How to Find Low Income Car Insurance in California

California offers affordable car insurance to low-income drivers. Even if you don’t qualify for the program, you can still find cheap auto insurance with Jerry.
Written by R.E. Fulton
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
With the California Low Cost Auto (CLCA) insurance program, drivers who meet eligibility requirements can pay as little as $244 per year or $20 a month for basic liability insurance
For low income families, meeting California’s auto insurance requirements on top of the high cost of living might feel impossible. Luckily, there are two easy ways to find the
cheap car insurance
you need without wasting hours (or days, or weeks) searching for that elusive low rate. 
If you’re a good driver with a low household income and a vehicle worth less than $25,000, you might qualify for assistance through the CLCA program. 
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Does California have an auto insurance assistance program for low-income drivers?

Yes, California has an assistance program to help low-income individuals and families afford car insurance. It’s one of just three states, along with Hawaii and
New Jersey
, that helps low-income drivers pay for auto insurance coverage. 

The California Low Cost Auto Insurance Program

Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program (CLCA)
was established in 1999 to help low-income Californians find affordable auto coverage. If you qualify for CLCA, the program won’t cover your entire insurance payment, but you’ll be eligible for significantly reduced rates. 
In order to qualify, you must: 
  • Be at least 16 years old 
  • Have a valid
    California driver’s license
    with no more than one point
  • Own a vehicle with a
    of $25,000 or less
  • Have a household income below 250% of the federal poverty level
  • Have no more than one at-fault accident with injuries in the past three years
To qualify, you must use your vehicle only for personal uses (e.g. commuting, running errands, road trips, etc). Additionally, all vehicles in your household need to be insured through the CLCA program. Fill out the eligibility questionnaire at
and use the table below to see if you meet the income eligibility requirements.  
Household size (people)
Maximum income (2023)
If you do qualify, you’ll be able to get affordable coverage that meets the legal requirements set by the California Department of Insurance. That includes: 
Again, that coverage won’t be completely free. Depending on your driving record, your age and gender, and the county where your car is registered, you’ll pay roughly between $244 and $363 per year for state minimum coverage. If you want to add more coverage, CLCA will add the following options for an extra charge of $39 - $104 per year: 
You can’t buy
collision coverage
comprehensive coverage
through CLCA, which means that you won’t be able to get a full coverage car insurance policy unless you shop separately through an insurance agent or a quote comparison app like

Why you need car insurance in California

Looking at the table above, you might be thinking, “do I even need car insurance? After all, if I just drive carefully, I won’t ever need to make a claim!” 
Unfortunately, you do need to buy car insurance in California. For one thing, state law requires all drivers to meet the minimum liability limits covered by the CLCA program. If you’re
caught driving without insurance
, you could face fines up to $500 and even impoundment of your vehicle. 
But that’s not the only reason you need auto insurance in California. While you can do a lot to minimize your risk on the road, you can’t account for everything—or for other drivers. The average driver gets in about three car accidents in their lifetime, and if you don’t have insurance, the financial consequences could be serious. 

What is the cheapest car insurance company in California? 

If you don’t qualify for the Low Cost Auto program’s insurance discounts, don’t worry: it’s still possible to find affordable auto insurance in California. 
But the cheapest car insurance rates don’t all come from the same company. That’s because auto insurance rates are highly individualized—something as small as your marital status, your ZIP code, or the type of engine in the car you drive could all affect your rates. 
In insurance studies,
, and Mercury all consistently offer the lowest average rates for auto insurance in California. But every driver profile is different, and you may find that you find the best rate with a different company.   
Car Insurance CompaniesFull-coverage Annual RateMinimum-coverage Annual Rate

Cheap car insurance for low-income students in California

College and high school students often need cheap car insurance—but they also have the hardest time finding it. That’s because insurance companies set higher rates for drivers under 25 years of age. 
safe driver discount
or a
good student discount
could help California students to save on auto insurance. Check out the average cost of insurance for students and other young drivers in the table below. 
Car Insurance CompaniesFull-coverage Annual RateMinimum-coverage Annual Rate
Aspire Advantage$2,219$1,673
National General$3,148$1,869
Bristol West$2,533$1,926
Anchor General
Plymouth Rock$4,290$3,300

Cheap car insurance for low-income seniors in California

If you or a family member needs to find affordable insurance in California as a senior, a
good driving record
will go a long way to making that possible. Seniors who don’t drive regularly could save as much as 40% on their premiums with
pay-per-mile car insurance
Compare average rates for seniors from some of California’s top-rated insurance providers. 
Car Insurance CompaniesFull-coverage Annual RateMinimum-coverage Annual Rate
National General$976$1,188
Aspire Advantage$886$1,353
Bristol West$2,197$1,662
Anchor General

Cheap car insurance for low-income drivers with bad credit in California

Your credit score can have
a major impact
on your car insurance premiums. Good credit shows that you’re able to be reliable with payments, while poor credit tells a story of financial instability or personal irresponsibility (and insurance companies don’t care which it is). 
Use the table below to see which insurance companies offer the most favorable rates to drivers with poor credit. 
Car Insurance CompaniesGreat(750-850)Good(600-750)Fair(500-600)Poor(300-500)
National General$1,900$2,002$2,116$2,351
Bristol West$2,942$3,101$3,277$3,641
State Auto$2,189$2,307$2,438$2,709
Plymouth Rock$1,871$1,972$2,084$2,315
Oregon Mutual$1,854$1,954$2,066$2,295

Cheap car insurance for low-income drivers with violations in California

Serious or repeated violations on your driver record won’t just disqualify you from cheap insurance under the CLCA program—they’ll also drive up your rates overall. 
Having a spotty record doesn’t mean you can’t find affordable coverage in California, but it does mean you’ll need to compare your insurance options carefully. Take a look at the table below to see how much violations can raise your rate with different California insurers. 
Car Insurance CompaniesReckless DrivingSpeedingDUIFailure to Obey Traffic SignImproper Passing
Aspire Advantage$1,422$1,799$1,197$1,623$1,756
National General$1,612$1,441$1,142$1,372$1,208
Bristol West$1,872$1,585$1,699$1,857$1,872
Anchor General
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9 easy ways to get low-income car insurance in California

If you’re on the hunt for a cheap auto insurance policy in California, use these simple strategies to find the savings you need. 

1. Drive less

It’s not just the green thing to do—driving your car less could actually save you money on insurance! If you drive
less than 50 miles a day
, you’ll qualify for cheap car insurance from most providers. Plus, you’ll reduce wear and tear on your car, leading to lower maintenance and repair costs! 

2. Install a telematics device

Safe driving won’t just reduce your risk of a pricey accident and claim; it can actually get you
car insurance discounts
. By installing a telematics device in your car to let your insurance company track your driving, you could save up to 20% on your premium.  

3. Combine policies or reduce coverage on older cars

If you own multiple cars, there are two ways to cut down on insurance costs. A
multi-car insurance policy
typically comes with built-in discounts, but you can also reduce costs by cutting back on coverage for older vehicles. You might need full coverage on a new or financed vehicle, but you probably don’t need to pay for it for that 1998 Subaru Forester—and
dropping full coverage
could free up some much-needed cash! 

4. Pay in full

If you’re able to find a low enough annual premium, paying your entire premium in
a single lump sum
can save you from 10% to 20% on your coverage.  

5. Choose a monthly payment plan

On the other hand, if you can’t afford to pay a large amount up front,
opting for monthly payments
could make your insurance more affordable in the long run. While you’ll probably pay a higher amount over time due to installment fees, your monthly costs will be more manageable. 

6. Park in a garage

Where you park
could impact your insurance premium if you have full coverage insurance! Cars parked in open spaces are generally more vulnerable to weather damage, theft, and collisions. If you’re able to park your vehicle in a garage, you could get a discounted rate. 

7. Build your credit

Your credit score doesn’t just set you up for better or worse loan terms when it’s time to buy a car or a house—it’s also part of what insurance companies look at when setting your rates. Building credit by paying off debts can help you lower your insurance payments without sacrificing coverage. 

8. Raise your deductible 

If your insurance policy includes collision and/or comprehensive coverage, you have a deductible that you agree to pay out of pocket before insurance kicks in on a claim. Raising the deductible—say, from $500 to $1,000 or from $1,000 to $2,000—will get you a lower rate.  

9. Pick lower coverage limits

Carrying collision and comprehensive insurance, as well as additional coverage options like MedPay or UIM coverage, is a great idea for any California driver that can afford it. But if you’re really desperate to cut costs, sticking to minimum liability coverage will keep your rate low—and if your vehicle isn’t worth much, the risk to you is lower. 
quoted me a price that saved me almost $4000 a year in California! I definitely recommend Jerry.” —Patricia B.
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