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Homeowners Insurance in California

Here we outline what you need to know to make smart choices when buying homeowners insurance in California. We rank the best homeowners insurance companies in The Golden State, identify cheap homeowners insurance companies in California for six coverage levels and provide expert recommendations on how much coverage you need.

No matter where you live, it pays to compare rates for homeowners insurance. The same is true for California. Premiums can vary, sometimes by a little, sometimes by a good amount more.

Why is that? Michael Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group, explains that various factors influence home insurance rates. They can include building costs in your area, local crime rates, and the risk where you live from natural disasters such as hurricanes, hail storms and tornadoes. And, of course, insurance companies want your business and that may affect pricing.

What is the average cost of homeowners insurance in California?

The average cost of home insurance in California is $1,166, making California the second-cheapest state in the country for home insurance. Its average cost is $1,139, or nearly half the national average of $2,305, for the coverage level of:

  • $300,000 dwelling coverage
  • $1,000 deductible
  • $300,000 liability

What is the best home insurance in California?

The homeowners insurance company with the cheapest rates isn’t necessarily the best. Other factors to consider are customer service and claims processing. Insure.com’s 2020 Best Home Insurance Companies report ranks major insurers on feedback from 3,700 customers. They are asked about the value for the price, customer service, claims service and if they’d recommend the company.

Here is how the best home insurance companies in California ranked on the survey. Scores are out of 100.

Chubb, USAA, Safeco, AIG, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Hartford, State Farm, Esurance and Allstate are the top 10 best carriers for home insurance, based on customers’ feedback on our survey.

RankCompanyScore
1Chubb (ACE INA Group / Ace Limited)94.467
2USAA90.324
3Safeco88.516
4AIG (American International Group)86.602
5Liberty Mutual86.177
6Nationwide85.778
7Hartford85.221
8State Farm85.043
9Esurance84.818
10Allstate83.851
11Progressive82.69
12Farmers81.543
13American Family81.219
14Travelers79.162

Cheap homeowners insurance companies in California

Based on our rate analysis, you’ll see Garrison was the cheapest home insurance company, among carriers surveyed. USAA, Allstate, and Travelers also had cheap insurance rates for California homeowners, compared to the other companies. Here are home insurance rates by company for dwelling and liability coverage of $300,000, with a $1,000 deductible.

CompanyAverage annual rate
Garrison$791
USAA$797
Allstate$900
Travelers$919
General Insurance$976
CSAA Insurance Exchange$1,113
State Farm$1,157
Safeco$1,169
Nationwide$1,250
Interinsurance Exchange of The Automobile Club$1,319
Farmers$1,401
Crestbrook$1,438
Foremost$1,544
Mid Century$1,593
Fire Insurance Exchange$1,615

Because costs are not uniform, it's crucial to shop around for the best home insurance rate.

Many factors influence the price you pay for insurance. Among others, the Insurance Information Institute (III) cites the following:

  • Your home's square footage
  • Building costs in your area, and your own home's construction, materials and features
  • Local crime rates
  • The likelihood of certain types of disasters, such as hurricanes

So, shop around for the right policy. Senior Consumer Analyst Penny Gusner suggests getting at least three price quotes when shopping for coverage, and says that doing so can save you up to hundreds of dollars annually.

Although California home insurance costs can be expensive, it's a mistake to cut corners in an attempt to save. Gusner recommends that you get enough insurance to cover the costs to:

  • Repair or replace the structure of your home and personal possessions
  • Defend yourself against liability costs if someone is hurt on your property
  • Pay for a temporary place to live while your home is repaired or replaced

Homeowners insurance California rates by ZIP code

By entering your ZIP code in the search box and desired coverage level, you’ll see the average home insurance rate for that area. You will also see the highest and lowest premium fielded from major insurers. This will give you an idea of how much you can save by comparing home insurance rates. The difference between the highest the highest rate and the lowest rate is how much you can save by shopping your policy.

HOME INSURANCE CALCULATOR

Average home insurance rates in CALIFORNIA

$200,000
$1,000
$100,000
94404 - Foster City
Dwelling $200,000, Deductible $1,000 and Liability $100,000.

AVERAGE RATE: $669

HIGHEST RATE: $1,029 LOWEST RATE: $443

Most & least expensive zip codes for homeowners insurance in California

Most Expensive

Zip CodeCityHighest Rate
92561Mountain Center$1,031
90210Beverly Hills$1,029
90069Los Angeles$1,020
90046Los Angeles$1,011

Least Expensive

Zip CodeCityLowest Rate
93445Oceano$606
93117Goleta$607
93111Goleta$610
93433Grover Beach$615

Home insurance cost in Los Angeles (CA) and California’s other largest cities

Let’s explore average rates for some of the state's largest cities, for a policy with $300,000 in dwelling and liability coverage, with a $1,000 deductible. You’ll see homeowners insurance in the state’s largest metro areas is in line with the state average.

CityAverage rate$ difference from state average $1,166
San Jose$997$169 less
Long Beach$1,049$117 less
San Diego$1,067$99 less
San Francisco$1,076$90 Less
Sacramento$1,094$72 less
Fresno$1,144$22 less
San Bernardino$1,211$45 more
Oakland$1,227$61 more
Los Angeles$1,285$119 more

California home insurance explained and how much coverage to buy

Before we dive into the other research on costs and companies, you need to know what you’re buying and why, and how much you need. So, let's look at the basic components of home insurance, and how much to get to make sure you’re not underinsured.

What does home insurance cover

How deductibles affect your insurance rate

A deductible is the amount of money you pay before your insurance company pays out on a claim. For example, if your home sustains damage of $3,000 and you have a $500 deductible, you pay the first $500 and your insurer pays $2,500.

Some deductibles are based on dollar amounts. Others are based on a percentage of your home's value. If your home is insured for $200,000 and your deductible is 2%, you will owe $4,000 before insurance coverage kicks in.

You choose a home insurance deductible amount, which applies to claims for damage to your home or belongings, but not if you’re sued or a medical claim is filed by someone injured in your home. These are typically in the amounts of $500, $1,000, $1,500, $2,000 and $2,500.

Understanding the implications of the deductible you choose when buying homeowners insurance is important. In California, as in all the states, a higher deductible means you'll save on insurance premiums.

The savings can be significant. Barry says that most insurers recommend a deductible of at least $500, which may be ok for you. But keep in mind that by raising that to $1,000, you're likely to save as much as 25% on your policy, according to the III. Of course, that's $1,000 out of your pocket if there are major problems, so it's a bit of a balancing act.

California homeowners insurance comparison: Rates for 10 coverage levels

Here we show the average cost of California homeowners insurance for 10 coverage levels, based on a rate analysis by Insurance.com.

Enter a dwelling coverage of $200,000, $300,000, $400,000, $500,000 or $600,000. You will see annual average rates based on a $1,000 deductible for each liability limit of $100,000, $300,000.

CoverageAverage annual rate
$200,000 dwelling/$100,000 liability$800
$200,000 dwelling/$300,000 liability$820
$300,000 dwelling/$100,000 liability$1,144
$300,000 dwelling/$300,000 liability$1,166
$400,000 dwelling/$100,000 liability$1,485
$400,000 dwelling/$300,000 liability$1,508
$500,000 dwelling/$100,000 liability$1,862
$500,000 dwelling/$300,000 liability$1,888
$600,000 dwelling/$100,000 liability$2,278
$600,000 dwelling/$300,000 liability$2,308

California homeowners insurance discounts

There are several ways to reduce your California home insurance costs. Many insurers will lower your bill if you purchase more than one type of insurance policy from them. This process – known as "bundling" – can cut your costs by up to 19%, on average, according to Insurance.com’s discount data analysis.

You can also cut your costs by making your home more disaster-resistant. Installing hurricane glass or accordion shutters might net you a discount.

Other possible home insurance discounts include:

  • Installing smoke detectors, a burglar alarm or dead-bolt locks -- 5% each
  • Installing a sprinkler system, and a fire and burglar alarm -- 15% to 20% percent
  • Loyalty discounts – about 4% on average, after three to five years, and 6% for six years or more

California homes underwater by county

When a home is underwater it means the homeowner owes more on the mortgage than the home is worth in the current market. For example, if the principal balance on your mortgage is $250,000 but the fair market value of the home is $200,000, your home is underwater. In other words, you could not sell the home and make enough from the sale to pay off your mortgage.

According to Insurance.com’s 2020 analysis of second quarter data in California, Butte, Del Norte and Lake counties have the highest percentage of underwater homes in the state. Santa Clara, San Francisco and San Mateo have the lowest percentage of underwater homes.

County% Underwater% with Equity
Butte14.3%29.0%
Del Norte9.7%26.1%
Lake9.5%26.6%
Trinity9.5%28.5%
Plumas9.0%30.1%
Mariposa8.5%27.7%
Lassen7.7%18.6%
Tuolumne7.6%25.9%
Siskiyou7.0%30.6%
Calaveras6.1%29.9%
Amador5.9%28.3%
Shasta5.6%23.6%
Humboldt5.4%31.3%
Mono5.3%43.4%
Tehama5.1%31.5%
Mendocino5.0%39.0%
Imperial5.0%25.3%
Nevada4.9%34.9%
Kern4.8%23.7%
Madera4.8%30.4%
El Dorado4.6%30.4%
Tulare4.1%27.8%
Colusa4.0%35.4%
Fresno3.9%28.2%
Glenn3.8%33.3%
Sutter3.8%32.4%
Inyo3.7%37.4%
Kings3.6%23.0%
Sonoma3.6%45.3%
Merced3.5%35.0%
Yuba3.4%27.9%
Placer3.4%30.8%
Riverside3.2%29.8%
Santa Barbara3.2%41.3%
San Bernardino3.1%33.2%
San LuisObispo3.1%41.6%
Stanislaus3.0%35.6%
Napa3.0%44.4%
San Joaquin2.9%35.9%
Monterey2.7%46.9%
Yolo2.7%39.7%
Ventura2.5%38.2%
Sacramento2.5%35.9%
Solano2.5%33.8%
San Benito2.4%35.2%
Santa Cruz2.4%50.8%
Orange2.2%44.0%
Contra Costa2.1%43.6%
San Diego2.0%40.3%
Los Angeles1.8%49.3%
Marin1.8%54.5%
Alameda1.6%56.3%
Santa Clara1.2%64.9%
San Francisco1.2%68.3%
San Mateo1.0%71.1%

California homeowners insurance FAQs

Does home insurance cover wild fire damage?

The short answer is yes. The Insurance Information Institute (III) — a non-profit consumer group sponsored by the insurance industry — notes damage or destruction from fire, including wildfires, are usually covered under a standard home insurance policy. Check with your insurance company and policy to confirm wildfires are covered as insurance offerings can change depending on location.

In the event your home is rendered inhabitable because of the fire, you can also file claims for additional living expenses. For example, you may need to get a hotel room and your insurance company may reimburse you for these costs. Additionally, you have the option to have your vehicle covered for fire damage under your auto insurance policy if you carry comprehensive insurance. 

However, due to the frequency of severe wildfires in the state over the past several years, insurers started to charge extra for coverage in some cases, refuse to renew policies or refuse to sell new policies in some areas.  In California, for example, if you live within 2,500 feet of a canyon or area deemed high-risk by insurers, you may have to pay extra for coverage or you may even be denied a policy.

To help homeowners, in 2019, the state insurance commissioner enacted a law that prevented home insurance companies from denying coverage due to wildfire risk up to December 2020.

In November 2020, another one-year moratorium on denying coverage due to wildfire risk went into effect, protecting homeowners throughout 2021. The new moratorium covers 477 ZIP codes, more than double the previous moratorium. In total, 2.1 million Californians will receive protection.

Does home insurance cover flood damage?

Here, the short answer is “no.” Homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood events. To get that coverage, you have to buy a separate flood insurance policy.

The federal government sells most flood insurance policies through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) (www.fema.gov). People who live in areas prone to flooding should definitely purchase a policy. However, everyone should at least consider buying this important protection. About 90% of all natural disasters in the U.S. involve flooding, according to NFIP. 

Some private insurance companies also sell flood insurance. In 2019, the top three private companies nationally in terms of providing flood insurance were:

  • Assurant Inc.
  • Zurich Insurance Group
  • Swiss Re Ltd

Nationally, the average flood insurance premium was $642 in 2018, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

The average amount of flood coverage per policy in the U.S. was $257,000 in 2018, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

The average flood claim in 2018 in the U.S. was $42,580. That was down significantly from $91,735 in 2017, a year of several significant hurricane strikes in the U.S.

As of 2019, 214,032 flood insurance policies were active in California, representing $63.3  billion in coverage.

That included 34,035 direct NFIP flood insurance policies representing $9.8 billion, and 179,997 write-your-own policies representing $53.5 billion. 

California ranked 23rd among all states and the District of Columbia in flood damage claims paid out during 2020. Claims totaled around $2 million, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

 

How can I save on earthquake insurance?

California is infamous for its earthquakes. Some of the best-known and most devastating U.S. earthquakes have shaken the Golden State. Most state residents live within only 30 miles of an active earthquake fault, according to the California Earthquake Authority.

The way your home was constructed – and the nature of the soil supporting it – largely influence the price you are charged for earthquake insurance. By law, your homeowners insurance company must offer you earthquake insurance, even if your home doesn't measure up to the latest earthquake codes.

Your premium costs might soar if your home is not up to snuff, though. By contrast, premium costs could drop sharply if you take steps to make your home more earthquake resistant. Examples of making your home stronger include:

  • Bolting the house to the foundation
  • Bracing the water heater to a wall
  • Adding valves that automatically shut off valves

Another way to save on the cost of earthquake insurance – or any insurance – is to raise your deductible, which will lower your premium costs. Homeowners who buy an insurance policy through the California Earthquake Authority can select a deductible of between 5% and 25%.

 

What can I do if I can't get homeowners insurance in California?

California residents who cannot find homeowners insurance can turn to the insurer of last resort, known as the California FAIR Plan. You can check out this coverage at the CFP website.

The FAIR Plan offers basic fire insurance coverage and personal property coverage. Other optional coverages also are available. Although California residents can deal directly with the FAIR Plan, they are strongly encouraged to use an insurance agent instead. Among other services, a representative can help you secure coverages not found in a FAIR plan, including:

  • Theft
  • Liability
  • Water damage due to pipe breakage

Because FAIR Plan coverage is less comprehensive, you should only consider it if you absolutely cannot find an appropriate homeowners insurance policy. According to one estimate, at least 200,000 Californians now rely on FAIR Plan coverage.

If you need theft or liability coverage, consider purchasing a "differences in conditions" policy that will cover these gaps. You can find a list of providers of such coverage at the CDI website. 

Where do I get claims processing info or file a complaint?

If you end up in a dispute with your insurer, consider contacting the California Department of Insurance. You can file a complaint by dialing 800-927-4357.

Or, you can file a complaint online. When doing so, you can upload supporting documents, such as:

  • A copy of your insurance card, both front and back
  • Any relevant correspondence between you and the insurer
  • A copy of a completed authorization and designation of agent form