With more than 18 million people in the Five-County area, Los Angeles is the largest city in California, the entertainment capitol of the world, and the largest import/export port in the U.S. The city is home to 200 universities, 75 miles of beach, and the largest government hub outside of Washington, D.C. With so many people and so many drivers, insurance premiums can be high. However, with a little legwork and a bit of knowledge, finding the options for cheap insurance Los Angeles offers can be surprisingly easy.
We put together a guide to the city that should help you in a number of ways, from navigating the highways, to deciding what coverage is right for you.
Los Angeles Insurance Facts
Insurance rates in L.A.County vary wildly depending on what zip code or territory your vehicle is “garaged” in. We have seen basic liability as high as $1,500/year, and “full-coverage” as high as $3,000. Of course, if you have some dings on your driving record, that price can get even higher.
In fact, the LA Times reported last year that the top 10 most expensive zip codes for car insurance were all in Los Angeles. Much of this is credited to the fact that so many of L.A.’s neighborhoods are affluent, with more expensive vehicles that cost more to insure, but crime and high rates of traffic accidents play a large part as well.
For more info, we have a guide to California’s auto insurance requirements.
Traffic and Public Transportation in Los Angeles
Los Angeles traffic is so famous that entire movie plots are framed around it. The city was designed around the car, and the freeway system (there are over 27 different freeways), while maddeningly complicated to outsiders, has produced some truly marvelous feats of engineering, all in the name of the mighty automobile.
Recent statistics show that almost half a million commuters come into L.A. every day from the surrounding counties, with about 12% of them slogging through a commute of 60 minutes or more the city is going to great lengths to ease some of the freeway strain. Hundreds of miles of bike lanes are being built, and the Metro rail lines are being expanded by 26% over the next decade.
If you are planning on driving, we recommend checking the live traffic information before heading out. Both the L.A. Department of Transportation and SigAlert have websites devoted to tracking traffic data
Los Angeles Crime Data and Accident Statistics
California leads the nation in the number of uninsured motorists (25% as opposed to the national average of 14%). This percentage is likely even higher in a city like Los Angeles where auto insurance premiums are so high.
Although there are no current statistics for L.A.County, we do know that in 2009 48% of crashes were hit-and-runs! The most common cause for fleeing the scene is a lack of current auto insurance, so it’s safe to assume that the percentage of uninsured drivers in L.A. is higher than California’s average of 25%.
In 2010, there were over 500 traffic fatalities, and over 50,000 injuries. One in five fatal crashes in L.A. involve an unlicensed driver.
In addition to the hit-and-run statistics, L.A. has some of the worst crime in the state (to be fair, almost every urban area nationwide has higher than average crime), with over 10,000 auto thefts in 2013.
How Does Los Angeles Crime Affect Your Auto Insurance?
Crime rates are a leading contributor to rising insurance costs. You could be the most responsible driver in the world, with a perfectly spotless driving record and no accidents, but if you live in a high-crime area your insurance rates are automatically going to be higher, especially if you are insuring your vehicle for theft (Comprehensive Coverage).
On top of that, if you own one of the most commonly stolen vehicles, your rates will be higher as well. The most recent list is as follows (it is state-wide, and not specific to L.A.):
- Honda Accord
- Honda Civic
- Toyota Camry
- Acura Integra
- Chevy full-size pickup
So, accordingly, it will cost more to insure the above vehicles than it would be to insure others.
What Additional Coverage Should I Buy In Los Angeles?
While it is not required by law, Uninsured Motorist Coverage is pretty much a must-have in Los Angeles. With hit-and-run statistics as high as they are, you might as well be flipping a coin if you are hit (heads for covered, tails for not). Having Uninsured Motorist coverage means that your injuries will be covered whether the person who hit you had insurance or not. Additionally, the coverage will help defray some of the cost of repairing your vehicle (or, if you carry “full coverage,” your deductible will be waived).
Collision Coverage is highly recommended as well. That way you can rest easy knowing that the vehicle you rely on each day is fully covered, whether the accident was your fault or not. Comprehensive Coverage will ensure that your vehicle is covered for theft, vandalism, earthquakes or other damage resulting from natural causes.
Also, because L.A. residents are so reliant on vehicles for their daily commutes, Rental Coverage is also recommended.
Tips For Saving Money in Los Angeles
- The best, and most obvious, way you can save money on your auto insurance is to make sure you keep your driving record clear. This means driving safely and obeying traffic laws at all times. One DMV point can add hundreds of dollars to your auto insurance each year (not counting the cost of the ticket itself).
- If you’re shopping for a car, check the list of most-commonly stolen vehicles and get some insurance quotes before you make your purchase. You can get instant rate comparisons from dozens of carriers on our website, so you’ll have a pretty good idea of what your new insurance premiums will be.
- Consider using public transportation for part of your commute. Metrolink has stations all over the L.A. basin and into the surrounding counties. You’ll still need to drive to the station, but you’ll be putting less miles on your vehicle every year, which equates to lower insurance premiums.
- If you plan on moving, check insurance rates for your new zip code before you move, so you can plan your budget accordingly.
- Re-shop your insurance coverage periodically, or at least yearly. This way you know that you are always getting the best price.