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Low-Cost Auto Insurance Coming?

Jul 16, 2007

By Daniel Witter, Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.

Jul. 17--Yuba-Sutter residents who struggle to pay for car insurance may soon find it more affordable, state officials said.

Local drivers may soon be able to enroll in the state's Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program, which provides low-cost insurance for less than $400 per year, provided people meet certain income guidelines. The state insurance department has proposed adding 11 counties, including Yuba and Sutter, to the program.

The department will hold a public meeting in each county to determine the interest level. If enough interest is generated, then those counties will be added to the list of counties already in the program.

The dates for those meetings have not been set but will likely take place next month.

To qualify for the program, a single-person household must not have an annual income that exceeds $25,525. Nine counties already have the program in place with more than 33,000 policy holders.

"This program is a good way to help low-income good drivers get the coverage to protect everyone on the road and to comply with the law for under $400 per year," said Molly DeFrank, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Insurance.

If all goes well, the program could be in place by the year's end, she said. The program is paid by premiums through regular auto insurance programs.

About 3 million motorists traveling through California are driving without auto insurance, according to state figures.

"This is a recipe for disaster," said Commissioner Steve Poizner in a prepared statement. "This program is an affordable option for qualified low-income drivers."

To qualify for the program, a single-person household must not have an annual income that exceeds $25,525. A household of four must not exceed $51,625 annually.

"They can go into an agency and that's who will sign them up," she said.

Poizner wants to make the program available statewide, she said. Nine counties already have the program in place with more than 33,000 policy holders.

The program ends in 2011, but state officials are hoping the state legislature will make it permanent, said DeFrank.

For more information, call 1-866-602-8861 or visit www.insurance.ca.gov.

Appeal-Democrat reporter Daniel Witter can be reached at 749-4712. You may e-mail him at dwitter@appealdemocrat.com.

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Copyright (c) 2007, Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.

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