Whatever you do, don’t get into a car accident in California.
Filing a single auto insurance claim of $2,000 or more in California will result in an average premium increase of 63.1 percent, according to a study by insuranceQuotes and Quadrant Information Services.
Based on figures from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, California drivers pay an average annual premium of $783. That means a single auto insurance claim in the state could result in paying an additional $494 per year for auto insurance.
On the other side of the spectrum, Maryland drivers who file a single auto claim of $2,000 or more will only see a 21.5 percent spike in annual premiums, equating to an annual increase of about $220.
According to insuranceQuotes and Quadrant Information Services, these five states showed the greatest average premium increase as a result of filing any type of auto claim of $2,000 or more:
- California – 63.1 percent increase
- New Hampshire – 60.3 percent increase
- Texas – 59.9 percent increase
- Massachusetts – 57.3 percent increase
- North Carolina – 57.3 percent increase
These five states, on average, showed the smallest premium increase as a result of filing any type of auto claim of $2,000 or more:
- Maryland – 21.5 percent increase
- Michigan – 26.1 percent increase
- Oklahoma – 27.9 percent increase
- Montana – 30.2 percent increase
- Kentucky – 30.6 percent increase
Insurance Regulations Vary
Mike Barry, vice president of media relations for the Insurance Information Institute, attributes the disparity in premium increases to the fact that insurance regulations vary from state to state.
For instance, California voters in 1988 passed Proposition 103, which significantly limited the factors insurance companies could use when determining auto rates, including a ban on using credit scores. Consequently, California insurance companies must base insurance premiums on three primary factors: driving safety record, average miles driven per year and years of driving experience.
“When that’s all you can go on to set rates, drivers who cause an accident are going to get hit particularly hard,” Barry asserted.
On the other hand, states such as Maryland can use a variety of non-driving-related factors when setting premiums, including gender, age, marital status, occupation and a driver’s credit score.
While drivers in California get hit hardest after filing a single claim, this comes with a greater benefit to the larger population of drivers in that state, said Doug Heller, an independent consumer advocate with the Consumer Federation of America.
“At its best, insurance pricing is supposed to incentivize safety, and premiums should be adjusted to reflect that,” Heller explained. “If you cause a lot of accidents but don’t really see an impact on your premiums, it’s one less reason people need to worry about driving safely.”