Auto Insurance Rates Among County's Lowest

Times Staff Writer

Auto insurance rates vary by city in the San Gabriel Valley, but are among the county's lowest, according to a new survey by the state Department of Insurance.

The survey released by the department last week showed that San Gabriel Valley residents would pay much more for car insurance if they lived in central Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Canoga Park or North Hollywood. In some cases, the rates outside the San Gabriel Valley are double.

The survey also showed that car insurance is generally cheaper in the eastern half of the valley than the western half, but that does not hold true with every company. And rates of individual companies vary greatly.

For example, a 23-year-old single woman who lives in Claremont and drives a 1984 Honda LX to work 10 miles a day and drives less than 15,000 miles a year could buy insurance from the Automobile Club of Southern California for $575, getting about the same coverage that would cost $809 from Allstate.

But a 42-year-old married man, also living in Claremont, who drives his 1981 Dodge Colt three miles to work daily and under 12,000 miles a year, could get a better rate from Allstate, paying $553 for the same sort of coverage that the Automobile Club sells for $601. If the man moved to Altadena, his insurance bill would increase to $853 with the Automobile Club and $858 with Allstate.

The lesson to be drawn from these examples is that it pays to shop around, said George Watts, president of the Western Insurance Information Service, which is funded by insurance companies.

Watts said each insurer has its own claim history and its own way of computing risks. While rates are regulated by the government in some states, the practice in California has been to let companies set their own rates.

Jerry Clemans, vice president for public relations at Farmers Insurance, said the rate examples released by the state can be misleading because they fail to take a wide variety of discounts into account. For example, Farmers offers special rates to nonsmokers, persons between 30 and 60 years of age and students with good grades.

Clemans said that because insurance rates are tailored to individual circumstances, the only way a person can find out the exact rate for his car is to see an insurance agent.

There are generally three ways to buy insurance: from an agent who represents a single company; from an independent agent who represents several lines of insurance, or directly from an insurer by mail or phone.

The state survey shows that some of the lowest rates available in the San Gabriel Valley are offered by 20th Century, a company that limits its clientele to low-risk drivers and sells only by phone. Some of the highest rates are listed for Hartford Casualty, a company whose passenger car insurance makes up only a small part of its business.

Watts said insurers use many factors to determine rates, from the driver's age to his driving record to the potential costs of car repairs, but the most controversial lies in the fact that much of what a person pays for insurance is based on where he or she lives.

Differing Views

It is apparent from the state survey that insurers have differing views on which San Gabriel Valley cities present the highest claim risks. Claremont, San Dimas and La Verne tend to have lower rates than Altadena, Monterey Park and Rosemead, but there are exceptions.

20th Century offers identical rates in 24 San Gabriel Valley communities, but charges higher premiums in part of El Monte. On the other hand, Mercury Casualty divides those same 24 communities into 11 rate areas and gives El Monte one of its lowest rates.

Some legislators have questioned the fairness of territorial differentials because poor neighborhoods often have the highest rates. State Sen. Art Torres (D-South Pasadena) has introduced a bill requiring insurers to shift the basis of pricing from territories to driver records.

But attempts to eliminate territorial rating have been scuttled in the past at least partly because so many people benefit from the current system. Insurance industry officials claim that two-thirds of the state's motorists would face rate increases if insurers were no longer allowed to charge higher rates in high-risk neighborhoods.

Highest and Lowest

According to the Western Insurance Information Service, the highest rates in the state are paid by residents of San Francisco and parts of Los Angeles; some of the lowest by residents of Santa Barbara and San Diego.

Wayne Wilson, manager and general partner of Insurance Sales and Service in El Monte, said the San Gabriel Valley has historically benefited from low rates dating to a time when companies set one rate for nearly the entire area. Now that companies are analyzing their claim losses by ZIP code area, he said, small rate differences are emerging within the San Gabriel Valley, but "not enough to get excited about."

Wilson said he places insurance with seven companies and every one has a different rate for each ZIP code area, based on its own claim experience.

He said customers increasingly are shopping for price, but that's not the only consideration. Efficiency in handling claims is important, too, he said, and some insurers have such a loyal clientele that their customers will stay with them even if their rates are higher.

The full comparative rate survey for Los Angeles County can be obtained by sending a request to the state Department of Insurance, 100 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco 94102, and enclosing a self-addressed 9-by-12-inch envelope with 70 cents in postage.

COMPARATIVE CAR INSURANCE RATES: SAN GABRIEL VALLEY

The California Department of Insurance has made public these comparative annual insurance rates by accumulated ZIP code areas in the San Gabriel Valley. These 18 insurance groups sell about 75% of all private preferred auto insurance in the state and rates were those in effect in November, 1985. Rates to individuals will vary based on age, driving record, use of car, mileage driven and the amount of insurance coverage.

DRIVER 1 (FIGURES ARE IN BOLD TYPE) Driver 1 is a 23-year-old single woman who drives 10 miles to work and drives less than 15,000 miles a year. She has no traffic citations and no accidents. She drives a 1984 car that cost between $8,001 and $10,000 new--a Chevrolet Monte Carlo 2-door, a Honda LX or a Ford Mustang "L." Insurance coverage includes injury liability of $15,000 per person with a maximum of $30,000 per accident; property damage liability of $10,000 per accident; medical payments of $2,000 per person; uninsured motorist (U/M) $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident; comprehensive with a $100 deductible and collision with $200 deductible.

DRIVER 2 (FIGURES ARE IN LIGHT TYPE) Driver 2, age 42, is a married man who drives three miles to work and less than 12,000 miles a year. He has no citations but one at-fault accident 2 years ago. He drives a 1981 car that cost between $6,500 and $8,000 new--Dodge Colt, Mercury Zephyr sedan, Toyota Tercel 2-door or Corolla. Insurance coverage includes injury liability of $100,000 per person with a maximum of $300,000 per accident; property damage liability of $50,000 per accident; medical payments of $5,000 per person; uninsured motorist (U/M) $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident; comprehensive with a $200 deductible and collision with $500 deductible.

City State Auto Club 20th Zip Code Farm Farmers of So. Cal. Allstate Century Alhambra 935 1118 596 1100 464 91801-03 673 772 662 785 501 Altadena 935 1118 791 1197 464 91001 673 772 853 858 501 Arcadia 935 1118 596 946 464 91006 673 772 662 668 501 Azusa 906 1057 577 946 464 91702 652 724 595 668 501 Baldwin Park 906 1057 732 1071 464 91706 652 724 784 778 501 Claremont 906 1057 575 809 464 91711 652 724 601 553 501 Covina 906 1057 577 946 464 91722-24 652 724 595 668 501 Duarte 935 1057 596 946 464 91010 673 724 662 668 501 El Monte 935 1118 732 946-1100 464-597 91731-35 673 772 784 668-785 501-647 Glendora 906 1057 577 946 464 91740 652 724 595 668 501 Hacienda Hghts 906 1057 666 1071 464 91745 652 724 717 778 501 La Puente 906 1057 732 1071 464 91744-47 652 724 784 778 501 La Verne 906 1057 575 946 464 91750 652 724 601 668 501 Los Angeles 1209-2003 1545-2815 927-1341 1525-2213 567-843 90030-39 895-1497 1150-2047 1006-1518 1154-1694 611-957 Monrovia 935 1118 596 946 464 91016 673 772 662 668 501 Monterey Park 935 1118 732 1100 464 91754 673 772 784 785 501 Pasadena 935 1118 596-791 946-1197 464 91101-08 673 772 662-853 668-858 501 Pomona 906 1057 575 953 464 91765-69 652 724 601 674 501 Rosemead 935 1118 577 1100 464 91770 673 772 595 785 501 San Dimas 906 1057 575 946 464 91773 652 724 601 668 501 San Gabriel 935 1118 596-732 946-1100 464 91775 673 772 662-784 668-785 501 Sierra Madre 935 1118 596 946 44 91024 673 772 662 668 501 South Pasadena 935 1118 596 946 464 91030 673 772 662 668 501 Temple City 935 1118 596 946 464 91780 673 772 662 668 501 Walnut 906 1057 577 1071 464 91789 652 724 595 778 501 West Covina 906 1057 577-732 1071 464 91790-92 652 724 595-784 778 501

City Ohio Mercury Zip Code U.S.A.A.* SAFECO GEICO Casualty Casualty Alhambra 638-657 812-886 930 764 709 91801-03 512-526 576-642 838 575 506 Altadena 682 812 1005 786 834 91001 553 576 907 577 583 Arcadia 638 812 930 764 615 91006 512 576 838 575 443 Azusa 599 738 929 796 653 91702 482 542 851 589 469 Baldwin Park 661 886 966 810 635 91706 529 642 862 604 451 Claremont 599 738 893 796 635 91711 482 542 810 589 461 Covina 599 886 893 796 635-653 91722-24 482 642 810 589 461-469 Duarte 638 886 929 796 635 91010 512 642 851 589 451 El Monte 657 886 966 810 615-635 91731-35 526 642 862 604 443-451 Glendora 599 738 893 796 635 91740 482 542 810 589 451 Hacienda Hghts 599 841 893 796 656 91745 482 607 810 589 458 La Puente 661 886 966 810 653 91744-47 529 642 862 604 469 La Verne 599 738 893 796 635 91750 482 542 810 589 461 Los Angeles 948-1241 1311-1772 1320-1827 1063-1588 764-1347 90030-39 772-1080 1035-1457 1128-1718 785-1174 553-1013 Monrovia 638 812 929 796 615 91016 512 576 851 589 443 Monterey Park 657 886 966 810 709 91754 526 642 862 604 506 Pasadena 638-682 812 930-1005 764-786 749-834 91101-08 512-553 576 838-907 575-577 529-583 Pomona 599 841-886 893 796 680 91765-69 482 607-642 810 589 481 Rosemead 657 886 966 810 615 91770 526 642 862 604 443 San Dimas 599 738 893 796 635 91773 482 542 810 589 461 San Gabriel 638-657 886 930 764 615-709 91775 512-526 642 838 575 443-506 Sierra Madre 638 812 930 764 615 91024 512 576 838 575 443 South Pasadena 638 812 930 764 749 91030 512 576 838 575 529 Temple City 638 812 930 764 709 91780 512 576 838 575 506 Walnut 599 841 893 796 680 91789 482 607 810 589 481 West Covina 599 886 893 796 653-680 91790-92 482 642 810 589 469-481

* Military and dependents only.

City Liberty California Zip Code Continental Nationwide Mutual Casualty Alhambra 1022 679 856 1059 91801-03 949 642 794 816 Altadena 634 679 856 1059 91001 912 642 794 816 Arcadia 1022 679 856 1059 91006 949 642 794 816 Azusa 938 650 803 986 91702 791 605 741 754 Baldwin Park 1094 650 803 986 91706 932 605 741 754 Claremont 996 650 803 986 91711 791 605 741 754 Covina 936 650 803 986 91722-24 791 605 741 754 Duarte 998 679 856 1059 91010 791 642 794 816 El Monte 1094 679 856 1059 91731-35 932 642 794 816 Glendora 938 650 803 986 91740 791 605 741 754 Hacienda Hghts 938 650 803 986 91745 791 605 741 754 La Puente 986 650 803 986 91744-47 791 605 741 754 La Verne 986 650 803 986 91750 791 605 741 754 Los Angeles 1642-2181 901-1438 1164-1780 1452-1928 90030-39 1168-1643 858-1387 1092-1689 1148-1555 Monrovia 938 679 856 1059 91016 791 642 794 816 Monterey Park 1094 679 856 1059 91754 932 642 794 816 Pasadena 984 679 856 1059 91101-08 912 642 794 816 Pomona 936 650 803 986 91765-69 791 605 741 754 Rosemead 1094 679 856 1059 91770 932 642 794 816 San Dimas 986 650 803 986 91773 791 605 741 754 San Gabriel 1022 679 856 1059 91775 949 642 794 816 Sierra Madre 1022 679 856 1059 91024 949 642 794 816 South Pasadena 1022 679 856 1059 91030 949 642 794 816 Temple City 1022 679 856 1059 91780 949 642 794 816 Walnut 986 650 803 986 91789 791 605 741 754 West Covina 998 650 803 986 91790-92 791 605 741 754

Aetna Civil City Casualty J.C. Service Hartford Zip Code Surety Penney Employees Casualty Alhambra 838 1182 881 1208 91801-03 804 958 756 1290 Altadena 838 1182 926 940 91001 804 958 789 1030 Arcadia 838 1068 881 940 91006 804 822 756 1030 Azusa 780 1068 945 1208 91702 723 822 810 1290 Baldwin Park 780 1068 934 1208 91706 723 822 785 1290 Claremont 780 908 945 -- 91711 723 710 810 -- Covina 780 1076 945 1208 91722-24 723 866 810 1290 Duarte 838 1068 945 1208 91010 804 822 810 1290 El Monte 838 1068 934 1208 91731-35 804 822 785 1290 Glendora 780 1076 945 1208 91740 723 866 810 1290 Hacienda Hghts 780 1076 945 1208 91745 723 866 810 1290 La Puente 780 1076 934 1208 91744-47 723 866 785 1290 La Verne 780 908 945 1208 91750 723 710 810 1290 Los Angeles 1302-1770 1530-2318 1457-2260 2292 90030-39 1130-1556 1276-1946 1265-2025 2480 Monrovia 838 1068 945 1208 91016 804 822 810 1290 Monterey Park 838 1068 934 1208 91754 804 822 785 1290 Pasadena 838 1182 881-926 940 91101-08 804 958 756-789 1030 Pomona 780 908 945 1208 91765-69 723 710 810 1290 Rosemead 838 1068 934 1208 91770 804 822 785 1290 San Dimas 780 1076 945 1208 91773 723 866 810 1290 San Gabriel 838 1182 881 1208 91775 804 958 756 1290 Sierra Madre 838 1068 881 940 91024 804 822 756 1030 South Pasadena 838 1182 881 940 91030 804 958 756 1030 Temple City 838 1076 881 1208 91780 804 866 756 1290 Walnut 780 1076 945 1208 91789 723 866 810 1290 West Covina 780 1076 945 1208 91790-92 723 866 810 1290

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