Best & Cheapest Car Insurance In Berkeley, CA For 2024

For residents of Berkeley, Mercury is the best cheap car insurance company.

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Updated: 03 May 2024
Written by Bob Phillips
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Berkeley, a city known for its distinctive attractions like the UC Berkeley campus, the Berkeley Marina, and Tilden Regional Park, also faces relatively higher car insurance rates. On average, drivers in this city pay approximately $1,704 annually for car insurance, slightly lower than the California’s state average of $1,750 and the national average.

Navigating the quest for affordable and comprehensive car insurance in Berkeley is a shared concern among local drivers. To assist you in this endeavor, we’ve conducted extensive research and determined that Wawanesa offers the most economical rates in the city.

Furthermore, we’ll provide you with insights into other crucial categories: the most budget-friendly options for full coverage (Mercury), the least expensive choice for minimum coverage (GEICO), the best for drivers with violations (CIG), the most affordable for young drivers (State Farm), and the most economical for seniors (21st Century).

Cheapest and best car insurance in Berkeley, CA 2024

Cheapest Car Insurance, Berkeley, 2024

Compare the cheapest car insurance companies in Berkeley, California

J.D. Power Rating (California) Average Annual Cost Overall Rating Best For AM Best Rating Get A Quote




Cheapest Full Coverage


Instant Quote

Not Rated



Cheapest for Driving Violations


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Cheapest Overall


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Cheapest Minimum Coverage


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21st Century

Not Rated





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State Farm




Young Drivers


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Our methodology

In our quest for the most affordable car insurance rates in Berkeley, we examined data from various car insurance review sources. Some of these sources studied rates from public records by Quadrant Information Services. We calculated an average from these rates for this review. Keep in mind that each company's rates change often and depend on your situation. We also considered my own opinion, based on fifteen years as a licensed insurance agent, sixteen years as a California resident, and more than three decades of buying car insurance.


Quotes Analyzed


Years Of Experience


Brands Reviewed


Research Hours

Cheapest car insurance companies in Berkeley, CA

Cheapest Overall

Overall Rating

Key Statistics

10/10 Affordability
10/10 Customer Reviews
8/10 Claims
9/10 Coverage level

Why We Like

In our evaluation of the most economical car insurance choices in Berkley, California, Wawanesa emerged as a strong contender across various aspects. Notably, their average rate, covering both minimum and full coverage, stood out as the most cost-effective.

Wawanesa, available exclusively in California, offers standard coverage that includes essential bodily injury and property damage liability as required by the state. Additionally, they go beyond the basics by providing extra features. Their special vehicle equipment coverage ensures that any customizations or added equipment on your vehicle are safeguarded with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, different from standard or aftermarket components.

Benefits & Drawbacks

  • Maintains consistently high customer satisfaction ratings according to J.D. Power.
  • Provides an extensive selection of supplementary options.
  • Accessible through a sizable network of independent agents across California.
  • Operates solely within California, potentially causing inconvenience upon relocation.
  • Assistance with claims and policy support is limited to standard business hours.
  • The mobile app is exclusively available to Android users.

Cheapest Overall Rates in Berkeley

Company Rate Per Year
Wawanesa $1,140
GEICO $1,272
USAA $1,468
Progressive $2,084
State Farm $2,221

In our pursuit of the optimal choice, we evaluated more than just rates; the quality of the insurance provider was equally vital. Our perspective emphasizes that the lowest cost doesn’t inherently equate to the finest option in a specific category. In this instance, Wawanesa exhibited not only highly competitive rates but also exceptional coverage and an array of available choices.

Cheapest For Full Coverage

Overall Rating

Key Statistics

10/10 Affordability
7/10 Customer Reviews
8/10 Claims
8/10 Coverage level

Why We Like

Mercury secured the top position for offering the most economical full coverage in Berkley. Mercury not only provides a wide range of standard discounts common among car insurance companies, but it also introduces a couple of unique options: Mercury RealDrive and MercuryGO.

Mercury RealDrive operates by tracking your mileage, favoring those with lower mileage by offering rates up to 5% lower. This advantage is particularly beneficial for individuals who work from home or have short commutes.
Additionally, MercuryGO offers potential savings of up to 40% (with a 10% reduction for teenagers) to drivers who consistently exhibit safe driving behaviors. These behaviors encompass smooth driving, adhering to speed limits, and refraining from using phones while driving.

Benefits & Drawbacks

  • Offers competitive rates across various age groups.
  • Incorporates mechanical breakdown insurance as part of its services.
  • Has garnered several unfavorable online customer service reviews.
  • Operates with a more limited network of agents in comparison to several rival companies.

Cheapest Full Coverage in Berkeley

Company Rate Per Year
Mercury $1,230
Nationwide $1,327
State Farm $1,314
Travelers $1.560
Farmers $1,672

Choosing minimal coverage guarantees the most affordable rates, but deciding on comprehensive coverage provides heightened financial protection for your assets and liability concerns.

Cheapest for Driving Violations

Overall Rating

Key Statistics

9/10 Affordability
8/10 Customer Reviews
8/10 Claims
9/10 Coverage level

Why We Like

If you’ve collected driving violations in California, you’re likely to experience increased rates. In our research, we identified Capital Insurance Group (CIG) as the top choice for affordable rates among drivers with violations in the state.
CIG is a prominent provider of property and casualty insurance on the West Coast, offering auto insurance exclusively in five states, including California. They work through a network of independent agents representing various car insurance companies.

It’s worth noting that CIG’s mobile app offers significant features, but it’s only available on iTunes and Google Play, excluding Android users. This limitation affects a significant number of drivers in Berkley.

Benefits & Drawbacks

  • Provides 24/7 availability for customer service inquiries.
  • Possesses a longstanding experience of over 120 years in the field.
  • Holds an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • Operates exclusively in five states, potentially inconveniencing California residents planning to move elsewhere.
  • Does not offer the feature of acquiring insurance quotes online.

Cheapest for Driving Violations

Company Annual Increase
CIG $2,468
Nationwide $3,432
GEICO $2,615
State Farm $4,054
Allstate $3,891

Accumulating driving violations in the Bay Area results in notable rate increases. This highlights the need to find insurers that maintain a balanced approach, preventing car insurance from becoming overly expensive for Berkeley drivers with violations.

Cheapest for Seniors

Overall Rating

Key Statistics

9/10 Affordability
6/10 Customer Reviews
8/10 Claims
8/10 Coverage level

Why We Like

For seniors in Berkley, finding affordable car insurance is often a priority due to their lower accident risk. Our research highlights 21st Century as the provider offering cost-effective rates tailored to seniors.
Backed by Farmers Insurance, 21st Century holds an A (Excellent) financial strength rating from AM Best. While the company doesn’t appear in J.D. Power’s customer service rankings for California insurers, it’s important to consider some negative online reviews.

It’s worth mentioning that 21st Century includes standard roadside assistance in their policies. However, keep in mind that their coverage options are somewhat limited. Additionally, be aware that 21st Century exclusively offers car insurance within California. This regional limitation might be a drawback for those considering a move outside the state, as it would require switching to a different insurance provider.

Benefits & Drawbacks

  • Backed by the support of Farmers Insurance.
  • Offers the convenience of a dedicated mobile app.
  • Maintains a strong financial rating.
  • Exhibits a notable influx of online complaints.
  • Limited availability, exclusively catering to California residents.

Cheapest Coverage for Seniors

Company Rate Per Year
21st Century $1,190
Nationwide $1,221
CIG $1,370
Travelers $1,492
Farmers $1,634

Finding affordable car insurance is particularly important for seniors in Berkeley, especially for those living on fixed incomes, as rates often increase with age.

Cheapest for Young Drivers

Overall Rating

Key Statistics

9/10 Affordability
9/10 Customer Reviews
10/10 Claims
10/10 Coverage level

Why We Like

Teen drivers in Berkley often face the highest car insurance costs due to their increased accident risk and limited road experience. Among insurance providers, State Farm stands out as the most affordable choice for young drivers.
State Farm’s appeal to young drivers goes beyond affordability. They offer comprehensive coverage options and a variety of discounts. One notable discount is the “Good Student” discount, which can lead to rate reductions of up to 25% for students with a “B” average or better.

In addition to cost savings, State Farm’s local offices provide both sales and service, making interactions convenient. The company’s numerous claims centers in the Bay Area further enhance customer accessibility. State Farm consistently earns high marks in J.D. Power’s customer service evaluations and holds an A++ financial strength rating from AM Best, reflecting its strong financial standing.

Benefits & Drawbacks

  • Offers a diverse range of discounts, including the good student discount.
  • Includes substantial rental car coverage as a standard feature.
  • Receives commendable ratings for both customer satisfaction and financial stability.
  • Only accessible through State Farm agents, excluding brokers.
  • Lacks coverage options for gap insurance.

Cheapest Coverage for Young Drivers

Company Rate Per Year
State Farm $1,368
Mercury $1,573
Nationwide $1,720
Travelers $1,865
Chubb $2,879

Among various demographics in Berkeley, young drivers experience the highest car insurance rates. Their limited road experience and higher accident risk contribute to these elevated costs.

Cheapest for Minimum Coverage

Overall Rating

Key Statistics

10/10 Affordability
9/10 Customer Reviews
10/10 Claims
9/10 Coverage level

Why We Like

In Berkley, our research highlights that GEICO provides the most affordable average rates for state minimum coverage. California law mandates drivers to maintain at least $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person and $30,000 per accident, along with a minimum of $5,000 in property damage liability per accident.

These rates can be attractive if you’re comfortable with basic coverage. However, it’s worth considering additional protection if you have extensive driving habits, a history of driving issues, or a desire for more security.
GEICO consistently receives high ratings in aspects like customer service, claims handling, policy renewals, and overall customer loyalty. As the second-largest auto insurance company in the U.S., GEICO is known for offering affordable rates through online and phone channels.

Notably, GEICO presents a variety of discounts, which can be particularly advantageous for Berkley drivers with older vehicles who want to save money while adhering to California’s mandatory minimum auto insurance requirements. The convenience of managing your policy through their user-friendly website and mobile app enhances its appeal.

Benefits & Drawbacks

  • Earns an above-average customer satisfaction rating based on J.D. Power's assessment.
  • Showcases a comprehensive website and mobile app that are easy to navigate.
  • Provides a diverse range of discounts to eligible customers.
  • Does not offer gap or rideshare insurance choices.
  • Maintains a restricted count of local agents available for customer assistance.

Cheapest for Minimum Coverage

Company Rate Per Year
GEICO $327
Nationwide $560
State Farm $578
Allstate $657
Farmers $690

Choosing minimum coverage might make sense if you own an older car with high mileage and don’t need comprehensive or collision coverage. However, keep in mind that this decision increases your exposure to financial risk in case of an accident.

How to buy car insurance in Berkeley

If you’re in the process of securing car insurance in Berkeley, follow these five straightforward steps:

  1. Gather driver and vehicle info: Collect names, birthdates, driver’s license numbers, vehicle VIN, current mileage, insurance details, and registered owner’s name.
  2. Decide on method: Choose between online or agent purchase based on your comfort level with coverage understanding.
  3. Compare quotes from three companies: Ensure that the coverage and deductibles are similar for accurate comparison.
  4. Explore available discounts: Take advantage of numerous discounts to make your Berkeley car insurance more budget-friendly.
  5. Transition your policy: Once you’ve chosen a provider and your new coverage is active, contact your previous insurer to cancel your policy and prevent overlapping payments.

Average cost of car insurance in Berkeley 

Average cost in Berkeley– by age

Age Group Average Yearly Rate
Teenagers $6,976
20s $2,785
30s $1,840
40s $1,791
50s $1,687
60s $1,662
70s $1,940

 Average cost in Berkeley – by gender  

Gender Average Annual Rate
Male $1,398
Female $1,398

Average cost in Berkeley – by marital status 

Marital Status Average Annual Rate
Single $1,092
Married $1,097

Largest Rate Increases in Berkeley – by violation  

Violation Average % Increase
DUI 158%
Refusing Chemical Test 158%
Leaving Accident Scene 152%
Racing 151%
Reckless Driving 148%

Average cost in Berkeley – by zip code 

ZIP Code Average Rate
94580 $1,296
94703 $1,650
94705 $1,754
94709 $1,596
94710 $1,690

Minimum car insurance requirements in California

As you navigate the realm of car insurance, keep in mind California’s minimum coverage requirements:

  •  Bodily injury liability: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability: $5,000 per accident

These numbers outline the lowest coverage levels the state mandates. Depending on your vehicle and driving habits, you might want to explore higher limits and even consider adding collision and comprehensive coverage.

Factors that impact the cost of your car insurance policy in Berkeley

Berkeley’s elevated living costs extend to its car insurance rates. The city’s steep hills and intense storms contribute to accidents, pushing rates higher. Your vehicle type and driving history also play a role. Consider three other factors that contribute to the high cost of auto insurance in Berkeley:

  1. Population density: As a major U.S. city with dense population, congestion leads to a higher likelihood of accidents. Rates may vary across different ZIP codes based on population.
  2. Crime statistics: Areas with higher crime rates, including theft and vandalism, result in rates above the city average.
  3. Accident frequency: Berkeley’s daily traffic reports frequently highlight accidents, especially during rush hour. Insurers adjust rates to account for these accidents, particularly for those with long commutes across the Bay or Golden Gate bridges.

California car insurance laws to know

  • As outlined by the California Department of Insurance, you must exhibit financial responsibility for your vehicle to cover injuries or property damage to others. Many achieve this by obtaining auto liability insurance. According to California law, all drivers and vehicle owners must have the ability to establish financial responsibility and must carry proof of this responsibility in their vehicle at all times.
  • Failure to possess auto liability insurance could result in fines, license suspension, and even vehicle impoundment.
  • In the state of California, insurance companies are prohibited from using an individual’s credit history or credit score to determine eligibility and rates. This practice ensures that insurance costs are fair and consistent for individuals with varying economic backgrounds.

In the news

According to a report by CBS News, major auto insurance companies are reducing their involvement in the California market due to financial challenges associated with insuring the state’s drivers.

Despite Californians maintaining their pre-pandemic driving patterns, changes in driving behavior have been observed. This shift has led to an increase in auto accidents, causing certain insurers to pay out more in claims than they’re receiving in premiums.

The American Property Casualty Insurance Association states that between 2020 and 2021, auto insurance losses surged by 25%, while premiums saw a more modest 4.5% increase. This discrepancy underscores a rise in both the frequency and severity of auto accidents, resulting in higher costs for coverage.

Information about Berkeley

If you’ve come across “Visit California” promotions and explored its website, you’ll notice that it showcases the city of Berkeley. It highlights Berkeley as a city with its own distinctive character, spanning approximately 18.7 square miles and boasting a diverse population of around 122,000 residents. Berkeley’s unique charm is characterized by its renowned University of California, Berkeley campus, its historic Telegraph Avenue, and a strong reputation for cultural diversity and social activism, making it a prominent Californian destination.

From its iconic Gourmet Ghetto neighborhood, featuring a rich culinary scene, to its array of cultural events, local theaters, music festivals, and artisan markets, Berkeley offers a blend of experiences that reflect its vibrant community. Whether you’re exploring the vibrant arts scene, indulging in diverse cuisines, or enjoying outdoor adventures, Berkeley provides a distinct Californian experience that captures its local essence.

Car insurance discounts in Berkeley

Exploring discounts is essential to cutting costs on Berkeley car insurance. Here are some of the common discounts you might encounter:

  • Being a “safe driver” with a good driving history
  • Installing vehicle safety features
  • Customer loyalty discount for staying with the insurer for a specified period
  • Being claims-free for a specified period
  • Driving fewer than average miles
  • Having a short commute to work
  • Being a student with at least a “B” average
  • Being in the military
  • Being age 55+ and retired


Do I need car insurance in Berkeley?

Having auto liability insurance is mandatory in California, meaning all Berkeley drivers must have it.

What is the cheapest car insurance in the State of California?

When it comes to car insurance in California, GEICO stands out with affordability, offering rates as low as $327 annually for minimum liability coverage.

How much does car insurance cost in Berkeley on average?

When considering comprehensive coverage, the average annual cost of car insurance in Berkeley is approximately $1,704.

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