A common inquiry I frequently receive from my current and past clients concerns the cost of auto insurance. While I am unable to recommend any particular company, current and former clients often call me to tell me their insurance has unexpectedly gone up for no obvious reason in particular such as a moving violation, assessment of points or recent claim. My stock answer of course, is to tell them they need to shop around to compare rates. If you give your details to a dozen carriers you could end up with a dozen different quotes, some twice as high as others. Wondering why the disparity? I think it would be helpful for the consumer to know what goes into the rating process so as to better understand how their own status with any insurance company may be improved upon. Many factors are used to determine what you pay for car insurance including your age, type of vehicle and driving record. An article in Consumer Reports March, 2017, authored by Tobie Stanger has shed some much needed light on this irksome subject. The article was based upon an analysis of billions of annual premiums which revealed some surprising factors that can drive rates up or down. When Consumer Reports analyzed more than 2.7 billion premiums consisting of the bulk of the U.S. auto insurance market, they identified some factors that you might not be aware of, including credit history and education, that have nothing to do with your driving. Because each insurer has its own pricing formula in penalizing or rewarding factors differently, consumers can save by shopping around. For example, a couple with poor credit and two cars, for example will pay a whopping extra $2,090 a year, on average, compared with a family with higher credit ratings. That's "more than what it usually costs to add a teen driver or even the penalty for having two DWI's." Getting married knocks premiums down by an average of $535 a year; becoming a homeowner knocks $110 off an annual bill. Here are some more findings that CR found; add a teen, +$1,500, have two at fault accidents, +$1,100, have two moving violations, +470, increase collision deductible from $500 to $1,000, -$140 and buy a home and bundle homeowner's insurance with car insurance, -$235.00. Of interest to our many Pennsylvania readers is the CR finding that a driver with one at-fault accident with Allstate can save more than $1,050 by signing up with Erie Insurance Group, Nationwide or State Farm. Drivers in their 20s are penalized for their lack of driving experience. Telling your insurer about your college education can help a little. College grads can save $90 per year on average. Being older also doesn't necessarily mean cheaper rates. In fact insurers start raising rates after age 60 in some places. In Texas, rates for a single driver increased far more after age 60 with Geico that with State Farm. Bottom line: it doesn't hurt to shop around. It worked for Donna Greene of Greenburgh, N.Y. a Geico customer for more that 20 years. She saved $793 on auto coverage and $390 on homeowners by moving to Amica, an insurer based in Rhode Island.
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