One of the most misunderstood facets of insurance are how an auto policy is rated. There are many insurance mysteries but not everyone needs to take out a Workmans Comp policy or get a personal disability policy – everyone who drives is required to carry auto insurance. I get questions all the time like, “if my car is a year older why did its premium increase?” or, “why did my insurance premium go way up just because I moved to Milwaukee?”. These are all great questions and stem from the fact that Vehicle make and model are only a tiny part of how your auto insurance premium is determined.
There was a time when an insurance agent took out a slide rule to rate your policy and it had vehicle type and date of birth. Then we added sex, zip code, coverage options, claim experience, driving record and even credit to the equation. It gets complicated which is why commercials flat out telling you you “COULD” save 15% is just purely a slogan – there is no way to know. One great reason to have an indie-agent like us is that we inherently understand all these factors as they apply to your situation and have several companies that we can shop in order to get you the best rate. We also understand that some insurance companies prefer younger drivers, some prefer older drivers and some specialize in classic cars. Its in our heads already, why not put that to work for you.
Your garaging location
Your garaging location is one of the main base factors in how your auto insurance premium is determined. This is where the insurance company adds in all their claim experience data. If there are more theft claims in a specific city you will see your comprehensive rate increase. But, if you live in the city you may also drive less, so you may also see your liability rate is less then if you live in a suburb like Howard or Grand Chute. In our county, Shawano, we see more deer claims than any other county so we pay more for comprehensive coverage. Garaging location is a big factor in auto insurance.
Your driving record
Your driving record is an obvious factor. Why should someone with no tickets pay the same for insurance as a person who has three speeding tickets. Insurance companies typically charge for accident and violations for three years. We also have companies that are offering accident and violation forgiveness. This is a coverage you pay a premium for, up front, and if you are involved in an incident it will be overlooked. I typically recommend this coverage for someone about to add a new driver to their policy.
Your Vehicle Type
Your vehicle type is another big rating factor for auto insurance. Items like horsepower and vehicle type as well as statistics like how many Dodge Caravans get into accidents all play into this rate. Safety features, speed and the ability to easily buy repair parts are also things insurance companies consider when rating your car. They also know how likely a medical bill will creep up if you are involved in an accident. If you are in a large pickup truck you might be less likely to sustain certain injuries than if you were driving say a tiny sports car.
Your credit level (insurance score)
Insurance companies call it an insurance score but lets be real, its your credit rating. While a few states have banned this rating factor insurance companies are convinced year after year that they can better determine what type of driver you are based on that credit score. When you look at your policy you will likely see a discount for “good credit”. Some companies offer a 0-50% discount based on your credit score. You can always check your credit score online but its important to understand that this doesn\’t easily correlate to your insurance rate. Your score gets matched to a discount or credit level and usually the agent or company employee has no clue what your actual FICO score is. This enhances privacy but often further mystifies the credit factor in your Insurance Premium.
Your age is a large rating factor. Younger people often pay more for auto insurance then around your mid twenties rates level out. What people don’t anticipate is that rate creeping back up after the age of 50 or 60. This isn’t because the company feels older individuals drive horribly – or younger individuals for that matter… It is all based on the company’s statistics with how many claim they see from drivers in that age group. They adjust the rate accordingly.
With all of the above factors you may be asking yourself – why isn’t my actual driving the main factor. The answer is, up until recently we haven\’t been able to plop an agent or company rep in your vehicle for enough time to understand how you operate your conveyance. Now we have telematic devices that determine how you drive and give you a discount (or surcharge) accordingly. Wish granted =) Of course, this too adds complexity and further mystifies your auto insurance rate.
I hope we have described some of the biggest rating factors. We encourage you to give us a call or stop in. Let us explain all this and put our knowledge to work for you.