FORT MYERS, Fla. - A WINK News investigation uncovers your zip code could be costing you hundreds of dollars a year when it comes to car insurance rates.
You already know that your driving record can have a big impact on what you pay for car insurance. If you get a couple of speeding tickets you can expect to pay more. But we wanted to know, why would your zip code matter? Turns out, how your neighbors drive impacts what you pay.
"Because the area that you live in there's a high concentration of bad drivers and you live in that zip code, that can affect the rate that you have," explained John Risk, a Field Insurance Manager at AAA Insurance Agency in Fort Myers.
Add in car thefts and your zip code can really zap your wallet. We asked John Risk to use his own good driving record to give us rate quotes on a Kia Sedan throughout Southwest Florida.
With one company, the rate changed by county. The same driver would pay $1146 in Collier County, $1215 in Charlotte County but $1466 in Lee County.
With another insurer, it varied by zip code. Our fictitious driver would pay $1055 in Bonita Springs, zip code 34134; he would pay $1473 in Lehigh Acres, zip code 33971 and several variations in between.
We wanted to know what you can do to save money, other than move.
"Every insurer is different," explained John. "I have a couple of insurers where there is no price difference."
That means in order to get the best deal, you have to shop around. Not every company changes rates by zip code.
So how often should you shop policies? Triple-A says every year.
"It takes us five to ten minutes to put your information in, and see if you still have your best rate," John Risk told us.
In addition to zip codes, we found several other things that can help you save money on insurance.
For instance, your credit rating matters. In Florida, the better you are at paying your bills, the lower your insurance bill will be. Next, ask for discounts like good driver discounts and combined home insurance and car insurance discounts. Finally, some companies have a niche market, like for older drivers or for drivers with a few tickets so search out the ones that match your situation.
Also when shopping around, know that independent agents like AAA represent a lot of lines and can get you several quotes but they don't represent a lot of the big brands like State Farm and Allstate. So when doing your research, you may want to contact several agents and companies to find the best deal.