With two million residents in the city and surrounding metro area, San Diego is the second-largest city in California (8th largest in the nation), and continues to grow.

As with every growing city, cost-of-living has gone up, which makes it even more important to save money where you can. But even when you are shopping for necessities, it pays to find the best cheap car insurance San Diego offers. Take the time to learn about the city so you can save even more.

San Diego Tourism

San Diego is famous for its incredible weather, its world-class zoo, alluring beaches, and its uniquely Southern California culture. People come from all over the world to sail, whale-watch, surf, or just enjoy the sunshine.

The Downtown (also known as “Centre City”) and the Gaslamp Quarter are famous shopping and dining destinations. Public transportation is great in these sections of the city. You can ride the light-rail, buses, or even Vintage Trolleys.

There are also hundreds of concerts and conventions each year (including the world-famous San Diego Comic Con) and theme park attractions like Sea World and Belmont Park.

San Diego Traffic and Transportation

Of course, with so many tourists enjoying the scenic drives, and so many commuters heading in and out of the city, traffic can be a nightmare. It’s certainly not as bad as L.A., but during peak hours you can expect a lot of congestion, especially on one of the five major thoroughfares (I-5, I-15, I-8, I-805, and SR-163).

Peak hours are generally Monday – Friday, 7AM- 9AM / 4PM-7PM. Morning traffic flows into downtown, while evening traffic flows out. If you are lucky enough to have an opposite commute, you can usually zip around town pretty quickly, as the freeway web is extensive.

For real-time traffic information visit CalTrans’ San Diego page, where you can plan your route around possible gridlocks.

This isn’t to say that driving in San Diego is always a hassle. There are miles of coastal roads (the Pacific Coast Highway flows through San Diego to reach Mexico), the San Diego-Coronado Bridge (2.1 miles long, stretching from the city to the Island of Coronado), and numerous cliff-side scenic vistas.

If you’re a train lover and are up for an adventure Amtrak’s “Pacific Surfliner” offers a dozen daily round-trip routes between Los Angeles and San Diego. Passengers are welcome to bring their bikes, luggage, and even their surfboards!

Accident Statistics and Crime Data

According to California’s Office of Traffic and Safety there were 298 Hit and Run accidents in 2011 (the most recent data available). Out of 5,358 Fatal and Injury accidents 656 involved alcohol, 828 were speed-related, and 524 included pedestrians. In 2013 there were 6,143 motor vehicle thefts, according to the San Diego Police Department. Property Crimes, while not affecting insurance rates directly, also rose to almost 30,000 in 2011.

San Diego Insurance Facts

The most recent reports we found indicate that the average annual premium for San Diego car insurance is just above $1,600.  Some of the factors that account for this high price include:
  • California’s high rate of uninsured drivers (20% according to the IRC).
  • High number of auto thefts (compared to less populated areas).
  • High value vehicles (San Diego has a high concentration of luxury vehicles, which skew the numbers a bit).
  • Young drivers (because it is a college town, there are a higher than average number of young drivers on the road).
For a list of California’s required coverage, see our California auto insurance page.

Recommended Insurance Coverage in San Diego

Because auto theft and property crime is so high in and around San Diego, Comprehensive Coverage is highly recommended. This covers your vehicle for damage resulting in anything other than collision, including vehicle theft, vandalism, glass breakage, and damage resulting from natural events (if a tree falls on your vehicle for instance). Uninsured Motorist Coverage is also recommended state-wide, because of the high number of drivers who can’t or don’t purchase auto insurance. Also, because vehicle values in San Diego are significantly higher than the national average, drivers are advised to carry increased liability limits. State law only requires $5,000 for Property Damage Liability. If you hit a car like a Mercedes or a BMW, $5,000 is far from adequate to cover most damage.

Tips For Finding the Right Insurance

The first and best tip when purchasing car insurance is to compare the rates of multiple companies. Many insurance websites will offer rate comparisons from some of the major insurance carriers, but just because an insurance company doesn’t widely advertise doesn’t mean that it is second-rate. If you receive an insurance quote from a company you have never heard of, it doesn’t mean they aren’t reputable. The best way to be sure you are with a financially strong company is to check with one of the financial/credit rating companies like A.M. Best or Moody’s. There you can quickly look up an insurance company’s financial rating and determine whether you want to do business with them. Of course, as we all know, keeping your driving record clear, avoiding accidents, and always driving safely, remain the most effective ways of keeping your car insurance rates low. Keep in mind there are plenty of discounts available that many consumers don’t think about. Did you know that being a member of a Credit Union will usually give you a discount on your auto insurance? Many occupations will give you a discount as well, so be sure to ask if your job or your education level qualifies you for a lower price.

San Diego Resources

-Yelp has a handy list of the best-rated body shops in San Diego. -Here is a map of all the DMV locations in and around San Diego. -The University of San Diego’s Office of International Students and Scholars has an extremely helpful article with a guide to buying a used car, a list of recommended car dealerships, and a list of local traffic schools. -Last but not least, San Diego has a great tourism website for out of town visitors or longtime residents looking for something new to do. Income Tax Assistance in San Diego -Free tax preparation services are available now for low to moderate income individuals and families. ($49,000 and below).  At Thrive San Diego – IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Qualified families and individuals can get up to $5,600 with children or $467 with no children in Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). -The cost of living in San Diego is quite high so they have all these programs to assist people who can’t afford it.

When it comes to ranking some of the best golf in the world, San Diego is certainly at the top of the charts with some of the most unique and pristine golf courses. To give an example, Torrey Pines is the top golf course San Diego has to offer. Their website is easy to maneuver and all the information about the course and how to book a tee time is all there right in front of you. It also gives you the latest updates about the course and what condition it is in. To make the course even more credible, the PGA tour hosts a tournament there annually where the greatest golfers in the world come and compete for a better ranking and a grand prize.

Renting and Living in San Diego

The average size for a San Diego apartment is 877 sq. ft, but this number varies on unit type, with cheap and luxury versions alike.  The average cost for a studio for example is around $2,237. San Diego is the ninth most expensive big city for renters. With that being said, it is actually cheaper to rent than to buy a house in San Diego which is quite surprising. The prices for rent in San Diego are up almost ten percent from last year. So the only ultimatum you have when it comes to either renting or buying in this city is how long you’re going to live there.   Most home sales experts are predicting a slump in San Diego home sales in 2020. However, with a growing economy and an increasing number of homes for sale, it could be a great window of opportunity for home buyers ready to purchase a property.    

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