Car insurance is a legal requirement in California. Driving without it results in fines, license suspension and vehicle impoundment. Many factors affect your policy cost: type of coverage; where you live; vehicle mileage, use, make and model; and drivers and driving record. ConsumerAffairs researched the best car insurance in San Diego to help you find companies with coverage that fits your needs.
How to choose a car insurance company in San Diego
On average, San Diegans pay about $86 per month for auto insurance, more than the national average of just over $900 per year. That more cars are stolen in the San Diego region annually than in much of the nation contributes to higher premiums.
ZIP code makes a difference in how much insurance companies charge in San Diego County. The average premium for a 40-year-old male driver with a liability-only policy is lowest near the border, in San Ysidro. The highest premium paid is in the 92093 section of La Jolla. Prices in the north county suburb of Carlsbad are lower than El Cajon in east county.
The state of California requires drivers to buy certain minimum liability coverage amounts. The California Department of Insurance provides detailed information about auto insurance requirements in the state, including a guide to coverage definitions. “Bodily injury” coverage applies to others whom you cause injury in an accident, and “property damage” refers to other cars, objects or structures you damage with your car.
Mandatory minimum liability coverage in California:
$15,000 Bodily injury for one person per accident
$30,000 Bodily injury for two or more people per accident
$5,000 Property damage per accident
Nevertheless, about 15 percent of California drivers were uninsured in 2015, ranking the state 12th in the nation. While coverage for a collision with an uninsured motorist is not mandatory, insurance companies offer and highly recommend it.
SANDAG reported that San Diego residents drove 7.6 billion miles in 2016. With roughly 3,000 miles of roadways and commute times increasing with more cars on the road throughout the county, auto insurance is a necessary component of vehicular safety.
Furthermore, weather can change dramatically when heading from western parts of the county near the coast to higher mountain elevations in the east. The California Department of Transportation keeps drivers up to date on road conditions to help avoid hazards and determine what precautions to take when driving.
Progressive is the nation’s top motorcycle insurer, which might appeal to bikers who live in San Diego for the year-round riding weather. Bundle home, renters, auto, RV and motorcycle policies for discounts. While popular nationwide, San Diego reviewers and others in the Southwest consistently give Progressive low scores due to poor customer service and trouble with claims.
Liberty Mutual is the fourth-largest insurer in the United States. Commercials for Liberty Mutual’s “accident forgiveness” air in San Diego television markets, but that feature is not available in California. “New car replacement” and “better car replacement” coverages are popular additions to Liberty Mutual policies.
The General specializes in insuring drivers who have a history of moving violations or accidents, have not kept their policies current or have less than perfect credit. Students who attend one of San Diego’s many colleges and universities will appreciate the student discounts.
Auto Insurance Specialists
Auto Insurance Specialists represents several top insurers and shops rates to bring you the best coverage for your needs. Rideshare drivers in San Diego might choose AIS rideshare coverage. Reviewers in Southern California consistently give this company five stars for great customer service.
With headquarters in Vista and offices in North, Central and South San Diego County, American TriStar is a local company. Reviewers enjoy the personal customer service and say that agents help them find the best rates. American TriStar offers a full range of insurance services, so busy clients will appreciate the one-stop shop.