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Rates Can Vary Widely, Survey Finds

March 09, 1986

The cost of obtaining automobile insurance can vary substantially, depending on where a driver lives and the insurance company he selects, according to a survey completed recently by the state Department of Insurance.

The survey compares annual insurance rates charged by 18 companies that collectively write more than three-fourths of all the state's private-passenger automobile insurance.

The study, which breaks down insurance costs in more than 100 cities and ZIP code areas throughout Los Angeles County, compared the various companies' rates that would be imposed in various hypothetical cases.

It showed, for example, that a 23-year-old single woman from Beverly Hills who drives her Chevrolet Monte Carlo less than 15,000 miles a year and 10 miles a day to work, with no tickets or accidents, would pay anywhere from $843 to $2,815 for roughly the same insurance, depending on the company she picks. The $843 rate is from 20th Century, which primarily insures the lowest-risk drivers. Farmers would charge $2,815, the study found.

The cost of insurance also depends on where the driver lives. The Automobile Club would charge the 23-year-old driver mentioned above $972 if she lived in Santa Monica or Culver City, $1,309 in Beverly Hills and $1,309 to $1,341 in Hollywood.

The study also found that a 42-year-old married man from Santa Monica who has one at-fault accident in the last two years, who drives his Dodge Colt less than 12,000 miles a year and three miles to work, would be charged $582 by Mercury Casualty and $1,534 by Hartford Casualty for roughly the same coverage.

Farmers would charge this driver $1,027 if he lived in Topanga, $1,266 in Santa Monica and $2,047 in Beverly Hills.

The Department of Insurance study should be used only as a general indicator of coverage costs, because exact prices depend on individual variables, which can produce different figures than the ones quoted, said Everett Brookhart, the department's chief of consumer affairs.

The rates quoted in the study were in effect Nov. 15, 1985. They are preferred-risk rates, under which the majority of the state's drivers receive coverage. Assigned risk was not included.

Companies sometimes offer special features on their policies that are not reflected in the figures in the survey, officials said.

The insurance department will send its full Los Angeles County rate survey to anyone who sends a self-addressed 9-by-12-inch envelope with stamps totaling 70 cents. The address is Department of Insurance Rate Survey, 600 S. Commonwealth Ave., Los Angeles, Calif. 90005. COMPARATIVE CAR INSURANCE RATES: THE WESTSIDE The California Department of Insurance made public these comparative annual insurance rates, effective last November, grouped by accumulated ZIP code areas in the Westside. Rates for individual drivers may vary.

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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