Insurance

Insurance head to head: Hunter vs. Terry

Who will pay more for auto insurance?

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Have you ever wondered how much other people pay for car insurance? And why your Uncle Stan pays way less than you do, despite being a terrible driver? 

The thing is, there are so many rating factors that help decide how much you pay for car insurance. From where you live to your credit score to what you drive, there’s no shortage of things that impact what you ultimately pay. 

In this series, we’re getting personal and focusing on two made-up people to see who will pay less for their insurance.

Enter our newest contestants.

Hunter

Hunter is a non-binary 24-year-old living in a rented apartment in Los Angeles. They’re waiting tables right now while holding out for their big break as an actor. They spend far too much time stuck in traffic and have a few fender benders to their name, but otherwise no major violations on their record. They’re currently driving a 2017 Toyota Sienna their mom gave them. 

Terry

Terry is a 50-year-old homeowner residing in Detroit. He hates the winters, but loves the Detroit Lions enough that he can’t ever leave. He has an almost perfect driving record minus some minor speeding, but isn’t currently driving at all (or for the last 6 months) because he broke his legs in a freak riding lawn-mower accident. However, when he’s back on the road, he’ll pick back up driving his 2017 Range Rover.

But first…a word on rating factors!

A rating factor is an individual characteristic of a customer used to price car insurance premiums. Put simply, the less risky your rating factors are, the cheaper your car insurance policy will be. Interestingly they often have nothing to do with your driving record and everything to do with who you are and where you drive. 

 

 

Now let’s focus on some of their individual rating factors and guess who will likely pay more based on each factor. We’ll examine each rating factor individually and then see how they all work together to determine a final rate. 

Round #1: Location

Who do you think will pay more based on where they live: Hunter in sunny LA or Terry in the Motor City?

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If you guessed that Hunter would have the lower rate, you’re right! That said, both of our contestants live in places with insurance rates well over the national average. According to data from our 2022 State of Insurance report, which analyzed 83 million rates from around the country, the average American paid $1,529 a year for insurance. 

The average in LA? It was over $2,600 with some neighborhoods (looking at you, Beverly Hills) over $3,000!

But despite Hunter living in a pricey locale, it’s no match for Terry in Detroit. Michigan has the dubious honor of having the absolute highest insurance rates of any state in the country, and Detroit boasts the highest rates of any city in Michigan. The average Detroiter pays over $5,000 a year for insurance!

 

Round #2: Age

Who do insurance companies see as a less risky driver: 24-year-old Hunter or 50-year-old Terry?

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Unsurprisingly, Terry wins this round. A 24-year-old pays $1,924 for car insurance in the U.S., and the average 50-year-old pays $1,366 — 34% less. 

 

Round #3: Vehicle

What you drive also has a big impact on what you pay for car insurance. Who do you think will pay more: Hunter with their mom’s old minivan or Terry and his Range Rover?

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Hunter wins this round again! The average cost to insure a 2017 Toyota Sienna last year was $1,595. The average cost to insure a 2017 Land Rover Range Rover was $2,354. 

The amount to insure a vehicle usually goes up based on the cost of the vehicle and its parts. Insurance companies take into account how expensive the car will be to replace or repair should it be stolen or in an accident. Cars that are a few years old are also cheaper to insure than new cars, although that isn’t a factor here since both Hunter and Terry drive 2017 models.

Round #4: Driving history

Who will pay more, Hunter with their at-fault accidents or Terry with his speeding?

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Terry wins this round! Even a minor at-fault accident raises insurance premiums an average of 25.6% a year (and continues to affect them for 3 years). The increase in insurance cost varies with speeding tickets based on how fast the speeder was going but averages from a 18 - 22% increase.

Bonus Round

Should Terry even be paying for insurance right now since he hasn’t driven in 6 months?

Insurance policy

Yes, he should. If you don’t plan to drive for an extended period of time, it may be tempting to cancel your policy and save some money. However, unless you’re getting rid of your car it isn’t wise to cancel your full policy. 

In Michigan, where Terry lives, it is illegal to drive without liability coverage. If he truly doesn’t plan to drive at all, he could limit his policy to just comprehensive coverage. This would protect the car he’s not driving from damage or theft. Not having a gap in coverage for even a day can yield savings on your car insurance.

Other factors that affect insurance rates

These are far from the only rating factors that will affect our contestants. Other rating factors that are used to determine insurance (in many states) include behavioral factors like insurance history, claims history, coverage level, miles driven and more. There are also more personal rating factors like gender, martial status, credit history and more, although many of these won’t affect Hunter as they can’t be taken into consideration in the state of California.

So who wins?

Hunter and Terry each came out on top in two of the categories, so who is our overall winner?  

In the real world, you can’t just isolate just one factor because the insurance companies compare all factors as a whole and weight them differently in order to get a full picture of how much risk a particular driver might pose. 

Luckily, there’s a way to find out the winner. We ran each of our contestants through The Zebra’s easy-to-use car insurance comparison platform to find the best rates that the top insurance companies would offer to each. And we have a winner…

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Hunter wins! The cheapest quote Hunter was offered at $176 a month. Terry would have to pay over $300 a month, owing largely to his location in one of the most expensive to insure ZIP codes in the country.

Want to see if you can beat both Hunter and Terry? Find out what rates you could get in minutes by answering just a few questions.

Compare insurance rates quickly and easily.

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Susan MeyerSenior Editorial Manager

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She currently specializes in producing research-focused content for The Zebra's resource center on topics related to auto and home insurance, personal finance and smarter living in the 21st century.