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CA Coverage: Car Insurance in the Big City

Golden gate bridgeMoving from a small urban area to a large city in California can present a world of opportunities, but with those opportunities come the potential of higher auto insurance rates. In most heavily populated areas, the streets are congested with more motorists, automobile accidents are more common, and the level of car-related crime is considerably higher than in suburban locations. All of these details and statistics are used by insurers to rate vehicle owners, and the common characteristics of big cities frequently translate into higher coverage costs.

In the Golden State, there are unique auto insurance nondiscrimination laws that prohibit insurers from raising rates in small geographic locations while setting more reasonable rates in the surrounding area. However, location can still have a considerable impact on how much a resident pays for vehicle coverage. Companies are permitted to consider past loss experience and expenses in their rating process, which includes geographic areas that are at least 20 square miles. In areas that see greater economic loss as a result of greater population density or accident frequency, providers are permitted to charge more for car insurance.

​Red Bluff vs. Los Angeles: A Case Study

For example of how moving to a big city could affect rates, look at information pooled from the CA automobile premium survey. Regulator-provided premium data show that for a single male motorist with 9 to 15 years of driving experience, an annual mileage between 7,600 and 10,000, and no violations or accidents, the average price for standard coverage for a Honda Accord is roughly $1,400 for someone living in Red Bluff, which is located in rural Tehama County in Northern California. If the same driver were to live in the Wilshire/La Brea area of urban Los Angeles in Southern California, however, the average premium increases to over $2,400—a 71 percent jump.

The difference between Red Bluff and the Wilshire/La Brea is significant. Information provided by state and federal records ranks Red Bluff 332nd highest population in the state with just over 14,000 people as of January 2012. According to the latest census data, it has about 1,800 people per square mile. The Wilshire/La Brea area, however, is in the county with the highest population in CA (nearly 4 million people) and rests near Wilshire Blvd, part of the famous Miracle Mile and one of the busiest streets in Southern California. Los Angeles’s population density was about 4.5 times as high as Redbluff’s, at nearly 8,100 people per square mile.

Location Matters, but Driving Record Still Matters Most

Although companies in California are allowed to make rate adjustments based on geographic location, all coverage providers must have their rating plans filed and approved by the CA Department of Insurance before they can be used. Additionally, voters in 1988 adopted proposition 103, which requires all insurers to consider three mandatory primary factors before considering any secondary factors when calculating premiums. These three factors include the applicant’s driving record, annual mileage, and years of driving experience.

Where a motorist lives is actually at the bottom of the list of qualities that can affect how much someone pays for vehicle coverage, but a person’s driving record is very important. Getting the cheapest insurance in California means maintaining a clean driving record, so before moving to a heavily populated area, residents should take into consideration the increased accident potential. If a policyholder is forced to file a claim, it can negatively affect their premium for up to three years.

Source: http://www.onlineautoinsurance.com/california/