California Low Cost Auto Insurance Program

California Low Cost Auto Insurance Program

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California’s Low Cost Automobile (CLCA) insurance program, established in 1999, provides affordable insurance to income-eligible good drivers who would otherwise be uninsured. CLCA policies have lower coverage limits than the minimum required by the state and cost less than standard policies. It has very restrictive eligibility requirements and is not meant for consumers who are just looking for lower rates.

Furthermore, the CLCA program is not actually auto insurance sold by the California Department of Insurance, but a program that assigns a licensed auto insurance company to provide you with a policy through the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan.

CLCA coverage limits

Coverage limits provided by CLCA policies are lower than California's minimum requirements but still satisfy financial responsibility as required by law. Limits are about $5,000 lower per person for bodily injury compared with standard policies and don't provide a coverage option for damage to your car (collision and comprehensive coverage). The basic policy and optional coverages are:

  • Bodily injury: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per claim in an accident where you are determined to be at fault. This pays for medical care and a few other expenses for the driver and passengers of the other car.
  • Property damage: Up to $3,000 per accident for damage to other people's property
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury: Optional coverage for any injuries to you caused by an uninsured driver, up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident. This may be worthwhile to consider, given that nearly 15% of auto insurance claims in California involve an uninsured driver.
  • Medical payments: Optional coverage of up to $1,000 per person for medical care after an accident

Eligibility requirements

Requirements for the CLCA program are restrictive and very specific. There are income requirements, household requirements and other criteria you must meet in order to be eligible. You're also limited to two cars per person.

  • License: Have a valid California driver's license, a pending license reinstatement or an out-of-state license while you're in the process of getting a California one. An AB60 license is also accepted, regardless of immigration status.
  • Age: Be at least 16 years of age; either filing your own tax return or residing with your parents, if claimed as a dependent
  • Income: Your household's annual income must be below 250% of the federal poverty level. Your household, defined as the number of people listed on your federal or state income tax form. A single person, for example, must earn less than $33,975 to be eligible, while a family of four must make less than $69,375. Proof of income will be required.
  • Vehicle: Your vehicle cannot be worth more than $25,000, and you cannot have more than two vehicles registered in your name. All cars registered to you must be insured under CLCA.
  • Driving record: You must have a good driving record, which means in the last three years you cannot have had an accident where you were at fault and someone was injured or killed. You also cannot have more than one point on your license.
  • Vehicle use: You can be covered only if you use your car to travel to work, to school and for personal purposes like errands and vacations. It cannot be used for commercial purposes such as deliveries or rideshare.

The table below shows income eligibility for a household of up to six people. For each additional person after six, add $11,800.

People in Household
Highest eligible income for CLCA
1$33,975
2$45,775
3$57,575
4$69,375
5$81,175
6$92,975

Costs of CLCA policies

Typically, auto insurance companies calculate rates based on their proprietary models and experience with different drivers, vehicle types and policy limits. CLCA helps to ensure low costs across the state by establishing base rates by county. You do not get to pick your auto insurance company like a typical consumer shopping for the best auto insurance quotes would.

Basic policy

Costs of the basic CLCA policy with only liability coverage are generally fixed, but there are three factors that can increase the cost. If you're 16–18 years old, your rates are double the base rate. If you're a single driver between ages 19 and 24, your rates are typically 30% higher than the base rate, assuming you've been continuously licensed for at least three years. If you're a driver with less than three years of verifiable driving history, you’ll pay a 40% surcharge.

Optional coverage

The available optional coverages — medical payments and uninsured motorist bodily injury — on the other hand, are fixed amounts that vary by county. They're not affected by the surcharge and just get added to your total premium cost.

To determine how much a policy under CLCA will cost you, calculate your county's base rate and then add on the cost of any optional coverage to get your annual premium. We've provided a sample below of annual costs in the five largest California counties.

Annual costs of a CLCA policy by the five largest CA counties

County

Base Rate
Base + 30%
Base + 40%
Base + 100%

Los Angeles

$483$628$676$966

San Diego

$263$342$368$526

Santa Clara

$317$412$444$634

San Francisco

$317$412$444$634

Fresno

$244$317$342$488

How to enroll in CLCA

The enrollment process for the CLCA program is different from getting regular auto insurance: you don't get quotes, and you don't get to pick from any insurance company. You first have to determine your eligibility through an online questionnaire or a CLCA agent.

Since applicants of auto insurance through the CLCA program have limited choice of insurer, the California Department of Insurance is attuned to issues involved in interactions between the two. Drivers may call the California insurance help hotline at (800) 927-4357 if they encounter issues with claims, policy handling and more.

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