Tahlequah Daily Press

February 12, 2014

Insurance premium factors


TAHLEQUAH — Many drivers in Cherokee County and around the state have noticed increases to auto insurance premiums. The insurance industry assesses multiple factors when charging a premium - some may have little to do with risk or the margin of return on policies. But drivers can control many variables to keep themselves on the low end of the risk assessment spectrum.

1. Driving record: Moving violations, tickets and accidents put points on a driving record. More points equal higher premiums.

2. Age: In general, insurance companies believe older drivers are more responsible. Remember eagerly awaiting that 25th birthday so the auto policy wouldn't cost so much?

3. Claims: Those who file a lot of claims are surcharged by the industry. Consumer advocates - and insurance agents - say fear of higher premiums should not stop a person from filing any legitimate claim. Oklahoma law does not allow insurance companies to raise premiums if damages claimed are not the fault of the policy holder.

4. Insurance scores: The industry does not explain how insurance scores are determined, but some companies say credit ratings are considered. Better credit equals lower premiums.

5. "Garaging" or parking: If break-ins and vandalism are problematic in the area, those living there will be charged higher premiums.

6. The vehicle: The Insurance Services Office uses a rating scale of 1-27 to figure a vehicle's safety, operating expense and popularity with thieves and chop shops. Older cars cost less to insure.

7. Vehicle use: Those with longer commutes, or who use their vehicles for business, pay higher premiums.

8. Know the options: Any agent should explain coverages such as liability, bodily injury, property, uninsured motorist, comprehensive, collision and full coverage. Oklahoma law requires full coverage to be carried on a vehicle with a lien.

9. Check for discounts: Many companies reduce premiums for good drivers, or offer "vanishing deductibles." Again, any agent should explain the discount programs offered by their respective companies.