A stellar safety record doesn’t always translate into lower car insurance rates. A recent survey by the Consumer Federation of America compared rates from five large insurers, using hypothetical customers of the same age and gender, and with the same driving experience and zip code, seeking identical coverage.
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One customer was a single receptionist with a high school education who was a renter. She’d had no accidents but was without insurance for 45 days (for insurers, a big gap in a driver’s history). The other, a married executive with a master’s degree who owned her home, had continuous coverage, but had caused an accident within the past three years. In each of 12 cities studied, three of the five companies quoted the accident-free driver a higher rate (one-third higher, on average) or wouldn’t offer a quote.
Even if you think you have a good rate, shopping around periodically is smart. Start with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Click on the States and Jurisdiction Map, which connects you with your state insurance office’s site. Most states offer quotes for hypothetical buyers. The NAIC also lists customer complaint information for each company.