From the Department of Insurance, some good news.
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner to Expand Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program to Nine Additional Counties Commissioner Poizner announced his final determination of need for the program in: Solano, Marin, Santa Cruz, Madera, Napa, Yolo, Mendocino, Kings and Lake Counties
SACRAMENTO – Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner today announced his final determination of need for the California Low Cost Automobile Insurance program in 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 nine counties to examine the need for the program. Based on those meetings and a determination of need analysis conducted by the California Department of Insurance (CDI), the Commissioner determined that the program should be expanded to include these nine additional counties.
“Driving without insurance is illegal, and nearly 100,000 motorists in these nine counties are uninsured,” said Commissioner Poizner. “Many drivers simply cannot afford insurance, but uninsured drivers put all travelers at risk. 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.”
Motorists driving without insurance can have their vehicle registrations suspended as part of SB 1500, a new law designed to reduce the risk of economic losses sustained as the result of collisions involving uninsured motorists.
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 California Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program initially begun in 1999 as a pilot program in Los Angeles and San Francisco. A new law, SB 20, also 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 Solano, Marin, Santa Cruz, Madera, Napa, Yolo, Mendocino, Kings and Lake Counties, the Low Cost Auto Insurance Program will be available in 31 California counties.
Since its inception, over 33,000 policies have been issued. 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 in each county to ensure the program is self-sustaining.
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. For more information about the program, call 1-866-60-AUTO-1 (1-866-602-8861)
Now, my caveat: if you can afford a different policy, get it. This policy does not provide a lot of protection for you, but it is better than not having insurance at all!