Who Has The Cheapest Auto Insurance in San Diego?

Who Has The Cheapest Auto Insurance in San Diego?

Find Cheap Auto Insurance Quotes in San Diego

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The average cost of car insurance in San Diego is $570 per year, or $48 per month, for a minimum-coverage policy.

With over 1.4 million residents, San Diego is home to thousands of drivers who need auto insurance. Where can you find the cheapest auto insurance? We make it easier by surveying eight companies from "America's Finest City."

Depending on where you shop, you could save up to $400 on a minimum coverage policy.

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Your insurance company and driving profile will have the biggest impacts on how much your insurance premiums will be. Having an accident history, living in a dense area and conducting minimal research into companies can potentially increase your quotes.

Cheapest car insurance in San Diego, CA

Similarly to elsewhere in California, we found Geico offered the most affordable car insurance for San Diegans, with an average rate of $363 per year for our sample driver. The next cheapest was Progressive, which cost $106 more.

Each state sets a minimum required amount of auto insurance you must obtain to be able to legally drive. The minimum coverage policy will be the cheapest insurance.

This graph identifies and ranks the three companies in San Diego, Cali., with the best rates for insuring our sample drivers' cars

Find Cheap Auto Insurance Quotes in San Diego

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It’s important to note that although minimum coverage is the cheapest option, it does not include comprehensive or collision coverage. Minimum coverage protects damages done to other people’s property, while comprehensive and collision coverage protects against damages to your vehicle.

Insurance company
Average annual rate
3AAA SoCal$508
7State Farm$716

Insurer with the most affordable full coverage policy: Geico

A full coverage auto insurance policy can be more than three times as expensive as a minimum coverage policy. However, the policy has additional protection that you will not have if you just pay for the minimum requirement. Geico has the cheapest rates for both minimum and full coverage policies. You should also consider getting quotes from Mercury and Progressive, which are the next most affordable options and around the same price tag.

Annual premium
4AAA SoCal$1,748
6State Farm$1,966

The main difference between full coverage and minimum coverage is that full coverage includes comprehensive and collision protection. Comprehensive coverage protects you from damage caused by "acts of God" like car theft, damage from tropical storms and other natural disasters, or civil commotions. Collision usually covers damages inflicted from crashing into another vehicle or object.

It’s recommended that you obtain a full coverage policy if you fall into one of these two camps:

  • Your car is new or less than 10 years old
  • Your vehicle is expensive or worth at least $3,000

Cheapest full coverage insurance after an accident

The companies that had the lowest premium hikes following an accident are Geico, Mercury and AAA of Southern California, which all increased prices by less than $1,100.

AAA of Southern California, also called AAA SoCal or The Auto Club of Southern California, is only available to residents of Southern California.

Quote before accident
Quotes after accident
3AAA SoCal$1,748$2,599$851
5State Farm$1,966$3,120$1,154

A driver who gets into an accident will almost inevitably be faced with an increase in rate, but there are a few ways to mitigate the bump. Some insurance companies have accident forgiveness, which protects you from price hikes following an accident. Each company has different qualification criteria for accident forgiveness, so you will need to follow up with each insurer on their policy.

Cheapest insurance for young drivers looking for full coverage

Age has a major influence on your estimated car insurance rates. If you are a young driver or a driver under the age of 25, your rates will be significantly higher than the average person in their thirties.

Young and inexperienced drivers are more likely to be in accidents and are seen by insurers as riskier. The most affordable insurer for young people is Mercury, with an average annual premium of $3,496. State Farm, which has a similar price range, is priced at an average $2,639 annually.

Annual premium
2State Farm$3,639
3AAA SoCal$4,866

This chart reflects the average full coverage premium costs of a 18-year-old sample driver.

It will be difficult to find a company that will meet your budget if you’re inexperienced and a young professional. It is recommended that drivers look into discounts and ways to save costs. Here are some of the best ways to save money when you’re a young person with a car:

  • Compare quotes. It is important for you to get at least three car insurance quotes so that you can compare rates and make the best decision. The difference between the cheapest and most expensive insurers can be thousands of dollars.
  • Stay on your parents’ policy. Being on a combined or multicar policy is much cheaper than having two separate policies.
  • Ask insurance companies what discounts they offer. Most companies will have a menu of various discounts that you may already qualify for, such as for being a good student, installing safety or anti-theft devices in your car or being accident free for a certain amount of time.

Cost of car insurance in San Diego by neighborhood

In a city as large as San Diego, car insurance rates will actually vary by area within the city. Some neighborhood will have a higher crime rate, crash rate, and density compared to adjacent areas. Hillcrest, for example, is less expensive than Oak Park by around $85 per year for our sample driver. Below you can see how a select few San Diego neighborhoods compare for car insurance rates.

ZIP code
Average cost
92102Golden Heights / Mt. Hope$540
92104North Park$549
92105Oak Park$620
92106Fleet Ridge$558
92107Sunset Cliffs / Point Loma Heights$576
92108Mission Valley East$561
92109Pacific Beach$570
92111Kearny Mesa$553
92113Logan Heights$578
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The expensiveness of your neighborhood ultimately stems from the amount of car accident claims that come from that area. There is little you can do about how expensive your neighborhood is except move. If that is not an option, the best way to save on your yearly auto rates — especially if you live in an expensive neighborhood — is to shop around for quotes.

Insurance companies with the best customer service in San Diego

The cheapest company isn't necessarily the best. Geico, though cheap, scores around the middle of the pack for customer satisfaction. More expensive brands like State Farm actually score higher for how well their customers receive the company.

The companies that have the best customer service, measured by the frequency of customer complaints, are AAA SoCal, Dairyland and Mercury.

If price and the ease of getting a quote are your main priorities when it comes to auto insurance however, Geico is the best company for you. If you would like to consider other options, the table below lists each company in order of complaint ratio. The complaint index reflects the frequency of formal complaints filed to state regulators. The lower the index, the fewer complaints were made.

Complaint Index
1AAA SoCal1.7
4State Farm2.1
8California Casualty2.7
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Insurers were selected based on market share and quote availability. Complaint Index information is drawn from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The national median for the Complaint Index is 1.0, meaning companies with a lower index provide better customer service compared to the median company.

While AAA SoCal is ranked as having the best customer service by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, it is important to consider alternate perspectives, as well. For example, Wawanesa was named the winner of the J.D. Power California survey. However, it is important to note that J.D. Power’s ranking is based on numerous factors, including price and policy offering, in addition to quality of customer service.

When researching the quality of customer care, you should always gather as much information as possible to make an educated decision.

Fatal accidents in San Diego

Between 2011 and 2015, there were 378 fatal car accidents within the city of San Diego. Fatal car accidents are particularly costly for insurance companies, so if many are stemming from one area, that area's rates are likely to be higher than less-active places. San Diegan fatal accidents tend to happen the most on I-5 and I-805.

The most dangerous highways in San Diego

The following five roads in San Diego had the most fatal accidents between 2011 and 2015. We also list the percentage of those accidents that involved a drunk driver.

Number of fatal accidents (2011 - 2015)
Percent that involve drunk drivers

I-15, which runs on the northeastern part of the city, had a particularly difficult time when it came to drunk drivers as more than half of fatal accidents on that road involved a driver that was drunk. Overall, more than a quarter of all fatal accidents involved a drunk driver in all of the roads beside I-805.

Minimum car insurance requirements in San Diego, CA

Most states have a minimum amount of car insurance you are required to carry. California's limits are a bit on the lower side, so we would definitely recommend most drivers opt for higher protection. If your car is valuable, as in worth more than $3,000, you should also add collision and comprehensive insurance. If you get comprehensive and collision insurance, you do not need to carry uninsured motorist property damage coverage.

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident minimum
  • Property damage liability coverage: $5,000 minimum

An exception to the requirements listed above is if you acquire a policy through California’s Low Cost Auto Insurance program (CLCA). The purpose of the CLCA is to provide affordable car insurance to low-income safe drivers. The limits are lower than California’s standard minimum but will still satisfy the state’s auto insurance laws.


The sample driver used was a 30-year-old man who owns a 2015 Honda Civic EX and is looking to cover a bit more than what is required of the state minimum. Insurance data was compiled from eight auto insurers in San Diego. In instances where a full coverage insurance policy were discussed, these were the following limits:

Coverage type
Study limits
Bodily liability$50,000 per person / $100,000 per accident
Property damage$50,000 per accident
Uninsured/Underinsured motorist bodily injury liability$50,000 per person / $100,000 per accident
Uninsured/Underinsured motorist property$50,000 per accident
Comprehensive and collision$500 Deductible

ValuePenguin's analysis used insurance rate data from Quadrant Information Services. These rates were publicly sourced from insurer filings and should be used for comparative purposes only — your own quotes may be different.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.