Cheap California Low-Income Car Insurance for Families and Individuals

The state of California offers a car insurance assistance program for low-income drivers. MoneyGeek found that Progressive offers the cheapest car insurance for low income families and individuals in California.

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Last Updated: 11/20/2022
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In California, your income does not determine your car insurance rates. MoneyGeek analyzed that the biggest factors affecting your car insurance rates are the addition of a teen driver and your driving record. We calculated the cheapest options for low income individuals and families with a poor or good credit score.

Is There Car Insurance for Low-Income Families and Individuals in California?

The state of California offers an assistance program for low-income individuals. You must meet a number of qualifications to be eligible for insurance through the state’s Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program. To start, you must be 19 years old, have a valid driver’s license and a car that’s not worth more than $25,000. You’ll have to provide proof of income showing that your household income is below 250% of the federal poverty level.

If you don’t qualify, the best option for the cheapest car insurance would be a minimum coverage policy. Alternatively, you might consider pay-per-mile insurance, which can be a good choice if you don’t drive much.

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California’s Government Assistance Program for Low-Income Drivers

The California government has a car insurance assistance program for low-income individuals — called Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program (CLCA). This program is for drivers with a good driving record and a household income below 250% of the federal poverty level. It covers liability insurance and the has the following coverage limits:

  • $10,000 per person for bodily injury
  • $20,000 per car for bodily injury
  • $3,000 per accident for property damage
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ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENT CAR INSURANCE

To be eligible for car insurance through the Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program in California, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age.
  • Have a valid California driver's license.
  • Have a car that’s worth $25,000 or less.
  • Earn less than 250% of the federal poverty level.

The Cheapest California Car Insurance Companies for Low-Income Drivers

Insurance companies in California can’t use your income to determine your car insurance premiums; however, other factors like your coverage level and age have a significant effect. As a low-income individual, the least expensive option for you would be a minimum coverage policy.

MoneyGeek found that Progressive and GEICO are the cheapest for different types of low-income drivers. We analyzed the cheapest minimum car insurance for low-income families and individuals of different ages.

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The Cheapest California Car Insurance Companies for Low-Income Families

While car insurance rates aren’t generally affected by income, the credit scores of low-income families may affect their car insurance costs.

MoneyGeek researched the cheapest car insurance in California for low-income families with a kid and poor credit scores:

  • Progressive: $2,181 per year
  • State Farm: $2,413 per year

If you have a military background, USAA would be the cheapest option for you at an average annual cost of $2,207.

If you’re a single parent with a child and poor credit scores, MoneyGeek researched the following cheapest companies for you:

  • Progressive: $1,546 per year
  • CSAA: $1,620 per year

Being low-income doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a poor credit score — you can toggle the table below to find the most affordable options.

Sort by family type:

Single parent w/ a kid

Switch by Credit Score:

Good Credit Score

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  • Company
    Annual Rates
  • Progressive
    $1,546
  • CSAA
    $1,620
  • USAA
    $1,645
  • GEICO
    $1,671
  • Esurance
    $1,831
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The Cheapest California Car Insurance Companies for Low-Income Individuals

MoneyGeek found out that the following companies offer the cheapest car insurance in California for individuals with poor credit scores:

  • Progressive: $496 per year
  • CSAA: $520 per year

For individuals with a military background, USAA offers the cheapest policy at an average cost of $497 per year. If you’re a low-income individual, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have bad credit scores.

Switch by Credit Score:

Good Credit Score

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  • Company
    Annual Rates
  • Progressive
    $496
  • USAA
    $497
  • CSAA
    $520
  • GEICO
    $536
  • Esurance
    $588

The Cheapest California Car Insurance Companies for Low-Income Students

Since young student drivers in California have less experience on the road, they have to pay more for car insurance. Although they aren’t being charged more due to their income level — young student drivers usually have lower-incomes and car insurance takes up a significant chunk of it.

MoneyGeek researched the following cheapest companies for young student drivers with a poor credit score:

  • Progressive: $1,043 per year
  • CSAA: $1,094 per year

For drivers with a military background, USAA would be the most affordable option at an average cost of $1,046 per year.

Switch by Credit Score:

Good Credit Score

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  • Company
    Annual Rates
  • Progressive
    $1,043
  • USAA
    $1,046
  • CSAA
    $1,094
  • GEICO
    $1,128
  • Esurance
    $1,236

The Cheapest California Car Insurance Companies for Low-Income Seniors

MoneyGeek found out that seniors in California pay a higher amount for a car insurance policy compared to middle-aged drivers and their credit scores might also affect their car insurance expenses.

We researched the following cheapest car insurance companies for seniors in California:

  • GEICO: $589 per year
  • State Farm: $599 per year

For veterans or individuals with a military background, USAA offers the most affordable policies at an average cost of $561 per year.

If you’re a low-income senior, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a poor credit score.

Switch by Credit Score:

Good Credit Score

Scroll for more

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  • Company
    Annual Rates
  • USAA
    $561
  • GEICO
    $589
  • State Farm
    $599
  • Progressive
    $622
  • CSAA
    $622

Does Income Affect Car Insurance Rates in California?

In California, the insurance companies can’t use your income to calculate your car insurance rates. However, other factors related to your income may play a role. For example, young drivers in California pay more for car insurance than middle-aged adults due to their inexperience. Younger drivers are more likely to get into accidents. Since these drivers may also be starting their careers, their incomes are probably lower than older drivers and so insurance costs affect them more.

Drivers with lower incomes may make more claims than those with higher income levels because they can’t afford to pay for repairs out-of-pocket. The problem here is that insurers charge more for those with a history of claims.

MoneyGeek analyzed the following different factors that might be related to income and how they affect car insurance rates in California:

  • A student driver on family policy.
  • Driving record.
  • Expanded coverage.

Other factors, such as your age and car’s model, are also important factors in determining your car insurance rates.

  • Factor
    How it Affects Your Rates
  • Adding a Teen Driver

    On adding a teen driver — you would have to pay as much as 3.3x more for a policy.

  • Driving Record

    If you have a bad driving record, your car insurance rates are going to be 2.9x as expensive.

  • Coverage Levels

    Your coverage levels also have an effect on your car insurance rates — making them 2.7x as expensive.

  • Age of Driver

    Your car insurance rates increase with your age. Older adults would have to pay as much as 1.1x more for a policy.

  • Car Model

    If you have an older car, car insurance can be twice as expensive.

Frequently Asked Questions About Low-Income Car Insurance in California

MoneyGeek answers the following frequently asked questions to help you understand how low income car insurance works in California.

Methodology

MoneyGeek calculated the cost of car insurance for low-income drivers in California using quotes sourced in partnership with Quadrant Information Services. The sample driver is either a 40-year-old male, a single 40-year-old parent with a 16-year-old child, an adult couple each 40 years old, or a couple with a 16-year-old child. The individual or family drives a 2010 Toyota Camry LE. The driver buys the minimum car insurance required in California.

Costs for poor and good credit scores were extrapolated based on MoneyGeek’s dataset of credit score rate adjustments by score categorization.

About the Author


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Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content manager with MoneyGeek specializing in insurance. Mark has years of experience analyzing the insurance market and creating original research and content. He graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts and Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Arts.