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Shopping for Car Coverage Nets Savings

March 09, 1986

Next to comparing automobiles, comparing automobile insurance rates ranks as a favorite pastime among California drivers. A study released last week by the State Department of Insurance indicates why.

According to the study, what many motorists may have suspected--or may have been told by their brokers--is true: Insurance rates vary greatly from city to city and company to company. The study's underlying message: It pays to shop around before buying.

An example:

A 23-year-old Hermosa Beach woman who drives her 1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 10 miles one way to work and under 15,000 miles a year, and who has no citations or accidents on her record would be able to buy a coverage package from the Automobile Club of Southern California for $629, but a similar package would cost her $1,100 if she purchased it from Allstate, and $1,409 from Continental.

If she lived in Inglewood, she could pay as much as $1,341 for coverage with the Automobile Club of Southern California, up to $1,632 with Allstate and $1,576 with Continental.

Another example:

A 42-year-old San Pedro man who is married, drives his 1981 Toyota Corolla three miles one way to work and under 12,000 miles a year, and has no citations but one at fault accident two years ago would be able to buy a coverage package from Nationwide for $622, but would pay $739 with Farmers and $1,548 with Hartford Casualty.

If the same man lived in Gardena, a package could cost him $937 with Nationwide, $1,383 with Farmers policy and $1,718 with Hartford Casualty.

Department officials cautioned that individual variables can lead to a substantial difference in the quote a particular driver might receive from a company. For example, J.C. Penney Insurance Co. requires its policyholders to carry minimum bodily liability of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident, substantially higher than the state requirement of $15,00 per person and $30,000 per accident. Additionally, some companies offer special features that may not be reflected in the figures provided in the survey, they said.

The data, furnished by 18 companies at the insurance department's request, was collected over a three month period. Four different types of hypothetical drivers were used.

Drivers can obtain copies of the survey by writing to the California Department of Insurance, 600 S. Commonwealth Ave., Los Angeles, Ca. 90005. A 9-by-12 envelope and 70-cents postage must accompany the request.

COMPARATIVE CAR INSURANCE RATES: SOUTH BAY

These annual comparative insurance rates, separated according to ZIP code areas, will vary basedon age, driving record, use of car, mileage driven and the amount of insurance coverage.

DRIVER 1

(FIGURES ARE IN BOLD TYPE) Driver 1 is a 23-year-old single woman who drives 10 miles to work and drives less than 15,000 miles a year. She has no traffic citations and no accidents. She drives a 1984 car that cost between $8,001 and $10,000 new--a Chevrolet Monte Carlo 2-door, a Honda LX or a Ford Mustang "L." Insurance coverage includes injury liability of $15,000 per person with a maximum of $30,000 per accident; property damage liability of $10,000 per accident; medical payments of $2,000 per person; uninsured motorist (U/M) $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident; comprehensive with a $100 deductIble and collision with $200 deductible.

DRIVER 2

(FIGURES ARE IN LIGHT TYPE) Driver 2, 42, is a married man who drives three miles to work and less than 12,000 miles a year. He has no citations but one at-fault accident 2 years ago. He drives a 1981 car that cost between $6,500 and $8,000 new--Dodge Colt, Mercury Zephyr sedan, Toyota Tercel 2-door or Corolla. Insurance coverage includes injury liability of $100,000 per person with a maximum of $300,000 per accident; property damage liability of $50,000 per accident; medical payments of $5,000 per person; uninsured motorist (U/M) $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident; comprehensive with a $200 deductible and collision with $500 deductible.

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