Low-Income Car Insurance (2024)

Car insurance is an unavoidable expense for all drivers, even if you have a low income. If you’re a driver with low income, you might qualify for assistance in some states.

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Updated July 18, 2023 at 12:00 PM PDT

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When your income is low, you likely face challenges to make ends meet. Car insurance, an unavoidable expense for drivers, puts pressure on people with low income. Most states require a minimum level of car insurance that can protect your financial situation after an accident.[1]

Quick Facts
  • Single people with annual earnings of $14,580 or less, and families of four with $30,000 or less of annual income are considered at or below the federal poverty level.

  • Households of four with an annual income of less than $71,500 qualify as having low income.[2]

  • Your income doesn’t directly affect your car insurance rates.

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What is state-sponsored low-income car insurance?

Drivers with low income have various options for car insurance. A few states offer government-backed programs that allow drivers an opportunity to get the car insurance they need at a price they can afford.

Drivers living in California, Hawaii, and New Jersey have access to state-sponsored car insurance. You’ll typically need to meet specific eligibility requirements related to your household income before getting approval for state-sponsored car insurance. These programs tend to offer more affordable car insurance options for drivers with low income.

Here’s a breakdown of available government-sponsored state programs for drivers with low income.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/150x150/885773089c/states_california.svg

    California

    California’s state-funded Low Cost Automobile (CLCA) Insurance Program provides affordable coverage to eligible drivers. It only provides state-minimum liability insurance for the vehicle’s primary driver and one additional driver. You can also add medical payments and uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance for an additional fee.

    You must meet the following requirements to qualify for the CLCA program:

    • Have a valid California driver’s license (or a pending license reinstatement)

    • Have a California address where you live and park your vehicle

    • Own a vehicle valued at less than $25,000

    • Have no at-fault accidents in the past three years and have a maximum of one point on your driving record

    • Meet the income level requirements (maximums of $36,450 for one person; $49,300 for two people; $62,150 for three people; and $75,000 for four people)

    • Have no more than two vehicles registered in your name

    • Only use your car for personal use, which means no ride-sharing or delivery driving

    If you want to sign up for this program, start by completing the eligibility questionnaire. If you’re eligible for the program, you can then apply online or schedule a meeting with a local agent to get this coverage.[3]

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/150x150/5e9363a99e/states_hawaii.svg

    Hawaii

    Hawaii’s Assistance to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (AABD) program provides free car insurance and other essential benefits to eligible drivers.

    To qualify, you must meet the following requirements:[4]

    • Be a Hawaii resident

    • Have a valid Hawaii driver’s license

    • Be older than 65 or meet the Social Security Administration (SSA) definition of disabled or blind

    • Receive public assistance benefits of some kind

    • Meet the income requirements

    • Be the sole owner of your vehicle

    To learn more about available car insurance types and how to secure coverage, reach out to Hawaii’s Department of Human Services.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/150x150/96f6e05984/states_new-jersey.svg

    New Jersey

    New Jersey has two low-income car insurance programs.

    The New Jersey Special Automobile Insurance Policy (SAIP) allows New Jersey residents with low income to secure medical payments coverage if they receive federal Medicaid with hospitalization benefits.

    Drivers who qualify for this policy can get a policy for $365 per year, paid in two installments. But if you can afford to pay your full premium up front, you only owe $360. The policy only provides medical payments coverage.

    New Jersey’s other low-income program, known as the Basic Policy, only provides a small amount of personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability coverage. Drivers can also add bodily injury liability, collision, and comprehensive insurance for an extra fee. The State of New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance recommends the Basic Policy for people with limited assets and family responsibilities.[5]

    You can purchase both policies through most New Jersey auto insurance companies and insurance agents.


Non-state-affiliated programs to know

If your state doesn’t offer a state-sponsored car insurance program, you might look into programs not affiliated with your state. These programs aim to help drivers with low income get car insurance if they can’t afford a traditional policy. To qualify for these programs, you generally must earn below certain maximum income requirements.

Here’s a breakdown of a couple of non-state-affiliated programs.

Maryland Auto

The Maryland Auto Insurance program provides guaranteed car insurance for Maryland drivers with a history of denied or canceled coverage. To participate in the program, you must be a Maryland resident and have a valid Maryland driver’s license.

In addition to liability-only insurance, you can get collision, comprehensive, rental car, and towing coverage through the Maryland Auto program.[6]

CURE

Offering car insurance coverage in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, CURE (Citizens United Reciprocal Exchange) specializes in insuring people with low income and high-risk drivers who may struggle to get approved for a traditional policy. CURE doesn’t use your education, occupation, or credit score to calculate your car insurance rates, so those factors won’t affect your premium.[7]

CURE offers a variety of coverages, including liability only, uninsured/underinsured motorist, PIP, collision, and comprehensive insurance. The company also offers 24/7 roadside assistance.

How much is car insurance for low-income drivers?

Insurance policies vary in price because insurance companies consider a wide range of factors to determine your premiums.[8] Some factors that affect your rates include your driving record, age, and vehicle type.

The insurance company you work with also affects costs because companies calculate premiums differently. For example, the average liability-only quote ranges from $60 per month with COUNTRY Financial to $146 per month with Allstate. If you live in a state with state-sponsored low-income car insurance programs, you may get car insurance at reduced or no cost.

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Cheapest car insurance companies for low-income drivers

Even if you don’t live in a state with car insurance programs for drivers with low income, you can find affordable liability-only insurance. Average quotes for a liability policy currently start as low as $60 per month with COUNTRY Financial, $76 per month with Auto-Owners, and $106 with USAA.

See how current average rates vary from the insurance companies included in the table below.

Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Liability Quote
COUNTRY Financial$60
Auto-Owners$76
USAA$106
Erie$107
Mile Auto$107
Root$111
State Auto$117
GEICO$125
State Farm$125
Safeco$128
Travelers$131
National General$132
Metromile$136
Commonwealth Casualty$141
Allstate$146
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.
Minimum Car Insurance Requirements by State

Minimum Car Insurance Requirements by State

Cheapest low-income car insurance companies by state

The state you live in will likely affect your insurance rates due to state-based factors like population density, climate, crime rates, and minimum insurance requirements. States with higher litigation rates, widespread auto insurance fraud, and high car-repair costs typically have higher insurance costs.

See how average liability quotes from the cheapest insurance company in each state compare in the table below.

StateInsurance CompanyAverage Monthly Liability Quote
AlabamaUSAA$72
AlaskaMidvale Home & Auto$107
ArizonaAuto-Owners$64
ArkansasState Farm$47
CaliforniaFarmers$87
ColoradoState Farm$62
ConnecticutState Farm$81
DelawareUSAA$63
FloridaState Farm$131
GeorgiaAuto-Owners$107
HawaiiFarmers$71
IdahoKemper$89
IllinoisAuto-Owners$54
IndianaAuto-Owners$34
IowaSafeco$61
KansasMidvale Home & Auto$80
LouisianaState Farm$135
MaineLiberty Mutual$71
MarylandUSAA$104
MassachusettsAllstate$49
MichiganAuto-Owners$85
MinnesotaState Farm$69
MississippiState Farm$59
MissouriUSAA$38
MontanaThe General$121
NebraskaClearcover$97
NevadaState Farm$95
New HampshireLiberty Mutual$64
New JerseyNJM$88
New MexicoKemper$98
New YorkKemper$80
North CarolinaErie$48
North DakotaThe General$126
OhioState Farm$41
OklahomaState Farm$48
OregonState Farm$47
PennsylvaniaKemper$54
Rhode IslandMidvale Home & Auto$182
South CarolinaUSAA$64
South DakotaDairyland$117
TennesseeState Farm$40
TexasState Farm$65
UtahUSAA$47
VirginiaAuto-Owners$50
VermontDairyland$89
WashingtonState Farm$65
Washington, D.C.GEICO$136
West VirginiaState Farm$47
WisconsinUSAA$45
WyomingDairyland$93
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

Factors affecting auto insurance rates

Insurance companies look at a wide range of factors when determining premiums. Here’s a look at some of the factors that could affect your premiums:

  • Driving record: Good drivers without any traffic violations tend to pay less than a driver with multiple accidents or other violations.

  • Age: Older drivers typically have more experience behind the wheel, which often leads to lower insurance costs. Younger drivers with limited experience tend to face higher rates. Senior drivers older than 70 may face a gradual increase in rates.

  • Vehicle type: The value of your vehicle affects your costs. Vehicles with more safety features typically cost less to insure, too.

  • Vehicle mileage: You increase your chances of an accident when you put more miles on your vehicle because you spend more time on the road.

  • Location: Where you live affects insurance costs because of auto theft and vandalism rates, cost of repairs, accidents, traffic congestion, and more tied to your ZIP code in larger cities. Generally, a higher chance of theft or accidents in an area leads to a higher rate.

  • Gender: Since women tend to get into fewer accidents, they typically pay less for car insurance.

  • Credit history: While your low income won’t directly affect your rates, a poor credit history can negatively affect your car insurance premiums.

  • Type of coverage: More robust coverage comes at a cost. In general, a minimum-coverage policy is the most affordable. If you add comprehensive or collision coverage, you’ll likely need to pay more.

Compare Car Insurance by Age and Gender

Compare Car Insurance by Age and Gender

How can low-income drivers save on insurance?

Though you can’t cut car insurance out of your budget completely, you can find ways to save on your policy. Here are a few ways to save on your insurance costs:

  • Shop around from different insurers. You can save money by comparing quotes to find the most affordable car insurance policy for your situation. “The final facet of this strategy is to periodically look around to see if other companies are offering better rates,” says Ben Michael, founder and managing partner at Michael & Associates.

  • Raise your deductibles. Increasing your deductible will result in a lower rate. Before raising your deductible, confirm you can afford to pay your deductible in the event of an accident.

  • Reduce your coverage amounts. Reducing your coverage to the minimum car insurance requirements often leads to lower premiums than a full-coverage policy.

  • Switch to pay-per-mile car insurance. Some insurance companies charge for insurance by the mile. If you drive infrequently, per-mile car insurance might make sense for your budget.

  • Build your credit. Some insurance companies take your credit history into account, so improving your credit standing could lead to lower premiums. Get started by making on-time payments a priority.

  • Look for government-sponsored options. If you live in a state that offers a state-sponsored car insurance option, it might come with cheaper rates than private insurance.

  • Choose an inexpensive vehicle. Some cars cost less to insure. Shop around for a vehicle that comes with lower car insurance costs.

Car insurance discounts for low-income drivers

Auto insurance discounts are another way you can lower your premiums. Here’s a look at some of the most common discounts to consider:

  • Clean driving record: Safe drivers without any traffic violations tend to earn discounts for safe driving.

  • Good student: If you’re a student living on a tight budget, getting good grades can help you lock in lower car insurance costs.

  • Defensive driver course: A defensive driving course can help you improve your driving skills and earn you a discount. Before signing up, confirm your eligibility with your insurance company. You typically need a clean driving record for at least three years to qualify.

  • Bundling discount: You might be able to earn a discount for purchasing multiple policies through the same insurance company. For example, try to bundle your auto insurance with your renters or homeowners insurance.

  • Safety features: Safety features embedded in your vehicle can lower the chances of an accident and lower your premiums. Ask about any discounts for safety features from your insurer.

  • Affiliation discounts: Some organizations, like an employer or alumni group, qualify for special discounts. It never hurts to ask about this opportunity.

Car Insurance Discount Guide

Car Insurance Discount Guide

How to find low-income car insurance

If you earn a low income, you might struggle to find an insurance option that suits your budget. Though paying for car insurance might feel like a big expense, you can decrease costs by choosing the most affordable options.

Use the strategies below to help you find the car insurance you need:

  • Research companies. Some auto insurers have a reputation of offering a good customer service experience, while others don’t. Doing a little research up front can help you avoid a painful claim process.

  • Use an online comparison tool. Comparison shopping doesn’t have to be difficult. You can use Insurify’s online comparison tool to compare quotes from multiple insurers in a matter of minutes.

  • Contact insurance agents. If you want more hands-on assistance, talking with an insurance agent could help. A good insurance agent can help you find quotes from insurers that meet your needs.

The 10 Best Car Insurance Companies

The 10 Best Car Insurance Companies

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Frequently Asked Questions

Low-income car insurance FAQs

If you’re on a budget and looking for car insurance, here’s some more information about getting car insurance with a low income.

  • Who has the cheapest auto insurance rates?

    It depends. A few insurance companies with the cheapest auto insurance rates include COUNTRY Financial, Auto-Owners, and USAA. But since everyone has different insurance needs and driving history, you should shop around for the lowest rates.

  • What’s the cheapest type of car to insure?

    Some of the cheapest cars to insure include the Subaru Outback, Dodge Grand Caravan, Subaru Forester, and Chevrolet Captiva, according to Insurify data. Generally, older and less expensive cars cost less to insure than newer and luxury cars.

  • Are there risks to getting cheap auto insurance?

    Cheap auto insurance offers an opportunity to significantly decrease your premium costs. While liability-only coverage is generally the cheapest, keep in mind that insurance professionals warn that buying only state-required insurance can leave you financially vulnerable following an at-fault accident.

    Before committing to any particular car insurance policy, read reviews about the company. It’s also a good idea to keep in mind that more robust policies like collision and comprehensive insurance provide more protection than liability insurance if you have an accident.

  • Where can you get affordable car insurance?

    If you want to find more affordable car insurance than your current policy, shop around to find the best deals for your insurance needs when you purchase or renew an auto policy.

  • What happens if you can’t afford car insurance anymore?

    If you live in California, Hawaii, or New Jersey, you may qualify for a state-sponsored program for drivers with low income that provides car insurance for reduced or no cost.

    If not, you can check with your state’s motor vehicle department for more information about the exact coverage requirements and eliminate optional coverages. Choosing to drive without car insurance could lead to significant penalties.

Sources

  1. Insurance Information Institute. "What is auto insurance?." Accessed April 10, 2023
  2. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "FY 2022 State Income Limits." Accessed April 10, 2023
  3. California's Low Cost Auto Insurance. "Get Reliable Insurance For Less." Accessed April 10, 2023
  4. Hawaii Department of Human Services. "Hawaii No-Fault Insurance." Accessed April 10, 2023
  5. State of New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance. "Get Legal with New Jersey's Basic Auto Insurance Policy." Accessed April 10, 2023
  6. Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund. "Minimum Coverae Requirements." Accessed April 10, 2023
  7. CURE Auto Insurance. "Why CURE." Accessed April 10, 2023
  8. Insurance Information Institute. "What determines the price of an auto insurance policy?." Accessed April 10, 2023

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