Leave it to auto insurers to kick you when you’re down. New research from the Consumer Federation of America found that premiums jumped by an average of 59 percent, or $681 annually, when characteristics of the drivers were changed to reflect a lower economic status.
Good drivers, whose only “sin” is being poor, can be penalized by hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars each year, according to CFA. Despite having the same exact driving record and living at the same address, drivers pay higher premiums 92 percent of the time if they have a high school diploma and a blue collar or hourly job, rent their home, are unmarried, and have not owned a car (and had no auto insurance) for the past six months.
How can you get good rates despite the bias? While things like parking your car in a garage and taking a defensive driving course at a library or from a community organization can earn you a discount, there’s one must-do:
Maintain good credit.
Even if you have a spotless driving record, a low credit score can be held against you. Says Craig Casazza, a research analyst in Manhattan with the personal finance website ValuePenguin.com, “A poor credit score can cost you up to 60 percent more on rates — that’s a bigger effect than what a DUI does. Tack that onto someone in a low-income neighborhood and rates can be nearly 80 percent higher.”