Stockton is among California’s most expensive cities for auto insurance.
Motorists living in other San Joaquin County cities will pay on average at least 10 percent less than the average rate in Stockton, according to a recent study by ValuePenguin.com, a financial services comparison site.
Collecting auto insurance quotes in January from 24 companies, based upon a hypothetical 31-year-old married man driving a 2010 Toyota Camry about 10,000 to 15,000 miles a year, the study found rates in Stockton averaged $1,672 a year.
But the highest average rate among neighboring cities was just $1,512 a year in Manteca. Auto premiums in other cities — Lodi, Ripon, Escalon and Lathrop — were even less, and Tracy drivers on average, enjoyed the lowest rates among the county’s municipalities at $1,442 annually.
The ValuePenguin study also looked at rates within Stockton by ZIP code, finding the best rates in less-densely populated neighborhoods of Brookside (95219), where the quoted rates averaged $1,521 a year, or 5 percent lower than the city’s average, and Morada (95212) at $1,626 annually.
On the high end were the 95210 ZIP code in Stockton’s north, at $1,740 a year, and 95206 in much of south Stockton, $1,721 annually.
California law mandates that auto carriers must consider three primary factors, said Harvey Rosenfield, founder of Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog and a driving force behind the insurance reform measure Proposition 103.
“The three factors that have got to have the most impact on rate are your diving safety record, the number of miles you drive every year and your driving experience,” he said.
That was central to the changes endorsed by voters approving Prop. 103, Rosenfield said.
“They wanted rates based primarily on factors within their own control rather than the arbitrary factor of ZIP code.”
However, insurers can consider other secondary factors when setting rates, such as marital status, educational attainment and multiple vehicles, as well as the frequency of claims in the area where the vehicle is garaged and the relative severity of those claims.
ValuePenguin found a wide range of prices between the different auto insurance companies. With all else equal, premium quotes ranged from $1,167 to $2,492 a year, or, put another way, a year’s premium for the most expensive insurer paid for two years of liability protection at the cheapest insurer.
Comparison shopping is always recommended, Rosenfield said.
“The best thing to do as a consumer is to go online and request quotes from multiple companies and see who gives you the best deal,” he said.
“It is much easier now than it has ever been to do that because of the Internet.”
ValuePenguin’s survey is based on that approach, with a team of analysts gathering more than 500 individual quotes for Stockton and other San Joaquin County cities, said Ting Pen, co-founder of New York-based ValuePenguin.
While her website’s cost comparison tools allow users to click through to various financial institutions for services, including auto insurance, those companies have no influence on the ValuePenguin study, she said.
“If the company is the most expensive, we will say it’s the most expensive. If a company is the cheapest, we will say it’s the cheapest. The facts are the facts,” Pen said.
To take a look at the price study on the internet, go to valuepenguin.com/car-insurance-stockton-california/.
— Contact reporter Reed Fujii at (209) 546-8253 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ReedBiznews.