auto insurance bumper sticker

Insurance Disclaimer by Andrew Steinmetz is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The attorneys at Gillin, Jacobson, Ellis, Larsen & Lucey know what it’s like to go up against insurance companies and help accident victims and their families collect on the auto insurance claims to which they are entitled. It takes grit, determination, and careful preparation. Unfortunately, the same can be said about finding the auto insurance policy that’s right for you.

Any time you shop around for an insurance price quote, providers will ask questions about your age, your gender, your driving record, where you live, and the type of car you drive. They will also offer a variety of insurance options, such as basic coverage, collision coverage, personal injury coverage, property liability coverage, comprehensive coverage, and more. Then, they will refer to additional information, such as an insurance-specific credit score, to calculate a price quote.

As if this wasn’t complicated enough, providers may reassess your rate any time they learn about a change in circumstance. Maybe you’ve gotten a traffic ticket or had a big change in the number of miles driven compared to last year. Even if the change leads to a lower insurance premium (let’s say you’ve reduced mileage), you might find greater savings with another provider. Consumer Reports recommends doing a rate check every two or three years in search of a better deal.

We understand why many people don’t routinely shop around for insurance. It takes time. And it can be confusing. That’s why, for the next two months, GJEL will be publishing a series of blog posts called Hack Your Auto Insurance. The series will discuss insurance topics that every driver ought to know in clear and simple terms, using up-to-date information. Yes, there are a lot of variables that make it hard to provide a single set of tips for California’s 25.9 million licensed drivers. There’s also a fair amount of data that we can use to help steer you in the right direction.

Rate your insurance and your car

If you’re already an auto insurance policy holder, you might be interested in the satisfaction ratings that Consumer Reports collected from almost 65,000 of its readers in 2014. Here’s a selection of the results including some top brands in the industry. The highest rating in the survey was 93. The lowest was 80. (Consumer Reports subscribers can log in to the website for ratings of all 24 insurers in the survey.)

Consumer Reports 2014 Car Insurance Ratings

USAA93
Amica92
State Farm85
GEICO83
AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah82
Progressive82
Allstate81

Differences of three points or less are meaningless, according to Consumer Reports.

Once you’ve gotten a general rating for your insurance provider, go to the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) website and look up an insurance rating for your car. HLDI has a ton of information grouped according to vehicle models and six categories of insurance coverage. The HLDI ratings consider how frequently providers receive insurance claims for each vehicle and the claim payments that providers make.

Here’s a sample of the ratings for 2013-15 model vehicles.

Highway Loss Data Institute collision insurance ratings

Best resultsWorst results
MicrocarsSmart ForTwo electricMitsubishi Mirage
MinisMini Cooper Roadster convertibleHyundai Accent
Small Two-DoorsVolkswagen New Beetle convertibleScion FR-S
Small Four-DoorsChevrolet Volt electric

Nissan Leaf electric

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 4WD
Small Sports CarsPorsche Cayman 2dr
Small Station Wagons / MinivansSubaru XV Crosstrek 4WDFiat 500L

Nissan Versa Note

Small PickupsGMC Canyon crew cab 4WDChevrolet Colorado crew cab 4WD
Small SUVsJeep Wrangler 2dr SWB 4WDLand Rover Range Rover Evoque 2dr 4WD
Midsize Two-DoorsVolkswagen Eos convertibleHyundai Genesis
Midsize Four-DoorsSubaru Legacy with Eyesight 4WDVolkswagen CC 4WD
Midsize Luxury CarsAcura TLX 4dr 2WDBMW M4 2dr
Midsize Sports CarsChevrolet Corvette convertibleFerrari 458 convertible
Midsize Station Wagons / MinivansSubaru Outback with Eyesight 4WDVolvo V60 4WD
Midsize SUVsFord Edge 4dr 2WDAudi SQ5 4dr 4WD
Large Four-DoorsBuick LaCrosse 2WD

Buick Regal 2WD

Dodge Charger HEMI
Large Luxury CarsVolvo XC70 station wagon 2WDBMW M6 2dr
Large Sports CarsChevrolet Camaro convertibleMaserati Granturismo 2dr
Large PickupsFord F-150 SuperCrew 2WDNissan Titan ext. cab 2WD
Large SUVsFord Expedition 4dr 2WDMercedes-Benz G class 4dr 4WD
Very Large Luxury CarsBentley Continental Flying Spur 4dr 4WD
Very Large Station Wagons / MinivansHonda OdysseyToyota Sienna 4WD
Very Large PickupsFord F-250 SuperCab 2WDRam 3500 crew cab LWB 4WD
Very Large SUVsFord Expedition EL 4dr 2WDLincoln Navigator L 4dr 2WD

The Highway Loss Data Institute has no records of 2013-15 small sports cars or very large luxury cars with above average results for collision insurance claims.

What’s next in the series

In the weeks ahead, the Hack Your Auto Insurance series will cover the insurance requirements in California, how California has tried to limit rate increases by private insurance providers, and the reasons why some consumers opt for more auto insurance than the coverage required by law, among other topics.

If you’re not tracking the insurance industry on a regular basis—and who could blame you?—this series has a lot of new information to share. We’ll look at what it would take to extend the Airbnb model so people can rent out their idle vehicles the way they rent out space in their homes. We will also explain why consumer advocates have asked California to reject discounts that would reduce premiums for certain drivers.

Upcoming topics include:

  • California rates
  • Which coverage to choose
  • Filing a claim
  • Do you insure the car—or the driver?
  • Renting out your car
  • Insuring rental cars and carshare
  • Questions and answers

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Andy Gillin

Andy Gillin received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his law degree from the University of Chicago. He is the managing partner of GJEL Accident Attorneys and has written and lectured in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury law for numerous organizations. Andy is a highly recognized wrongful death lawyer in California.