Yes, ZIP codes affect car insurance premiums. Drivers in the most expensive ZIP codes in New York and California, for example, pay an average of about $3,500 more per year for full-coverage car insurance than drivers in the least expensive areas of those states. And drivers in the most expensive states for car insurance, like New York, can expect to pay at least $700 more per year for minimum coverage than drivers in the least expensive states, like Iowa, on average.
With that being said, certain states have banned the use of ZIP codes for insurance pricing or have passed laws reducing their influence on premiums due to concerns about the impact on low-income and minority drivers. For instance, insurers in California are legally required to consider factors like a driver’s record and years of experience before taking their ZIP code into account. Similarly, Michigan used to have the country’s most expensive ZIP codes for car insurance. In response, it recently passed a law forbidding the use of ZIP codes and other demographic information in calculating premiums.
In most states, however, car insurance companies still do consider ZIP codes when calculating premiums.
Car insurance companies evaluate ZIP codes based on:
- Crime rates
- Traffic, which is affected by population density and the number of cars on the road
- Accident rates, which are also influenced by demographics and road quality
- The number of uninsured motorists
- The ZIP code’s claims history
- Weather and environmental factors such as natural disasters
- State and local government regulations
The difference in your premium probably isn’t significant enough to justify moving houses just for the insurance savings. However, if you anticipate moving, estimating premiums in advance will help with your financial planning.
It’s also worth noting that lying about your ZIP code or using a friend’s or family member’s address deceptively can lead to denied claims or even charges of insurance fraud. So being dishonest is certainly not worth the short-term cost savings. Instead, if your ZIP code is hurting your car insurance premiums, compare rates with different companies and look for discounts based on other factors.
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