent claim. It can include staging accidents and faking injuries.

It’s easy to see how hard fraud can cost insurance companies and the consumer, but the white lies of soft fraud have just as much of an impact. Soft fraud happens so often that the little the minor offenses make a big dent.

In California, to be convicted of insurance fraud, you have to commit an act, so lying about how many miles you drive a year won’t be enough to charge you criminally. However, your car insurance company can drop you if they find out you’ve been lying. So, just be honest!

Not only do you have to commit an act of fraud to be convicted, but the prosecution must also prove that you had the intent to commit fraud.

If it can be proven you committed an act of insurance fraud with intent, here are the maximum penalties.

California Insurance Fraud Types and Penalties
Insurance Fraud ClassificationJail TimeFine
Misdemeanorup to one yearup to $10,000
Felonyup to five yearsup to $50,000
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A common organized insurance fraud scheme is to force an accident. Watch out for these scenarios shared by the California Department of Insurance (CDI):

  • Sudden Stop – The driver of the vehicle in front of you stops suddenly for no reason, causing you to rear-end the vehicle.
  • Swoop and Squat – A fast-moving vehicle swoops in front of the vehicle in front of you, causing that vehicle to brake suddenly, causing you to collide into the “victim” vehicle. A third vehicle has also forced you to remain in your lane so that you cannot avoid the collision.
  • Stuffed or Jump-in Passengers – Passengers who were not in the vehicle at the time of the collision.
  • Right of Way Collision – An on-coming driver gives you the right of way and waits for you to enter the roadway, and then purposely causes a collision.

To report a suspected case of fraud, download, print, and fill in the form from CDI. Then mail it to:

California Department of Insurance
Enforcement Branch Headquarters
Intake Unit
9342 Tech Center Drive, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95826

To give you an idea of what fraud looks like in California, we pulled California’s fraud division statistics for the 2016-2017 fiscal year:

California Insurance Fraud Report
Fraud Case StatusNumber of Cases
Open196
Completed168
In progress as of June 30, 2017230
Reports of Suspected Violation as of June 30, 201764
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There are several divisions of California’s fraud unit. In the automobile insurance fraud division, there are several specialized units focused on specific dimensions of the penal code.

From their annual report:

“During fiscal year 2016-17, the Fraud Division received 19,006 suspected fraudulent claims (SFCs), assigned 470 new cases, made 260 arrests, and referred 260 submissions to prosecuting authorities. The potential loss amounted to $100,143,746.”

As you can see, California takes fraud seriously and will prosecute when applicable.

Statute of Limitations

If you’re in an accident, the best course to take with insurance is to make a claim right away. It will be easier to prove and you can gather the information that could be lost by waiting. If for some reason you can’t decide if you should file a claim, there’s a hard and fast time limit.

California Insurance Claim Statue of Limitations
Type of ClaimTime Limit
Personal Injury2 years
Property Damage3 years
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If you pass the statute of limitations you will be out of luck.

Automobile Mediation Program

The state first started an insurance mediation program in 1995 to help settle disputes over a 1994 earthquake. In 2001, the program was expanded to include automobile claim disputes.

When the insurer and the insured cannot agree on a settlement, the mediation program will provide a qualified mediator to help both parties come to an agreement.

To be eligible:

  • You must have a comprehensive or collision policy
  • The dispute must be over a first-party damage claim (liability and injury claims do not qualify)
  • The claim must be over $7,500
  • The amount in dispute must be over $2,000

The goal of mediation is to help both parties come to an agreement. An agreement is not required, though, and if no settlement can be reached, the next step would be a lawsuit that could incur significant costs.

California’s Automobile Mediation Program is free of charge.

Fair Claims Settlement Practices

This regulation was established to protect the consumer.

  • It gives the insurance company 40 days to accept or deny a claim.
  • It demands the insurer provide a written explanation for denials.
  • It demands the insurer pay for claims within 30 days of acceptance.

The bullet list above is just a brief summary of all the law requires.

What are the vehicle licensing laws in California?

Whether you’re new to California, a new driver, or a seasoned, longtime California driver, we’ll cover the information you need to keep yourself out of trouble.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

If you’re pulled over for a traffic violation or you’ve been in an accident, you’re going to be required to show proof of insurance. Law enforcement can access a DMV database with insurance information, but this does not release you from the requirement to provide proof.

The proof can be physical (a paper copy of your insurance card, most often) or electronic (on your phone, usually).

Take a look at this table to see what penalties you may face according to the California Vehicle Code (CVC) for driving without insurance.

California Penalties for Driving without Insurance
Driving without InsurancePenalty for Driving without Insurance
First OffenseFine up to $200 + penalty assessments
Possible vehicle impounding
Second Offense (within three years)Fine up to $500 + penalty assessments
Possible vehicle impounding
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If you have stopped paying for insurance, you will receive a notice that your registration will be suspended. You may return the notice with proof of insurance and a $14 reinstatement fee.

You do not need to purchase insurance for a car that you do not drive. If you plan to not use your car, there are a couple of ways you can suspend your registration properly, and thus not be required to purchase insurance.

  1. If your registration is up for renewal, you can file your car as Planned Non-Operational (PNO) status.
  2. If your car is already registered, you can submit an Affidavit of Non-Use (ANU) to the DMV.

Once the DMV has received either the PNO or the ANU, you will be notified and you may cancel insurance coverage. While your car is not registered or insured, you cannot drive or park on a public road. If you do, you can be cited and required to reinstate your registration and insurance.

Teen Driver Laws

California, like every other state, has a Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) system. Their system complies with the five of the seven key elements spelled out by the National Institute of Health, and is thus labeled as “most effective.”

California Teen Graduated Drivers License Requirements and Laws
Teen Driver License Restrictions Learners PermitProvisional LicenseFull License
Minimum Age15 & 1/2 years old16 years old18 years old
PrerequisitesTeen and parent must bring proof of residency, SSN, and a copy of the birth certificate to a driver exam office.
Teen must pass a written test.
Teen must have completed or be enrolled in a driver education course
Must have completed: 50 hours behind the wheel (10 of which at night)
Drivers education program
Pass a driving test
None
PassengerMust be accompanied by a licensed parent, guardian, spouse, or instructor over 25 years oldNo passengers under 20 except when accompanied by a licensed driver over 25No restrictions
Cell PhoneCell phones prohibited (even hands-free)Cell phones prohibited (even hands-free)Hand-held prohibited. Hands-free cell phone use allowed
Time of DayNo restrictionsFirst 12 months: no driving between 11 pm and five am (some exceptions)No restrictions
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The key restrictions that California has enforced are:

  • A mandatory waiting period of at least six months before a driver can apply for an intermediate license
  • A requirement for 50-100 hours of supervised driving before testing for an intermediate license
  • Restrictions on nighttime driving
  • A limit on the number of teenage passengers allowed in the car
  • A minimum age of 18 for a full license

Nationwide, laws restricting nighttime driving have lowered fatal crash rates by 10 percent and laws limiting teenage passengers have lowered fatal crash rates by 9 percent.

Older Driver License Renewal Procedures vs General Population

There are also specific laws drivers over a certain age must follow in order to maintain their drivers license. We’ve compared the rules for drivers in the general population to those required for older drivers. Take a look.

California Drivers' License Renewal Procedures: General Population vs. Older Population
Drivers' License Renewal ActionGeneral PopulationOlder Population (70+)
License Renewal Cycle5 years5 years
Proof of adequate vision required at renewalwhen renewing in person70 and older, every renewal
Mail or online renewal permittedboth, limited to 2 consecutive renewalsnot permitted 70 and older
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Want to renew online? You’ll need to answer these questions:

  • Does your driver license expire more than 60 days from today’s date?
  • Will you be 70 years of age or older when your current driver license expires?
  • Are you currently on any type of driving probation or suspension?
  • Did you violate a written promise to appear in court within the last two years?
  • Have you already received two consecutive five-year extensions by mail?
  • Do you have a driver license from more than one state or jurisdiction?

If the answer to every question is “no,” you’ll be able to complete your online renewal.

New Residents

Once you establish residency in California, you have 10 days to get a California drivers license (DL). Residency is established by any of the following:

  • Voting in a California election
  • Paying resident tuition
  • Filing for a homeowner’s property tax exemption
  • Any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents

Appointments to get a California DL are recommended. You must be prepared to do the following:

  • Give your social security number
  • Verify your identity
  • Verify your California residency
  • Pay an application fee
  • Take a knowledge test
  • Take a vision test
  • Get fingerprinted
  • Get your photo taken

If you have a valid DL from another state, the requirement to take a driving test may be waived.

You have 20 days after establishing residency to register your vehicle with the state of California.

If you’re moving from a state where auto registration renewal is a one-step process, you should know that in California, you have to have a smog inspection completed. You’ll also need to have your VIN verified.

Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS)

Here’s a succinct definition of NOTS:

The Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) is based on negligent operator points and consists of a computer generated series of warning letters and progressive sanctions against the driving privilege.

If you commit certain offenses, you will receive points. If you accumulate too many in a set period of time, you will have your license suspended.

California Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) Points Schedule
NOTS Warning LevelNOTS Point CountTime Frame Within Which Points Are Accrued
Level I Warning Letter2Within 12 months
Level I Warning Letter4Within 24 months
Level I Warning Letter6Within 36 months
Level II Notice of Intent to Suspend3Within 12 months
Level II Notice of Intent to Suspend5Within 24 months
Level II Notice of Intent to Suspend7Within 36 months
Level III Probation/Suspension4Within 12 months
Level III Probation/Suspension6Within 24 months
Level III Probation/Suspension8Within 36 months
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Here is a list of infractions with their point values.

California Road Violations and NOTS Points Value for Each Violation
One-Point ViolationOne-Point ViolationOne-Point ViolationOne-Point ViolationOne-Point ViolationOne-Point ViolationOne-Point ViolationOne-Point ViolationOne-Point ViolationTwo-Point Violation
Disobedience to traffic officerIllegal movement/yellow light/arrowDriving on sidewalkYielding right-of-way to horseback riderBasic/prima facie speed limitStop required/railroad crossingUnsafe/unlawfully equipped vehicleAirbrake systemRemovable containers/regulationsEvading peace officer/reckless driving
Evading peace officerIllegal movement/red/light/arrowFreeway ramp/entering/exitingYielding right-of-way to emergency vehicleExceeding posted/freeway speed limitStop for school busOperation after notice by officerEmergency stopping systemExplosives transportationDriving while suspended/revoked
Disobedience to fire officialTraffic signalsLoad obstructing driver's viewUnsafe operation of emergency vehicleMaximum speed 70 mphSpeed contest/aiding or abettingLighting equipmentVacuum brakesInhalation hazard transportationDriving, suspended/revoked for refusing test
Unsafe vehicle loadDisobedience to flashing signalsInterfering with driver's control of vehicleYielding right-of-way to pedestrianSpeed in excess of local limitsTransporting person in truck load spaceFailure to dim lightsChild Passenger restraintInhalation hazard transportationHit and run/injury/property damage
Disregarding non-student crossing guardDouble lines/one broken lineDriving hours limitationDue care for pedestrian on roadwaySpeed in excess of local limitsDriving on trails and pathsLamps/flag for extended loadChild seat beltTank vehicle regulationsDriving wrong side/divided highway
Youth bus/children crossing highwayUse of two-way left turn laneFollowing too closelyProhibited use of freewaySpeed/construction zoneDrinking while drivingLamps on projecting loadMotorcycle/passengers and equipmentDriving hours limitationsSpeed over 100 MPH
Disregarding funeral escort officerDisobedience to traffic control deviceDriving in fire areaYielding right-of-way to blind pedestrianRestricted speed/weather conditionsMarijuana or open container/drivingBrakesFifth wheel connecting/locking deviceDriving hours, equipment, maintenance, operationReckless driving
Crossing safety flares/conesKeep rightDriving in safety zoneTurning and U-turnsSpeed/traffic lanesIgnition interlock verificationBrakes/combination vehiclesHitch and coupling deviceSafety regulation violationReckless driving/causing bodily injury
Violation of license restrictionsCrossing divided highwayTowed vehicle swervingUnsafe starting/backing of vehicleDriving too slowDefeating ignition interlock deviceForklift truck brakesTowed vehicle couplingVanpool vehicle maintenance inspectionSpeed contest /exhibition of speed
Disregarding traffic officer's directionsEntering highway from service roadUnlawful riding/towingSignaling turns and stopsSpeed/bridge/tunnelDisobedience to toll highway officerAll wheel service brakesPole dolly/load and lengthViolation of special permitMinor driving with BAC of 0.05% or more
Driving in bicycle laneLane use/slow moving vehicleTurning across bicycle laneSchool bus signalingMaximum designated vehicle speedUnauthorized towingBrakes/stopping distanceCaldecott tunnel restrictionsExtralegal load/weightDUI/alcoholic beverage or drugs
Disobedience to traffic signs/controllerHigh-occupancy vehicle lane/entering/exitingIllegal passingSpeed/use of designated lanesSpeed/solid/metal tiresWidth/load of vehicle at crossingBraking system/towing vehiclesHazardous waste transportationLift-carrier/speedDUI/causing bodily injury or death
Illegal movement/green light/arrowImproper lane useRight-of-wayMaximum speedSpeed limit on gradesDisobedience to sign/vehicle crossingAdjustment/use of air brakesFarm labor vehicle/unsafe operationBale wagon load width during darknessExplosives transportation
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With this in mind, it pays to follow the rules of the road. Keep reading to learn more about laws you need to follow when you’re behind the wheel in California.

Rules of the Road

Everywhere you go, there are things you need to know about when you hit the road. Finding the laws and determining which ones are key to remember can waste a lot of time. We have what you need to know.

Fault vs No-Fault

California is a tort, or fault, state. The person at fault in a collision is responsible for all costs incurred.

California is a pure comparative negligence state. That means that if you are 10 percent at fault and the at-fault party is 90 percent at fault, you are only entitled to collect 90 percent of your damage costs from the other party.

Seat Belt and Car Seat Laws

The driver and all passengers must wear a seat belt while traveling. The enforcement is primary, which means you can be pulled over just for not wearing your seat belt. The penalty is a $20 fine. Take a look at this video for more.

Here are the regulations for car seats:

  • Children under two years old must be secured in a rear-facing car seat. The only exceptions are if the child is over 40 pounds or over 40 inches.
  • Children under eight years old must be secured in a car seat or booster seat. The only exception is if the child is over four feet nine inches.
  • From the time a child graduates out of a booster seat until they are 16, they must wear a seat belt while in the car. (Over 16-years-old are covered by adult seat belt laws)

A child seat violation (including not wearing a seat belt when under 16) is a primary offense and will result in a $100 fine and points.

People can ride in the cargo area of a pickup truck only under the following situations:

  • If the person is restrained by a federally approved restraint system
  • If the vehicle is farmer-owned and used exclusively within farming land or one mile of highway between one part to another
  • If the vehicle is in a parade and driving no more than eight miles per hour
  • If it is an emergency situation

So, practically speaking, you cannot ride in the cargo area of a pickup truck.

Keep Right and Move Over Laws

When traveling on a multi-lane highway, you must move to and stay in the furthest right lane if you’re traveling slower than the speed of traffic around you.

When approaching emergency vehicles, tow trucks, or Department of Transportation (DOT vehicles with emergency lights flashing, vehicles should:

  • Move into a lane not immediately adjacent to the vehicle with lights flashing if safe to do so
  • If not safe to change lanes, slow to a safe and prudent speed

Always pay attention on the road, so you don’t miss anything.

Speed Limit

Take a look at this table to see maximum speeds for different types of roads in California.

California Speed Limits by Road and Vehicle Type
RoadwaySpeed LimitTruck Speed Limit
Rural interstates (mph)7055
Urban interstates (mph)6555
Other limited access roads (mph)7055
Other roads (mph)6555
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Keep in mind, these are the maximum speed limits for each road type, meaning that they can’t exceed these numbers, but speeds can be set at a lower rate.

Ridesharing

In 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law requiring rideshare app drivers to share a picture, first name, and a picture of the vehicle the driver is approved to use. Also in the bill is stronger background checks for drivers.

There are three time periods rideshare drivers may be categorized in when working, and there are different insurance requirements for each. Ridesharing companies must provide $1 million in liability coverage from the time a match is accepted (beginning of period two) until the rider exits the vehicle (end of period three).

Those who drive for ridesharing services must maintain liability limits of 100/300/50 when the app is on before accepting a match (period one). This coverage can be provided by the rideshare company, but if it’s not, the driver must purchase it.

The rideshare company must provide $200 thousand in excess insurance during period one.

A regular personal auto policy may not extend any coverage to ridesharing activities. So, to be covered as a driver, you need to get a special rideshare policy. Here are the companies that offer rideshare coverage in California:

  • Allstate
  • Esurance
  • Farmers
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Mercury
  • Metlife
  • Metromile
  • State Farm
  • USAA

If you’re considering becoming a rideshare driver, speak with a licensed insurance agent to find out how to add the appropriate coverage to your existing policy.

Automation on the Road

California is a hotspot for automated vehicles. They are currently being tested and deployed on California roadways. Watch this video to learn more about one company that was granted a permit to test driverless cars without a safety driver.

Autonomous vehicles must have five million in liability insurance.

What are the safety laws in California?

In order for your driving experience to be safe and orderly, there must be laws and standards set. Following these laws will help keep you safe and will keep you from being penalized.

DUI Laws

Driving under the influence (DUI) is dangerous and illegal. This table outlines the penalties you may face if you’re caught.

California DUI Penalties
DUI Penalty TypeFirst DUI OffenseSecond DUI Offense (in 10 years)Third and Subsequent DUI Offenses
License SuspensionFour monthsOne yearOne year
Imprisonment96 hours to six months with 48 hours continuous96 hours to six months with 48 hours continuous30 days to one year with 48 hours continuous
Fine$390 - $1000 plus $125 license reinstatement fee $390 - $1000 plus $125 license reinstatement fee$390 - $1000 plus $125 license reinstatement fee
SR-22 Requirementyesyesyes
OtherCompletion of a DUI program for license reinstatementCompletion of a DUI program for license reinstatement
Installation and use of an ignition interlock device (IID) for license reinstatement
Completion of a DUI program for license reinstatement
Installation and use of an IID for license reinstatement
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If you refuse to take a chemical test, here’s the license suspension length you’ll face:

  • A first offense will result in a one-year suspension.
  • A second offense within 10 years will result in a two-year revocation.
  • A third or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a three-year revocation.

If you’re under 21 years old, a first offense will result in a one-year suspension.

Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws

While there are no specific marijuana-impaired laws, a DUI in California includes driving under the influence of alcohol OR drugs. The penalties for DUI drugs are the same as DUI alcohol.

Distracted Driving Laws

Handheld electronic devices are banned for all drivers in California. Hands-free electronic use is legal for drivers over 18 years old. Drivers under 18 years old may not use a cell phone in any way while driving.

California Can’t-Miss Facts

The roads can be dangerous. Accidents happen, thefts happen, it can be depressing to hear about. But, if you take this information and use it as a way to be on the lookout for dangerous situations, you can improve your driving experience through the bad driving and road etiquette of others.

In the next several sections we’ll look at vehicle theft, fatal crashes, and finally, traffic conditions.

What does vehicle theft look like in California?

In this chart we list the top 10 most stolen vehicles in California.

California - Stolen Cars

The Honda Accord and Honda Civic blew the thieves’ favorites competition out of the water. If you have one of those vehicles, keep it locked up and in the garage.

The model years listed in the chart above are the most popular model years, while the total number of vehicles stolen represents all model years stolen of that make and model.

Five of the top 10 cities for vehicle theft in the U.S. are in California. Here they are with their national ranking:

  • Redding – #4
  • Bakersfield – #6
  • Modesto – #7
  • Stockton-Lodi – #8
  • Yuba City – #9

In the table below, you can search for any California city and see how many vehicle thefts were reported.

California Vehicle Theft by City
CityMotor
Vehicle
Thefts
Los Angeles14,382
San Jose7926
Oakland6833
San Diego6143
San Francisco5866
Fresno4057
Bakersfield2937
Sacramento2861
San Bernardino2691
Long Beach2355
Stockton2143
Riverside1718
Anaheim1681
Hayward1671
Richmond1510
Salinas1488
Santa Ana1459
Modesto1389
Antioch1217
Vallejo1209
Ontario1091
Fontana999
Pomona956
South Gate913
San Leandro912
Downey846
Moreno Valley826
Compton799
Chula Vista781
Escondido772
Rialto771
Concord768
Jurupa Valley763
Santa Maria730
Fremont669
Berkeley664
Oxnard664
Inglewood640
Victorville637
Fairfield629
Pittsburg629
Visalia619
Huntington Park589
El Monte576
Indio572
Norwalk564
Hemet559
Lynwood554
Redding549
Garden Grove539
Paramount504
West Covina501
Montebello496
Corona490
Carson489
Bellflower487
Perris482
Rancho Cucamonga478
El Cajon462
Delano443
Turlock425
National City415
Hesperia409
Sunnyvale404
Lancaster403
Oceanside400
Upland399
Merced395
Santa Clara393
Colton386
Hawthorne386
Chico382
Coachella380
Montclair373
Tulare371
Buena Park369
Redlands368
Palmdale367
Lodi365
Baldwin Park363
Torrance362
Fullerton359
Highland355
San Pablo353
Citrus Heights345
Huntington Beach345
Ceres339
Westminster336
Pico Rivera335
San Rafael332
Union City332
Yuba City332
Alameda330
Vista329
Manteca327
Menifee310
Santa Rosa309
Gardena307
Clovis305
Cathedral City302
Costa Mesa296
Palm Springs296
Daly City291
Lakewood287
Pasadena287
Milpitas285
Chino277
Commerce277
Calexico275
Orange272
Bell Gardens271
Watsonville266
Ventura257
Madera256
Whittier253
Glendale251
Santa Clarita249
Selma249
San Jacinto244
Santa Fe Springs241
Temecula240
Roseville238
Gilroy235
Tracy235
Alhambra234
La Mesa233
Porterville233
Vacaville231
Santa Cruz228
Industry226
Redwood City226
Rancho Cordova225
Apple Valley223
Burbank219
Cerritos218
Lake Elsinore218
Monterey Park209
West Sacramento209
Campbell206
Murrieta206
Woodland194
Hanford193
Elk Grove190
Eureka182
Martinez181
South San Francisco181
Newark173
Azusa171
San Marcos170
Livermore168
Santa Monica165
Rosemead164
Walnut Creek163
Oroville160
Atwater158
Covina157
Stanton156
San Mateo155
Emeryville154
Loma Linda153
Pleasant Hill153
Irvine149
Desert Hot Springs141
Maywood136
Eastvale135
Marysville135
Mountain View135
Adelanto133
Redondo Beach133
Palm Desert132
Simi Valley132
Banning130
East Palo Alto130
Napa130
Yucaipa130
McFarland128
La Puente125
Novato125
Orange Cove125
Carlsbad124
El Centro124
El Cerrito123
Anderson120
Santa Barbara120
South El Monte119
Suisun City119
Pleasanton117
Culver City115
La Habra114
La Mirada114
Sanger114
Arvin113
Brentwood113
Tustin113
Reedley112
Lemon Grove110
Parlier108
Los Banos107
Santee107
Vernon106
Newport Beach104
San Ramon104
Beaumont103
Barstow102
Imperial Beach101
West Hollywood99
Morgan Hill98
Patterson98
Cypress97
Lawndale96
Oakley94
Dinuba92
San Bruno91
Thousand Oaks91
La Quinta90
Clearlake89
Lemoore88
Chino Hills87
Davis87
Monrovia86
Shafter85
Oakdale84
Kerman83
Wildomar83
Cudahy82
Pinole82
Lompoc80
Placentia80
Signal Hill80
Norco78
Bell77
Dublin77
Red Bluff77
Riverbank77
Camarillo76
Petaluma76
Albany75
Santa Paula75
Paradise74
Fountain Valley73
Hollister73
Folsom72
San Fernando72
Encinitas71
Glendora71
Pacifica71
Grass Valley69
Lomita69
Claremont68
Palo Alto67
San Dimas67
Brea66
Diamond Bar66
Galt64
Rohnert Park64
San Luis Obispo63
Arcadia62
Central Marin61
Arcata60
Rocklin60
Grand Terrace59
Brawley56
Greenfield56
San Gabriel56
Artesia55
Duarte55
Dos Palos54
Kingsburg54
Yucca Valley54
Monterey53
San Clemente53
El Segundo52
Hawaiian Gardens52
Seaside51
South Pasadena51
Benicia50
Lindsay50
Piedmont50
Cupertino49
Hercules48
La Verne47
Soledad47
Corcoran46
South Lake Tahoe46
Yorba Linda46
Burlingame45
Dixon45
Poway45
Ridgecrest45
Irwindale44
Lincoln44
Chowchilla43
Laguna Hills43
Lake Forest43
Los Gatos43
Mendota43
Paso Robles42
Port Hueneme42
Waterford42
Beverly Hills41
Fowler41
Huron41
Twentynine Palms41
Mission Viejo40
Belmont39
Los Alamitos39
Corning38
Rancho Mirage37
Taft37
Manhattan Beach36
Newman36
Rancho Palos Verdes36
Walnut36
Blythe35
Farmersville35
Grover Beach35
Hermosa Beach35
Coalinga34
Seal Beach33
Temple City33
American Canyon32
Needles32
Arroyo Grande30
Livingston30
Placerville30
Laguna Niguel29
Coronado28
Danville28
Lafayette28
Marina28
Menlo Park28
Tehachapi28
Capitola27
Ukiah27
Auburn26
Laguna Beach26
Moorpark26
Atascadero25
La Palma25
Dana Point24
King City24
Fortuna23
Gridley23
Malibu23
Ripon23
Colma22
San Juan Capistrano22
Moraga21
Solana Beach21
Susanville21
Aliso Viejo20
Carpinteria20
Colusa20
Fillmore20
Foster City20
Gustine20
Hughson20
Lakeport20
Willits20
California City19
Escalon19
Exeter19
Gonzales19
Avalon18
Avenal17
Los Altos17
Pacific Grove17
Sonora17
Crescent City16
Orland16
Woodlake16
Calimesa15
Fort Bragg15
Imperial15
Nevada City15
Rio Vista15
Canyon Lake14
Kensington14
Yreka14
Goleta13
Rancho Santa Margarita13
Agoura Hills12
Big Bear Lake12
Cloverdale12
Pismo Beach12
Sausalito12
Winters12
Del Mar11
Guadalupe11
La Canada Flintridge11
Scotts Valley11
Clayton10
Laguna Woods10
Saratoga10
Sonoma10
Holtville9
Morro Bay9
Willows9
Healdsburg8
Indian Wells8
Ione8
Mill Valley8
Ojai8
Orinda8
Sebastopol8
Williams8
Windsor8
Calabasas7
Cotati7
Jackson7
Mount Shasta7
Rolling Hills Estates7
Truckee7
Brisbane6
Broadmoor6
Fairfax6
Mammoth Lakes6
Sierra Madre6
Westlake Village6
Yountville6
Biggs5
Wheatland5
Bishop4
Palos Verdes Estates4
Sand City4
Solvang4
Atherton3
Calistoga3
Carmel3
City of Angels3
Dorris3
Firebaugh3
Rio Dell3
Ross3
Sutter Creek3
Weed3
Alturas2
Bradbury2
Hillsborough2
La Habra Heights2
Lake Shastina2
St. Helena2
Belvedere1
Buellton1
Dunsmuir1
Ferndale1
Los Altos Hills1
Monte Sereno1
San Marino1
Bear Valley0
Del Rey Oaks0
Etna0
Fort Jones0
Hidden Hills0
Isleton0
Montague0
Rolling Hills0
Stallion Springs0
Tiburon0
Tulelake0
Villa Park0
Westmorland0
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You should also know: California is home to some of the most expensive tollways in the United States, so plan your driving here accordingly.

What are common road dangers in California?

Weather, speed, and numerous other factors play a role in your driving experience. We’ll look at how these variables can affect safety.

Fatal Crashes by Weather and Light Condition

We used National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data to populate this table on fatalities in California based on weather and light conditions.

California Fatalities by Weather and Light Condition
Weather ConditionAccidents in DaylightAccidents in Dark, but LightedAccidents in DarkAccidents in Dawn or DuskAccidents in Other / Unknown Light Conditions
Accidents in Normal Weather1,2868837791365
Accidents in Rain51585460
Accidents in Snow/Sleet40410
Other1071700
Unknown02100
Total Number of Accidents 1,3519508551435
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Based on this data, rain and various levels of darkness seem to be some of the more significant factors in fatal car accidents in California.

Fatal Crashes by County

We’ve collected NHTSA accident fatality data on every county in California across a five year span. Take a look.

NHTSA California Traffic Fatalities by County
CountyFatalities in 2013Fatalities in 2014Fatalitites in 2015Fatalities in 2016Fatalitites in 2017Rates per 100K Population 2013Rates per 100K Population 2014Rates per 100K Population 2015Rates per 100K Population 2016Rates per 100K Population 2017
Alameda86839079995.435.155.54.785.95
Alpine1117488.7392.2591.91662.25357.14
Amador578141213.6519.0521.5937.3631.07
Butte21243336389.4710.7314.6815.8916.57
Calaveras781192015.6717.9124.4719.8643.79
Colusa97551042.1832.9123.4323.145.86
Contra Costa50447681634.563.966.757.115.49
Del Norte128158643.1229.4155.0429.1421.84
El Dorado262326192614.3212.5514.0610.213.76
Fresno11911710215015612.4812.1510.4915.3115.77
Glenn512611917.944321.5539.3332.04
Humboldt283328213920.8324.5220.7115.3928.52
Imperial284628342315.825.7215.5718.7912.58
Inyo30671116.32032.9738.8261.02
Kern13111113814918215.1612.7315.6916.8320.38
Kings161235302510.628.0123.2620.0316.66
Lake22717151734.4510.9226.4323.4626.46
Lassen95910828.0115.7628.6732.3225.67
Los Angeles6256396518376586.246.346.438.256.47
Madera213229392613.8320.7718.7825.1716.57
Marin1410812125.413.833.064.594.6
Mariposa3535716.8428.21728.5339.84
Mendocino141910253016.0621.7511.4528.5434.08
Merced483754727018.2713.9520.1926.7825.67
Modoc3331032.7733.0333.1511.180
Mono156157.1435.53437.0935.29
Monterey33324955517.77.4311.3212.611.65
Napa16615121411.434.2610.68.479.93
Nevada15513121615.315.0713.1712.1116.03
Orange1861731832041785.975.525.796.425.58
Placer21132140295.743.525.6210.537.51
Plumas36510615.8732.1426.9953.2332.01
Riverside2282462422972949.9510.610.2912.4412.13
Sacramento1231141391691728.437.729.2911.1711.24
San Benito79911912.215.5215.4218.5414.92
San Bernardino26228526027327112.5613.5512.2612.7712.56
San Diego1982332462432316.167.157.487.336.92
San Francisco35333836254.163.874.394.112.83
San Joaquin93839811911613.2111.6313.5416.2115.56
San Luis Obispo283234323410.1511.4912.1311.3411.34
San Mateo57253352337.63.294.36.764.28
Santa Barbara31233534397.115.227.887.628.7
Santa Clara951061331141055.085.596.935.95.42
Santa Cruz14201920195.27.376.937.276.89
Shasta242240262913.4512.2922.4114.5416.12
Sierra2011366.01033.433.74100.03
Siskiyou6912111413.7820.7427.6825.2831.92
Solano39494537319.1911.410.358.46.96
Sonoma30404645356.068.019.168.936.94
Stanislaus546249797410.2911.719.1614.5913.51
Sutter14111782314.7811.5817.88.3323.8
Tehama111419181317.4822.2930.128.3720.34
Trinity4858529.860.9738.1962.3139.34
Tulare546075808511.913.1416.3517.3618.3
Tuolumne131117111424.0720.4331.7220.4525.81
Ventura66465657477.865.456.66.75.5
Yolo211926362010.169.112.2416.679.13
Yuba1799101123.2412.2212.1313.314.28
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As you might expect, Los Angeles county is the most fatal county for all five years.

Traffic Fatalities Urban Vs. Rural

We also looked at fatalities based on urban versus rural roads.

NHTSA California Traffic Fatalities on Urban and Rural Roads
Road TypeFatalities in 2008Fatalities in 2009Fatalities in 2010Fatalities in 2011Fatalities in 2012Fatalities in 2013Fatalities in 2014Fatalities in 2015Fatalities in 2016Fatalities in 2017
Rural1,3241,3201,1621,1901,2001,2011,1701,4041,5931,404
Urban2,1101,7701,5581,6261,7661,9061,9311,9822,2442,195
Total3,4343,0902,7202,8162,9663,1073,1023,3873,8373,602
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Urban fatalities are consistently higher than rural ones, which isn’t a surprise, given the higher population density.

Traffic Fatalities by Person Type

Take a look at this table to see fatalities by person type.

NHTSA California Traffic Fatalities by Person Type
California Traffic Deaths by Person TypeFatalities In 2013Fatalities In 2014Fatalities In 2015Fatalities In 2016Fatalities In 2017
Motorcyclists463522494576529
Pedestrians734709819933858
Bicyclists147129136155124
Passenger Car Occupants1,0981,0661,1701,3571,269
Pick-up Truck Occupants239209294278279
Utility Truck Occupants241271288307336
Van Occupants6779888884
Large Truck Occupants3833324853
Bus Occupants11171203
State Total3,1073,1023,387 3,8373,602
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Vehicle passengers face the highest fatality rate in California.

Fatalities by Crash Type

Crash type is also an indicator of fatality type. This table summarizes data in California for a five year span.

NHTSA California Fatalities by Crash Type
Crash TypeFatalities in 2013Fatalities in 2014Fatalities in 2015Fatalities in 2016 Fatalities in 2017
Single Vehicle Crash1,9221,8611,9872,2732,067
Large Truck Involved259301305354361
Speeding Involved9929951,0321,1511,070
Rollover Involved697696770800796
Involving an Intersection7978118811,024927
Roadway Departure Involved1,4421,3741,5301,7541,588
Total3,1073,1023,3873,8373,602
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Single vehicle crashes are by far the most fatal accidents in California, with factors like speeding and roadway departures being some of the biggest contributors.

Five-Year Trend for Traffic Fatalities in the Top 10 Counties

This table summarizes the fatality rates for the ten largest counties in California.

NHTSA Five-Year Trend for the Top Ten Most Fatal Counties in California
CountyFatalities in 2013Fatalities in 2014Fatalities in 2015Fatalities in 2016Fatalities in 2017
Santa Clara95106133114105
San Joaquin938398119116
Fresno119117102150156
Sacramento123114139169172
Orange186173183204178
Kern131111138149182
San Diego198233246243231
San Bernardino262285260273271
Riverside228246242297294
Los Angeles625639651837658
10 County Total2,0602,1072,1922,5552,363
State Total3,1073,1023,3873,8373,602
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As we noted earlier, Los Angeles county has the highest fatality rate, followed by San Bernadino, Riverside, and San Diego.

Fatalities Involving Speeding by County

To see which counties face the most fatalities due to speeding, take a look at this table.

California Fatalities by County Involving Speeding
CountyFatalities in 2013Fatalities in 2014Fatalities in 2015Fatalities in 2016Fatalities in 2017Rate per 100K Population 2013Rate per 100K Population 2014Rate per 100K Population 2015Rate per 100K Population 2016Rate per 100K Population 2017
Alameda33243725322.081.492.261.511.92
Alpine1106188.7392.250567.6489.29
Amador0102002.7205.340
Butte611134152.714.925.781.776.54
Calaveras221344.484.482.226.628.76
Colusa112224.694.79.379.249.17
Contra Costa16132636171.461.172.313.161.48
Del Norte4225114.377.357.3418.213.64
El Dorado5869132.754.363.254.836.88
Fresno26242244512.732.492.264.495.16
Glenn112323.593.587.1810.737.12
Humboldt798685.216.695.924.45.85
Imperial8119374.516.1551.663.83
Inyo101025.4405.5011.1
Kern32274049453.73.14.555.545.04
Kings3311561.9927.313.344
Lake606439.409.336.254.67
Lassen315119.343.1515.933.233.21
Los Angeles2452402313082142.452.382.283.032.11
Madera5781043.294.545.186.452.55
Marin531361.931.150.381.152.3
Mariposa02001011.28005.69
Mendocino553395.745.723.443.4210.23
Merced1291614164.573.395.985.215.87
Modoc1000010.920000
Mono02000014.21000
Monterey3749110.71.630.922.062.51
Napa7223151.421.412.120.71
Nevada735447.143.045.074.044.01
Orange62565153601.991.791.611.671.88
Placer63211101.640.810.542.92.59
Plumas2224110.5810.7110.821.295.34
Riverside66938795842.884.013.73.983.47
Sacramento40354256532.742.372.813.73.46
San Benito350225.238.6203.373.32
San Bernardino92908272884.414.283.873.374.08
San Diego67717576782.082.182.282.292.34
San Francisco118101251.310.941.151.370.57
San Joaquin36263436355.123.644.74.94.7
San Luis Obispo81178132.93.952.52.834.59
San Mateo1751216112.270.661.562.081.43
Santa Barbara1161014182.521.362.253.144.02
Santa Clara28323933291.51.692.031.711.5
Santa Cruz7115472.64.051.821.452.54
Shasta6619463.363.3510.652.243.33
Sierra1000333000100.03
Siskiyou122242.34.614.614.69.12
Solano1522231463.535.125.293.181.35
Sonoma5171112111.013.42.192.382.18
Stanislaus17271213173.245.12.242.43.1
Sutter111491.061.051.054.169.31
Tehama464316.369.556.344.731.56
Trinity2512014.938.17.6415.580
Tulare8131513171.762.853.272.823.66
Tuolumne320125.553.7101.863.69
Ventura1991216142.261.071.411.881.64
Yolo7610983.392.874.714.173.65
Yuba263522.738.154.046.652.6
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As you might expect, Los Angeles again has the highest fatalities, followed Riverside and San Bernadino.

Fatalities Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver by County

To see which counties face the most fatalities due to alcohol-impaired drivers, take a look at this table.

NHTSA California Fatalities by County Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver
CountyFatalities 2013Fatalities 2014Fatalities 2015Fatalities 2016Fatalities 2017Fatallitiy Rate per 100K Population 2013Fatallitiy Rate per 100K Population 2014Fatallitiy Rate per 100K Population 2015Fatallitiy Rate per 100K Population 2016Fatallitiy Rate per 100K Population 2017
Alameda22172021331.391.051.221.271.98
Alpine1000288.73000178.57
Amador102442.7305.410.6710.36
Butte7101412153.164.476.235.36.54
Calaveras245364.488.9511.126.6213.14
Colusa0100404.70018.34
Contra Costa13141923221.191.261.692.021.92
Del Norte4222314.377.357.347.2910.92
El Dorado16115578.8162.72.683.7
Fresno31322935523.253.322.983.575.26
Glenn212157.183.587.183.5817.8
Humboldt51197163.728.176.665.1311.7
Imperial694953.385.032.224.972.73
Inyo101235.4405.511.0916.64
Kern34333940483.943.784.434.525.37
Kings338791.9925.324.676
Lake526567.833.129.337.829.34
Lassen314519.343.1512.7416.163.21
Los Angeles1871721492401921.871.711.472.361.89
Madera21171571.327.144.539.684.46
Marin242230.771.530.760.761.15
Mariposa2222511.2211.2811.3311.4128.46
Mendocino6311176.883.431.1512.567.95
Merced1481721185.333.026.367.816.6
Modoc1120010.9211.0122.100
Mono0120407.1114.33028.23
Monterey381116150.71.862.543.673.43
Napa517343.570.714.952.122.84
Nevada613156.121.013.041.015.01
Orange51414955471.641.311.551.731.47
Placer53510101.370.811.342.632.59
Plumas132135.2916.0710.85.3216.01
Riverside81717692953.533.063.233.853.92
Sacramento41354754542.812.373.143.573.53
San Benito361125.2310.351.711.693.32
San Bernardino67897480763.214.233.493.743.52
San Diego54557183781.681.692.162.52.34
San Francisco777740.830.820.810.80.45
San Joaquin34251943384.833.52.625.865.1
San Luis Obispo481211131.452.874.283.94.59
San Mateo17471462.270.530.911.820.78
Santa Barbara68810151.381.821.82.243.35
Santa Clara28363034301.51.91.561.761.55
Santa Cruz558551.861.842.921.821.81
Shasta10121110105.66.76.165.595.56
Sierra001010033.4033.34
Siskiyou245234.599.2211.534.66.84
Solano11111310122.592.562.992.272.69
Sonoma7161012151.413.21.992.382.97
Stanislaus14231623262.674.342.994.254.75
Sutter126381.062.116.283.128.28
Tehama555657.957.967.929.467.82
Trinity2522214.938.115.2815.5815.74
Tulare16131724303.532.853.715.216.46
Tuolumne237363.75.5713.065.5811.06
Ventura10151119201.191.781.32.232.34
Yolo857963.872.393.34.172.74
Yuba603528.204.046.652.6
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The top three most fatal counties are Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernadino.

What is transportation like in California?

Read through the next few sections to learn more specifics about commute traffic congestion, vehicle ownership, and more in California.

Car Ownership

DataUSA provides information on average car ownership per household by state, compared to national averages of the same:

  • One vehicle: 17.9 percent in California, 20.2 percent across the nation
  • Two vehicles: 37.4 percent in California, 40.3 percent across the nation
  • Three vehicles:22.9 percent in California, 21.5 percent across the nation
  • Four vehicles:11.6 percent in California, 9.23 percent across the nation
  • Five or more vehicles: 6.98 percent in California, 4.56 percent across the nation

As you can see, for the smaller numbers of vehicles per household, California averages are slightly below national average, but for households that own three or more vehicles, California averages are higher than the national rates.

Commute Time

The average commute time in California is almost two-and-a-half minutes longer than the U.S. average. Specifically, the average commute time in California is 28.4 minutes, compared to the national average of 25.7 minutes.

Traffic Congestion in California

Take a look at this video to learn a bit more about just how congested traffic can get in certain parts of California.

Congratulations, California. You are home to the top two cities nationwide for traffic. Los Angeles takes home the trophy while San Francisco is the first runner-up. If you’re one of the millions of Californians stuck in traffic every day, these rankings come as no surprise. We’ve summarized traffic congestion rates for some of the most congested cities in the state in this table. Take a look.

California Cities with the Most Traffic Congestion
CitiesAverage Traffic Congestion LevelMorning Peak Traffic Congestion LevelEvening Peak Traffic Congestion Level
Los Angeles45% 62%84%
San Francisco 39% 55%73%
San Jose32% 52%74%
San Diego27%44%60%
Sacramento 22%38%54%
Fresno 19%25%33%
Bakersfield18% 20%31%
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura 18%19%35%
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Now that you know what you need to know about the best auto insurance in California car insurance and driving in the state, it’s time to get started comparing car insurance quotes. Enter your ZIP code right here to find and compare the best insurance rates in California for free.