Liability Insurance in San Diego: Everything You Need to Know

Liability insurance is an essential coverage for drivers in San Diego to protect themselves financially in the event that they are found legally responsible for bodily injury or property damage. Below is a comprehensive guide on liability insurance in San Diego – who needs it, what the state minimum requirements are, how much it costs, and tips for getting the best rate.

Who Needs Liability Insurance in San Diego?

In California, all drivers are required by law to carry liability insurance. This applies to all motor vehicles including cars, trucks, motorcycles, and RVs. The only exceptions are for off-road vehicles that are operated exclusively on private property.

You must carry proof of liability insurance in your car at all times. If you are pulled over and cannot provide proof of insurance, you may receive a traffic ticket. Failing to provide proof multiple times can result in your driver’s license being suspended.

California Minimum Liability Requirements

The state of California has the following minimum liability insurance requirements:

  • $15,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $30,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $5,000 property damage liability per accident

This coverage is abbreviated as “15/30/5” liability insurance. It covers your legal responsibility for injuries to other people or damage to their property up to those dollar amounts.

Any auto insurance policy issued in California must include, at minimum, this level of liability coverage. However, experts recommend carrying more than the minimum, as the costs of auto accidents can easily exceed those amounts.

How Much Does Liability Insurance Cost in San Diego?

The cost of liability insurance in San Diego can vary greatly depending on factors like:

  • Your age, gender, and driving record
  • The limits of liability coverage you choose
  • The make, model, and age of your vehicle
  • Your credit score
  • Your insurance company and deductibles

According to 2021 data from the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost of minimum liability insurance in California is:

  • $868 per year for a single male driver
  • $850 per year for a single female driver
  • $2,314 per year for a married couple

However, San Diego rates tend to be slightly higher than California as a whole. Better drivers can pay less, while those with accidents/tickets will pay more.

Enhanced liability limits (100/300/50 or more) typically cost $150-300 extra per year. But they offer much better protection if you cause an accident with major injuries/damages.

How to Get the Best Liability Insurance Rates

Here are some tips for getting the lowest liability insurance rates in San Diego:

  • Maintain a clean driving record. Avoid accidents, moving violations, and DUIs – the #1 factor in higher premiums.

  • Drive a safer vehicle. Cars with the latest safety features generally have lower insurance costs.

  • Consider usage-based insurance. Some insurers offer discounts for driving less or more carefully.

  • Ask about discounts. Taking a defensive driving course, bundling policies, having multiple cars insured, and being a long-time customer can reduce premiums.

  • Raise your deductibles. Opting for higher collision/comprehensive deductibles lowers rates significantly.

  • Compare quotes. Get free quotes from both agents and online insurers to find the best deal. Rates can vary widely between companies.

  • Check prices every renewal. Shop around periodically, as new discounts or life changes like marriage can save you money.

  • Maintain good credit. California insurers use credit-based insurance scores to set rates. Keeping credit in shape lowers premiums.

Top Liability Insurance Providers in San Diego

The major national insurers all offer liability insurance in San Diego. Some top options to consider are:

  • State Farm: The largest auto insurer in California, known for local agents and discounts like safe driving bonuses.

  • AAA: Offering members-only discounts and excellent financial strength ratings for claims-paying ability.

  • GEICO: A top choice for low rates and easy online/phone quote and policy purchase.

  • Mercury Insurance: California’s largest provider of private passenger auto insurance, with affordable premiums.

  • Allstate: Popular for bundling home and auto policies, accident forgiveness, and new car replacement.

Getting quotes from both large national companies as well as regional options can help you find the best rate. An independent insurance agent can provide quotes from multiple companies.

Liability Limits: How Much is Enough?

While California only requires minimum 15/30/5 liability, experts strongly recommend buying higher coverage limits. Here’s how to determine adequate coverage:

  • Consider your assets – assets that could be taken in a lawsuit if you cause an accident
  • Research the costs of injuries – medical care, lost wages, and pain/suffering awards in auto cases
  • Assess coverage limits of other drivers – you want limits equal to those who might hit you

Limits of 100/300/50 or 250/500/100 are very common amounts that provide much better protection. Going with less than 50/100/50 leaves you dangerously exposed unless you have limited assets.

Ways to Lower Liability Premiums

Aside from the tips above, a few other strategies can help minimize the cost of liability insurance:

  • Drop collision/comprehensive to reduce overall premiums
  • See if pay-per-mile insurance is offered in your area
  • Ask about discounts for taking defensive driving courses
  • Increase your deductible to $500-$1,000 to reduce rates
  • Inquire about low mileage discounts if you drive 5,000 miles or less annually

Finding the right balance between adequate liability protection and affordable premiums takes a bit of work. But combined with responsible driving, the right liability insurance can give you peace of mind on the roads of San Diego.

Liability Auto Insurance 101


How much is liability insurance per month in California?

Cheapest Liability Car Insurance in California
Estimated Monthly Rate
Estimated Annual Rate
CSAA Insurance

What is the minimum liability insurance in California?

Here are the minimum liability insurance requirements (per California Insurance Code §11580.1b): $15,000 for injury/death to one person. $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person. $5,000 for damage to property.

How much is car insurance per month in San Diego?

Our data shows a minimum coverage auto insurance policy in San Diego costs $47 per month or $563 per year on average. If you want full coverage, you’ll pay an average of $184 per month or $2,208 per year.

How much cheaper is liability vs full coverage?

Liability insurance is 67% cheaper than full coverage insurance, on average. The exact cost difference between liability and full coverage car insurance for a given driver depends on several factors, including the driver’s insurance company.

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