Four major factors broadly determine your rate:
People often ask us how car insurance companies determine what rates to charge. (Well, no they don't. But we think it's important to clear up any confusion.) Many factors determine what premium rate you see when you ask for quotes. A common misconception is that rates are set by law and can't be changed. Although the methods each auto insurance company uses when setting rates are regulated by state laws, the rates themselves are not set by the state. This fact means that there will be different rates for each company. Once you understand more, you'll see why comparing rates from different companies can save you money.
Let's look at what happens when you submit an application for car insurance. First, you are sorted into an individualized group based on each piece of information in your application, as well as other sources. Once your customized group has been determined, the insurance company calls up the pricing information for that group. Finally, any discounts you qualify for are subtracted from the price, and your quote is returned. The entire process is completed by sophisticated software behind the scenes, based on information you enter online or an agent types into a computer.
Because each company has many different small groups and different prices for those groups, rates can vary considerably from one car insurance company to the next. Each company has its own set of claim payments and expenses, and they must set rates based on that information.
Depending on state laws, which often restrict the type of information an insurance company may use, these factors will usually affect your rates:
|Who You Are||What You've Done|
|Gender||Gotten traffic tickets|
|Marital status||"B" average in school (for students)|
|Zip code||Taken a Defensive Driver course|
|# of years licensed||Let your policy lapse|
|Credit history||Filed bankruptcy|
|Home ownership||Filed lots of claims|
|What You Drive||How Much Coverage You Want|
|Year||Bodily Injury and Property Damage|
|Hybrid?||Comprehensive and Collision|
|Annual mileage||Rental reimbursement|
Here's the breakdown by percentage of premium for coverages on a sample car insurance policy for a sample driver:
Ever wonder how your premium payment is divvied up? Here's a ballpark sample based on an average Joe with an average policy.
Some things are always prohibited from consideration by law, such as race and religion, and others are sometimes not permitted, such as credit history, ZIP code, and the first speeding ticket. However, other factors that may seem unfair, such as age, gender and marital status are often considered. Since each company places a different weight on each factor, it's important to shop around to find the best company for your situation.
Let's see how much you've absorbed about car insurance rates and how the premiums are used. All of the answers can be found in this article, but it's more fun if you don't look! If you want to find out more about certain questions, you can click their links to read an article that explains the answer.
1. Your car insurance rate could be higher if you:
Live in the city instead of the country.
All of the above.
2. Your rates will always increase if you get a speeding ticket.
3. The color of your car is used to determine your rate.
4. All companies offer the same auto insurance discounts.
5. Which statement is true?
Rates are similar for each company because they are set by law.
Rates are similar for each company because they evaluate applications the same way.
Rates are similar for each company because most of the money is profit.
Rates can vary a lot because each company has different experiences with claims and expenses.
6. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is expensive and unnecessary.
7. Car insurance companies often use race and religion when setting rates.
8. Car insurance companies often use credit history when setting rates.
9. Most of your auto insurance rate is the legally-required liability portion.
10. Car insurance premiums are mostly used to give the insurance company a profit and pay for their miscellaneous expenses.
Please scroll down for the answers.
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