Figuring out which companies offer the best auto insurance rates for drivers with a bad driving record in California will require more time in order to find the best price. Every car insurance company has their own formula to set premium rates, so we'll go over the auto insurance companies with the overall best prices in California.

It's important to know that California auto insurance rates are influenced by many factors that control the cost of coverage. Turning one year older, buying a home instead of renting, or getting a few speeding tickets may generate price changes resulting in some companies being cheaper than competitors.

Best Cheap Insurance Rates for Imperfect Drivers

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Cheapest auto insurance in California ranked by cost per year
Rank Company Cost Per Year
1 USAA $1,121
2 CSAA $1,186
3 Century National $1,190
4 Wawanesa $1,192
5 Nationwide $1,226
6 21st Century $1,366
7 Grange $1,477
8 Mercury $1,488
9 Allstate $1,497
10 Progressive $1,558
11 GEICO $1,559
12 The Hartford $1,575
13 Allied $1,588
14 MetLife $1,590
15 Unitrin $1,682
16 State Farm $1,733
17 Esurance $1,739
18 Bristol West $1,795
19 Travelers $1,806
20 Farmers $2,026
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USAA quotes some of the cheapest car insurance rates in California at around $1,121 per year. CSAA, Century National, Wawanesa, and Nationwide are also some of the best California auto insurance companies.

In the rate table above, if you currently have coverage with CSAA and switched to USAA, you might realize annual savings of in the neighborhood of $65. Customers with Century National may save as much as $69 a year, and Wawanesa insureds might reduce rates by $71 a year.

To see if your current coverage is too expensive, click here to get quotes or click through to the companies below.

Understand that those prices are averaged for all insureds and vehicles and do not factor in a price surcharge for drivers with a bad driving record. So the company that fits your needs best may not even be in the top 24 companies shown above. That underscores the importance of why you need to get quotes using your own specific driver information and vehicle.

For bad drivers, one of the big factors that are used to help calculate auto insurance rates is where you live. More densely populated places like Glendale, Oakland, and Sacramento tend to have more expensive car insurance rates, whereas more rural areas have the luxury of cheap car insurance rates.

The information below sorts the most expensive places in California for drivers with a bad driving record in which to buy car insurance.

How much does auto insurance cost in California?
Rank City Annual Premium
1 Glendale $2,121
2 Los Angeles $2,104
3 Oakland $1,755
4 San Francisco $1,711
5 Sacramento $1,669
6 San Bernardino $1,628
7 Stockton $1,603
8 Fontana $1,581
9 Long Beach $1,578
10 Moreno Valley $1,536
11 Santa Clarita $1,533
12 Fresno $1,517
13 Garden Grove $1,508
14 Riverside $1,497
15 Anaheim $1,488
16 Modesto $1,487
17 Santa Ana $1,453
18 San Jose $1,423
19 Huntington Beach $1,416
20 Irvine $1,384
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Rate information is approximated as specific California zip code can modify auto insurance rates considerably.

Choosing a good quality car insurance provider can be difficult considering how many companies are available to choose from in California. The information listed below can help you analyze which insurers you want to consider when shopping insurance around for drivers with a bad driving record. These rankings are only made up of large, nationwide insurance companies, so companies with more of a regional focus are not factored into these rankings.

Top 10 Large Auto Insurance Providers in California Ranked by Customer Service

  1. AAA of Southern California
  2. GEICO
  3. State Farm
  4. The Hartford
  5. Mercury Insurance
  6. The General
  7. Progressive
  8. Allstate
  9. AAA Insurance
  10. American Family

Top 10 Large Auto Insurance Providers in California Ranked by A.M. Best Rating

  1. USAA - A++
  2. Travelers - A++
  3. State Farm - A++
  4. GEICO - A++
  5. Esurance - A+
  6. Nationwide - A+
  7. Allstate - A+
  8. Mercury Insurance - A+
  9. Progressive - A+
  10. Titan Insurance - A+

Does full coverage make sense?

Buying cheaper auto insurance is probably important to most vehicle owners, and one easy way to pay less for insurance for drivers with a bad driving record in California is to buy liability only. The diagram below illustrates the comparison of insurance rates with full coverage and liability only. The rate quotes are based on no tickets, no at-fault accidents, $1,000 deductibles, drivers are not married, and no discounts are applied.

On average, comp and collision coverage costs $2,467 per year over having just liability coverage. That brings up the question if you should buy full coverage. There is no specific rule to eliminate physical damage coverage on your policy, but there is a general school of thought. If the yearly cost of comp and collision coverage is about 10% or more of any settlement you would receive from your insurance company, then you might consider buying liability only.

For example, let's assume your vehicle's settlement value is $6,000 and you have $1,000 deductibles. If your vehicle is severely damaged, you would only receive $5,000 after paying the physical damage deductible. If premium cost is more than $500 annually for full coverage, then it may be the right time to buy liability only.

There are some scenarios where only buying liability is not in your best interest. If you haven't paid off your loan, you have to carry full coverage as part of the loan conditions. Also, if you don't have enough money to buy a different vehicle in the event your current vehicle is totaled, you should keep full coverage on your policy.

Safe drivers pay less for auto insurance

One of the best ways to find affordable auto insurance rates in California for bad drivers is to be a good driver and avoid at-fault accidents and violations. The diagram below demonstrates how traffic citations and at-fault claims raise insurance premiums for different age groups of insureds. The data is based on a married male driver, comp and collision included, $250 deductibles, and no discounts are factored in.

In the previous chart, the average cost of an auto insurance policy in California per year with no accidents or violations is $2,684. Receive two speeding tickets and the average cost rises to $3,713, an increase of $1,029 each year. Now add one accident along with the two speeding tickets and the annual cost of auto insurance for drivers with a bad driving record in California increases to an average of $4,749. That's an increase of $2,065, or $172 per month, just for being a careless driver!