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Comparing Companies

Comparing companies is crucial to getting the best deal possible on your auto insurance. As mentioned above, each company has a different rating system. The trick is finding the company whose rating formula works out the best for you. To get quotes from a variety of companies, you can use a comparison-shopping service online, or find an independent broker or agent. The internet services are free. Brokers charge a fee for finding you the best rates, but they are also knowledgeable about insurance and can help provide you with expert guidance.

California insurance companies also change their rating systems from time to time. These changes can bring rates up or down, and generally occur as a result of either a change in California state insurance regulations or as a result of a change in the insurance company’s claims experience in the state. The good news? Auto insurance rates have been going down in California. For example, on June 18, 2008, the LA Times published an article titled "It's a buyer's market for auto insurance." The Times article notes that rates in California have fallen 17% percent between 1996 and 2007, largely due to a decrease in automobile accidents.

Fortunately for Californians, the California Department of Insurance takes an active role in regulating California insurance companies and how they determine premiums. For instance, in recent years the Insurance Commissioner has taken action to force some companies to lower excessively high rates. Also, the Department of Insurance recently forced California insurance companies to de-emphasize the importance of your zip code in their rating systems, although it still plays a part in determining your premium.

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