ZIP codes, car features among factors driving insurance rates

Looking for ways to cut your car insurance? You’re not alone.

Kenton Avery switches insurance companies almost annually.

“I do it to find the lowest rate,” he said. “Right now, I’m with Allstate. It’s simple for me, because Allstate (combines) renter’s insurance with car insurance.”

Stacy Taylor of Henderson grew up knowing about insurance.

“My father sold insurance, so I see it as something I need,” Taylor said. “In case someone gets into an accident with me, they can cover me.”

Michael Barry, vice president of media relations for the Insurance Information Institute, said to look for discounts, such as by maintaining good grades if you’re a student or a low-mileage discount if you put fewer than 7,500 miles on your car annually. ZIP codes also are a factor regarding policy costs.

“They’re looking for the claims filing history of particular neighborhoods,” Barry said. “They’re looking at the likelihood that a vehicle will be stolen or vandalized or looking at the traffic situation.”

If it’s time for a new car, drivers should consider coverage costs before they make their purchase, insurance experts said. Premiums also depend on a vehicle’s specifications, including its price, average repair costs, its safety record and whether it’s attractive to thieves.

Drivers should opt for safety features such as anti-lock brakes, automatic seat belts, daytime-running headlights and an alarm system.

Motirists who have an older car and that’s paid off might want to consider dropping collision. It is advised that drivers keep liability and injury coverage because if they’re in a serious car accident, they could be sued for a large amount of money. Discounts apply for safety features such as anti-lock brakes or a camera for backing up. Some companies offer discounts for completing a defensive driving or accident prevention course.

AARP offers a Smart Driver Course, designed for motorists 50 or older. Participants may be eligible to receive insurance discounts upon completing the course. AARP membership is not required to take the course, and there are no tests to pass.

The classroom course costs $15 for AARP members and $20 for nonmembers. An online version is $17.95 for AARP members and $21.95 for nonmembers, For more information, visit aarp.org/findacourse or call 888-227-7669.

Chelci Vaughan, corporate relations spokeswoman for Allstate, said, “A common mistake people make is comparing prices without comparing coverage, especially when it comes to things like rental car reimbursement or towing. Ask questions, get to know your policy and go with an agent you trust to make sure you’re prepared if the unexpected occurs.”

She said an agent knows to explore the options based on your personal circumstances.

“Doing the research beforehand can save you headaches, time and money in the long run,” Vaughan said.

Free sites such as insurancequotes.com and carinsurancequotes.com obtain multiple quotes from the nation’s top insurance companies.

Car insurance is a mix of six types of coverage, each priced separately:

— Collision pays to repair your vehicle when you have an accident with another driver, no matter who is at fault.

— Comprehensive coverage pays for repairs or loss due to something other than a collision, such as a fire, a flood, vandalism, or hitting an animal.

— Property damage coverage pays for damage you caused to a person’s property.

— Bodily injury liability coverage pays for injuries that you caused.

— Medical payments or personal injury protection coverage pays for any injuries that you or your passengers suffered in an accident, including medical treatment, lost wages and funeral costs.

— Uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage pays when you’re in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have auto insurance. It also covers you in a hit-and-run situation or when the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your loss.

Contact Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.

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