California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner announced his determination to expand the state’s Low Cost Auto Insurance Program to Solano, Marin, Santa Cruz, Madera, Napa, Yolo, Mendocino, Kings and Lake counties. The program is expected to go into effect in early September, once rates are set in each of the newly added counties.
Commissioner Poizner’s announcement follows a series of community town hall meetings in each of the counties to examine the need for the program.
“Many drivers simply cannot afford insurance, but uninsured drivers put all travelers at risk,” Poizner said. “The expansion of this program in nine additional counties will better enable Californians to comply with the law and protect all motorists from potential losses.”
The low cost auto insurance program provides eligible low-income good drivers with auto liability coverage for under $400 a year and as little as under $300 a year in many counties.
The program began in 1999 as a pilot in Los Angeles and San Francisco. A new law, SB 20, authorized the Commissioner to launch the program throughout the state upon his determination of need in each county. Beginning in April 2006, the department began expanding the program statewide. The program is now available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alameda, Fresno, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Contra Costa, Imperial, Kern, Sacramento, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Merced, Monterey, Santa Barbara, Sonoma, Tulare, and Ventura Counties. With the inclusion of latest nine counties, the program will be available in 31 California counties. Since its inception, more than 33,000 policies have been issued.
To be eligible for the program, an applicant 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 ($25,525 for a single person, $34,225 for two persons and $51,625 for a family of four). The value of an insured vehicle must not exceed $20,000.
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