California consistently experiences the highest traffic fatalities of any state in the nation, and it experienced a 3.3 percent increase in traffic fatalities in 2010 along with Arizona and Hawaii. This state’s fatality rate is closely followed by Texas and Florida.
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Fortunately, fatal accident rates are decreasing in all three states. This is due to vigilant police and highway patrol officers, as well as rigorous public education programs and defensive driving by California residents.
In its 2012 report, INRIX listed Los Angles as the nation’s second most traffic congested city. Surprisingly, Honolulu, topped the list for the first time, beating out Los Angeles, which took first place last year.
One of the reasons for LA’s infamous traffic jams is the number of people who live in America’s entertainment capital.
About 12.5 million people live in LA, which means quite a few cars are packed within a few square miles of road.
Your time on the road could be stretched to about 70 percent longer than it would be in normal traffic.
Four stretches of LA highway have landed on INRIX’s list of the nation’s top ten worst traffic corridors. The San Diego Freeway and Interstate 105 occupies first place, followed by the Santa Monica Freeway and Interstate 10 in third place, Southbound Interstate 5 in fifth, and the San Diego Freeway around Mulholland Drive in seventh place.
The Good News for About California Auto Insurance
The infamous tangle of traffic in California hasn’t had a negative affect on residents’ insurance rates. As a matter of fact, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners reports that insurance rates in California have dropped from an average of $971.88 in 2005 to $894.15 in 2009.
Even more surprising is how insurance rates in California compare to other states in the U.S. California ranks 22nd among the 52 states. In other words, California’s insurance rates fall right about at the national average. Louisiana tops the charts with an average policy rate of $1,270.28, followed by the District of Columbia with $1,264.92, New Jersey at $1,217.96 and New York with $1,185.40.
It’s nice to know your insurance rates won’t go up solely because you live in California, but your chances of being involved in an automobile accident may increase if you drive in the Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco area.
The Accident Magnet
The stop and go traffic those infamous traffic corridors are known for can easily create the conditions for a fender bender. LA driving demands defensive maneuvers and, if you are not alert or get distracted, it’s easy to create an accident.
In such a congested urban area, it’s not uncommon to have more than one claim on your auto insurance.
Every claim on your insurance drives up your rates. Since California falls at about the median average for insurance rates nationwide, underwriters are not using the fabled Santa Monica and San Diego Freeways as an excuse to gouge California drivers. However, when you consider the propensity for accidents in these areas, the cost of insurance could get high.
An auto insurance underwriter looks at several items to determine your premium.
A minor traffic violation may not necessarily raise your rate. If you fail to use your turn signal, it might not be considered as serious as running a red light. One violation is more likely to cause a serious accident than the other. However, several violations within a short period of time would make you a major risk, and your rates would go up accordingly.
California is very generous in allowing first-time traffic violators to take a traffic course either in person or online to avoid having the points reported to their insurance company. This is not the same thing as a defensive driving course for which some insurance companies will give a discount rate. Your insurance company will advise you if they offer this discount.
The Claim Game
If you have turned in an expensive claim or several claims to one company, you won’t necessarily be dropped by your insurance company or see your rates automatically hit the roof. Driving laws prevent an insurance company from dropping you if you are paying your premium on time and are not due to renew. Many insurance companies prefer to keep loyal customers and will work with you especially if you have been insured with the same company for several years.
Most people know that teenagers are high risk drivers and cost more to insure than mature adults who have been driving defensively for several years. The same thinking holds true for drivers who are over a certain age.
If the statistics show a propensity for accidents in a certain age group, if you fall within that demographic, then your rates will go up.
Stability is Key
Insurance companies are statistic hungry people–that’s what the risk business is all about. Married people tend to turn in more stable stats than single adults, so if you’ve tied the knot, they’ll give you a break on your rates.
If you live in Southern California, you may pay a little more for that desirable zip code due to the terrible traffic corridors, but it wouldn’t cause your premium to skyrocket. Proposition 103 caps the rates California auto insurers can charge city residents. If you live right in downtown LA, you’ll pay a little more than if you live in Orange County which manages to avoid the nightmare on Mulholland Drive.
Vehicle Model Not Vehicle Price
A lot of people don’t quite understand how their vehicle model and value plays a role in their insurance rates because it’s a bit tricky. The underwriters look at how many times a particular model has been the subject of insurance claims. An SUV costing $80,000 that has safe drivers and is easy to repair might cost less to insure than a $60,000 roadster with a sleek fiberglass body that inspires speeding accidents.
Work Commute and Overall Mileage
If you telecommute to work, you may get a break because you’re not on the highway as much; however, some studies show that people who work at home burn just as much gas as commuters. The jury is out on whether insurance companies will continue to give discounts to telecommuters.
However, your insurance company will often reduce your rates when you reduce your commuting distance or change your residence. Insurance companies use your overall mileage to determine your insurance rate in California. The more you are on the highway, the greater your risk for a collision.
California’s Great $350 Liability Insurance Program
California records indicate that about 4 million drivers are on the roads illegally without automobile insurance. To help with this problem, California offers the CLCA program for young adults and families that meet the requirements.
If an individual is at least 19 years old, has driven for at least three years, owns a vehicle worth $20,000 or less, and earns less than $27,925 per year, then they may be eligible for liability insurance that meets California law.
The insurance only costs about $350 per year and has several payment options, including affordable monthly premiums with a small 15 percent down payment.
Shop for Your California Auto Insurance
You should shop for your auto insurance like you would for your car. Not all insurance companies are alike. Generally, the larger brand name insurance companies are able to offer better rates because they have the volume.
Since auto insurance is such a large risk business, your auto insurance company is not becoming wealthy with your insurance premiums. Only about 6 percent of your premium goes into your company’s profits, according to insurance.com. The rest is used to pay the many claims that come pouring in.
Comparison Shop Online
You can get the best deal on your California auto insurance by comparison shopping the Internet or using a trusted insurance broker. If you have more than one policy with a particular company, this can lower your auto insurance rates. Also, raising your deductible will lower your monthly premium. However, make sure you can make that deductible payment in case you are involved in a collision.
If you keep your coverage current and avoid lapses, you can count on getting fair insurance rates. If you allow your auto insurance to lapse, you will experience an increase of about $50 a month when you renew your policy. California law forbids auto insurers from using your credit rating as criteria for coverage, but if your income makes auto insurance difficult to afford, be sure to check the CLCA coverage limitations to see if you qualify.
It’s a Pleasure to Drive in California
California is one of the most beautiful states in the country. It offers its residents breathtaking views of the Pacific, sunny beaches, snow-capped mountains and some of the most scenic highways in America. These are the many reasons people flock to live in this exciting state, home of Hollywood and the world’s most famous people.
Residents understand that driving in California can be challenging. With the assistance of customer-focused auto insurance companies and the help of California’s DMV, driving in California can be the pleasure it was meant to be.
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