Car Insurance or Automobile Insurance is a must for every vehicle owner but the scariest part of car insurance is that premiums rise year after year while the value of the car itself undergoes depreciation. Yet it is imperative for vehicles to have insurance to give the owner a cushion against losses due to accident, damages due to weather or unexpected elements.
For many citizens wondering why car insurance rates are peaking, the reason is as simple as the ZIP code. The five-digit location identifier seems to make a dramatic impact on car insurance premiums, varying from a few hundreds of dollars to even thousands. The average car owner is totally unaware of how much his residence location can make a difference. Insurance companies use the ZIP code to analyze data such as – how many claims originate from that area due to accidents, theft, vandalism etc.
It seems that moving home a few miles, sometimes even in the same city, can save an average American quite a packet on car insurance coverage.
Some more interesting factors are coming to light going by reports from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).
According to the report, there are high variations in insurance rates charged by insurers on vehicle owners; rates are based on factors completely unrelated to driving such as area of residing, education level, occupation and credit score. Such factor-based calculations make it virtually impossible for less-income residents of many states unable to afford insurance coverage. At last estimates, the number of uninsured drivers and vehicles average more than 200,000 in a state like Maryland, for instance.
The report also mentions that insurers establish coverage rates in accordance with state laws and risk factors which vary. For e.g. a city resident will pay more insurance because it is likely that his car is at more risk of being involved in an accident, being vandalized or stolen; in each of these cases claims will be filed with the insurance company.
A CFA Director is on record to say that insurance providers are always on the lookout for ‘actuarial links’ between potential risk elements and certain types of policy holders. He says that these companies try to price the policies to reflect the potential risk; the auto industry has access to a lot of customer data just as other businesses do in respect of potential customers.
Critics and consumer agencies however counter that most of the policies framed by insurance providers place a great burden on low-income car owners and drivers while giving priority to those with higher incomes. High car insurance premium rates create a huge barrier in vehicle ownership, taking it out of reach for millions of low-income Americans. The issue becomes especially grave when city dwellers struggle to hold a job in the suburbs or vice-versa, as commuting by local transport becomes non-viable due to time and other constraining factors.
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