Why Does Car Insurance Vary So Much?


If you own a car, then you know that car insurance can be very expensive. You also know that it can change a great deal from year to year if, for example, you have moved, “graduated” into a new age bracket, have lots of speeding tickets on your record, or made claims as a result of an accident.

However frustrating, these sorts of changes make some sense. What doesn’t make sense, however, is that different companies can give quotes that are sometimes very different for the same coverage – and the same driver. This means that if you aren’t careful about comparison shopping, you can end up paying much more than you need to.

TheZebra is a great resource to check comparative prices for insurance in your area and makes it easy to Ask an Agent for unbiased insurance questions you’d like to get to the bottom of. Here are some of the reasons why rates can vary so much.

Driver Specialization by the Company

Insurance works by gathering and evaluating the collective driving risk of a pool of people and then spreading that risk over the entire group. If that pool of people is made up of 18 year-old new drivers, the risk is considered to be higher, and the costs will be higher too. If the pool includes people who have had more than one accident in the last 2 years, the costs will be even higher. So, one reason that you might receive a higher quote from one company over another is that company includes riskier drivers in its pool. Some companies won’t offer coverage to risky drivers, and as a result their quotes tend to be lower.

Area Specialization by the Company

In the same way that the risks associated with particular categories of driver accepted by the company can affect the quote, different kinds of insurance can have the same effect. Some companies provide life, home, accident, travel and other types of insurance, and the various risks and costs of those forms of insurance will also affect the price.

Different Formulas to Calculate Risk

The determination of the risk associated with all of these different kinds of drivers and insurance policies is not a hard-science. It is calculated by complex formula which vary from company to company.

Different Financials for Different Companies

While we tend to think of the “insurance companies” as a unified business, the reality is that they are different businesses, governed by different structures. Some are privately held while others are public. They have different investment priorities and different obligations to their shareholders. They face different regulations depending of which state they are operating in. All of these factors can effect the prices they charge.

What all of this means for you is that it is important to shop your options. If you have a clean record, there will be many companies that will be happy to provide you with coverage, but some will be able to offer you better prices than others for all the reasons outlined above. Be sure to get multiple quotes to choose the best company for you.