Welcome back to another installment of Insurance Head to Head, the game where we pit two hypothetical people against each other to see who would pay less for car insurance.
Today, we’ve got Larry vs. Natalie in the ring. Based on their rating factors, taken individually and collectively, let’s figure out who’s going to be shelling out the bigger bucks to keep themselves and their autos protected.
Let’s meet our competitors:
Larry is a 75-year-old man living in New Haven, Vermont. He works as an art teacher, not because he couldn’t retire but because he loves working with kids so much. (And his own kids don’t bring the grandchildren over nearly enough). He’s a slow, methodical driver with a perfect driving record. Go, Larry! He drives a 2017 blue Ford Mustang and looks damn good doing it.
Natalie is a 44-year-old woman living in Gresham, Oregon, on the outskirts of Portland. She currently works for the military as a translator, although her true passion is macrame. Like Larry, her driving record is spotless. Keep it up, Natalie! Natalie jets around town in a 2021 Toyota Prius, and frankly judges those who aren’t driving eco-friendly vehicles.
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 see how our competitors do when we compare their individual rating factors one at a time. Then we’ll look at how all these rating factors work together to give a final rate.
Round #1: Location
Where you live has a big impact on how much you pay for auto insurance. Your city or town poses its own unique risk and, therefore, its own unique insurance costs. Who do you think pays more based on location: Natalie in the Beaver State or Larry in the Green Mountain State?
The average driver in the U.S. pays $1,529 for car insurance, but the average drivers in Oregon and Vermont paid less than that. Larry happens to live in the cheapest city in Vermont to get car insurance, and the average driver in New Haven pays around $1,121. While the average driver in Oregon doesn’t pay too much more than that, Natalie lives in Gresham, which is the most expensive place to get car insurance in her state. Drivers there pay an average of $1,767. Larry wins this round.
Round #2: Age
We know that age can be a huge factor in how much you pay. (Just ask anyone with a teen driver on their policy.) But both Natalie and Larry are seasoned drivers with lots of experience. Who do you think will pay more based on age, Natalie in her 40s or Larry in his 70s?
While teen drivers pay the most for car insurance by a huge margin, once you hit your 30s and into middle age, rates are somewhat more consistent. Natalie is in the sweet spot of early middle age; the average 44-year-old American paid $1,435 for insurance. Based solely on age, her rates should continue to go down slightly as she enters her 50s and 60s. That said, when you hit your 70s, rates start to go back up again. The average 75-year-old paid $1,577 last year. Larry will likely continue to see his rates go up for as long as he continues to drive. Natalie wins this round.
Round #3: Occupation
Occupation doesn’t always factor into car insurance rates, but certain jobs do get slight discounts. Who do you think would get a better deal: Larry the teacher or Natalie in the military?
Being in the military offers the cheaper auto insurance, with a savings of about 1.4% over non-military workers. The average American in the military paid $1,473 for car insurance last year. That said, Larry could also get a discount for being a teacher. The average American teacher paid $1,481 for insurance last year, compared to the national average of $1,529. If you’re in the military, a teacher or another public sector job, it’s a good idea to shop around for insurance specifically with those discounts in mind, as there can be a lot of variation between insurance companies. Natalie wins again…although this one is fairly negligible.
Round #4: Vehicle
What you drive also impacts how much you’ll pay for insurance? Who do you think will pay more for their policy: Larry in his Mustang or Natalie in her Prius?
Generally a newer car will cost more to insure than an older car. In fact, by buying a 5-year-old model you can save on average 27% a year on your car insurance. Larry is taking advantage of that in his 2017 Ford Mustang. The average cost to insure it is $1,720. Because Natalie’s car is newer it costs an average of $1,905 to insure. Were she driving an older model Prius she likely would have won this round, but instead the winner is Larry!
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, marital status, credit score and more. Check out our 2022 State of Insurance Report for more fun insurance factoids to impress your friends (provided you’re friends with people who are impressed by insurance trivia).
So who wins?
We have Larry at two wins and Natalie at two, so who’s the real winner?
In the real world, you can’t isolate just one rating factor as we’ve done here. Insurance companies look at each person as a whole and compile all their ratings factors together to determine the overall risk they might pose and decide how much they should pay.
However, we do have one way to find out a 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. Drum roll please!
Our final winner is…Natalie by a nose! The cheapest insurance Larry was offered was $174 a month. And Natalie just squeaked by him when she was offered a rate of $171.
Want to see how you stack up against Natalie and Larry? Compare rates today to see how much you could be paying for car insurance.
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