State Program Helps Connect Drivers with Low-Cost Auto Insurance

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People who feel they can’t afford car liability insurance probably don’t know about a state program that costs as little as $254 a year.
That is substantially less than the price of a ticket in Kern County for not having insurance — $786, court officials said.
The program has income, age, vehicle cost and safety conditions, said Mark Billingsley of the California Department of Insurance.
The program was first offered in Kern County in 2006 and last year 121 people signed up for it, he said. It’s called the California Low Cost Auto Program.
The coverage limits are $10,000 per person, $20,000 per accident and $3,000 for property damage, which meet the state’s minimum requirements, he said.
Optional coverage at higher limits is available at a reasonable cost, he said.
Program information is available at, or by calling 866-602-8861.
The program has a 25 percent surcharge for single male drivers ages 19-24, boosting the price to $317.50.
While regular insurance rates vary, the cost compares to $518 to $4,125 a year for a single male driver licensed continuously for at least three years with one ticket and driving 12,000 to 15,000 miles a year, Billingsley reported.
To be eligible for the program, an applicant must be at least 19 years old, continuously licensed for three years and have no more than one at-fault property damage only accident, or one point for a moving violation in the last three years.
An applicant may not have any at-fault accidents involving bodily injury or death in the past three years and no felony or misdemeanor convictions for a Vehicle Code violation.
The annual income eligibility limits are $27,075 for a single person, $36,425 for two persons and $55,125 for a family of four. Limits increase with the size of the family.
The value of an insured vehicle must not exceed $20,000.
Payment plans are available.
The program is financed from part of a 30-cent fee charged on all private insurance policies, Billingsley said.
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said it was important to promote the program during the difficult economy for many people.

Consumer Watchdog
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