Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Aug 19, 2021

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All states have minimum car insurance requirements but in recent years some states have introduced even lower requirements designed to help low income drivers afford coverage.

California’s low-cost car insurance program (also known as the CLCA insurance program) was introduced a couple years ago and has allowed many drivers who would probably be otherwise uninsured obtain some kind of coverage. It is illegal to drive in California without car insurance and without the CA low-cost car insurance program these drivers pose not just a serious liability to other drivers but also face very heavy fines personally.

California car insurance rates can be high and the state still has a large number of uninsured drivers however this program has seen great success in attracting many low income drivers because of the low premium cost. Most low income drivers are not obtaining the California low-cost auto insurance program as an alternative to traditional car insurance but simply as a means to comply with state minimum laws and have at least some kind of liability coverage in place.

How much coverage is available under the California Low-Cost Auto Insurance Program?

The maximum liability coverage provided under the CA low-cost car insurance program is:

  • $10,000 coverage for Bodily Injury liability per person
  • $20,000 coverage for Bodily Injury liability per person
  • $3,000 property damage coverage per accident

How much are CA low-cost car insurance premiums?

Premiums for eligible drivers under this program are between $200 – $300 a YEAR.

Please not single male drivers between 19-24 years old have a surcharge of 25%

Can I buy optional auto insurance coverage?

Although you can not increase policy coverage limits under the California plan you can buy additional coverage with pre-determined limits such as:

  • Medical Payments Coverage  – $1,000 per person
  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage – $10,000 per person
  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage – $20,000 per accident

These optional coverages are available for between an additional $17 to $75 a year depending on your county of residence. The young male driver surcharge also applies to this additional coverage. Its important to note that the CLCA program does not provide comprehensive or collision coverage. This coverage is allowed to be purchased from other companies without affecting your program eligibility however CLCA must be the only liability insurance policy you have.

Who is eligible for the California Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program?

The CLCA was designed specifically for low income drivers so participants must meet certain eligibility requirements in order to be accepted by the state program. The main requirements are:

  • Applicant must be at least 19 years and held a drivers license for at least the past 3 years
  • Must be qualified as a good driver* (see Department website)
  • The value of the insured vehicle must not be greater than $20,000
  • Applicants currently attending College may not be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s federal and/or State income tax return
  • Applicants may not maintain or purchase any other automotive liability insurance policy other than the CLCA policy issue and ANY vehicle in the household
  • Must meet income eligibility requirements

Please note the CLCA requirements are always subject to modification or change so check with California Department of Insurance about current CLA requirements.

What are the income limitations for the CLCA program?

One of the main requirements is low income and the CLCA has strict guidelines in place to ensure applicants are indeed low income earners. For example, if your household size is one person the annual income limit is $27,075 and for 2 people it is $36,425. Check with the CA Department of Insurance for current limits.

How do I pay CLCA Premiums?

The California low-cost auto insurance plan also provided a number of different payment plans so low income drivers do not have to pay the whole annual premium up front. These options include bi-monthly payments with several down payment options.

How do I apply for California Low-Cost Auto Insurance Coverage?

Interested applicants need to visit the California Department of Insurance website and complete a short questionnaire to determine eligibility. If you pass the questionnaire the Department will then provide you a list of certified insurance companies in your area.

Can Car Insurance Companies charge extra fees the CLCA program?

No, under section 11624.5 of the California Insurance Code producers are prohibited from charging additional fees to applicants submitting applications for the CLCA car insurance program.

Can I choose my Car Insurance Provider?

No. Approved applications are assigned car insurance companies through a random selection process.

In summary, the California low-cost auto insurance coverage is a great program assisting people who otherwise would not be able to afford car insurance coverage some layer of protection while operating a vehicle.

Before making any final decisions on your insurance company, it is important to learn as much as you can about your local insurance providers, and the coverages they offer. Call your local insurance agent to clear up any questions that you might have. Questions to consider asking include, “What is the best coverage plan for me/my family/my situation?” “What are the minimum coverage requirements in my state and what form of coverage do you recommend?” “Do you guys offer any bundle discounts if I take out both my auto insurance and home insurance with you?” and “What is the average rate of insurance quotes you guys offer?”

Before making any big insurance decisions, use our free tool to compare insurance quotes near you. It’s simple, just plug in your zip code and we’ll do the rest!

However you should always consider traditional insurance and sometimes car insurance is more affordable than some consumers think so always try to compare car insurance rates online before choosing programs like the CLCA for coverage.

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