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Renter? A Perfect Driving Record May Not Lower Your Car Insurance Rates

Many renters in the U.S. are getting a raw deal when it comes to paying for car insurance.

That's the conclusion of the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which claims in a new study that renters in some major American cities pay more -- in some cases far more -- than homeowners for the same basic liability auto insurance.

For a 30-year-old motorist with a good driving record, premiums averaged seven percent higher -- about $112 per year -- for state mandated auto insurance coverage, the Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy group said, citing what it called the "unfairness and arbitrariness" of auto insurers.

According to the CFA, Liberty Mutual penalized renters an average of $307 a year, the most of any major insurer in the study. But another insurer's rates for renters were $768 more in Louisville, Kentucky, and $924 more for yet another insurer in Tampa, Florida.

Liberty Mutual did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 Among the major insurers assessed in the study, GEICO was the only one that didn't use home ownership as a rating factor.

The Insurance Information Institute (III), which represents auto insurers, said the study was "flawed" because it only looked at one type of driver - a woman who owned a Honda - in a few densely populated cities where accidents are more frequent than the nation as a whole.

The III also said the study didn't take into account "multi-line" policies, whereby policyholders get a discount for having both their auto and homeowners insurance policies with the same company.

But both sides agreed on one thing. "If you're looking for car insurance, it makes sense to shop around every year," said James Lynch, the III's chief actuary. "The CFA's study showed how big the difference is in pricing."

The CFA's insurance department, led by former Texas Insurance Commissioner J. Robert Hunter, has published numerous studies claiming that certain groups -- among them widows, African-Americans and people with low credit scores -- pay higher rates for car insurance, which is mandatory in almost every state.

Homeownership, like education and other methods insurers use in deciding rates, is a predictor of the market insurers are after, Hunter claims. The industry's pricing structure "encourages people to be CEOs rather than janitors," he said in conference call to discuss the CFA's findings.

Instead, Hunter and the consumer group believe that insurers should base rates strictly on driving records, meaning traffic tickets and accidents. Hunter cited California as a state that's moving in that direction.

According to III data, California ranks about average in terms of car insurance rates.

Other state regulators have also been listening to CFA. In 2015 the group attacked "price optimization," a practice of identifying policyholders who were unlikely to

switch policies every year so insurers can raise their premiums without losing them. Since then 18 regulators have banned the practice.

States, rather than the U.S. government, control insurance regulation.

The III's Lynch argues that past performance is not an indication of how people will drive in the future, and socioeconomic data like homeownership is a valuable tool in helping insurers find out who should pay less for insurance -- and who should pay more.

"If you look at surveys, you find that 98 percent of all drivers think they are average or better, but 5 percent have accidents each year," he said. "Insurance computer models try to find which 5 percent that will be. And they've gotten very sophisticated in doing it."

Should socioeconomic data like credit card scores, zip codes and homeownership be used in deciding car insurance premiums? Or is it better to have "one size fits all" policies? That depends.

"As a consumer, you just want the insurer who'll give you the lowest rate," Lynch said.

Source:, © 2016 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved. How Driving Record Affects Car Insurance Premium

Obtaining a car insurance is not enough to ensure you are protected in case of accidents. Every driver should also make it a point to drive safely while on the road. Being in the right state of mind is very important because any traffic violation you commit has a consequence.

Traffic Ticket citations or violations can cost you money and in worse cases, can cause accidents. In addition, it can even increase your auto insurance premium moving forward.

Insurance companies differ in the way they view these violations and the fees they charge. They have various criteria as to which can cause your premium to go up. A speeding ticket, for instance, may cause only a slight increase but if you get two successive tickets, a higher rate will be charged. Some insurance providers even drop policy holders who commit speeding violations in a successive manner.

A survey by revealed more than 10 violations that are sure to pump up your insurance rates. On top of the list is reckless driving (22 percent) followed by driving under the influence (19 percent), driving without a permit or license (18 percent), careless driving (16 percent), speeding (15 percent), failure to yield or stop (15 percent), improper passing and illegal u-turn (14 percent) and following too close (13 percent) among others. The findings were based on an analysis of more than 490,000 insurance quotes provided to drivers for the period January 2009 to January 2011.

The cost for every violation is not the same for all states and insurers. As such, it is recommended that car owners get to know about the fees in their state.

If you ever commit a traffic violation and find your insurance premium going up, you can still take steps to lower it. Shopping around and comparing rates is one option if you plan to switch to a new insurer. But make sure you are clear on the coverage you need before you ask for quotes and compare insurance rates.

Also Check out the below information

5 best and worst states for car insurance costs

Completing a driving safety course is another option. Some states allow this to erase the violations in your driving record but only for a specific period which is normally 18 months. Upon completion, your insurance provider may reduce your rate.

An important step you can also take is to maintain or improve your good credit rating. This will save you money moving forward. Do remember that insurance companies often raise their rates to clients with low or bad credit rating for the reason that these people pose a greater risk to car insurance.

So always take precautions when driving to avoid traffic violations and the high cost of auto insurance.


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