Government Auto Insurance: The Affordable Option for Low Incomes

Government-sponsored auto insurance programs, AKA public auto insurance, may be able to help you get affordable coverage, depending on your circumstances. Learn the details on who can get covered by government auto insurance.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 24, 2022

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Things to Remember

  • Currently, only California, Hawaii, and New Jersey provide some type of government-sponsored public auto insurance
  • Maryland provides a low-income vehicle insurance policy for qualifying drivers, however, it is not a government-sponsored program
  • If you are not eligible for government-sponsored coverage or reside in a state that does not provide it, there are still methods to reduce your rates, such as driving properly and obtaining a low-income car insurance discount

If you are having financial difficulties and are concerned about paying for auto insurance, you may be interested in government auto insurance. However, because it is only offered in a few states, you may prefer to shop around and look for inexpensive auto insurance quotes online. Before you buy government auto insurance, it pays to shop around and search for cheap auto insurance rates online.

What is government public auto insurance?

In the majority of states, basic auto insurance is required by law. While most require drivers to get car insurance, premiums vary by state, and those rates may be rather high. 

As a result, some state governments offer specially priced, low-income car insurance options.

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Who qualifies for government auto insurance?

Government-sponsored auto insurance is not available in all 50 states. Currently, only California, Hawaii, and New Jersey offer it. Maryland has a comparable low-income insurance program, but it is not funded by the state.

As state governments fund public auto insurance programs, they may give drivers much lower rates than commercial insurance companies. They may give drivers much lower rates than commercial insurance firms, making them ideal for individuals who can’t afford auto insurance. Each state has its own set of income-based eligibility standards, which we have summarized here:

California

California’s low-income program, known as the Low-Cost Auto Insurance Program (CLCA), is open to those who have a California driver’s license, are at least 16 years old, and have a car valued at less than $25,000. A clean driving record is also required. This program offers minimum liability coverage to qualified drivers to ensure they’re able to meet state requirements to drive legally.

As previously stated, each state has its own set of income-based restrictions. Depending on the number of people living with you, the maximum amount of money you may earn and still qualify for California-sponsored coverage is different. To be eligible, drivers must also be at least 16 years old and have logged a minimum of 3,500 miles on the road.

New Jersey

The application procedure for New Jersey’s government car insurance program for low-income families, known as the Special Automobile Insurance Policy (SAIP), is usually straightforward. Essentially, this is a government auto insurance program offered by the state. You must be uninsured, enrolled in a Medicaid program that covers hospitalization, and be within the income threshold set by the state. If you fulfill both of these conditions, you can purchase auto insurance for a dollar per day, which totals $365 per year. 

Hawaii

Financial and food assistance programs in Hawaii are in charge of the state’s government car insurance. In Hawaii, the state-sponsored Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program is a little less expansive. A current Hawaii driver’s license is required, as well as being a state resident. While California’s low-income assistance program has defined income qualifying requirements based on family size, the state has developed its own set of standards, but the driver must be within the income threshold set by the state.

The application procedure for New Jersey’s government car insurance program for low-income families is straightforward. You must be uninsured and enrolled in a Medicaid program that covers hospitalization. If you fulfill both of these conditions, you can purchase auto insurance for a dollar per day, which totals $365 per year.

Moreover, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or another kind of government assistance qualifies you for government vehicle insurance. In order to qualify for free car insurance, you must be registered in the state’s Aged, Blind, and Disabled (AABD) program.

Find your state’s insurance contact information and website below. This will be a good start in finding out all about your options from your state directly.

U.S. State Official Insurance Department Contact Information
StatesWebsitePhone Number
Alabamawww.aldoi.gov(334) 269-3550
Alaskawww.commerce.alaska.gov1-800-INSURAK (in-state outside Anchorage)
(907) 269-7900 (Anchorage office)
(907) 465-2515 (Juneau office)
Arizonahttps://insurance.az.gov(602) 364-2499
(800) 325-2548 (In Arizona but outside the Phoenix area)
Arkansasinsurance.arkansas.gov(800) 282-9134 or (501) 371-2600
Californiawww.insurance.ca.gov(800) 927-4357 (HELP)
(800) 482-4833 (TTY)
Coloradowww.colorado.gov/pacific(303) 894-7855 or (800) 886-7675
Connecticutwww.ct.gov/cid(860) 297-3800 or (800) 203-3447
Delawareinsurance.delaware.gov(302) 674-7300
Floridawww.floir.com(850) 413-3140
Georgiawww.oci.ga.gov(404) 656-2070 or (800) 656-2298
Hawaiicca.hawaii.gov/ins(808) 586-2790 or (808) 586-2799
Idahodoi.idaho.gov(208) 334-4250
Illinoisinsurance.illinois.gov(312) 814-2420 (Chicago office) or (217) 782-4515 (Springfield office)
Indianawww.in.gov/idoi(800) 622-4461
Iowaiid.iowa.gov(515) 281-5705 or (877) 955-1212
Kansaswww.ksinsurance.org(785) 296-3071 or (800) 432-2484
Kentuckyinsurance.ky.gov(800) 595-6053 or (502) 564-3630
Louisianawww.ldi.la.gov(800) 259-5300
Mainewww.maine.gov/pfr/insurance(207) 624-8475
Marylandhttps://www.mdinsurance.state.md.us(410) 468-2090
Massachusettswww.mass.gov/orgs/division-of-insurance(617) 521-7794 or (877) 563-4467
Michiganwww.michigan.gov/difs(517) 284-8800 or (877) 999-6442
Minnesotamn.gov/commerce(651) 539-1500 or (800) 657-3602
Mississippiwww.mid.ms.gov(601) 359-3569 or (800) 562-2957
Missouriinsurance.mo.gov(573) 751-4126
Montanahttps://csimt.gov(800) 332-6148 or (406) 444-2040
Nebraskadoi.nebraska.gov(402) 471-2201
Nevadadoi.nv.gov(888) 872-3234
New Hampshirewww.nh.gov/insurance(603) 271-2261 or (800) 852-3416
New Jerseywww.state.nj.us/dobi(609) 292-7272 or (800) 446-7467
New Mexicowww.osi.state.nm.us(855) 4ASK-OSI (855-427-5674)
New Yorkwww.dfs.ny.gov(800) 342-3736
North Carolinawww.ncdoi.com(855) 408-1212
North Dakotawww.nd.gov/ndins(701) 328-2440 or (800) 247-0560
Ohiowww.insurance.ohio.gov(800) 686-1526
Oklahomawww.ok.gov/oid(800) 522-0071 or (405) 5210-2828
Oregondfr.oregon.gov(888) 877-4894
Pennsylvaniawww.insurance.pa.gov(877) 881-6388
Rhode Islandwww.dbr.state.ri.us/divisions/insurance(401) 462-9520
South Carolinadoi.sc.gov(803) 737-6160
South Dakotadlr.sd.gov/insurance(605) 773-3563
Tennesseewww.tn.gov/commerce(615) 741-2241
Texaswww.tdi.texas.gov(512) 676-6000 or (800) 578-4677
Utahinsurance.utah.gov(801) 538-3800
Vermontwww.dfr.vermont.gov(802) 828-3301
Virginiawww.scc.virginia.gov/boi(804) 371-9741 or (800) 552-7945
Washingtonwww.insurance.wa.gov(800) 562-6900
Washington D.C.disb.dc.gov(202) 727-8000
West Virginiawww.wvinsurance.gov(304) 558-3386
Wisconsinoci.wi.gov(608) 266-3585 (Madison) or (800) 236-8517 (statewide)
Wyomingdoi.wyo.gov(307) 777-7401 or (800) 438-5768
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Even though government auto insurance plans help ease the financial burden, it’s important to always get quotes from multiple sources before deciding on a policy.

Government Auto Insurance Alternatives 

If you find out that low-income car insurance in your state is unavailable, do not fret. Insurance premiums are no longer as high as they formerly were. As more insurance providers enter the market, these providers are offering cost-effective and more affordable prices.

According to research conducted by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), Louisiana, Florida, and Michigan have the most expensive vehicle insurance, while Iowa has the least expensive. For example, Louisiana, the state with the highest vehicle insurance premiums, has an average premium value of $1,545.82. So, you can manage your premiums depending on the area you’re living in. Additionally, you can compare insurance rates in order to obtain the best deal.

Take a look at this table to see some of the government, military, and veteran discounts that may be available to you.

Military, Veteran, Government, and Employment Discounts Offered by Company
CompaniesEmergency DeploymentFederal EmployeeForward Collision WarningMembership/GroupMilitaryMilitary GaragingOccupationRecent Retirees
21st Century
AAA
Allstate
American Family
Ameriprise
Amica
Country Financial
Esurance
Farmers
GEICO
Liberty Mutual
MetLife
Nationwide
Progressive
Safe Auto
Safeco
State Farm
The General
The Hanover
The Hartford
Travelers
USAA
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As you can see, a number of auto insurance companies offer some form of discount related to being a government employee or active or former military.

Take a look at this table to see a few of the different discounts insurance companies offer for good driving, being a good student, and more.

Good Student, Good Driver, and Lifestyle Discounts Offered by Company
Discounts Offered21st CenturyAAAAllstateAmerican FamilyAmeripriseAmicaCountry FinancialEsuranceFarmersGEICOLiberty MutualMetLifeNationwideProgressiveSafe AutoSafecoState FarmThe GeneralThe HanoverThe HartfordTravelersUSAA
Claim Free
Defensive Driver
Distant Student
Driver's Ed
Driving Device/App
Engaged Couple
Further Education
Good Student
Good Credit
Low Mileage
Married
New Graduate
Newer Vehicle
Newly Licensed
Newlyweds
Online Shopper
Paperless Documents
Paperless/Auto Billing
Roadside Assistance
Safe Driver
Students & Alumni
Young Driver
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Most companies have discounts you may qualify for. Speak to a licensed insurance agent when shopping for auto insurance to find out which discounts may be available to you.

Final Thoughts on Government Auto Insurance

According to the Insurance Information Instituteone in eight drivers is currently uninsured, despite it being illegal in 49 states. There are several advantages and disadvantages to public auto insurance. The advantages include a reasonable price and simple-to-understand coverage. The disadvantages include limited coverage and often increased taxes to finance the expense of the program. But, if government auto insurance is available in your area and you’re eligible, it can definitely help you get auto insurance at a low cost compared to choosing a private insurance company.

The easiest way to find auto insurance is to compare rates for free. Enter your ZIP code into our comparison tool below to compare government auto insurance rates with a standard policy.

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