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Car insurance in San Diego costs $2,324 per year for full coverage – $194 per month. In 2024, Geico offers the cheapest car insurance policy at $142 per month.

The City of San Diego draws a crowd for its warm weather and miles of beaches. Over 1.3 million people call San Diego home, making it the state’s second most populous city. Residents in the San Diego-Carlsbad metro area spend an average of 26.1 minutes commuting to work, which is on par with the national average of 26.4 minutes. 

Below, you’ll find the cheapest car insurance companies in San Diego and how much car insurance you’ll need to carry as a California driver. 

Key Takeaways

  • Drivers in San Diego pay an average of $2,324 for a full coverage policy, which is higher than the national average. 
  • The cheapest car insurance company for a full coverage policy in San Diego is Geico.
  • Compared to Los Angeles, San Diego drivers pay less for car insurance. 

How to find the best car insurance in San Diego

If you want to find the cheapest car insurance option, it’s a good idea to get quotes from multiple car insurance companies. You can find the most affordable option by comparing at least three different insurance companies. Before you commit to a policy, don’t forget to ask about any discounts you qualify for to lower your costs. 

Cheapest car insurance company in San Diego

Geico offers San Diego drivers the cheapest car insurance rates, with an annual rate of $1,706, which is $100 cheaper than the next cheapest company, USAA. However, USAA is only available to military members and their families. Other relatively cheap companies include Mercury and Progressive. 

The table below illustrates how different insurance companies offer varying average costs for car insurance policies. 

Company Average annual rates for state minimum Average annual rates for full coverage
Allstate$684$2,496
Auto Club Enterprises (AAA)$600$2,394
CSAA Insurance (AAA)$506$2,845
Farmers$766$2,943
Geico$353$1,706
Kemper Insurance$491$2,210
Mercury Insurance$453$1,888
Nationwide$737$2,744
Progressive$422$1,986
State Farm$592$2,616
Travelers$614$2,251
USAA$415$1,806

How much is car insurance in San Diego per month?

The cost of car insurance can vary dramatically based on your unique situation. But on average, San Diego drivers pay $46 monthly for a car insurance policy that includes state minimum coverage levels. If you opt for more coverage, you’ll pay more. For example, the average cost of a full coverage policy is $194 per month. 

The table below highlights the average cost of San Diego car insurance for different coverage levels and insurers.

Company Average monthly rates for state minimum Average monthly rates for full coverage
Allstate$57$208
Auto Club Enterprises (AAA)$50$200
CSAA Insurance (AAA)$42$237
Farmers$64$245
Geico$29$142
Kemper Insurance$41$184
Mercury Insurance$38$157
Nationwide$61$229
Progressive$35$165
State Farm$49$218
Travelers$51$188
USAA$35$150

How do rates in San Diego compare to other large cities in the U.S.?

Location is a critical factor that insurance companies consider when determining their auto insurance premiums. Since urban areas tend to have higher rates of vandalism, theft, and accidents, drivers in large cities often pay more for car insurance than rural drivers. San Diego is a major city, so drivers should expect to find higher car insurance rates. 

James Brau, professor of finance at Brigham Young University, says that the more risk the insurance company must bear, the higher the premium they must charge to stay in business and make a profit. 

“Large cities tend to present more risk to the insurance companies than rural areas. Large cities have more people, more cars and higher chances of getting in wrecks or having other damage done to vehicles,” Brau says. “As such, insurance firms must charge higher premiums in cities. Cities that are relatively more dangerous, in turn, must charge higher premiums than cities that are not as risky. Insurance companies study damage losses per metropolitan area and assign premiums depending on the number of wrecks in an area.”

See how much you can expect to pay for car insurance in several major U.S. cities in the table below.

CityFull coverage cost
Chicago$1,930
Dallas$2,278
Houston$2,317
Los Angeles$3,149
New York$2,600
Philadelphia$2,782
Phoenix$2,251
San Antonio$2,181
San Diego$2,324
San Jose$2,406

Here’s what you need to know when driving in San Diego

Drivers in San Diego should be familiar with carpool or HOV lanes, which are available on most freeways. In most cases, you’ll need at least two humans in the vehicle to hop into this lane, although three passengers are required in some spots. 

Also, motorcycles in California can legally split lanes, which means you should expect motorcycles to be zooming by you during slow traffic. The large number of vehicles means you’ll need to balance patience and assertiveness to get where you are going. 

Here are some tips to make your life easier as a driver in San Diego:

  • Rush hour runs from 7-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. If possible, avoid the roads during these times. 
  • While you might know where you are going, use a map app to help you skip any unnecessary traffic. 
  • When parking in a public space, read all the signs carefully to avoid a ticket. 

As you make your way through San Diego streets, keep these miscellaneous driving restrictions in mind:

  • It’s illegal to ride or drive across or upon any sidewalk except over permanently constructed driveways.
  • It’s illegal to operate any vehicle to obstruct the free use of the street. Don’t enter an intersection or marked crosswalk unless there is sufficient space to proceed without obstructing the passage of other vehicles or pedestrians. 

How much car insurance do I need in San Diego?

Drivers in San Diego need to have the minimum car insurance required by the state of California. The acceptable types of insurance are outlined below:

  • Motor vehicle liability insurance policy with 15/30/5 limits
  • Cash deposit of $35,000 with DMV
  • DMV-issued self-insurance certificate
  • Surety bond for $35,000 from a company licensed to do business in California

If you want to take the cash deposit or self-insurance route, contact the DMV Financial Responsibility Unit by calling 916-657-6677 and selecting Option 3. Drivers who want to buy a surety bond can contact the Department of Insurance at insurance.ca.gov or call 1-800-927-4357. 

Average cost of car insurance in San Diego, CA

San Diego drivers pay an average of $552 per year for a car insurance policy that meets the state’s minimum requirements. But for the more robust financial protection of a full coverage policy, San Diego drivers pay $2,324 per year. 

Based on the averages, San Diego drivers can expect to pay more than the national average of $1,895 per year for a full coverage policy. However, the city’s rates are comparable to the average cost of $2,416 per year for a full coverage car insurance policy in California. 

The table below shows the average annual rates for car insurance in San Diego. 

Coverage levelAverage annual rate
State minimum$552
Full coverage$2,324

How much does car insurance in San Diego cost with violations?

In general, traffic violations will increase your car insurance costs. Since a violation on your driving record correlates with a higher risk, insurance companies compensate for that risk by increasing your premiums. 

Generally, average car insurance costs increase after getting a traffic violation. Drivers in San Diego who get a speeding ticket see an average increase of 59%, an average increase of 97% after an at-fault accident, and an average increase of 265% after a DUI conviction. 

Violation typeRate increase percentage
Speeding ticket59%
DUI conviction265%
Bad creditNA
At-fault accident97%

Cheapest car insurance in San Diego by age

When insurance companies determine premiums, age is one factor considered. Younger drivers with less experience behind the wheel face higher car insurance costs. As you gain driving experience, you’ll often see your car insurance rates decrease. 

The table below breaks down the average annual premiums for drivers by age in San Diego. 

AgeState Minimum CoverageFull Coverage
18$1,524$6,034
25$663$2,832
40$552$2,324
65$551$2,200

Compare auto insurance rates in San Diego by ZIP code 

Your location within San Diego can impact your car insurance premiums. In general, car insurance companies offer drivers who live in ZIP codes with lower crime rates and lower average commute times more affordable premiums due to the reduced risk.

The cheapest ZIP code is 92128, and the most expensive is 92135. The tables below show the most expensive and cheapest ZIP codes in San Diego. 

ZIP Code Avg annual rates
92128$2,113
92119$2,136
92129$2,138
92131$2,162
92120$2,168
92124$2,180
92110$2,188
92126$2,195
92116$2,204
92111$2,210
ZIP Code Average annual rates 
92135$2,941
92134$2,620
92105$2,578
92140$2,576
92113$2,548
92182$2,494
92197$2,465
92108$2,444
92115$2,428
92101$2,401

Our recommendations: Car insurance for drivers in San Diego

On average, drivers get the cheapest coverage by purchasing a policy with Geico.

However, purchasing coverage based on pricing alone can be a mistake. A cheap policy isn’t worth much if it does not include the coverage you want and need. 

So, shop around and gather quotes from several insurance companies. This is the best way to get the coverage you need at the best price. 

A full coverage insurance policy with liability limits of 100/300/100 is the best option for most drivers. Consider increasing your liability limits as you accumulate wealth and your net worth increases. Purchasing as much car insurance as you can afford will give you peace of mind as you navigate the roads of San Diego.

expert

What our expert says

Q: Why do insurance rates vary from city to city?

expert-image
Dr. James BrauDr. Brau teaches finance principles, entrepreneurial finance, financial planning, and corporate finance at Brigham Young University’s School of Business. His research includes issues related to initial public offerings, financial education, real estate, and entrepreneurial finance.
“Large cities tend to present more risk to the insurance companies than rural areas. Large cities have more people, more cars and higher chances of getting in wrecks or having other damage done to vehicles. As such, insurance firms must charge higher premiums in cities. Cities that are relatively more dangerous, in turn, must charge higher premiums than cities that are not as risky. Insurance companies study damage losses per metropolitan area and assign premiums depending on the number of wrecks in an area.”

Resources & Methodology

Sources:

  • The City of San Diego. “Home.” Accessed January 2024.

Methodology

In 2024, Insure.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to pull rates for a 40-year-old who has a 12-mile commute and drives a 2023 Honda Accord LX 10k miles annually. The hypothetical driver has full coverage, carrying policy limits of 100/300/100 with $500 deductibles for comprehensive and collision coverages. We analyzed 51,088,003 insurance quotes from 167 companies across 34,588 ZIP codes in every state and Washington, D.C.

author image
Sarah Sharkey
Contributing Researcher

 
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Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer with a master’s degree in management from the Hough School of Business at the University of Florida. She enjoys helping readers find money solutions that work. She has written for numerous personal-finance publications including Money Under 30 and The College Investor.