Car Insurance for Low-Income Mothers

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Insurance premiums for single parents tend to be more expensive than for individuals in two-parent families. This has to do with the way insurance companies assess and evaluate risk, but some government programs may make affordable insurance more accessible for low-income single mothers.
Providing for a low-income family on your own can be hard enough as it is, so you don’t need expensive
car insurance
costs thrown into the mix. But don’t worry: affordable auto insurance can still be a reality for single parents who are on a budget. You just may have to revisit some of your insurance coverage.
Ready to find low-cost car insurance for your family? Here’s everything you need to know about
affordable car insurance
for low-income single mothers, from the types of coverage you should consider to tips on how to reduce your costs.

What is the best car insurance for low-income single mothers?

When you’re building an auto insurance policy on a budget, you’ll likely want to choose a liability-only policy over a full-coverage policy. Here’s why.

Liability-only policies: the cheapest option

A liability-only policy doesn’t always mean that you only have
liability coverage
on your policy, but it does typically mean that your policy doesn’t exceed your
state’s minimum insurance requirements
. These insurance plans offer the least protection for yourself, your family, and your vehicle, but they are the cheapest type of car insurance plan you can buy.
Almost every state requires set minimum amounts of liability coverage to legally get behind the wheel of a vehicle registered in that state. This typically breaks down into
bodily injury liability coverage
property damage liability coverage
Bodily injury liability helps cover medical expenses for others after accidents that you cause. Property damage liability covers, well... property damage! But once again—only for others after accidents that you cause. A liability-only policy will rarely cover any of your own medical expenses or property damage, but that’s what keeps this level of coverage on the cheap side.
A few states also require
uninsured motorist coverage
to cover personal expenses in accidents caused by drivers who lack sufficient insurance coverage. Some states add on a form of coverage called
personal injury protection
(PIP) to cover personal medical expenses. Liability only-policies in states with these extra requirements—like
, for example—tend to be more expensive.
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Full-coverage policies: the most comprehensive option

A liability-only policy that meets your state’s requirements is all that you need to get yourself and your family on the road, but it won’t necessarily offer any protections for your family car.
Full-coverage car insurance
will provide more coverage for your vehicle expenses after an accident—regardless of who was at fault—but the trade-off is that these policies are more expensive.
A full-coverage insurance policy typically includes your state’s insurance requirements plus
collision coverage
comprehensive coverage
to pay for a wide array of vehicle damages caused by accidents, natural disasters, and even car theft. But is full-coverage insurance worth it for a single mother who’s on a budget? In short: probably not.
Full-coverage insurance is a great way to protect your wallet when it comes to your car, but it won’t do much to provide medical assistance for your family. It's an ideal policy type for drivers with an expensive vehicle—and often required by lenders if you have a
car loan
—but it’s likely not for people who are primarily concerned with their family’s budget and safety.

Other types of coverage: what do you really need?

As a single parent, you may want to consider some extra coverage if it fits your budget. This could mean increasing your liability insurance limits beyond your state’s minimums, opting for half a full-coverage policy (i.e. collision or comprehensive), or adding other types of coverage to cover your bases on the road.
Depending on what your health insurance policy looks like, you may want to add
MedPay coverage
to your insurance policy. This will fill in any coverage gaps to pay for the medical expenses of anyone in your car who is injured in a car accident—whether it’s you, your family, or other passengers entirely—regardless of who was at fault.
As a single parent, you may not always have the support you need to tackle some of life’s bigger challenges.
Towing and labor coverage
(also known as roadside assistance) will be there to help if you ever have unexpected car troubles that leave you stranded without transportation. This typically includes towing, jump starts, and even fuel delivery if you add it to your policy.

Insurance rates for single mothers

Insurance rates for single mothers tend to be just a little above the national average, but those rates are likely to double once you
add a teenage driver to your insurance policy.
Unfortunately, rates for single parents with teen drivers tend to be much more expensive than for individuals in two-parent families with teen drivers.
Car insurance companies look at many variable factors when
calculating your auto insurance rates
. These include aspects of your location, the make, model, and model year of your car, and certain demographics and personal traits, including:
  • Age
  • Driving history
  • Credit history
  • Employment status
  • Gender, and
  • Marital status.
Now, your insurance agent isn’t making a bunch of financial calls based on brash judgment of your personal history. Instead, insurance companies primarily use statistical data to determine how these factors affect your rates. Statistically, single people are more likely to get in a car accident than married people, so their car insurance rates tend to be slightly higher on average.

Insurance rates for single mothers with teen drivers

Your parental status typically won’t impact your insurance rates—until your child has a driver’s license of their own, that is. Teenage drivers are in the highest-risk category for an accident out of any demographic, so finding cheap car insurance for young drivers can be exceptionally challenging.
That doesn’t mean finding cheap car insurance for a teen driver is impossible. However, it may mean some hard conversations about your teenager waiting to drive until it works for your budget. At the end of the day, you know what’s best for your family and your finances when it comes to getting your teen driver getting behind the wheel.
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Are there low-income insurance programs?

There are no federal car insurance programs for low-income individuals, but there are low-income insurance programs at the state level in
New Jersey
, and Hawaii.

California’s Low-Cost Automobile insurance program

California Low Cost Automobile program (CLCA)
provides affordable, liability-only insurance to single parents and low-income drivers who meet the following eligibility requirements:
  • At least 19 years of age
  • Have a clean driving record
  • No lapses in liability coverage for the past six months
  • Your car value does not exceed $25,000
The annual premiums for CLCA drivers vary by county, ranging from around $240 to $560. Go to
to see if you qualify for this savings program, calculate your estimated rate, and start the application process.

New Jersey’s Special Automobile Insurance Policy program

The New Jersey Special Automobile Insurance Policy program (SAIP) is offered to New Jersey residents with a valid
New Jersey driver’s license
who are enrolled in Medicaid with hospitalization coverage.
SAIP covers emergency medical expenses immediately following an accident, but it does not cover liability for damages caused to others—those will have to come out of pocket. This works this way because of New Jersey’s status as a
no-fault state
. SAIP annual premiums are $360 if you make one upfront payment, or $365 if you make two payments throughout the year.

Hawaii’s Assistance to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled program

Hawaii’s Assistance to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled program (AABD) isn’t available for everyone, but it can help single parents who are 65 or older, legally blind, or disabled. Eligible drivers must be enrolled in Medicaid with an income below 34% of the federal poverty level to qualify for discounted or free basic liability-only insurance in Hawaii.

Best insurance companies for single moms and dads

tends to have the best insurance rates for single parents with a teen driver on their policy, but it is reserved for active or veteran members of the armed forces.
For non-military members,
State Farm
, and
tend to have the most competitive insurance rates across the country—whether you’re a single parent or not. However, their rates will vary by location and according to your demographics, so it’s important to compare offers from multiple companies to make sure you’ve found the best one.

How to find cheap car insurance rates

Comparing insurance quotes isn’t the only way to make sure you’re getting the best insurance rate available as a single mom on a budget! Here are a few of our favorite ways to find cheap car insurance.

Look for discounts

Almost every insurance provider offers
car insurance discounts
, and a lot of them are pretty easy to qualify for. Here are some common discounts that single parents can easily apply to their car insurance premiums:
  • Good driver discount
    : Get a reduced rate simply for maintaining a clean driving record for an extended period (usually at least three to five years)
  • Low-mileage discount: You may be able to get a discount if you limit the miles that you drive in your car.
  • Safety features discount: Some insurance providers offer discounts if your car has certain safety or driver assistance features installed.
  • Defensive driving course discount: Several states supplement discounts for drivers who pass a sponsored
    defensive driving course
  • Bundling discount: purchase multiple insurance products from the same provider—like
    auto and homeowners insurance
    —to earn this discount.
Your teen driver may also qualify for a good student discount that could benefit your entire premium if they maintain a B-average or better as a full-time student.

Revisit your coverage needs

If your auto insurance coverage is too expensive, it may be time to reassess your coverage levels. Have you been paying extra for full coverage? You may be better off going back to liability-only coverage. Raising your deductible can also help lower your insurance rates—just make sure you consider the potential risks before making this decision.

Shop around

Since insurance providers use different formulas to determine your rates, it’s in your best interest to compare multiple insurance quotes to make sure you’ve found the best one. You can
compare insurance quotes online
easier than ever these days! Once you’ve compared offers from at least three companies, you’ll have a much better idea of who has the best rate for you.
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Yes! You can pay your car insurance premium in monthly payments to help manage the costs. However, you may get a discount if you can pay your premium upfront.
A low-income, single parent is better off sticking to their state’s minimum insurance requirements as this will be the most affordable option.
By Pat Roache
Expert Insurance Writer
Reviewed by Amy Bobinger.
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