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10 dirty little secrets of insurance companies

Last updated Sept. 6, 2011

Insurance companies, like most industries, hide the information which makes them -- and costs you -- money. But insiders, consumer groups, regulators and whistleblowers often spill the beans. You may be surprised at what's going in those company cubicles.

They use ISO vehicle ratings to help price your car insurance policy – but you’re not allowed to see them!

ISO vehicle ratingsA New Jersey-based company, ISO, provides information to car insurance companies about the likelihood of certain cars having accidents and how severe they will be. Its rating plan leads to surcharges of up to 25 percent and discounts of up to 20 percent against the insurance rates of nearly 300 makes and models of vehicles, says a company press release.

This information would be useful to you to buy a safer car or keep your car insurance rates down, but too bad.

"ISO considers the process and outcome of its services proprietary work products, available only to business entities," says an ISO spokeswoman.

Oh well, not everyone plays along with this game. State Farm makes its own vehicle ratings public, and the Highway Loss Data Institute publishes insurance losses by make and model.

In addition, Insure.com has average car insurance rates for 2011 models.

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