As any smart shopper would, it pays to check out Geico’s competition. A quick visit to Amica Mutual’s web site, using the same criteria with the same 21-year-old male, shows he would be paying an annual rate of $799 in suburban Massachusetts and $695.54 in sunny California. So the 21-year-old in Massachusetts would be smart to choose Amica Mutual for his car insurance, while the 21-year-old in California would more than likely choose Geico.
Why the discrepancy? Different states demand different minimums for liability coverage. Massachusetts sets minimum bodily injury liability coverage at $20,000 with a maximum payout of $40,000 per accident, along with a $5,000 limit for property damage. There is also a mandatory minimum for any uninsured drivers who might get behind the wheel of your car, also set at $20,000 with a max payout of $40,000. In California, the minimums are lower, with bodily injury set at $15,000 with a max payout of $30,000 and a minimum $5,000 property damage liability coverage. California does not require drivers to carry coverage for any uninsured or casual drivers who might get behind the wheel.
One good indicator of where to start looking for cost-effective car insurance is consumer surveys. Survey giant J.D. Power & Associates rank customer satisfaction with insurance companies annually. In their latest ranking, Amica Mutual topped the list, with State Farm and Shelter taking the second and third spots. Some other big names, like Geico and Progressive ranked further down the list, coming in at nine and 14, respectively.
One thing cannot be stressed enough: where you live plays a large role in determining how much you pay. Keep in mind, our 21-year-old in Massachusetts was living within 25 miles of a major urban centre, with a higher population density than picturesque Carmel-By-The-Sea. In fact, Massachusetts is one of the more expensive states where one can obtain insurance. In a nationwide survey done in 2005 (the latest figures available), five Northeastern states (New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Delaware) ranked in the top 10 most expensive states for car insurance. Connecticut comes in at number 11. Drivers in New Jersey drivers pay an average of $1336.20 in premiums a year. Only Maine, with its sparse population, ranked in the top ten for lowest car insurance rates. The Midwest makes up the rest of the list with Iowa being ranked the cheapest place to obtain car insurance. Drivers in Iowa drive easy knowing they’re paying an average of $664.20 in premiums every year.
When you do start looking for insurance, be sure to prepare. Remember that no one company offers across-the-board cheap rates, and be sure to compare quotes. Take advantage of any discounts you might be eligible for, including multiple car options and group rates. The best thing to do is find a rate that you can afford that covers everything you want. Don’t let a cheap quote that cuts corners entice you, because in the end, you get what you pay for.