How to Get Low Income Car Insurance

Is car insurance too expensive for you to buy right now? Your state may be able to offer financial aid. Find out more about it here.
Stressed woman looking down at bills.

Just about every state requires car insurance to drive. The only states that don’t are New Hampshire and Virginia. But insurance can be expensive. This can make it hard for those who have a low income to buy it. It might even seem downright impossible to get insurance if you’re low income. This may force you to consider the possibility of not driving at all.

Fortunately, there are ways that you can get the coverage that you need. Some states offer programs for low-income individuals to get insurance. There are also ways that you can make your insurance cheaper. For example, taking advantage of discounts is a good way to lower your rates. Selecting the right insurance provider is also a key step to getting more affordable coverage.

This article will show you how to get insurance if you’re a low-income individual. That includes taking a look at state-led programs for low-income people who are at or below the poverty line. You’ll also learn how to lower your insurance costs so that they can be as cheap as possible.

State-Led Programs Can Help You

There are a few states who offer programs that help you buy car insurance if you can’t afford it. Some also refer to these programs as “government auto insurance.” States build these programs to help those who would otherwise be unable to get insurance because they can’t afford it financially.

Only three states offer a government insurance program. These states are Hawaii, California, and New Jersey. Each state runs the program in its own way. This includes how you become eligible and how much help they give you. All other states offer similar programs to help high-risk drivers get insurance.

Below is a breakdown of all three of the state’s government auto insurance programs:


Hawaii offers financial assistance for buying insurance through its SNAP program. The SNAP program provides financial aid to those who are below a certain income or net worth limit. With the program, your insurance will come at no cost as long as you meet their eligibility standards. To be eligible for the program, you need to:

  • Be a resident of Hawaii and a US citizen
  • Have an income less than Hawaii’s standard of assistance
  • Have your total assets (stocks, bonds, real estate, cash) be below Hawaii’s standard of assistance.


California’s Low-Cost Auto insurance program (CLCA) offers financial aid to those who need it. This program allows those who are low-income to get cheaper insurance. To take advantage of this program, you’ll need to qualify. California has a set of requirements that you need to meet to be eligible. Here’s what you’ll need to do to qualify:

  • Have a current California driver’s license
  • Be at least 16 years of age
  • Maintain a good driving record
  • Have an income that doesn’t exceed California’s threshold of eligibility
  • Own a vehicle that is worth $25,000 or less

The CLCA provides people with basic liability coverage. The CLCA will offer you coverage of up to:

  • $10,000 of bodily injury per person
  • $20,000 of bodily injury per accident
  • $3,000 of property damage

You’ll also be able to get uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This is for when you get into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Here are the limits you’ll receive:

  • $10,000 for each person (includes passengers)
  • $20,000 for each accident

Medical payments coverage is another part of the program. You’ll receive up to:

  • $1,000 for each person

Unfortunately, the program doesn’t include collision and comprehensive coverage. This means that damage to your car won’t be part of California’s program. You’ll have to add that to your policy on your own if you can afford it. Keep in mind that California only offers the bare minimum to you as part of their low-income program.

New Jersey

New Jersey also provides an opportunity for low-income people to get help with their auto insurance. New Jersey calls this program the Special Auto Insurance Policy (SAIP). It’s meant to help those who are at risk of not getting insurance because of a lack of “financial resources.”

Note that this policy isn’t free. It costs $360 up front or $365 in “two installments.” It also doesn’t cover property damage liability or collision and comprehensive insurance. To be eligible for New Jersey’s policy, you’ll need to enroll for Federal Medicaid with Hospitalization.

Discounts Will Lower Your Rates

Unfortunately, only three states offer insurance programs for low-income people. But there are other ways for you to lower your rates and make insurance a bit cheaper. Most insurers offer discounts that you can take advantage of. Qualifying for many discounts can add up and slice off a pretty big percentage off of your rates.

Here are some of the most common discounts that insurance companies offer:

Multi-Car Discount

Having more than one more car on your policy is one way to get a discount. The amount of savings you’ll get will depend on your insurer. For example, GEICO customers can potentially save 25% with the multi-vehicle discount.

Multi-Policy Discount

Bundling your insurance policies is a great way to save money on your insurance. This is when you combine auto, home, and other types of insurance under one provider. Your savings will vary depending on your insurance costs and on your insurer.

Vehicle Safety Discounts

Your insurer may hand out discounts for car safety. This is when your car meets current safety standards. Examples include:

 Check with your insurer to see what types of car safety discounts they have.

Good Student

Nearly every insurance company offers a good student discount. If you have a kid in school, make sure you take advantage of this discount. It can save you up to 15% off your premium.

Military Discount

Many insurers offer discounts for veterans or current service members. All you have to do is prove that you’re affiliated with the military in some way according to your insurer’s requirements. Be sure to speak with your agent to see what you need to do to get the discount.

Make Sure You’re Not a High-Risk Driver

Being a high-risk driver is very expensive. This is when insurance companies view you as a high-risk to do business with. Usually, your driving record is what will make you high-risk. Violations like DUIs and reckless driving will likely cause you to become high-risk immediately.

The best way to avoid being high risk is by making smart decisions. Here are the best ways to keep your risk low:

  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Avoid tickets
  • Drive as safely as you can. Practice defensive driving to avoid accidents
  • Keep a good credit score
  • Don’t miss any insurance payments or cancel your policy without notice

High-risk drivers will often not be able to find car insurance. This is because they’re a high risk of costing insurers money. If you’re high-risk, you’ll likely need to turn toward non-standard insurance. Non-standard insurance is far more expensive than regular coverage. Being high-risk will make it almost impossible to buy insurance if you’re low-income.

What Affects the Cost of Your Insurance

Insurance rates are unique to each person. This is because insurers use a variety of factors to determine your rates. These rates include:

  • Where you live
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Credit score
  • Car mileage
  • Type of car you drive
  • Driving record

You should keep these rate factors in mind if you want to lower your costs. Age and gender aren’t in your control. But you can control many other factors. Living in an area with fewer accidents and crime can potentially lower your rates. Keeping a good credit score and driving record will also help. If you’re still unhappy with how much you pay for coverage, compare auto insurance quotes from major companies. That’s your best bet for finding great coverage for the fairest price.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do you get insurance if you can’t afford it?

A:  There are a few ways to make your insurance cheaper or even get it for free. New Jersey, Hawaii, and California offer low-income insurance programs to make sure everyone gets the coverage they need. Otherwise, we recommend trying to lower your insurance rates as much as possible. This includes seeking discounts and maintaining a good driving record.

Q: How do I know if I qualify for low-income auto insurance?

A: New Jersey, California, and Hawaii all offer low-income government insurance. They each have their own rules to qualify. In Hawaii and California, you must be below their income and asset worth threshold. You should consult with Hawaii or California’s state laws to see what their threshold is. In New Jersey, you’ll need to have signed up for Medicaid to qualify.

Q: How much insurance will my state give me if I’m low income?

A: Hawaii, California, and New Jersey are the only states that offer government-assisted insurance programs. They will typically give you the bare minimum amount of insurance that they require. This includes the minimum limits that they require. It also includes each type of insurance that’s mandatory.

Each state requires different types of insurance and varying amounts. Any extra insurance, such as full coverage, is up to you to add on your own if you can afford to do so.


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