Rather than driving without insurance, some motorists facing financial problems can take advantage of the state's Low Cost Auto Insurance Program, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner says.
At a news conference in Downtown L.A., Poizner said qualified motorists in Los Angeles County can pay just $368 a year for the insurance.
"In today's economy, many L.A. drivers are looking for ways to cut their expenses and some are undoubtedly considering eliminating auto insurance," Poizner said. "But driving without insurance is illegal and puts all travelers at risk."
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However, to qualify, the motorist must make less than $26,000 a year - or $53,000 for a family of four - and the vehicle cannot be worth more than $20,000.
Since the Low Cost Auto Insurance Program's launch in Los Angeles at the beginning of the decade, 36,890 policies have been issued to county residents. The insurance was made available statewide in 2006.
The insurance is self-sustaining, with rates varying by county so that premiums cover losses, Poizner said.
To qualify, an applicant must:
-- be a "good driver," with no more than one at-fault property-damage-only accident, or one point for a moving violation in the past three years.
-- be at least 19 years old with three or more continuous years of driving experience;
-- have no at-fault accidents on his or her record involving bodily injury or death in the past three years and no felony or misdemeanor convictions for the violation of a vehicle code;
-- have a family income that does not exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($26,000 for a single person, $35,000 for two people, or $53,000 for a family of four); and
-- the insured vehicle cannot exceed $20,000 in value.
In addition to facing criminal charges, motorists caught driving without insurance can have their vehicle registration suspended.
More information about the program is available by calling (866) 602-8861.