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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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Former Farmers Insurance CSR

UPDATED: Jan 8, 2021

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Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

What You Should Know

  • California, Hawaii, and New Jersey are the only states that currently offer some form of government-sponsored public auto insurance.
  • Maryland has a low-income car insurance program for qualified drivers, but the Maryland Auto Insurance Fund is not government-sponsored.
  • If you don’t qualify for government-sponsored coverage or don’t live in a state that offers it, there are still ways to lower your rates like driving safely and getting discounts.

Public auto insurance provides cheap coverage for drivers who qualify.

Owning a vehicle is expensive. Not only do we have to worry about gas, parking, tolls, repairs, and maintenance, we have to buy pricey auto insurance.

There are a lot of things that affect your auto insurance costs, and it can seem overwhelming.

For those who cannot afford the cost of auto insurance, things might feel hopeless and as if there’s nothing that can be done. However, there may be an affordable public auto insurance option. Getting help with public or private insurance is possible.

How much does public insurance cost? Does public insurance offer better service? Let’s take a look at government auto insurance vs. traditional auto insurance coverage.

Government public auto insurance policies may be available to qualified drivers. However, your eligibility depends on where you live in the United States.

What are the pros and cons of public insurance?  What are the pros and cons of private insurance?

Continue reading to learn which states allow you to buy public auto insurance, how you could be eligible for low-cost auto insurance, and how to compare auto insurance quotes if you don’t qualify for public auto insurance rates.

Enter your ZIP code in our free comparison tool to see if you can get cheap rates without public government auto insurance.

What is public auto insurance?

What is government auto insurance?

Basic auto insurance is required by law in most states. Why is auto insurance mandatory? The government requires that all drivers have at least some form of liability insurance to protect other drivers if you crash into them.

Although most states require you to buy auto insurance, rates differ by state, and those rates can be expensive.

It’s no secret that we all have the option of purchasing insurance from a private auto insurance company. We’ve all heard of companies like GEICO, Allstate, and Progressive. But sometimes, these companies are just too expensive.

This is why there is government public auto insurance. Those with low income or disabilities might qualify for these options. These public options may come from either the federal or local governments.

You can’t get government public auto insurance in all 50 states. California, Hawaii, and New Jersey are the only states that currently offer some form of government-sponsored public auto insurance.

Maryland has a similar low-income program, but the government does not sponsor it.

How much is regular auto insurance for low-income drivers?

Let’s look at the average annual rate for traditional auto insurance in states that offer some kind of public auto insurance program.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates in California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Maryland
StatesAverage Annual Auto Insurance Rates
Hawaii$2,556
California$3,689
Maryland$4,583
New Jersey$5,515
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New Jersey auto insurance is the most expensive out of the four states that offer a public insurance program.

There are a number of factors that can hurt the finances of low-income residents in these states, so the government has issued state-sponsored auto insurance to give low-income individuals a chance to be protected in case of an accident.

However, this government auto insurance isn’t offered through companies like GEICO and Allstate.

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What are state-sponsored auto insurance options for low-income families?

Although there is not free auto insurance for low-income families, there are some other options out there.

Government-sponsored auto insurance is often called low-cost auto insurance or public auto insurance.

It’s worth noting that it’s not the same as a public auto insurance adjuster. Only a few states carry it, and these public auto insurance companies are not privately owned.

Government public car insurance usually offers fewer coverage options but is much cheaper than traditional insurance.

Let’s take a look at the primary public auto insurance options from around the country. Everyone won’t qualify for public insurance, and each state will determine who is eligible for its program.

What are the eligibility requirements for California public auto insurance?

Do you need help with auto insurance payments?

California residents have access to the California Low-Cost Automobile Insurance (CLCA) program. According to their website, the primary goal of the CLCA is to provide an affordable auto insurance option to low-income, good drivers.

This program is available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Alameda, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, and Fresno. The state of California will insure a driver for up to $10,000 bodily injury per person, $3,000 property damage, and up to $20,000 per accident.

Drivers 19 years old or older who have at least three years of driving experience are eligible. Also, their vehicle must be worth less than $20,000, and they must meet the income requirements. Drivers with a good driving record may receive additional help.

Speak to a licensed insurance agent and reach out to the CLCA program to find out if you qualify.

What is the Hawaii low-cost disability auto insurance program?

Residents of Hawaii may qualify for supplemental security income (SSI) insurance through the state’s Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (AABD) program.

This coverage varies based on personal circumstances, so it’s a good idea to reach out to your local government office to find out if you qualify, and if so, what exactly is included for you personally.

What does the Maryland auto insurance fund offer?

If you live in Maryland, you also have a public insurance option, which is the Maryland Auto Insurance Fund.

According to the Maryland State Government, this fund, established in 1972, provides Maryland residents who are unable to obtain insurance in the private market with auto liability insurance.

This policy provides drivers with at least $20,000 per person bodily insurance and at least $15,000 in property damage. The State of Maryland offers interested applicants public auto insurance quotes on their website.

Does New Jersey offer public auto insurance?

New Jersey auto insurance rates cost more than the United States average for auto insurance. However, there’s a government auto insurance option, a public auto insurance rate option, for those who cannot afford traditional coverage.

According to the Special Automobile Insurance Policy (SAIP), the State of New Jersey has an auto insurance program that provides affordable automobile coverage for drivers eligible for Medicaid.

These drivers can obtain medical care for auto accidents at a rate of $365 per year. Although limited, this option is much more affordable than buying medical coverage from a private insurer.

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How can you get cheap private auto insurance?

If there is no government-run auto insurance program in your area, don’t sweat it. Insurance prices these days aren’t as burdensome as they once were. A thriving auto insurance market has kept rates competitive for consumers.

There are also many internet sites out there (including this one) that allow customers to compare insurance quotes to find the cheapest option.

What are some ways for low-income drivers to save on auto insurance?

If you don’t qualify for government assistance auto insurance, there are still some things you can do to lower your rates so they better fit within your budget. Read through the next few sections for some tips on ways to lower your rates.

Does it help to shop around for auto insurance?

If you don’t qualify for government auto insurance programs, don’t have government-assisted auto insurance in your state, or are still on the fence about obtaining government auto insurance, why not give our insurance quote tool a try?

To get started, enter your ZIP code in the box on this page. You will then be asked to fill out a brief questionnaire. Following completion, you will be given auto insurance rates from the top insurance providers in your area.

Whether you choose to go the private route or the public route, don’t worry. Low-cost insurance is ready and available. Good luck with your shopping.

What auto insurance discounts are available to low-income drivers?

While discounts may not lower your rates to something equivalent to what you’d pay under a government assistance auto insurance program, auto insurance discounts can still have a significant effect on your rates.

Take a look at this table to see discounts available from some of the major auto insurance companies across the country.

Auto Insurance Discounts Available by Company
Discounts21st Century Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedAAA Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedAllstate Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedAmerican Family Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedAmeriprise Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedAmica Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedCountry Financial Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedEsurance Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedFarmers Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedGEICO Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedLiberty Mutual Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedMetLife Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedNationwide Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedProgressive Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedSafe Auto Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedSafeco Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedState Farm Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedThe General Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedThe Hanover Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedThe Hartford Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedTravelers Auto Insurance Discounts OfferedUSAA Auto Insurance Discounts Offered
Adaptive Cruise ControlNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Adaptive HeadlightsNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoYesNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Anti-lock BrakesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Anti-TheftYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Daytime Running LightsYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNoNoYesYesYesYes
Electronic Stability ControlNoNoYesYesNoYesYesNoYesNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Utility VehicleNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Vehicle RecoveryYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
VIN EtchingNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoYesYes
Lane Departure WarningNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Newer VehicleYesYesYesNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNoYesYesYes
Green VehicleYesNoYesNoNoNoNoYesYesNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYes
Forward Collision WarningNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Claim FreeYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Continuous CoverageYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesNoNoNoYesYesYesNoNoYesYesYesNo
Defensive DriverYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Distant StudentNoYesYesYesYesYesNoNoYesYesNoNoYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
Driver's EdYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Driving Device/AppNoYesYesYesNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesNoNoYesYesYes
Early SigningYesNoYesYesNoNoYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesNoYesNoNoNoYesYesYes
Emergency DeploymentNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Engaged CoupleNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Family LegacyNoNoNoYesNoYesNoNoNoYesNoYesNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYes
Family PlanNoNoNoYesNoNoYesNoYesNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Farm VehicleNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Fast 5NoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Federal EmployeeNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Full PaymentNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNo
Further EducationNoNoNoNoYesNoYesYesNoYesYesNoYesNoNoYesNoNoYesNoYesNo
Garaging/StoringNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYes
Good CreditNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNo
Good StudentYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
HomeownerYesYesNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNo
Life InsuranceNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Low MileageNoYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
LoyaltyNoNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoYesNoYesYesYesNoYesNoYesNoYesNoYes
MarriedNoYesNoNoNoYesYesYesNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesNoYes
Membership/GroupNoYesNoNoYesNoNoYesNoYesYesYesYesNoNoYesNoNoYesYesYesNo
MilitaryNoNoYesNoNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYesNoNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoYes
Military GaragingNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYes
Multiple DriversNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Multiple PoliciesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Multiple VehiclesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
New AddressNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
New Customer/New PlanNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
New GraduateNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Newly LicensedNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
NewlywedsNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Non-Smoker/Non-DrinkerYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Occasional OperatorNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYes
OccupationNoNoYesNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNoYesNoNoYesYesYesNo
On Time PaymentsNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoYesYesNo
Online ShopperNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Paperless DocumentsNoNoYesYesNoYesNoNoYesNoNoYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Paperless/Auto BillingNoNoYesYesNoYesNoYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Passive RestraintYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Recent RetireesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
RenterNoNoNoNoNoYesNoYesNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Roadside AssistanceNoNoNoNoYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Safe DriverYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYes
Seat Belt UseNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Senior DriverYesNoYesNoNoNoNoYesYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesNoYes
Stable ResidenceNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesNoNoNoYesNoNo
Students & AlumniNoNoNoYesNoNoNoYesNoYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Switching ProviderYesNoNoYesNoYesNoYesYesYesYesNoYesYesNoNoYesYesNoNoNo
VolunteerNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Young DriverYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoYesNoNoYesNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYes
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Speak with a licensed insurance agent to find out which discounts you may qualify for.

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How does your driving record affect auto insurance rates?

Many factors affect car insurance rates for drivers, most notably driving records.

If you don’t qualify for government auto insurance for low-income families, another way to save money is to maintain a clean driving record.

As you might expect, your driving record can have a significant effect on your insurance rates. Take a look at this table to see what we mean.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates based on Driving History
CompaniesAverage Annual Insurance Rates with a Clean Driving RecordAverage Annual Insurance Rates with One AccidentAverage Annual Insurance Rates with One DUIAverage Annual Insurance Rates with One Speeding Ticket
USAA$1,933.68$2,516.24$3,506.03$2,193.25
GEICO$2,145.96$3,192.77$4,875.87$2,645.43
American Family$2,693.61$3,722.75$4,330.24$3,025.74
Nationwide$2,746.18$3,396.95$4,543.20$3,113.68
State Farm$2,821.18$3,396.01$3,636.80$3,186.01
Progressive$3,393.09$4,777.04$3,969.65$4,002.28
Travelers$3,447.69$4,289.74$5,741.40$4,260.80
Farmers$3,460.60$4,518.73$4,718.75$4,079.01
Allstate$3,819.90$4,987.68$6,260.73$4,483.51
Liberty Mutual$4,774.30$6,204.78$7,613.48$5,701.26
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The safer a driver you are, the lower your rates should be (though keep in mind the rates in this table are averages and may not reflect exactly what you’ll pay).

What’s the bottom line for public auto insurance?

There are many pros and cons of public auto insurance. Pros include the low price and easy to understand coverage. Cons are that coverage is limited and taxes are generally raised to cover the cost of the program.

Public auto insurance, also known as government auto insurance for low-income families, provides affordable coverage for drivers who are unable to afford auto insurance through traditional means.

There are only a few states that offer government auto insurance. If you’re a resident of California, Hawaii, or New Jersey, you’re in luck, though there isn’t any standardization across the programs, so depending on where you live, the coverage options vary.

You can also get low-income coverage in Maryland, though it’s not government-sponsored.

Your state may or may not have a public auto insurance option. For more information regarding this issue, it’s best to check with your local DMV.

Even if there isn’t any government-sponsored auto insurance program, there is at least some type of government assistance for which you may qualify. When in doubt, just ask.

The only thing you don’t want to do is let your auto insurance lapse when you can’t make the payments. Driving without insurance can lead to fines, driver’s license suspension, or even jail time.

With the recent health care debate in the United States, many have questioned whether or not the government should provide auto insurance as well. As private insurance rates continue to rise, Americans are beginning to ask whether or not public is the way to go.

Although no move has been made by congress to bring a public auto insurance bill into legislation, people are talking about it. Expect to hear more about this issue in the political arena. Also, expect to see more and more local and state insurance options popping up.

Be sure you shop around before you buy public auto insurance.

If you’re not eligible for affordable government auto insurance assistance, start comparing auto insurance rates by entering your ZIP code in our free comparison tool.

In the meanwhile, look through our FAQ section for answers to any questions you might still have.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Public Auto Insurance

Let’s go over frequently asked questions about govt auto insurance that you may have. For more information, visit our main page for more articles, guides, and reviews.

#1 – Who has the cheapest auto insurance in Colorado?

USAA is usually the cheapest company. However, Colorado’s most affordable auto insurance companies are State Farm, Progressive, Nationwide, and GEICO.

#2 – Why is Colorado auto insurance so high?

The populations of some of Colorado’s cities are dense. Higher density populations mean a higher chance of auto accidents, so insurance companies adjust rates accordingly.

Remember, the higher the risk that an insurance company will need to pay out on a claim, the higher the insurance rates will be.

#3 – What is armored auto insurance?

Armored auto insurance is specialty insurance for armored vehicles.

#4 – Which provinces have private auto insurance?

The provinces in Canada that have private auto insurance include Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island.

#5 – Who has the cheapest full coverage auto insurance?

USAA, GEICO, and State Farm have the cheapest full coverage auto insurance.

#6 – How can I get super cheap auto insurance?

To get the cheapest car insurance, you’ll need to enroll only in the minimum liability auto insurance mandated in your state.

#7 – What does nationalized insurance mean?

Nationalized insurance is a government sponsored health plan. It was rejected in 2007. By 2013, the Affordable Care Act was enacted, creating nationalized health insurance for low-income Americans.