Calif. Regulators Cut Wait Time for Getting CLCA Proof of Insurance

Low-income California motorists will be able to get instant proof of auto insurance starting Monday, thanks to upgrades to a state-run program that provides coverage at low rates.

Until now, consumers who were enrolled in the California Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program (CLCA) had to wait two weeks for proof of coverage, but temporary cards can now be printed at the offices of agents who participate in the program.

“Consumers complained that a two-week wait for identification cards made this program less desirable,” state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in a news release. “Waiting two weeks for cards to show up in the mail meant that people either drove without proof of insurance, or they signed up for higher-cost insurance so they could get the identification cards and go to DMV.”

Another improvement that takes effect this week will connect consumers with agents via text messaging. Eligible motorists can text “low cost” to 65374, provide their ZIP code, and be matched with an agent in their area who can provide a quote and help them sign up with CLCA.

The changes are part of an ongoing effort by state regulators to make CLCA more user-friendly.

Legislation signed in October by Gov. Jerry Brown authorized certified agents and brokers to sell coverage under the program through either an agent-referral website to be set up by state officials or other state-approved sites.

CLCA income requirementsConsumers applying to the program, which was established in 2000 to help low-income residents meet the state’s legal coverage requirements, have previously had to find agents qualified to sell CLCA policies and fill out paperwork with them to enroll in the program.

The legislation calls for state regulators and officials with the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan, which runs the low-cost program, to establish a website for receiving and assigning policies to agents and brokers and to develop a plan and set rules for selling policies through that dedicated website and other authorized sites.

According to an annual report on CLCA issued earlier this year by state regulators, about 60,000 Californians have bought policies through the program since it began in 2000. Two-thirds of those motorists were previously uninsured, according to the report.

The CLCA offers coverage to qualified motorists at rates ranging from $248 to $358 per year—less than half the statewide average cost—according to state regulators.

To qualify, applicants must be at least 19, have a minimum three years driving experience and no more than one point on their driving records. They must also meet income requirements that limit household income to no more than 250 percent of the federal poverty level, which varies annually and according to family size.

The basic plan provides $10,000 of coverage per person for injuries caused by the policyholder and a total of $20,000 per accident, plus $3,000 for property damages caused by the policyholder in an accident. These coverage levels are often abbreviated as 10/20/3. Those levels are actually below the 15/30/5 minimum coverages that all other policies in the state must provide.

For additional fees, a motorist can get medical and uninsured motorist coverage.

The new law calls on CAARP to provide a listing of the 2,200 agents and brokers statewide who are authorized to sell CLCA coverage. Applicants are to be referred to an agent or broker located close to them.

Jones urged consumers who are struggling financially to consider the CLCA program instead of flouting state laws that require motorists to be insured.

“If financial difficulties have you thinking about canceling your car insurance, you should check out California’s Low Cost Auto Insurance Program instead,” the commissioner said. “Remember, driving without auto insurance is illegal. Celebrate this holiday season with the gift of insurance and accompanying peace of mind you’ll enjoy in the upcoming year.”

About John Pirro
John Pirro is a licensed fire and casualty insurance agent specializing in various aspects of the auto insurance industry. He worked in the auto body repair industry before taking a reporting position at Online Auto Insurance News.

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