One of the many things that determine auto insurance rates is where you normally keep your vehicle. Areas with more people or more claims tend to have more expensive car insurance rates, whereas more rural areas have the enjoyment of a little cheaper coverage.

The table below shows the most expensive areas in California to buy an auto insurance policy in. San Francisco makes the list at #3 costing $1,763 for the average policyholder, which is about $147 monthly.

How much does car insurance cost in San Francisco, CA?
Rank City Annual Rate
1 Los Angeles $2,168
2 Glendale $2,142
3 San Francisco $1,763
4 Sacramento $1,720
5 Oakland $1,704
6 San Bernardino $1,596
7 Stockton $1,588
8 Long Beach $1,562
9 Moreno Valley $1,551
10 Santa Clarita $1,548
11 Fontana $1,535
12 Riverside $1,527
13 Garden Grove $1,524
14 Modesto $1,502
15 Anaheim $1,474
16 Fresno $1,457
17 Santa Ana $1,453
18 San Diego $1,381
19 San Jose $1,381
20 Huntington Beach $1,360
21 Bakersfield $1,353
22 Fremont $1,348
23 Irvine $1,343
24 Oxnard $1,318
25 Chula Vista $1,298
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Price information shown is approximated as the specific zip code location can raise or lower price quotes considerably.

Having seen where San Francisco ranks based on price, establishing which company has the cheapest car insurance rates in San Francisco calls for a bit more effort in order to find the most economical policy. Each insurer has a unique formula to establish rates, so we need to take a look at the car insurance companies that tend to be cheaper in San Francisco, CA.

It's a good idea to know that California car insurance rates are based on many factors which can substantially change the price of your policy. Improving your credit rating, getting married, or getting a ticket for careless driving can trigger price changes that can now make some companies cheaper than competitors.

Cheapest Insurance Rates in San Francisco

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USAA normally has some of the best car insurance rates in San Francisco at around $1,121 each year. Wawanesa, Nationwide, CSAA, and Century National would also make the list of some of the lowest-priced San Francisco, CA car insurance companies.

In the above example, if you buy coverage from CSAA and switched to Wawanesa, you might realize yearly savings of around $65. Insureds with Century National might save as much as $69 a year, and 21st Century policyholders might reduce prices by as much as $222 a year.

If you want to see how much you could save, click here to start your custom quote or click through to the companies below.

Understand that those premiums are averaged for all types of insureds and vehicles and are not factoring in an exact zip code location in San Francisco. So the auto insurance company that can offer you the best rate may not even be in the list above. That point stresses why you need to compare rates from multiple companies using your own driver information and specific vehicle type.

The vehicle model to be insured is one of the largest factors that determines whether or not you can buy the best auto insurance in San Francisco. Vehicles with high performance engines, poor passenger safety features, or a high likelihood of having liability claims will cost significantly more to insure than safer, lower-performance models. The data below showcases insurance costs for the cheapest automobiles to insure in California.

Cheapest Vehicles to Insure in San Francisco, CA
Insured Vehicle Estimated Cost for Full Coverage
Toyota RAV4 Sport 2WD $1,598
Chevrolet Impala LT $1,608
Volkswagen Jetta LE 4-Dr Sedan $1,598
Honda CR-V EX 2WD $1,656
Honda Odyssey EX-L W/Rear Entertainment $1,679
Toyota Corolla S $1,684
Ford Escape Limited 2WD $1,695
Ford Edge SE 2WD $1,700
Toyota Prius $1,708
Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4WD $1,711
GMC Sierra SLT Crew Cab 2WD $1,720
Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Crew Cab 4WD $1,711
Kia Optima SX $1,824
Ford Fusion Sport AWD 4-Dr Sedan $1,827
Dodge Grand Caravan Hero $1,830
Ford F-350 XLT Crew Cab King Ranch Turbo Diesel 2WD $1,856
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 2WD 4-Dr $1,859
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Table data assumes single female driver age 30, no speeding tickets, no at-fault accidents, $1,000 deductibles, and California minimum liability limits. Discounts applied include multi-vehicle, homeowner, multi-policy, safe-driver, and claim-free. Rate quotes do not factor in specific San Francisco, CA garaging location which can raise or lower premium rates substantially.

Based upon the rates shown, vehicles like the Toyota RAV4, Chevrolet Impala, and Volkswagen Jetta will be some of the less-costly vehicles to insure for drivers in San Francisco.

Careless driving habits raise San Francisco insurance rates

The easiest method to receive low insurance prices in San Francisco for drivers in San Francisco is to be an attentive driver and avoid getting tickets or having accidents. The chart below illustrates how violations and at-fault claims can influence car insurance costs for different age categories. The costs are based on a married female driver, comprehensive and collision coverage, $100 deductibles, and no other discounts are factored in.

The chart shows that the average cost of car insurance per year with no accidents or violations is $1,948. Receive two speeding tickets and the average cost rises to $2,776, an increase of $828 each year. Next add two accidents along with the two speeding tickets and the annual cost of insurance in San Francisco jumps again to an average of $5,713. That's an increase of $3,765, or $314 per month, just for not driving safely!

Comparison of full coverage and liability-only policies

Paying a lower price for insurance is the goal of most people, and one common way to find cheap insurance in San Francisco is to only pay for liability coverage. The illustration below illustrates the difference between insurance costs with and without physical damage coverage. The prices are based on a clean driving record, no at-fault accidents, $100 deductibles, drivers are not married, and no discounts are applied to the premium.

If averaged for all ages, physical damage insurance costs an additional $3,444 per year over having just liability coverage. A very common question is if it's a good idea to buy full coverage. There is no written rule of when to phase out physical damage coverage on your policy, but there is a general guideline you can use. If the yearly cost for physical damage coverage is more than about 10% of replacement cost minus your deductible, then you may want to consider only buying liability coverage.

There are a few situations where buying only liability insurance is not financially feasible. If you still owe a portion of the original loan, you have to keep full coverage to protect the lienholder's interest in the vehicle. Also, if you don't have enough money to buy a different vehicle if your current one is in an accident, you should not consider dropping full coverage.

The diagram below illustrates how choosing a deductible can raise or lower insurance costs when quoting cheap insurance in San Francisco. The premiums assume a single male driver, full coverage, and no discounts are applied to the premium.

In the chart above, a 30-year-old driver could pocket $488 a year by switching their comprehensive and collision coverages from a $100 deductible to a $500 deductible, or save $736 by switching to a $1,000 deductible. Even younger drivers, like the 20-year-old example, can cut up to $1,432 or even more just by choosing larger deductibles.

If you do raise deductibles, it is important to have plenty of savings on hand to be able to pay the extra out-of-pocket expense, which deters some drivers from choosing higher deductibles.

How to find low-cost car insurance in San Francisco

The list below summarizes some of the better thrifty suggestions that can help drivers quote lower-cost auto insurance.

The last suggestion is especially critical, as was noted in this write-up. Auto insurance prices can be modified anytime, so don't be afraid to buy a policy from a new company if a more affordable rate is found.

Brand loyalty is great, but it's not recommended if that inflexibility results in costing you thousands of dollars over several years. Now is a great time to compare prices to find cheaper auto insurance in San Francisco.