Since the Great Recession came to an end a few years ago, economists and lawmakers across the United States have been paying closer attention to the issues of economic inequality as it applies to the actual cost of living. In 2017, an investigation conducted by the New York Times and ProPublica, a journalism organization dedicated to serving the public interest, revealed that low-income drivers across the country often find themselves at a crossroads regarding auto insurance premiums.
Even with new minimum wage laws coming into effect in 2018, many drivers will still find it challenging to afford auto insurance. San Diego drivers should know that the California legislature has been aware of this issue since 1999, which is when the California Insurance Code was amended to include a low-cost auto insurance program for all counties.
Status of California’s Low-Cost Insurance Program
This groundbreaking program, which has been praised by economists and consumer advocates, was improved and expanded in 2015 to benefit even more drivers. When the program was first established in 1999, some lawmakers correctly predicted that certain aspects of financial responsibility did not conform to socioeconomic reality. For this reason, the eligibility requirements were adjusted as follows:
Drivers must be at least 19 years old
- The car to be insured must be valued at no more than $25,000
- Financial requirements are based on household income
Income Requirements as of 2018
A driver who earns $30,150 or less per year can take advantage of this program. Drivers who live in households where more than one person lives, works, or receives income benefits may qualify under the following thresholds:
Two-person household: $40,600 per year
- Three people: $51,050
- Four people: $61,500
- Five people: $71,950
The program is capped at $71,950 regardless of how many people live together. Proof of income can be satisfied by various means, including tax returns, W-2 forms, social security statements, EBT card, Medicaid, or a CalWORKs letter.
Applying for the Program
Eligible drivers in San Diego and across California simply have to check with their insurance agents about the low-income program. A good idea is to contact the agency to inquire about all the required documentation, typically driver’s license and proof of income, before arriving at the office. The agent will take care of all the paperwork and all requirements to comply with the Insurance Code.
Costs and Coverage
This program is not only affordable but also very reasonable in terms of coverage provided. As of 2018, the lowest annual premium in the state was less than $260, while the highest was under $615. The minimum costs are set on a county-by-county basis. The policy limits start at $10,000 per person in case of injury or $20,000 in case of fatal accidents. The property damage limit is $3,000 per accident. The best part about the program is that it can be enhanced with low additional charges, and discounts may apply to drivers with excellent driving records.
If you think you might qualify for low-income auto insurance, shop around for online car insurance quotes. San Diego drivers can rely on American Tri-Star Insurance to provide a quote for coverage that best suits their needs. If you’d like to speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable agents, give us a call at 619-272-2100 today.