Car Insurance for High-Risk Drivers in California (2024)

High-risk drivers in California typically pay high rates for car insurance, but you can still find affordable car insurance.

Janet Berry-Johnson
Janet Berry-Johnson
  • 8+ years writing about insurance, taxes, and personal finance

  • Certified public accountant

Janet applies her experience in personal finance, taxes, and accounting to make complex financial topics accessible. Her byline has appeared on numerous web media.

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Katie Powers
Edited byKatie Powers
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Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

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Amber Benka
Reviewed byAmber Benka
Amber Benka
Amber BenkaLicensed Insurance Agent

Amber Benka is a licensed insurance agent specializing in auto, home, commercial, life, and health insurance. She has owned the R.A.L Insurance Agency for four years.

Updated April 18, 2024

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Cheapest recent rates in California

Drivers using Insurify have found quotes as cheap as $61/mo for liability only and $116/mo for full coverage in California.

*Quotes generated for Insurify users from California within the last 10 days. Last updated on April 18, 2024

Rates shown are real-time Insurify user quotes from 100+ insurance companies and Quadrant Information Services data. Insurify’s algorithm excludes anomalous quotes and anonymizes personal details, then displays refined quotes by price, date, and insurer popularity up to 10 days ago from April 18, 2024. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer’s unique driver profile.

*Quotes generated for Insurify users from California within the last 10 days. Last updated on April 18, 2024

Rates shown are real-time Insurify user quotes from 100+ insurance companies and Quadrant Information Services data. Insurify’s algorithm excludes anomalous quotes and anonymizes personal details, then displays refined quotes by price, date, and insurer popularity up to 10 days ago from April 18, 2024. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer’s unique driver profile.

Shopping for car insurance as a high-risk driver in California can feel overwhelming — especially when your driving history includes a combination of tickets, accidents, and DUIs.

You can prioritize finding a car insurance company that understands your insurance needs and provides you with sufficient coverage to protect your vehicle and finances at a price you can afford. Some insurers even cater coverage to high-risk drivers, who may struggle finding insurance elsewhere.

Here’s what you should know about the best car insurance for high-risk drivers in California.

Quick Facts
  • California drivers with an accident on their record pay $197 per month, on average, for auto coverage.

  • State law prohibits insurers in California from considering credit history when calculating premiums.

  • High-risk drivers tend to pay much more for car insurance than people with clean records.

Factors that determine high-risk status in California

Several factors can lead to insurers categorizing a driver as high-risk:[1]

  • Traffic violations and tickets: Traffic violations and tickets for speeding or running red lights demonstrate a greater likelihood of having an accident because you don’t follow traffic laws.

  • Accidents and claims: Having accidents and filing claims can significantly increase your risk of qualifying as a high-risk driver to insurance companies. When an accident or claim occurs, it indicates to an insurer that the policyholder may have subsequent accidents.

  • Age and driving experience: Most companies see drivers younger than 25 or older than 65 as risky to insure. And new drivers of any age have less experience and present more risk.

  • Vehicle type and usage: The make and model of your car, and how often you use it, can influence your likelihood of having an accident. Auto insurers also pay attention to vehicle safety and anti-theft features.

In other states, your credit history would also affect your car insurance premiums. Many states allow insurance companies to use a credit-based insurance score along with driving history and other factors when determining policy premiums. However, California’s Proposition 103 banned the use of credit for rating automobile insurance policies.[2]

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Best California auto insurance companies for high-risk drivers by violation

Some insurance companies specialize in providing coverage to drivers labeled as “high-risk,” but the cost of coverage can vary greatly depending on the person’s history of traffic violations and other factors.

Best car insurance for California high-risk drivers with an at-fault accident

An at-fault accident on your record can significantly increase your insurance premiums. Many of the top car insurance companies in California specialize in providing coverage to high-risk drivers. 

Rates for liability-only coverage start at $106 per month from Safeco, but you’ll find the best coverage from State Farm, Travelers, USAA, and GEICO.

Insurance CompanyAverage Quote: Liability OnlyAverage Quote: Full CoverageInsurify Quality (IQ) Score
State Farm$245$4404.4
Travelers$138$1824.3
USAA$159$2864.3
GEICO$210$3784.3
Allstate$216$3894.2
Farmers$226$4073.8
Safeco$106$2103.7
Dairyland$275$6693.3
cClearcover$156$2703.1
Esurance$201$3623.0
Kemper$157$2922.8
Bristol West$216$4452.2
California Capital$256$460N/A
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.
  • Our editorial team spent 350 hours developing the Insurify Quality (IQ) Score and scoring insurance companies. The IQ Score objectively analyzes and calculates a score for insurers using more than 15 crucial criteria. Criteria are weighted by importance to the consumer — factors such as customer reviews and affordability influence the score more than availability and third-party ratings.

    We rate each company on a 1 to 5 scale based on five categories: financial ratings, customer satisfaction, affordability, customer support and transparency, and availability. We update ratings once a year or as more recent information becomes available.

    • Third-party financial ratings: We use data from AM Best, S&P, Moody's, and more to compare insurance companies’ credit and ability to pay out future claims.
    • Customer satisfaction: To calculate this score, Insurify analyzed more than 20,000 customer reviews across 155 car insurance companies. We also considered third-party ratings from J.D. Power, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and Trustpilot.
    • Affordability: Our data scientists analyzed more than 90 million real-time auto insurance rates from our partners across the United States, as well as available discounts, to calculate an affordability score.
    • Customer support and transparency: This measures coverage options, ease of claims filing, and the insurer's transparency surrounding discounts, coverages, and claims process.
    • Availability and reach: Insurify identified the number of states in which insurers offer coverage and company size by market share to score availability and reach.

Best car insurance rates for high-risk drivers in California with a DUI

Drivers in California with one or more driving under the influence (DUI) citations on their record typically face the most expensive rates by driving history. 

Liability-only coverage starts at $177 per month from Sun Coast, and full-coverage insurance rates start at $360 per month from Clearcover. More well-known insurers, like State Farm and Travelers, may offer better coverage.

Insurance CompanyAverage Quote: Liability OnlyAverage Quote: Full CoverageInsurify Quality (IQ) Score
State Farm$346$6854.4
Travelers$253$3624.3
USAA$226$4474.3
GEICO$303$5994.3
Allstate$316$6244.2
Progressive$225$3764.0
Farmers$320$6323.8
Safeco$225$4023.7
Mercury$235$3903.6
SafeAuto$259N/A3.6
Dairyland$378$9453.3
National General$245$5073.2
Clearcover$199$3603.1
Esurance$284$5613.0
Kemper$308$5792.8
Bristol West$346$7482.2
Sun Coast$177$400N/A
StillwaterN/A$581N/A
Infinity$283$718N/A
California Capital$364$719N/A
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

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Best auto insurance for California high-risk drivers with speeding tickets

California drivers who qualify as high-risk because of serious or frequent speeding tickets on their records still have options. Liability-only quotes start at $117 per month from Sun Coast, and Safeco offers the cheapest full-coverage quote, at $227 per month.

Insurance CompanyAverage Quote: Liability OnlyAverage Quote: Full CoverageInsurify Quality (IQ) Score
State Farm$255$4714.4
Travelers$179$2534.3
USAA$166$3064.3
GEICO$219$4044.3
Allstate$226$4164.2
Farmers$236$4353.8
SafecoN/A$2273.7
Mercury$202$3023.6
Dairyland$258$6103.3
National General$144$2773.2
Clearcover$145$2543.1
Esurance$210$3873.0
Kemper$185$3542.8
Bristol West$214$4762.2
Sun Coast$117$252N/A
Infinity$199$461N/A
California Capital$267$493N/A
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

Cheapest California car insurance companies for high-risk drivers with poor credit

Though California prohibits insurers from using credit history to determine rates, a correlation still sometimes exists between poor credit and high rates. The cheapest car insurance companies in California for drivers with poor credit include USAA, National General, and Esurance.

Insurance CompanyAverage Quote: Liability Only
USAA$110
National General$123
Esurance$139
GEICO$145
Allstate$150
Farmers$156
State Farm$169
California Capital$177
Bristol West$180
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

How to find affordable car insurance for high-risk drivers in California

You can find affordable coverage even if auto insurers label you as high-risk. Consider the following strategies to access cheaper premiums while shopping for coverage:

  • Look into discounts. “Drivers should always look into and take advantage of any available discounts on auto insurance,” says Linda Chavez, founder and CEO of Seniors Life Insurance Finder. “This might include multi-car or multi-policy discounts or even loyalty discounts for long-term customers.”

  • Consider a telematics program. Many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who agree to install telematics devices in their vehicles. These devices track the driver’s mileage and driving habits, and insurers offer discounts for safe driving behaviors.

  • Increase your deductible. Opting for higher deductibles for your comprehensive and collision coverage lowers your premiums because it reduces the amount of money an insurer pays out for a covered claim.

  • Shop around. Comparing quotes from multiple insurers is one of the best ways to ensure you get the most competitive rates for your coverage needs.[3]

If you’ve shopped around and can’t find a standard car insurance company to insure your vehicle, the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP) can help you get liability-only coverage. This program assigns you to an insurance company licensed to do business in the state.

The premiums you pay under the CAARP program will likely be higher than what you’d pay for a standard policy. But once the traffic violations or accidents fall off your record, you may qualify for a standard policy again.[4]

How to improve your driving record and lower your car insurance rates in California

The strategies below can help you actively improve your driving record and lower your car insurance rates:

  • Practice safe driving. Take driving seriously. Obey speed limits, avoid distractions, don’t drive while tired, and never drink or use drugs before getting behind the wheel.[5]

  • Attend traffic school. Successfully completing a course at an approved traffic school can take points off your license and potentially qualify you for better car insurance rates or a discount.

  • Seek legal help. If you have a DUI or other serious infractions, talk to an attorney about removing them from your driving record or reducing them to a lesser charge.

  • Don’t let your coverage lapse. Insurance companies can also label you as high-risk if you had a lapse in your coverage. Pay your premiums on time to avoid having your policy canceled for nonpayment.

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California high-risk drivers insurance FAQs

Finding reasonably priced coverage as a high-risk driver in California can prove difficult. The information below may help make the process easier.

  • What types of drivers are considered high-risk in California?

    In California, as in other states, a driver qualifies as high-risk if they have citations for one or more DUIs, speeding tickets, at-fault accidents, or other serious moving violations on their record. For example, a DUI indicates that a person drove recklessly and may make future risky decisions as well.

  • How do auto insurance companies calculate risk in California?

    California auto insurers consider your driving record, your vehicle type, and age when calculating your risk. Other factors beyond your control include accident rates in your state and crime rates in your area.[6]

  • What is the cheapest insurance company for California high-risk drivers?

    Travelers and Safeco tend to offer the cheapest insurance for high-risk drivers with at-fault accidents, while SafeAuto and Clearcover provide the cheapest average rates for drivers with a DUI. However, rates vary by driver and depend on a number of other factors, so you should shop around and compare quotes.

  • How much does high-risk auto insurance cost in California?

    Average monthly premiums for full coverage can range from less than $200 per month with one at-fault accident on your record to nearly $1,000 per month with a DUI, depending on the insurance company. Shopping around and comparing quotes from multiple insurers can help you find the most competitive rates.

  • How long does reckless driving affect insurance in California?

    In California, a reckless driving charge will stay on your record for three years.[7] “During this time, the driver will likely experience higher-than-normal insurance rates,” Chavez says. “However, upon completion of the period, if their driving record is accident- and ticket-free during that time frame, they may be able to get closer to standard California auto insurance rates.”

Sources

  1. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "A Consumer's Guide to Auto Insurance."
  2. Insurance Information Institute. "Background on: Credit scoring."
  3. Insurance Information Institute. "Nine ways to lower your auto insurance costs."
  4. California Department of Insurance. "Automobile Insurance Information Guide."
  5. National Institutes of Health. "Safe Driving."
  6. Insurance Information Institute. "What determines the price of an auto insurance policy?."
  7. State of California Department of Motor Vehicles. "Retention of Driver Record Information."
Janet Berry-Johnson
Janet Berry-Johnson

Janet Berry-Johnson, CPA is a freelance writer with a background in accounting and income tax planning and preparation. She's passionate about making complicated financial topics accessible to readers. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and son and their rescue dog, Dexter. Visit her website at www.jberryjohnson.com.

Katie Powers
Edited byKatie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
Photo of an Insurify author
Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

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Amber Benka
Reviewed byAmber BenkaLicensed Insurance Agent
Amber Benka
Amber BenkaLicensed Insurance Agent

Amber Benka is a licensed insurance agent specializing in auto, home, commercial, life, and health insurance. She has owned the R.A.L Insurance Agency for four years.

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