Car Insurance in San Francisco

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Here's what you need to know...
  • Get familiar with California’s car insurance laws
  • San Francisco rates are high
  • Do your research: Compare quotes from various car insurance companies

Nearly 400,000 cars are registered in San Francisco with all of them needing car insurance. With commuters entering the city during the week, there are typically an additional 35,000 cars and drivers on the streets of San Francisco each day in addition to those that are registered in the city.

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San Francisco Requirements for Car Insurance

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The city of San Francisco mandates car insurance coverage similar to that mandated by the state of California.

Drivers must have:

  • A minimum of $15,000 in injury liability for one person in an accident
  • A minimum of $30,000 for all injuries in an accident
  • At least $5,000 coverage for all property damage in an accident

In addition, the California Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program (CLCA) is being piloted in the city of San Francisco, specifically making low-income insurance available to city drivers based on their household income, their historical driving record (violations and accidents), and the value of the vehicle they are driving.

However, it is only available to those individuals who have no other collateral to pay damages, should they be liable in a car accident.

Car Insurance Laws in San Francisco

The laws of California coverage of auto insurance apply to car insurance in San Francisco as well. They state all drivers must be able to illustrate their ability to be “financially responsible for damages or injury to others resulting from the ownership or operation of a motor vehicle.”

There are four ways for drivers to demonstrate that ability:

  • Have proof of car insurance coverage by a motor vehicle or automobile liability policy
  • Pay a cash deposit of $35,000 with the California Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Produce a certificate of self-insurance, which is issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles to owners of fleets of more than 25 vehicles
  • Purchase a surety bond for $35,000 obtained from an insurance company that is licensed to do business in the state of California

All San Francisco drivers must be able to demonstrate that they have covered the minimum limits of auto insurance requirements

They may also show an alternative method of payment that is government approved, which includes any of the four documents above.

Drivers without car insurance face serious penalties for not complying with California car insurance laws.

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San Francisco Auto Insurance Companies

The majority of national car insurance agencies, including Progressive, Geico, State Farm, All State, and Nationwide provide car insurance in San Francisco.

Along with the national brands, there are a few specific California-based companies, including the California State Automobile Association, that insure drivers and automobiles in San Francisco.

Most companies have local agents available to give car insurance quotes, but the majority also have quotes available online, making the necessity of comparison shopping for car insurance easily accomplished.

Average Rates in San Francisco

San Francisco rates are, on average, higher than most other areas of the United States — a fact that makes it even more necessary to get comparison quotes.

The average driver pays $1,493 per year to insure their vehicle, though this rate fluctuates widely depending on the type of vehicle, how often it is driven, the driver’s record of accidents and violations, how many people might drive the car, and even the specific zip code within the city where the car is registered.

San Francisco Driving and Car Insurance Statistics
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Of the nearly 800,000 people living in the city of San Francisco, men are slightly more likely to be driving than women, which is in line with the general population. However, men are significantly more likely to be involved in car accidents (80 percent) than women (20 percent).

In addition, San Francisco has a fair number of very old and young drivers:

  • Five percent of San Francisco drivers are under the age of 19
  • 13 percent of drivers are under the age of 25
  • 16 percent of San Francisco drivers are over the age of 65
  • Eight percent of drivers are over the age of 75

While the city of San Francisco does not have a high rate of accidents and fatalities, they are still a concern. According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, there were 39 car accidents that resulted in fatalities in San Francisco in 2009.

Accidents are most commonly caused by:

  • Colliding with pedestrians
  • Speeding
  • Leaving the roadway
  • Colliding with motorcycles
  • Alcohol impairment

The other major concern in San Francisco is stolen vehicles or property theft from vehicles. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the most frequently stolen cars in San Francisco are:

  • 1991 Honda Accord
  • 1995 Honda Civic
  • 1989 Toyota Camry
  • 1994 Acura Integra
  • 1994 Nissan Sentra
  • 2003 Toyota Corolla
  • 1999 Chevy Pickup (full-size)
  • 1997 Nissan Altima
  • 1995 Saturn SI
  • 1998 Toyota Pickup (4 x 2)

Yet even with all of these concerns, up to 18 percent of driving residents do not have car insurance. The possibility of theft or an accident, even when they may not be the fault of the driver, necessitate car insurance to be compliant and to make sure that any damage will be covered.

The Need for San Francisco Car Insurance

With any potential threat of theft or accident, making sure to have car insurance is a necessity. In order to verify that you are currently getting or will be getting the best San Francisco rates, it is certainly worth getting quotes from a number of different insurance agencies.

Compare at least five or six agency offerings, and be sure to specify the minimum levels of coverage that are required for San Francisco and California.

Like all insurance, the fees may seem expensive when they come due each month, but insurance is more than worth it after a car is stolen or in an accident.

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