Who Has the Cheapest Car Insurance Rates for Used Cars in San Francisco?

The words “affordable” and “insurance” really shouldn’t be used together, in particular when trying to find the best car insurance for used cars. Let’s introduce you to a few of the factors that can significantly affect insurance prices, and come up with some ways to lower the price of the next policy you buy.

For pre-owned vehicles, one of the more important factors that are looked at to help calculate insurance cost is where you call home. Cities with larger populations or higher claim trends tend to pay more, whereas areas with lower vehicle theft rates and fewer weather claims benefit from having to pay less for coverage.

The table below rates the most expensive cities in California for used cars in which to purchase auto insurance. San Francisco ranks #3 with an annual premium of $1,745 for the average insurance policy, which is about $145 each month.

How much is car insurance in San Francisco?
Rank City Premium Per Year
1 Los Angeles $2,146
2 Glendale $2,079
3 San Francisco $1,745
4 Oakland $1,738
5 Sacramento $1,703
6 San Bernardino $1,628
7 Long Beach $1,626
8 Garden Grove $1,570
9 Fontana $1,566
10 Stockton $1,556
11 Moreno Valley $1,551
12 Santa Clarita $1,533
13 Anaheim $1,488
14 Modesto $1,487
15 Riverside $1,482
16 Fresno $1,472
17 Santa Ana $1,453
18 San Jose $1,423
19 Fremont $1,403
20 Irvine $1,384
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Premium amounts are approximated as zip code location can decrease or increase insurance rates considerably.

The vehicle requiring coverage is probably the biggest factor when shopping around for the most affordable insurance for used cars. Vehicles with high performance engines, poor safety ratings, or high incidents of liability claims will cost substantially more to insure than more economical and safe models. The next table illustrates auto insurance costs for some of the cheaper automobiles to buy insurance for.

Cheapest Vehicles to Insure in San Francisco, CA
Vehicle Insured Estimated Cost for Full Coverage
Honda Accord LX 4-Dr Sedan $1,222
Honda CR-V EX-L 4WD $1,253
Chevrolet Impala LT $1,320
Toyota RAV4 Limited 4WD $1,326
GMC Sierra SLE Regular Cab 2WD $1,320
Ford Escape Limited 4WD $1,328
Chevrolet Malibu LT $1,348
Toyota Tacoma Double Cab TRD Sport Package 4WD $1,354
Dodge Grand Caravan SXT $1,348
Toyota Prius $1,359
Ford Edge Limited 2WD $1,413
Nissan Rogue S 2WD $1,415
Hyundai Sonata GLS 4-Dr Sedan $1,424
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Data based on married male driver age 50, no speeding tickets, no at-fault accidents, $1,000 deductibles, and California minimum liability limits. Discounts applied include homeowner, safe-driver, claim-free, multi-vehicle, and multi-policy. Rate information does not factor in specific garaging location which can revise prices noticeably.

Based upon these rates, you can assume that models like the Honda Accord, Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Impala, and Toyota RAV4 are most likely going to be the cheapest vehicles to insure for pre-owned vehicles.

Impact of careless driving on San Francisco insurance rates

In a perfect world, the best way to find the most affordable insurance rates for pre-owned vehicles is to drive safe and have a clean driving record. The information below illustrates how traffic citations and at-fault accidents can affect insurance costs for different insured age categories. The data is based on a single male driver, full physical damage coverage, $500 deductibles, and no discounts are factored in.

In the previous chart, the average cost of a car insurance policy in San Francisco per year with no violations or accidents is $2,772. Add in one speeding ticket and the average cost swells to $3,128, an increase of $356 each year. Now get one accident along with the one speeding ticket and the yearly cost of insurance for used cars goes up to an average of $4,127. That’s an increase of $1,355, or $113 per month, just for not being attentive to the road!

Liability-only versus full coverage

Reducing the cost of insurance is probably important to the majority of drivers, and a great way to reduce the cost of insurance for used cars is to only buy liability insurance. The example below shows the difference between insurance rates with liability coverage only compared to full coverage. The premium estimates are based on no accidents or driving violations, $1,000 deductibles, drivers are single, and no discounts are applied.

If the expense is averaged for all age categories, physical damage coverage costs $1,849 per year over and above liability only. At some point, almost every driver questions if buying full coverage is worth the money. There is no clear-cut rule to stop paying for comprehensive and collision coverage on your policy, but there is a general school of thought. If the annual cost of comprehensive and collision coverage is 10% or more of the replacement cost of your vehicle minus the policy deductible, then you might want to think about dropping full coverage.

For example, let’s pretend your vehicle’s settlement value is $10,500 and you have $1,000 physical damage deductibles. If your vehicle is totaled in an accident, the most your company will settle for is $9,500 after paying your policy deductible. If you are paying more than $950 annually to have full coverage, then it might be time to buy liability only.

There are some conditions where buying only liability insurance is not a good plan. If you still owe money on your vehicle, you have to keep full coverage to satisfy the loan requirements. Also, if you can’t afford to buy a different vehicle in the event your current vehicle is totaled, you should keep full coverage on your policy.

Buying coverage from the best insurance company can be a challenge considering how many choices drivers have in California. The rank data in the lists below may help you choose which auto insurers to look at when trying to find the cheapest insurance for used cars.

The rankings below include the largest companies in the United States, so smaller regional companies are not taken into consideration for the list. To compare prices from these top insurers and more, click here.

Top 15 Insurance Companies for Used Cars in San Francisco, CA
Company Value Customer Service Claims Customer Satisfaction A.M Best Rating Overall Score
USAA 98 100 100 94% A++ 98.6
American Family 98 89 100 86% A 95.4
AAA of Southern California 91 94 97 92% A+ 94.1
State Farm 88 93 96 90% A++ 92.4
The Hartford 94 92 90 89% A+ 91.7
AAA Insurance 88 89 95 91% A 91.2
GEICO 84 93 93 89% A++ 90.3
The General 89 91 89 88% A- 90
Titan Insurance 90 87 91 95% A+ 89.6
Progressive 84 91 93 87% A+ 89.5
Mercury Insurance 88 91 90 85% A+ 89.4
Allstate 85 90 92 88% A+ 89.3
Nationwide 87 88 84 90% A+ 88.7
Liberty Mutual 84 87 93 88% A 88.5
21st Century 85 86 87 88% A 86.7
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Data Source: Insure.com Best Car Insurance Companies

A good deal can quickly turn bad

California insurance rates are impacted by many things that will increase or decrease the price of coverage. Improving your credit rating, having a teenage driver, or getting a reckless driving citation can trigger changes in premium that may make certain companies more affordable than others. Also, companies file new California auto insurance rates every year to adjust for heavy claims or excess profits. A period of higher than normal claims may result in additional premium costs, while lower claim levels can result in lower-cost San Francisco car insurance rates.

For example, the data below shows which company has the cheapest car insurance in San Francisco, CA for a 40-year-old male driver with a good driving record, no prior claims, and good financial standing. When quoting prices based on his current rating profile, USAA might offer the cheapest car insurance rates in San Francisco at $1,447 per year. This is $204 less than the average price paid by California drivers of $1,651. Wawanesa, CSAA, Century National, and Nationwide are the remaining most affordable San Francisco, CA auto insurance companies.

In this example, we will give the driver from the first set of rates a claim surcharge, a lower credit rating, and a traffic ticket or two. Since each insurance company has their own formula for establishing rates, analyzing rates will most likely result in a slightly different list of cheap San Francisco auto insurance companies as shown below.

Mercury now has the best insurance rate in San Francisco with Grange, Progressive, GEICO, and Allied now rounding out the top five. This example proves why drivers need to spend some time comparing rates when trying to find the most affordable auto insurance quotes for used cars.

Auto insurance prices are determined by many risk factors and can increase or decrease at any time, so the cheapest option when you last compared rates may now be costing you a lot of money.