California has a lot of appealing qualities: sunny weather, beautiful coastline and even downhill skiing. However, if you are planning to move to California or are already a resident, you may as well resign yourself to the fact that car insurance in the Sunshine State isn’t cheap.
Indeed, according to Insure.com, California ranked #6 in 2011 in its list of states with the highest insurance rates. Considering there are 50 states, a #6 ranking is far from appealing. California’s average car insurance rate was estimated at a substantial $1991 per year. In comparison, the cheapest state in the country, Vermont, was only half that at $995 per year.
So what makes one state have a higher car insurance average over another? Every year insurance companies pour over current statistics to help them predict how many claims each state is expected to file and how expensive those claims are expected to be. Their conclusions determine the base insurance rate for each particular state.
Why does California pay higher rates than 44 other states?
The level of crime in a state is one of the main factors that affect a state’s average insurance rate. For example, the more occurrences of car thefts and car vandalism in a state, the higher that state’s insurance premiums will end up being. Unfortunately for Californians, year after year California wins the prize for being the state with most car thefts in the entire nation.
The good news is that, nationally, the amount of car thefts has been declining over the past five years. This is in a large part due to increased law enforcement and high-tech anti-theft gadgets such as hot-wire-proof ignitions and built in GPS units. However, the overall down trend hasn’t change the fact that California remains the leader when it comes to car thefts.
Most states require you to have uninsured motorist coverage on your car insurance policy. This is to protect you financially in case you are involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. In this situation, your insurance company is required to step in and cover your bodily injury expenses even thought the accident wasn’t your fault. Thus, the more accidents that are caused by uninsured motorists, the higher premiums insurance companies need to charge in order to avoid loosing money.
Once again, California isn’t positioned very well. In June 2006 the Insurance Research Council concluded that 25% of all California drivers were uninsured. This placed California equal to Alabama at 25% and just slightly below Mississippi at 26% for states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists. In comparison, Maine had the lowest percentage of a mere 4% being uninsured.
Generousness of Claim Compensations
Insurance companies also consider how liberal a state tends to be with its monetary awards. States that have judges who award high compensation for insurance claims will invariably pay higher insurance rates. Also, states that have a higher proportion of lawyers advertising their services with the promise of securing high car accident settlements will also have higher insurance rates. Any Californian can attest to how inundated California is with these type of ads.
With all these factors adding up to a high car insurance price tag, what’s a Californian to do? Since they can’t find the cheapest car insurance in the nation, the best thing they can do is try to find the cheapest car insurance in California. Luckily, there are a few tried and true methods to achieve this.
Keep Your Driving Record Clean
Drive carefully. A squeaky clean driving record will give you a “good-driver discount”, which can add up to a generous 25% savings.
Drive a Car with Theft and Safety Features
Theft and safety features, such airbags, motorized seat-belts, built in GPS and hot-wire-proof ignitions can add up to a discount as high as 35%.
Shopping around is the best way to find cheap car insurance. One method is to pull out your local phone book, call the insurance companies in your area, get quotes from them over the phone and choose the company with the best offer. However, this is an extremely time consuming task and you risk the unpleasantness of being forced to deal with many pushy salespeople.
Another method is to contact an insurance agent and let them do the work for you. However, this is far from optimal since you will be at the mercy of their competence and there is the added risk that they will try to push on you an insurance company that rewards them with highest commission.
Then there is the web. The best and quickest way to find the cheapest car insurance is on the net. Simply type “cheapest car insurance in California” into a Google search and you’ll find many free web sites that can help you generate multiple quotes with very little effort on your part. Once you generate the quotes, it’s easy enough to choose the insurance company with the best price.
One final tip: Once you’ve found the lowest quote, you can call your current provider and ask if they can match that price. Usually they’ll be happy to because the last thing they want to do is loose your business to a competitor. This is a great way to get the cheapest car insurance in California without even switching companies!