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Don’t Count on Low Mileage for an Insurance Break

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Many people assume that they get a discount on their auto insurance if they drive just a few thousand miles a year. But depending on which insurance company you use, that’s not necessarily true.

A study conducted by the Consumer Federation of America obtained multiple quotes in a dozen cities from the websites of five major auto insurance companies. Quotes were based on identical criteria except for one variable—the number of miles driven annually, which ranged from 2,500 to 22,500. Results: Outside of California, where state law requires all insurers to heavily weigh mileage in setting premiums, quotes from Progressive and Farmers typically did not vary at all based on miles driven, while very-low-mileage discounts from other insurers averaged 6%, or $102. Geico’s discount averaged 8%…Allstate’s, 11%…and State Farm’s, 13%. Some insurers say that they don’t use mileage driven as a factor because drivers often provide incorrect estimates. Because of the California State requirement, very-low-mileage drivers in Los Angeles saw an average discount of 30%, or $346, across all insurers.

What to do: If you currently drive very little or expect a major drop-off, possibly because of a change in jobs or retirement, ask your insurer whether it will offer you a significant discount. If it won’t, shop around to see whether your low mileage helps get you a better deal elsewhere. ­

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Source: Douglas Heller, insurance consultant for the Washington, DC–based Consumer Federation of America. He conducted the low-mileage study, which can be found at ConsumerFed.org (search for “low-mileage driver”). Date: May 1, 2018
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