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Are the idiot drivers around you pushing up your car insurance rates?

car-insurance-rates-for-idiotsYou may have a spotless driving record, but the reckless driving behavior of others in your community can have an impact on your own insurance costs.

The idiots where you live

Generally, the main factors used to determine rates when you seek car insurance quotes are your age, driving record, how many years of driving experience you have, make and model of your vehicle and how many miles a year you drive.

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And then there’s your ZIP code. Is it filled with bad drivers, car thieves and vandals?

"If you live in an inner city like Los Angeles, the density and the amount of accidents are much higher than if you lived in a rural community. There is a big difference in the probability a car being involved in an accident, being stolen or being vandalized. It depends on your state and what weight insurers are allowed to give to where a car is garaged,” explains Peter Moraga, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Network of California.

Even outside urban areas there are auto insurance cost hot spots caused by other drivers: If you live in a college town where there are numerous young drivers, and accident rates are generally higher, you’ll pay more, says Eli Lehrer, vice president of The Heartland Institute, a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Even if you keep your car in a secure garage in a low-crime area, your car insurance company might charge you higher car insurance rates if your model is a frequent target for theft, says Jim Armitage, an agent and broker in Arcadia, Calif.

Because claims experiences differ for insurers, one company may view your area as more risky than another. When you’re getting auto insurance quotes, be sure to do comparison shopping.

"It may not seem like there is method to the madness, but there is," says Armitage. "There is a lot of data that goes into these rates."

The idiots driving cars like yours

Your insurance company also considers the make and model of your car when determining risk. Even though you may drive safely, other drivers who choose the same type of vehicle may not. Your model's “loss history” affects your collision and comprehensive coverage rates.

"There may be a history of claims on a car that make it more expensive to insure," says Moraga.

If the car is sporty or perceived as a muscle car, "people who buy that car may tend to speed," he observes. "The kind of person who drives it may drive recklessly. The make and model is a part of the equation. What people need to understand is, when they are looking for a car, they need to consider what it is going to cost to insure it."

Check out’s car insurance comparison of the most and least expensive vehicles to insure.

Your car insurance and your own young idiots

Sometimes it's the other drivers in your own household that end up costing you money. If you have family members on your policy who are below age 25, statistically they are more likely to have a car accident. Car wrecks are the main cause of death among 15- to 20-year-olds, reports the Insurance Information Institute. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 2,739 drivers in that age group died and 228,000 were injured in car crashes during 2008.

No escaping other drivers

In the end, car insurance rates come down to how likely your company thinks that it will have to pay out a claim, says Armitage.

"Certainly if people around you are having claims, it will cause the rates to go up," he says. "Even though I am a good driver, if a bunch of other people are not, you will see rates go up for me. I will pay less than the guy who had an accident, but my rates overall are going to be more expensive."

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