San Francisco, CA Car Insurance Guide (Comprehensive)
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UPDATED: Nov 13, 2019
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|SAN FRANCISCO STATISTICS||DETAILS|
|City Density||18,939 people per square mile|
|Average Cost of Car Insurance||$4,325.11|
|Cheapest Car Insurance Provider||Geico|
|Road Conditions||Poor Share: 71%
Mediocre Share: 16%
Fair Share: 6%
Good Share: 6%
Birthplace of the television and the fortune cookie, and home to the United Nations charter over 3,500 operating restaurants at any given time, there’s a lot to love about the City by the Bay.
Though it’s only seven miles long by seven miles wide, San Francisco is a place of big views and gorgeous vistas.
From the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz, and from the Castro to Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco is a beautiful place to call home.
Whether you’re a long-time resident or new to the city, we’ve created this guide to help you navigate car insurance in San Francisco.
Ready to compare rates? Enter your zip in our FREE tool above.
The Cost of Car Insurance in San Francisco
It’s true: there’s a lot to love about San Francisco, which is a lot of the reason more and more people are moving to the Bay Area.
San Francisco is one of the most notoriously expensive cities to live in; the city’s average cost of living is 62.6 percent higher than the U.S. average.
Business Insider reports that the median price for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is a whopping $3,460 per month. As you can imagine, car insurance premiums are higher than average here, too. In the sections below, we’ll cover a variety of factors insurance companies use in determining car insurance premiums.
Male vs. Female vs Age
There is a gender gap in car insurance premiums. In most places, men will pay more than women.
This gap, however, is small and decreases with age and marital status.
The table below provides the average car insurance premiums for San Franciscans of various genders, ages, and marital status.
|Single 17-year old male||$8,949.91|
|Single 17-year old female||$7,333.86|
|Single 25-year old male||$3,767.27|
|Single 25-year old female||$3,655.71|
|Married 35-year old male||$2,861.22|
|Married 35-year old female||$2,914.98|
|Married 60-year old male||$2,560.88|
|Married 60-year old female||$2,557.04|
Cheapest Zip Codes in San Francisco
San Francisco, a city of hills — over fifty of them, in fact — is also a city of neighborhoods, many of which have their own distinct zip code.
In San Francisco, your car insurance premiums can differ over $1,000 depending on what zip code you call home.
The cheapest zip code in San Francisco is 94128, the area surrounding San Francisco International Airport (SFO). What’s the most expensive zip code for car insurance? 94124, or Hunter’s Point, an area along San Francisco Bay.
The table below allows you to see average car insurance premiums for San Francisco by zip code.
|Zip Code||Average Yearly Premium|
What’s the best car insurance company in San Francisco?
San Franciscan’s might say that the 49ers are the best football team and that the Giants are the best baseball team. But who do they say is the best car insurance company?
Who the best car insurance company depends on what you want from your insurer. In the sections below, we’ll cover some of the factors that can help you figure out the best car insurance company for you and your family.
Cheapest Car Insurance Rates by Company
Cheapest is not always best, but that doesn’t mean a cheap provider is necessarily a bad provider either. Sometimes bigger companies are able to offer cheaper premiums to their many customers.
In San Francisco, Geico is likely to be your cheapest car insurance provider.
The table below offers the average premiums for San Francisco’s 10 biggest car insurance companies.
Best Car Insurance for Commute Rates
Though San Francisco is not a physically large city, your commute time can affect your car insurance premiums.
The table below provides average premiums for the city’s top insurers based on a 10- or 25-mile average commute.
|Company||10 mile commute. |
6000 annual mileage.
|25 mile commute.|
12,000 annual mileage.
Best Car Insurance for Coverage Level Rates
As you might expect, the more car insurance you need, the higher your premium will be.
Though Geico is the city’s cheapest median provider, San Franciscans are likely to find Progressive their cheapest option if they need either a low or high level of coverage.
The table below provides average rates for San Francisco’s biggest car insurers by coverage level.
So a lot of factors go into calculating your car insurance premiums. Did you know that your credit history is one of them?
Best Car Insurance for Credit History Rates
Folks are often surprised to learn that their credit history can seriously affect their car insurance costs. This video offers a great explanation.
Luckily, California law bans car insurance providers from considering a consumer’s credit history in calculating car insurance premiums.
What effects your car insurance premium even more than your credit history, no matter where you live? Your driving record.
Best Car Insurance for Driving Record Rates
Do you have a spotless driving record? Most of us don’t. But not all violations in your past will affect your car insurance premium equally.
If you’re a San Francisco driver with a DUI, for instance, Allstate may charge you nearly $9,000 a year for car insurance. If you’ve got a speeding ticket in your past, Geico is likely your cheapest option.
The following table provides the average rates for drivers of various histories in San Francisco.
|Company||Clean record||With 1 speeding violation||With 1 accident||With 1 DUI||Average|
Car Insurance Factors in San Francisco
San Francisco is growing in a lot of ways, which can greatly affect car insurance premiums in the City by the Bay. In the following sections, we’ll cover some of those factors.
Metro Report – Growth & Prosperity
According to The Brookings Institute, San Francisco is a hub for financial growth and job prosperity. The figures below are their most recent 2019 findings.
- Jobs: +2.2 percent (24th of 100)
- Gross metropolitan product (GMP): +6.3 percent (3rd of 100)
- Jobs at young firms: +3.5 percent (46th of 100)
- Productivity: +4.0 percent (4th of 100)
- Standard of living: +5.6 percent (2nd of 100)
- Average annual wage: +4.1 percent (3rd of 100)
Median Household Income
According to DataUSA, “Households in San Francisco, CA have a median annual income of $110,816, which is more than the median annual income of $60,336 across the entire United States.”
With an average annual car insurance premium of $4,325.11, that means San Franciscans spend approximately 3.9 percent of their annual income on insurance.
Use the handy calculator below to see what percent of your income could go to car insurance.
Homeownership in the San Francisco
As we’ve seen, San Francisco is an expensive place to live. That’s one reason why homeownership is especially low in the City by the Bay.
According to DataUSA, “In 2017, 36.5 percent of the housing units in San Francisco, CA were occupied by their owner… This percentage of owner-occupation is lower than the national average of 63.9 percent.”
The 2017 median home value was a whopping $1.1 million. That’s nearly five times the national average of $193,500.
Education in San Francisco
San Francisco isn’t only a hub for the tech industry. It’s also an educational hub.
DataUSA reports that “in 2016, universities in San Francisco, CA awarded 20,808 degrees.”
The city is home to many world-class universities, both public and private. They include City College of San Francisco, one of the largest community colleges in the country; San Francisco State University; University of California, San Francisco; and the University of San Francisco.
The region surrounding San Francisco includes many more hallowed halls of higher education, including most famously the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University.
Poverty by Age and Gender
In San Francisco, women ages 25 – 34 are most likely to live below the poverty line. The graph below illustrates poverty levels by age and gender in the City by the Bay according to DataUSA.
Poverty by Race & Ethnicity
Asians face higher rates of poverty in San Francisco than any other racial or ethnic group.
Employment by Occupations
According to DataUSA, “The most common job groups, by number of people living in San Francisco, CA, are Management Occupations (85,228 people), Sales & Related Occupations (52,093 people), and Office & Administrative Support Occupations (48,677 people).”
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Driving in San Francisco
So, what is it like to drive in San Francisco?
The city’s road conditions, congestion, and traffic laws can all have an effect on your car insurance premiums.
In the sections below, we’ll provide you with some of the best information about driving in this gorgeous West Coast mecca.
Roads in City
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency makes it pretty easy to get around the city without a car.
But that doesn’t mean San Francisco is impossible to drive in, especially given the number of major highways that pass through the metro area.
Major Highways in San Francisco
The City by the Bay may be geographically small, but it has plenty of major highways to help you move from the Atlantic to San Francisco Bay and beyond.
Eight Bay Area bridges require tolls. If you’ll be driving across these major bridges often, you might want to look into a FasTrak pass.
And remember, when there’s a problem on one of those bridges, the city often faces gridlock.
Popular Road Trips/Sites
San Francisco is a popular mecca for techies and foodies, the LGBTQ community and anyone who loves beautiful vistas. Thrillist offers great guides for every type of traveler — or hometown adventurer — seeking the best San Francisco has to offer.
And hopefully saving money on your car insurance can help you afford more adventure in the City by the Bay.
Road Conditions in San Francisco
TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit, explains that driving in the San Francisco-Oakland area can be rough. “Due to inadequate state and local funding, 87 percent of all major roads and highways in the San Francisco-Oakland area are in poor or mediocre condition,” they report.
A whopping 71 percent of roads are in poor condition, while 16 percent are in mediocre condition. Only six percent are in fair condition, and six percent are in good condition.
Does San Francisco use speeding or red light cameras?
In short: yes.
According to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, “The SFMTA’s Automated Enforcement Program uses a network of automated cameras to enforce illegal red-light running and illegal right turns. The SFMTA also uses forward-facing cameras on buses to enforce Transit Only lanes under the Transit Only Lane Enforcement (TOLE) Program.”
San Francisco law firm Ticket Crushers explain the penalty for running a red light is hefty in the City by the Bay: “In San Francisco, the total fine for a red light ticket is approximately $436. This moving violation puts one point on your driving record and may trigger an increase in your insurance premiums.”
So slow down the next time you see a yellow or red light. It’s not worth the ticket.
Vehicles in San Francisco
Let’s look at the particulars of San Francisco’s car culture in the sections below.
Vehicles Most Popular Vehicles Owned
What is the most popular vehicle in San Francisco? The Toyota Prius reigns supreme in the City by the Bay.
How many cars per household
Around 35 percent of San Francisco households own one vehicle.
Households without a Car
As of 2016, 29.9 percent of San Francisco households didn’t have a car at all.
Speed traps in San Francisco
Luckily for San Franciscans, California’s worst speed traps are concentrated in the southern region of the state.
Vehicle Theft in San Francisco
In 2017, the FBI recorded 4,834 vehicle thefts in San Francisco.
Crime is fairly high in San Francisco, according to Neighborhood Scout, who explains that San Francisco is only safer than 2 percent of U.S. cities.
Traffic in San Francisco
With a lot of people packed into a small area, it might not be surprising to learn that San Francisco has problems with traffic.
INRIX reports that San Francisco is the 8th most congested city in the United States. Here are some useful 2018 statistics they provide for the City by the Bay:
- 116 average hours spent in congestion per San Franciscan
- Average Peak Congestion Travel Speed: 25 mph
- Average Off-Peak Congestion Travel Speed: 38 mph
- Average Free Flow Congestion Travel Speed: 47 mph
- $1624 spent per driver in congestion costs
According to TomTom, San Francisco had an overall congestion level of 34 percent in 2018 for both highways and non-highways.
They also report that San Franciscans spent an extra 17 minutes for their morning commute and an extra 20 whole minutes for their evening commute because of traffic congestion.
Numbeo offers some great information on San Francisco’s traffic congestion:
- Traffic Index: 201.20 (Traffic Index is a composite index of time consumed in traffic due to job commute, estimation of time consumption dissatisfaction, CO2 consumption estimation in traffic and overall inefficiencies in the traffic system.)
- Time Index: 44.56 minutes (Time Index is an average one-way time needed to transport, in minutes.)
- Inefficiency Index: 259.40 (Inefficiency Index is an estimation of inefficiencies in the traffic. High inefficiencies are usually caused by the fact that people drive a car instead of using public transport or long commute times. It can be used as a traffic component measurement in economies of scale.)
San Franciscans have a higher than average commute time at 31.4 minutes each way.
They also report more San Franciscans take public transportation than drive alone to work.
According to Caltran’s 2018 highway report, Routes 1, 80, 101 and 280 are the busiest highways in San Francisco. The 101, in fact, had an average of over seven auto incidents a day in 2018.
How safe are San Francisco streets and roads?
San Francisco roadways are relatively safe compared to the rest of California. In 2017, 25 fatalities were recorded on the city’s streets. The table below provides the number of fatalities in San Francisco by crash type from 2013 to 2017.
|Alcohol-Impaired Driver (BAC = .08+)||7||7||7||7||4|
|Involving a Large Truck||6||4||0||0||3|
Sadly, pedestrians are most often the victims of roadway fatalities in San Francisco. The table below provides the number of fatalities in San Francisco for car passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists from 2013 to 2017.
Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report
A lot can go wrong on San Francisco roads, but San Franciscans are fairly safe drivers across the board.
According to Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report for 2019, San Francisco ranked as the 189th safest U.S. city for driving. On average, residents of the City by the Bay also went around 6.3 years between filing each car insurance claim. Also, San Franciscan’s claims are 58.40 percent more likely to be approved than the national average.
According to RideGuru, the following rideshare services are available in San Francisco:
- Traditional taxis
Curb, Flywheel, Lyft, SuperShuttle, Uber, and traditional taxi services all serve San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
EStar Repair Shops
Should you find yourself involved in an accident, you will want to make sure that you are getting quality repairs on your vehicle.
One of the best ways to do this is to locate your nearest EStar Repair Shop. You can do this by typing in your address in their convenient EStar repair Shop finder tool.
Here are the 12 shops they recommend within a 10-mile radius of San Francisco’s (beautiful) city hall.
|SHOP NAME||ADDRESS||PHONE NUMBER|
|ALIOTO'S GARAGE - FOLSOM||1835 FOLSOM ST|
SAN FRANCISCO CA 94103
|ALIOTO'S GARAGE - VAN NESS||2020 VAN NESS AVE|
SAN FRANCISCO CA 94109
|CARSTAR CHILTON NOB HILL||1419 PACIFIC AVE|
SAN FRANCISCO CA 94109
|CARSTAR CHILTON SAN FRANCISCO||166 WISCONSIN STREET|
SAN FRANCISCO CA 94107
|F. LOFRANO & SON - FIX AUTO FOLSOM||1465 FOLSOM ST|
SAN FRANCISCO CA 94103
|GERMAN MOTORS COLLISION CENTER||2575 MARIN ST|
SAN FRANCISCO CA 94124
|ALIOTO'S GARAGE - BAYSHORE||185 BAYSHORE|
SAN FRANCISCO CA 94124
|CALIBER - OAKLAND - 11TH ST||149 11TH ST|
OAKLAND CA 94607
|DALAND BODY SHOP, INC.||890 EL CAMINO REAL|
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO CA 94080
|PENINSULA AUTO BODY, INC.||1430 SAN MATEO AVE.|
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO CA 94080
|UPTOWN BODY & FENDER||401 26TH ST|
OAKLAND CA 94612
|G & C - BERKELEY||1239 5TH ST|
BERKELEY CA 94710
Weather in San Francisco
San Francisco is known for its fog. And to be fair, it’s the fourth foggiest place in North America. But overall, the city has a fairly mild climate, usually doesn’t receive any snowfall, and has plenty of hours of sunshine.
The table below offers some of the City by the Bay’s annual atmospheric averages.
|Annual high temperature:||63.8°F|
|Annual low temperature:||50.8°F|
|Average annual precipitation - rainfall:||23.64 inches|
|Days per year with precipitation - rainfall:||68 days|
|Annual hours of sunshine:||2950 hours|
Public Transit in San Francisco
As we’ve seen above, San Franciscans take public transit a lot. We talked briefly about the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency above, but let’s look a little more closely.
The core of San Francisco’s public transportation system is the Muni. The Muni includes fuel-efficient buses, light rail Metro trains, historic streetcars and San Francisco’s iconic, and still functioning, cable cars.
According to the Muni guide, fares can be purchased one of three ways:
- MuniMobile®: The SFMTA’s official ticketing app, MuniMobile lets you buy tickets instantly through a credit/debit card or PayPal account.
- Clipper® Card: Clipper is the all-in-one transit card for the Bay Area. Use your Clipper card on all Bay Area transit systems, including Muni.
- Cash: Fares can be paid on surface transportation with any U.S. currency or coin; exact change is required.
A variety of discounts are available for seniors and the disabled, but adult fares are between $2.50 and $3.00 per trip. Adults can also purchase monthly unlimited trip Clipper Cards for $81 — “M” Pass: Muni (includes Cable Car) — or $98 — “A” Pass: Muni (includes Cable Car) + BART within SF.
The BART, or Bay Area Rapid Transit, connects many parts of the larger Bay Area to San Francisco proper, including Oakland and Berkeley, as well as the regions two major airports, San Francisco International (SFO) and Oakland International (OAK).
Cost of Alternate Transportation in San Francisco
San Francisco is leading the way in safely allowing a limited number of private and publicly-backed electric scooter companies to operate within the Bay Area. These companies vary in pricing and membership plans, but most allow you to begin scooting right from your smartphone.
The SFMTA provides a top-notch guide to the city’s bikeshare programs.
But watch out, with so many alternative transportation methods being launched in the tech-forward City by the Bay, not all San Franciscans are happy with the abundance of options filling their streets and sidewalks.
Parking in San Francisco
If you’re forgoing the SFMTA and the numerous alternative transportation and rideshare options, chances are you’ll need to find a parking spot in San Francisco.
Does that intimidate you? Do a little research ahead of time and you should be good to go. In fact, websites like Parkopedia and Parking Panda offer you filters and search engines that put all of the paid parking spots in San Francisco right at your fingertips.
Find yourself looking for a parking spot on the street, and the San Francisco Travel Guide explains you’ll need to pay attention to the color of the curb:
- Red curbs are no parking zones. Typically, you will find them near bus stops and fire stations.
- White curbs are five-minute parking zones, which are to be used for picking up and dropping off passengers. You will find these near schools, hospitals, and restaurants.
- Green curbs are 10-minute parking zones, typically found near ATMs.
- Yellow curbs are parking areas reserved for commercial vehicles only.
- Blue curbs are areas reserved for people with disabilities. They do not have any time restrictions.
The City of San Francisco uses the PayByPhone Parking app for its metered parking spots, an app that can be easily downloaded to any smartphone. More information on public parking in the city can be found on the SFMTA’s great drive and park guide.
Air Quality in San Francisco
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides air quality reports for all cities and counties across the nation.
The agency designates an area’s air quality as good, moderate, unhealthy for certain groups, unhealthy, and very unhealthy for every day of the year. San Francisco is fairly lucky when it comes to air quality for major cities, with a majority of days each year being designated good or moderate.
The table below shows the number of days in San Francisco with each EPA designation for the years 2016 to 2018.
|Year||Good||Moderate||Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups||Unhealthy||Very Unhealthy|
The Bay Area is home to a lot of military veterans. In San Francisco, these veterans are likely to be Vietnam-era veterans.
There are four active military bases within a two hour’s drive of San Francisco, including Travis Air Force Base, Coast Guard Training Center Petaluma, Presidio of Monterey Army Base, and Naval Postgraduate School Base.
Our research shows that many car insurance companies offer discounts to either active or retired military personnel, including Allstate, Esurance, Farmers, Geico, Liberty Mutual, MetLife, Safe Auto, Safeco, State Farm, and The General.
USAA is consistently ranked as one of the best auto insurance companies, and they insure only military personnel, active or retired, and their immediate family members.
Unique City Laws
Like most American cities, San Francisco really does have its own personality. And this personality shines through not only in the people who call the City by the Bay home, or by the local foods and shops that make it unique. San Francisco’s personality is also evident in its unique laws.
Though most driving and car insurance laws are set by the State of California, San Francisco has a few unique road laws we want to make you aware of:
- A lot of cyclists call San Francisco home, and the city has dedicated lanes on many streets just for them. It is illegal for cars to enter these lanes except to park, to turn into a driveway, or to cross a dotted white line of a dedicated bike lane, which usually appears just before an intersection.
- Walk San Francisco explains that in the city, “all intersections of streets wider than 25 feet are legal crosswalks unless they specifically say no crossing.” Drivers (and cyclists) must yield to all pedestrians, who always have the right of way.
- Also: it is illegal to wipe your car with used underwear.
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San Francisco Car Insurance FAQs
Now that you have a good grasp of the types of car insurance options available to you in the City by the Bay, plus a general idea of the culture that makes San Francisco so unique, we want to help you really make San Francisco feel like home.
Here are some of the questions asked most by new and soon-to-be San Franciscans.
Who handles the utilities in San Francisco?
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission provides water, (some) power, and sewer services to the city’s residents. PG&E provides San Franciscans with gas and electricity. Recology is the city’s trash and recycling provider (and remember, recycling is mandatory here).
Where can I get my resident parking permit?
Most households and businesses in San Francisco are eligible for up to four parking permits. The SFMTA provides this handy guide to getting your resident parking permit, which will help you avoid hefty parking fines, including applications in English, Spanish, and Chinese.
What are the state minimums for car insurance in California?
The bare minimum car insurance coverage that you must carry to comply with the law in the Golden State is:
- $15,000 – Bodily injury liability per person
- $30,000 – Bodily injury liability per accident
- $5,000 – Property damage liability
Where is the airport?
The Bay Area is serviced primarily by two international airports.
San Francisco International (SFO), the second busiest airport in the state after Los Angeles International (LAX), has its very own zip code, meaning it is located simply at San Francisco, CA 94128. SFO is a hub for both United and Alaska Airlines.
Oakland International Airport (OAK) is located at 1 Airport Dr, Oakland, CA 94621. Many Bay Area residents can fly more cheaply from Oakland, as it is a hub for Southwest Airlines.
Did Tony Bennett really leave his heart in San Francisco?
Maybe. But can you blame him?
Now that you understand the ins and outs of driving, living, and working in the City by the Bay, it’s time to put your knowledge to work for you in shopping around for the best deal on car insurance.
Ready to compare rates? Enter your zip in our FREE tool above.