Scroll down for the latest available information about purchasing and maintaining insurance for vehicles owned in the state of California. Use this info to custom design the optimal auto insurance coverage package for you, at the lowest possible rates.

California Minimum Liability Coverage

State laws pertaining to California car owners dictate a minimum auto insurance coverage of 15/30/5. That means vehicle owners in California must purchase at least $15,000 in Personal Injury Protection, $30,000 in per-accident protection for others who are injured, and $5,000 in coverage against property damage. Still, most state-mandated minimums for car insurance rarely cover all the expenses of an accident. That’s why the Insurance Information Institute recommends 100/300 coverage for all U.S. Drivers.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in California

Assuming you get caught, the penalty for driving without insurance in the state of California is a fine of up to $200, plus a huge “penalty assessment” fee. Also expect a suspended license for up to thirty days.

Auto Insurance Rates in California

The average annual auto insurance premium in the state of California was about $1,752 in 2016, the national average being around $1,347 at that time.

Factors that determine car insurance premiums include local climate, economic stability, percentage of uninsured drivers, availability of insurance carriers, population density and average commute times, for example.

Other factors affecting annual rates are the driver’s age, gender, marital status, driving record and vehicle, among other things. California law prohibits using credit scores as factors in determining premiums by personal auto insurance providers. State law also requires that California car insurance carriers calculate rates based on miles driven and driving records before considering geographic location.

Low Cost Car Insurance Programs in California

Despite the deals and discounts, car insurance coverage can be very expensive for California drivers. This is especially true of drivers living in urban centers like Los Angeles and San Francisco, by comparison to more rural areas.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways for California car owners to lower their auto insurance costs. For example, low income residents may be eligible for the CLCA program, which reduces liability limits to 10/20/3. This low cost program is available to California residents 19 or older with good driving records, for vehicles worth $20,000 or less. Another way to lower costs is if you decide to take your car off the road, you can put it on Planned Non-Operation (PNO) status. This allows you to legally drop insurance coverage until you are once again ready to drive the vehicle.

Carriers both local and nationwide offer discounts to encourage intelligent driving habits. Drivers who avoid accidents and moving violations for three years may be eligible for an Accident-Free discount or a Good Driver discount of up to 20 percent. Academic excellence can be rewarded with a Good Student discount. People who own more than one car might score a Multiple Auto discount. Senior citizens sometimes earn a discount for completing a defensive driving course. Other types of available discounts on car insurance are the Multiple Policy discount, the Passive Restraint discount and the Vehicle Safety Discount.

Obtaining Auto Insurance Quotes in California

According to customer satisfaction ratings from 2017 online reviews, the most popular auto insurance providers for drivers in the state of California are AAA, Allstate, Esurance, Geico, Progressive, State Farm, 21st Century and Liberty Mutual Insurance. Since all car insurance companies follow the same guidelines, select the carrier you are most comfortable with. Stick with friendly representatives who are easily reached and communicative regarding discounts and other important policy details.

California is home to hundreds of companies offering car insurance at “the lowest possible” rates. Call a few of them to obtain and compare free quotes. Don’t forget to inquire about their discount offers.