Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about auto insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and Cinncinati....

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Written by Chris Tepedino
Insurance Feature Writer Chris Tepedino

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: May 27, 2021

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The Full Review

  • The average cost of full coverage auto insurance in California is $79 per month or $951 annually.
  • The minimum requirements for California car insurance are 15/30/5 in liability coverage.
  • California’s full coverage auto insurance usually includes liability insurance, comprehensive insurance, and collision insurance.

We all need auto insurance, but often our state minimum standards are not enough. The auto insurance minimum in California is no exception. Luckily, full coverage options exist for this exact reason. But what is considered full coverage auto insurance in California? And what is the cheapest full coverage auto insurance in California?

Our comprehensive guide includes basic auto insurance in California compared to California’s full coverage auto insurance. By the end, you’ll know how to get cheap full coverage auto insurance quotesthat fits all of your needs.

Ready to find affordable full coverage auto insurance in California? Enter your ZIP code into our free quote comparison tool for instant full coverage auto insurance rates in California.

What is full coverage auto insurance in California?

The truth is, there really are no California full coverage auto insurance requirements. Your full coverage options change depending on what company you purchase a policy from. However, full coverage policies usually include three basic auto insurance coverages: liability, comprehensive, and collision.

What is considered full coverage auto insurance in California is also considered full coverage in every other state. The difference will mostly be the cost. 

See on average how much annual full coverage insurance will cost you in California compared to liability rates, collision rates, and comprehensive rates. We have also included national averages.

California Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Coverage Option
Auto Insurance Policy TypeCalifornia Average Annual Auto Insurance RatesNational Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates
Full Coverage$951.75$949.34
Liability Coverage$489.66$505.73
Comprehensive Coverage$100.54$160.74
Collision Coverage$396.55$305.45
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If you want minimum full coverage auto insurance in California, look for a policy that includes only liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. You may have the option to add additional coverage as well. 

Unlike liability coverage, which only covers the damages to others involved in an accident and not actually the driver at fault, full coverage auto insurance covers both the insured driver and the others involved. This includes personal injury as well as the damage caused to any vehicles in the accident. 

It can also cover expenses that arise from situations other than auto accidents, including fire, theft, and vandalism.

You do need to read all of the fine print though, as some policies do not cover everything, especially if you have a rented or a leased vehicle. Make sure that you know what your policy covers so there are no surprises when something bad does happen.

You may be wondering, is auto insurance mandatory in California? Yes, there are legal California auto liability limits that you must purchase to drive in the state. Keep reading to learn more about the minimum insurance requirement in California.

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What is the minimum auto insurance requirement in California?

If you are going to drive in the state, you will need to know about the California auto insurance minimum coverage requirements. Legally, you must have proof of liability auto insurance in California. What is the minimum liability insurance in California? See the rates below.

  • $15,000 for injury/death to one person
  • $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person
  • $5,000 for damage to property

You may also see the California state minimum liability insurance written out as 15/30/5. You can easily secure cheap liability insurance in California. On average, liability coverage costs $41 per month or $489 annually. 

You may think this is enough auto insurance to protect you. However, our expert recommendation is to purchase more than the minimum insurance coverage in California if it’s within your budget.

Why purchase more than the minimum amount of liability insurance in California? To protect yourself from collisions, damage from weather, uninsured motorists, and more. Keep reading to learn what we mean.

Is the minimum liability insurance in California enough coverage?

The California state minimum auto insurance requirements are often not enough to fully protect you if you are involved in an automobile collision.

Imagine you are the responsible driver in an accident. Let’s say the vehicle you totaled is worth $35,000 and you only have the minimum liability coverage in California. 

Your minimum liability insurance coverage in California will only cover $5,000 for the damages, leaving you responsible for the other $30,000 out of pocket. Not to mention you need to fix or replace your own vehicle as well. 

Is there cheap full coverage auto insurance in California for teen drivers?

One of the reasons many people don’t look into getting full coverage auto insurance is because they do not think they can afford it. However, proving you are a low-risk driver will increase your chances of receiving cheap full coverage auto insurance quotes in California. 

Many things are factored into the cost of auto insurance, like your driving record and experience. If you are an older driver with clean driving history, you will have no problem finding low-cost full coverage auto insurance.

However, if you are looking for auto insurance for teenagers, or if you have an imperfect driving record, your insurance rates will increase significantly even for the bare minimum auto insurance coverage in California.

The following table shows how much your rates could rise after a single traffic violation in California.

California Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Driving Record
Driving ViolationCalifornia Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates
Clean record$2,579.26
With 1 accident$3,721.56
With 1 DUI$5,184.72
With 1 speeding violation$3,272.95
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As you can see, your driving record has a huge impact on your auto insurance rates in California. Safer drivers will always receive the cheapest rates.

If the California minimum insurance limits are not enough for you, another way to get cheap full coverage insurance is by seeking out discounts.

Additionally, the Insurance Information Institute includes that factors that vary from state to state can affect your premiums, like weather trends and medicare and car repair costs.

Comparison shopping for quotes online will also lead you to the lowest full coverage rates.   

What is included in full coverage auto insurance in California?

How much auto insurance do you need in California? If you own a newer model vehicle, or cannot reasonably pay out of pocket to replace your current car, you should consider investing in higher auto insurance coverage. 

For example, collision and comprehensive coverage will help you if your vehicle is damaged so you don’t get stuck with lots of out-of-pocket expenses for repairs. Extra coverage can also protect you in the event of natural disasters such as flooding, and even theft or vandalism.

If you have added anything to your vehicle, such as a stereo system, you should ask about purchasing additional coverage. You should also consider asking about coverage against uninsured motorists.

Keep reading to learn more about basic auto insurance policies in California.

Liability Insurance

If you are in an accident and you are deemed at fault, your liability insurance will cover the costs incurred by the other driver involved. Each state has a legal minimum amount of liability coverage that all drivers must have. 

What is the minimum liability coverage in California? If you drive a private passenger vehicle, the minimum bodily injury coverage in California is $15,000 for injury or death to one person and $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person. You must also invest in $5,000 for damage to property. 

In our expert opinion, the California minimum auto coverage limits are not enough to protect you fully. We recommend purchasing a higher level of coverage that includes comprehensive and collision insurance.

Comprehensive Insurance

The terms full coverage and comprehensive coverage are sometimes incorrectly used synonymously, but you should understand that these are two separate policies.

Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle when not in motion. For example, if a tree falls on your car during a hurricane, comprehensive coverage will help pay for the damages. There is a deductible associated with this type of coverage.

Comprehensive coverage is not legally required as part of your California minimum coverage auto insurance. However, it is part of our recommended auto insurance coverage in California. 

From wildfires to vehicle theft, comprehensive coverage provides great extra protection. Investing in it upfront will help you save thousands should an incident occur. 

Collision Insurance

Collision insurance covers damages to your vehicle that happen when in motion. If you rear-end someone during rush hour traffic in Los Angeles, collision coverage will help pay for any damages incurred to your vehicle.

With the collision coverage, the insurer pays the cost to repair or replace your vehicle if it is involved in a collision that you are at fault for causing. Keep in mind that, like comprehensive coverage, there is a deductible associated with this type of coverage as well.

This type of coverage is not part of the California vehicle insurance requirements. However, we highly recommend adding it to your policy.  

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What isn’t covered by full coverage insurance in California?

Even though some people think that full coverage is a literal term, it actually will not cover all of your losses after an accident. 

For example, if you need to be towed, your towing expenses may be the result of an accident, but you will need to add roadside assistance to your policy to have the towing covered by insurance.

You may also not be covered for damages to your personal property if you’re in an accident while using your vehicle for business purposes. To be protected from this scenario, you will need to invest in commercial auto insurance. 

What If You Rent or Lease Your Vehicle in California?

The California lease insurance requirements are the same as the California minimum auto insurance requirements. According to the legal experts at NOLO, drivers who rent or lease their vehicles are covered by their existing liability insurance in California. 

But if the vehicle you are using is more expensive than what your California state minimum auto insurance requirements will pay for, how will you repair or replace it following an auto accident? 

For this reason, it is recommended you purchase more than the minimum auto insurance coverage in California if you are renting or leasing a vehicle. 

Usually, anyone who leases or rents a vehicle will be offered collision or comprehensive insurance by the company they are renting or leasing from. 

If you have a full coverage insurance policy, it will probably pay out the current market value of your vehicle. With leased or even financed vehicles, the payout is often lower than the amount you owe on the loan. 

If you are in this situation, the Insurance Information Institute recommends adding GAP coverage to your policy. GAP coverage will help pay for the gap between the actual cash value of your totaled vehicle, and what you still owe on the loan.

You are now an expert on California insurance minimums and why you should consider full coverage auto insurance. Start getting quotes so you can secure the best car insurance in California for your needs.

Not only will you feel safer when you are driving, but you will also be properly covered in the event your vehicle gets damaged.

Are you ready to buy full coverage auto insurance in California? Enter your five-digit ZIP code into our free quote tool to compare full coverage auto insurance companies in California right now.