How Insurance Rates Vary Based on Where You Live in San Diego

How Insurance Rates Vary Based on Where You Live in San Diego

San Diego, California is known as America’s finest city. It is a beautiful, coastal city with white, sandy beaches and months of warm weather. It’s a big tourist destination but also an attractive city for those looking to stay long term.

Whether you are planning a short getaway or a cross-country move, San Diego has a lot to offer all kinds of people. Before making that move, however, there are a few basics of San Diego car insurance to understand and consider before making the short-term or long-term transition to America’s finest city.

The city of San Diego is divided into eight distinct areas or neighborhoods. Most of these areas are labeled by their cardinal direction from the central neighborhood of San Diego, which boasts hotspots like downtown and the San Diego Zoo

There are neighborhoods like Mission Hills that boast Craftsman homes and a highly diverse restaurant scene. The iconic Balboa Park is tucked away in the spacious areas of Northern San Diego. Just across the bay, San Diego plays home to the sought-after resort town of Coronado.

Each neighborhood offers different amenities and advantages. Some are closer to the coast and offer beachfront properties, and others are deep in the growing art scene of the city. These areas also differ in overall car insurance cost. Many aspects of a city, and more specifically a neighborhood, should be considered before making that ZIP code home base.

ZIP Codes and Considerations

When people consider relocating, they often look at proximity to public transportation or emergency providers. Still others look at school districts and area hospitals. These are just a few of the considerations individuals and insurance companies take into consideration when making final decisions about an area or ZIP code.

The ZIP code you choose to live in has a direct impact on the price you will pay for car insurance. The least expensive ZIP code, 92131, is located just north of the downtown area of San Diego. Those who live here pay, on average, $4,400 a year on car insurance.

The most expensive, on the other hand, is the central coast area near Coronado. The 92135 ZIP code boasts a $5,700 yearly average on car insurance. 

These costs aren’t determined solely on proximity to the beach, though. There are a number of other issues and considerations at play.

Crime Rates

Often, the first aspect of an area’s ZIP code considered is the crime rate. It’s not uncommon to see a higher crime rate translate to higher insurance premiums. This is based solely on the interest of the insurance company.

If an insurance company is going to insure property in an area that puts that property at higher risk, they will want more money to protect themselves. It’s a very traditional business model.


Car insurance companies will also consider the traffic of an area when determining insurance rates. More traffic means there is a more densely populated area. The more densely populated an area is, the more cars will be found on the road.

With more cars on the road, there is a higher likelihood of car collisions. Insurance companies will, once again, consider the potential risk to the cars they insure. More risk will inevitably lead to a higher insurance rate. 


The number of car accidents recorded in a single ZIP code can also affect insurance rates. This number is broken down further into the area’s demographics. 

Consider this: If there is a higher population of younger drivers, insurance companies will see this as a higher risk. Younger drivers are considered less cautious and, therefore, a higher potential risk.

Road quality also factors into the accident consideration. Some areas of a city have less funding for road repair or maintenance. Roads that are of poorer quality pose a significantly higher risk to drivers and their cars. This will usually be reflected in rates and premiums.

Uninsured Motorists

The number of uninsured drivers in an area is another factor car companies look into when determining rates. Fewer uninsured drivers mean there are fewer instances of your insurance company footing the bill for accidents. Fewer uninsured drivers mean more money in your pocket.

Claim History

The number and types of claims in an area can contribute to car insurance rates as well. History is often considered the best predictor of the future, so insurance companies will look to the past to inform their future decisions. More claims will likely mean higher premiums.

Weather and Environmental Factors

The environmental elements will also play a role. Damage caused by normal weather patterns in an area can help determine the likelihood of these types of claims. An insurance company will consider those issues as well as larger environmental issues like hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes.

Some ZIP codes in San Diego are closer to the coast than others. The closer proximity to the water means there is a greater chance of damage from hurricanes or tropical storms. Those areas more inland won’t have these considerations to contend with, and that will be reflected in insurance costs.

Government Regulations

State and local governments can and have created laws that affect the functions of private businesses. The hope is to ensure equality across all areas of business and society as well as keep an eye on inflation. Insurance companies are no different. 

The state of California actually has laws in place to determine what factors an insurance company can use to help establish rates. In California, ZIP code cannot be the highest determining factor, but it can still be used as part of the equation, even for the average home insurance costs.

This may seem like more to add to your to-do list before moving, but these factors are just good to know. An area is more than its traffic conditions and weather patterns, but these factors do contribute to the landscape of a neighborhood. Also keep in mind that there are many variables that impact auto insurance rates, even the type of job you have. Remember these factors when you make that first call to start or transfer your insurance coverage. 

About the author: Laura Gunn is a car insurance expert who researches and writes for the insurance comparison site, She is an avid traveler who enjoys learning more about the areas she visits and sharing that information with others.