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Academics, Training May Lower Student Auto Insurance Rates

(U-WIRE) LOS ANGELES – It is possible for students to receive low rates on auto insurance — they must simply shop around to find the best rates, according to auto insurance experts.

Insurance rates are determined by a number of factors, including driving record, gender and ZIP code, said Ruth Howald, senior actuary and product manager of Farmers Insurance Group.

The best thing that students may do to keep low student auto insurance rates is to maintain their good-driver discount, said Scott Edlen, deputy insurance commissioner of the California Department of Insurance Communication.

Other discounts are available, and students should ask about discounts they may be eligible for, Edlen said.

Good-Student Discounts Can Lower Student Insurance Rates

For example, good-student discounts are available for University of Southern California students who have been driving for less than nine years and have at least a B average, are on the dean’s list or are in the top 20 percent of their class, Howald said.

Students who live close to campus and do not drive much are often eligible for low-mileage discounts, Howald said. Participants in “Driver’s Training Program” classes on insurance issues may also qualify for discounts.

Community defensive driving classes can earn drivers’ discounts, depending on their insurance company, Edlen said.

Students generally receive lower insurance rates if they are covered under their parents’ insurance, Howald said. However, Lynnelle Sanchez, a USC junior majoring in English, found just the opposite.

“I tried to get on my parents’ insurance and found that it would be $4 more a month,” she said.

Part of the reason she chose her insurance company was that it did not require any down payment and allowed her to make monthly payments rather than having to pay large sums, Sanchez said.

Driving Without Insurance a Big Gamble

Some students think that auto insurance is too expensive and choose not to have it, they said. However, uninsured drivers may be subject to police fines, suspended licenses and expenses linked to auto accidents and driver injuries.

“It’s a gamble,” said Marybel Gonzalez, a USC sophomore majoring in print journalism, who cannot afford car insurance but continues to drive.

Gonzalez has been pulled over before without insurance but purchased insurance before she went to court. She did not have to pay a fine and dropped the insurance after she went to court, she said.

Sanchez also had been caught driving without insurance.

“I needed car insurance urgently because I got in an accident and had been driving without insurance for six months,” she said.

She was with an insurance company that required her to make payments in large sums. She stopped paying when she could not come up with the money, Sanchez said. When she got in an accident six months later, she realized she definitely needed car insurance.

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