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Car Insurers' Rate Formula Attacked by Inglewood

March 23, 1986|MICHELE L. NORRIS | Times Staff Writer

INGLEWOOD — City officials want residents to join them in opposing the auto insurance industry's practice of linking rates to drivers' home addresses.

The action comes in response to a recent California Department of Insurance study showing that except for Beverly Hills, Inglewood had consistently higher rates than any other city in Los Angeles County, said Deputy City Manager Norman Cravens.

In a resolution adopted last week, the City Council encouraged residents to write to Assemblyman Curtis Tucker (D-Inglewood), state Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) and members of the Senate Insurance, Claims and Corporations Committee.

"One hundred individual letters may be all it takes to get the ball rolling," said Councilman Bruce Smith, who plans to distribute flyers during the next few weeks to remind residents to write elected officials.

City officials said they also will urge other cities to join their campaign.

'Absolutely Ridiculous'

"It's absolutely ridiculous that some people pay astronomical insurance rates while people just a few miles away are paying reasonable rates," Cravens said.

"They keep trying to tell us that these ridiculously high rates in Inglewood are based on the number of accidents in the city, but that just simply is not true."

The council resolution came after Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn presented a report that said Inglewood drivers had fewer accidents than drivers in several other cities where rates are lower.

"There wasn't an Inglewood resident in that room who didn't leave feeling angry and cheated," Smith said.

But state insurance officials said rates are not based solely on the number of accidents in a community.

"Insurance companies look at a person's age, driving experience, type of car they drive and the number of accident, theft and vandalism claims generated from a particular area," said Jorge Sandoval, a spokesman for the California Department of Insurance.

"Insurance companies' losses in Inglewood are probably very high. So they charge more to cover their losses."

RATES COMPARED

Inglewood officials compared the city's average insurance rates with rates for cities in other counties and found that its rates were higher even though the other cities had higher accident rates.

Average rates are for a 31- to 49-year-old man who drove a 1986 Chevrolet and carried full coverage. The comparative cities are similar to Inglewood in size and population; all have about 100,000 residents.

The figures are for average rates and average number of accidents per year:

Inglewood $1195 688 Bakersfield $586 1078 Oxnard $589 1060 San Bernardino $617 1536 City of Orange $656 690 Pasadena $747 905

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