California’s Low Cost Auto Insurance Program Expands to Six New Counties

The California Low Cost Automobile program (CLCA) is now available in San Bernardino, Riverside, Alameda, Fresno, Orange and San Diego counties for low income good drivers at less than $400 per year.

Senate Bill 20 (Escutia), which was sponsored by the Commissioner, authorized the expansion of the CLCA program into these additional six counties, as well as giving the Commissioner the option to expand to other counties as demand and need require. The program provides eligible low income, good drivers with state-required liability coverage for under $400 a year.

“Every day more than 3 million motorists travel California’s roads without auto insurance,” said Commissioner Garamendi. “I am extremely pleased to announce that now there is an affordable alternative for uninsured, low-income good drivers to operate within the law. It is a wonderful opportunity that will ultimately make a difference for all California motorists.”

In January Commissioner Garamendi also announced plans to expand the program to eight additional counties: Stanislaus, Imperial, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Kern. The Commissioner has been holding public forums in these counties to evaluate the need and determine the desirability of the program. The responses from local residents and community advocates have been overwhelmingly positive. The target date for this implementation is late summer 2006.

Sen. Martha Escutia, (D-Montebello), said the program is key to improving the lives of many who cannot afford insurance. “My goal in creating the Low Cost Auto Insurance Program six years ago was to provide an affordable alternative for consumers who are required to have, but simply cannot afford, a conventional policy,” said Sen. Escutia. “The expansion of the program to additional California counties is a blessing for many working families who are searching for affordable auto insurance.”

The California Low Cost Automobile Insurance program was created in 1999 to provide low income, good drivers with access to affordable automobile insurance. It began as a pilot program in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties. With the additional counties permitted by SB 20, eligible motorists from a total of 16 counties will soon be able to take advantage of the program. Program policies are issued by California licensed insurers and the program is administered by the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan. Rates are set in each county so that premiums are sufficient to cover losses and expenses incurred under the policies.

To be eligible for the program, applicants must be a “good driver” – no more than one at-fault property damage only accident, or one point for a moving violation in the past three years; and no at-fault accident involving bodily injury or death in the past three years; and no felony or misdemeanor conviction for a violation of the Vehicle Code.

Additionally, family income cannot exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($24,500 for a single person, $33,000 for two persons and $50,000 for a family of four). The value of an insured vehicle must not exceed $20,000. For more information about the program, call 1-866-60-AUTO-1 (1-866-602-8861).

Below is a list showing the estimated number of uninsured drivers for each of the six counties:

* Alameda 121,434
* Fresno 77,933
* Orange 200,056
* Riverside 87,097
* San Bernardino 105,482
* San Diego 165,016

Total estimated uninsured drivers in all six counties: 757,018. Statewide, there are an estimated 3,164,877 uninsured drivers; roughly 14.2 percent of all drivers. “Within these six counties roughly three quarters of a million drivers have no insurance,” said Commissioner Garamendi. “Now, they have a viable, affordable option.”