Auto Insurance Basics

Auto Insurance Companies in California

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With so many options when buying car insurance, it's no wonder that choosing a company and policy in the Golden State can be difficult. We've taken a look at the largest auto insurance companies in California to help inform consumers about their choices. In particular, a number of different car insurers offer different discounts and benefits to entice customers to sign up; these can be based on what organizations you belong to or what school you went to in California. Others cater to drivers who prefer personal relationships by employing agents or 24/7 convenience online.

AAA / Interinsurance Exchange of the Automobile Club

AAA and its underwriting affiliates (the Interinsurance Exchange and the CSAA Insurance Exchange) together insure the most number of cars in the state of California: 3.7MM cars as of 2013. To be part of AAA in CA, there's an initial fee of $17-20, and an annual member fee of $48-119, depending on where you live in California and which membership plan drivers pick. One of the perks of being insured with AAA is that it offers a Policyholder Savings Dividend, a sum given to Californians out of AAA’s auto insurance premium surplus. Just bear in mind that they're not guaranteed, but are paid when approved by the company. When issued, it can help save customers on their auto insurance, and help to defray the membership fee.

State Farm

California's 2nd largest car insurance company is State Farm, which operates via agents located throughout the state. It covers 3.6MM cars. Drivers considering State Farm can receive discounts by qualifying for the California Good Driver Discount and the Drive Safe & Save Program. In order to be eligible for the California Good Driver Discount, everyone who uses your car must be a “good driver”. This is someone who has had a license for the past three years and only has one violation point or one at-fault accident resulting in only property damage. In the Golden State, the Drive Safe & Save Program is self-reporting, meaning that drivers can report their own odometer readings, and the less the car is driven, the more the driver will save. 

Allstate

Drivers who choose to insure their vehicles with Allstate have access to some unique policy and account features. Drivewise, which is a mobile app and telemetry device, tracks your driving habits and rewards drivers for being safe behind the wheel. Allstate operates a rewards programs that offers points for drivers for good behavior and can be redeemed for brand-name items and other merchandise - rare among auto insurance companies. Star Driver is another feature designed for teen drivers and their parents, which notifies the parents when teens exceed mutually established driving limits. With Allstate, you have the option of going through a dedicated agent who can be one point of contact for your policy; in fact, it's our favorite agent-based car insurer.

Mercury Insurance Company / California Automobile Insurance Company 

Mercury Insurance sells through only independent agents, meaning that drivers can get more personalized service. Mercury offers many premium discounts; one unique discount is the professional/ association discount. Members of organizations such as CalCPA, California Medical Association, and employees (including scientists, teachers, and other trade professionals) can qualify for a discounted quote at Mercury. Ask your employer if they are affiliated with Mercury Insurance, and there's a chance you might be able to save some more on your premiums. With 1.9MM vehicles insured, Mercury ranks as the 5th largest auto insurance group in the Golden State.

GEICO

GEICO is the 2nd largest auto insurer in the United States, but the 6th largest in California based on the number of vehicles insured (1.8MM in 2013). The company, perhaps best personified by its gekko spokesperson, primarily operates online, which translates into lower auto insurance quotes. However, there are local agents in California for drivers looking for more hands-on guidance. They can be located in Bakersfield, Oxnard, Riverside County, Sacramento, San Bernardino County, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. These agents can provide assistance in multiple languages and also sponsor many community events, such as football games and fairs.

USAA

USAA consistently ranks among the more affordable auto insurance companies in the U.S., and had the cheapest car insurance quotes in California based on our analysis. However, USAA only covers drivers who are serving or have served in the U.S. military and their families so the civilian population may not qualify. If you live or work at the Los Angeles Air Force Base, Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in San Diego, Presidio of Monterey Army Base, the North Island Naval Complex Navy Base in San Diego, or any of the other 25+ military bases in California, definitely consider USAA when shopping for quotes. Two unique discounts that USAA offers is the Family Discount and the Military Installation Discount. The family discount allows drivers to save up to 10% if they are continuing to insure with USAA as their parents did, and the Military Installation Discounts allows motorists to save up to 15% on comprehensive coverage if they park their car on an army base. USAA also took one of the top spots in customer satisfaction in JD Power's 2014 auto insurance survey.

Progressive

Progressive has an auto insurance estimator to help drivers consider coverages, a quote tool to help motorists, and a rewards program called PerkShare, which is a coupon book that offers discounts from companies like Meineke, SiriusXM, Enterprise, Chase, TurboTax and more. With Service Centers in Pasadena, Sacramento, San Diego, and Walnut Creek, drivers living in those areas can easily get their car repaired and pick up a rental car after an accident.

Infinity Auto Insurance 

Infinity Auto takes pride in providing friendly customer service through a call center and local agents. These options are available 24/7 in English or Spanish. By purchasing an auto insurance policy with Infinity Auto, drivers are eligible for the Infinity DriverClub, a 24/7 nationwide roadside assistance. Membership is free and there is no contract or fee upfront; drivers only have to pay for services when they are used. Infinity also provides community programs - for example, in the month of May, Infinity sponsored Read Conmigo, a bilingual literacy program to encourage children’s development.  

Alliance United Insurance Company

Established in 2004, Alliance is a California-based company that provides insurance through over 900 brokers and 2,000 locations in the state. The only way to really access information about Alliance is online, which can be more convenient for millenials and other users who prefer a more immediate response. However, this would not be helpful to drivers who prefer a personalized experience and more guidance on Alliance's products. Alliance United insured a little more than 470,000 vehicles in California in 2013

Wawanesa Insurance 

Wawanesa, a leading insurer in Canada, only provides insurance in America to California and Oregon. Its U.S. branch is located in San Diego, and only offers insurance to good drivers. Under California law, a “good driver” is someone who has had a license for the past three years and has a maximum of one violation point or one at-fault accident resulting in only property damage. Therefore, drivers with a spottier record should consider other non-standard auto insurance companies, or the assigned risk plan in CA as a last resort. Another bonus: Wawanesa regularly tops JD Power & Associates' auto insurance ratings for overall customer satisfaction in California. A.M. Best ranked its financial strength a rating of A (Excellent). 

Nationwide

Nationwide, headquartered in Ohio, insured about 420,000 vehicles on the Golden State's roads in 2014. Prospective customers can get quotes through both its online portal, or with one of the 99 agents stationed in 10 cities in CA: Sacramento, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Anaheim, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, Fresno, and Bakersfield. Nationwide offers discounts to various alumni and Greek organization members, such as Cal Alumni Association UC Berkley, Alpha Chi Omega and Pi Kappa Phi.

Liberty Mutual

With 14 local office locations in California, Liberty Mutual agents can give Californians important information about their polices face-to-face, including auto insurance discounts. For example, Liberty Mutual offers discounts to members of groups and alumni: if you graduated from UCLA or USC, and are employed by the City of Sacramento, to name a few places - chances are you can shave a couple extra percentages off of your quote by specifying your affiliation. Liberty Mutual is also active in California's local communities and has a Liberty Mutual Insurance Play Positive program that helps promote good sportsmanship in youth sports.

The Hartford

Headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut, The Hartford sells through agents, a huge plus for drivers who enjoy speaking to a representative. The Hartford has tailored insurance programs specifically for AARP members that offers rates based on experience. That is great news for any mature and senior citizens retired and enjoying California's temperate Mediterranean climate, with warm summers and cool winters. 

Travelers

Headquartered in New York, Travelers has over 225 locations across America. In California, their major offices are in Diamond Bar, Orange, Rancho Cordova, San Francisco, and Walnut Creek. In 2013, the company insured 176,000 vehicles in the Golden State.

Allied Insurance

Allied Insurance is headquartered in Iowa with regional offices in several states. The Pacific Coast Regional office is located in Sacramento, with many smaller independent agencies across the state. Once you hold a policy with Allied, you are part of the optional Allied Rewards program. One of the rewards options is roadside assistance. Signing up for this coverage is about $10 every six months that gives you access to Cross Country Perks, a program that offers discounts on dining, travel, and more. A discount specific to California is the Farm Bureau discount. California drivers who are members of the Farm Bureau Federation, an organization that promotes and protects agricultural interest in the state, should mention this to their agent in order to lower their auto insurance costs.

California Casualty

A specialty insurer, California Casualty, only sells insurance to people in four select professions: educators, firefighters, nurses, public safety professionals / peace and law enforcement officers. California Casualty provides special benefits that are uniquely tailored for these American heroes, such as deductible waivers for damaged cars at schools, and premium waivers for officers who make sacrifices at work.

Anchor General Insurance

A San Diego based company, Anchor General Insurance offers insurance to drivers in California, Arizona and Texas. They also provide bilingual services and in-house claims processing, which can help to streamline communications and paperwork for policyholders. Anchor doesn't have an online quoting tools, so prospective customers can only go through their network of agents - great for those Californians who prefer personal interaction!

Explorer Insurance Company

Specializing in car insurance for the California market, Explorer is headquartered in Santa Clarita and works through independent agencies to offer insurance to California’s drivers. Drivers will always have an agent to contact for a more hands-on experience, or questions throughout the entire process. This local insurer is a member of ICW Group Insurance Companies and works with Nation Safe Drivers (NSD) to provide emergency assistance. 

Capital Insurance Group

Only serving five states in America, CIG’s main office is located in Monterey. The Protector Network and Refer a Friend program are unique benefits of Capital Insurance Group. The Protector Network provides tips, articles, discounts, and other important information to CIG members. Referring a friend that results to a new policyholder rewards drivers with a free solar emergency light or auto emergency tool. CIG only gives quotes through a CIG advisor, an important factor if drivers prefer speaking to one agent or point-of-cotnact. 

Other Insurance Companies in California

Auto Insurance Company in California Telephone Number
Access (800) 817-8017 
Markel Insurance (800) 431-1270
Foremost Insurance (888) 888-0080
Farmers (800) 493-4917
Esurance (800) 378-7262
Amica (800) 242-6422
Safeco (800) 332-3226
Dairyland Insurance (800) 334-0090
Kemper Insurance (877) 481-8836
National General (888) 293-5108
21st Century Insurance Company (877) 310-5687
MetLife (800) 638-5433
Companion Property & Casualty Insurance Company (800) 845-2724
MAPFRE Insurance (855) 627-3738
Victoria Insurance (800) 888-8424

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