NEW ORLEANS -- Glenda Spears was frustrated when she renewed her car insurance a few months ago, but she was shocked when she heard why the cost shot up by a few hundred dollars.
She said a staffer at the Louisiana Department of Insurance told her a key reason was where she lives: zip code 70117, which includes the city’s downriver neighborhoods of Bywater, St. Claude, St. Roch and the Lower 9th Ward.
WWL-TV called the Department of Insurance to check on that claim. They said they don’t track that information, but CarInsurance.com, an independent third-party, does.
Michelle Megna, the website’s managing editor, said car insurance, of course, can vary wildly from zip code to zip and even within a household.
There are many factors insurance companies use to determine policies: an individual’s driving record, make and model of the vehicle, and credit history to name a few.
But the process of setting rates always begins with the driver’s home zip code.
“They’ll look at a zip code and basically they’ll judge that zip code to have a risk level based on the number and severity of claims in the area.”
And many of those claims come from crimes.
In the first two months of 2018, zip code 70117 has already recorded more than 100 vehicle crimes, according to New Orleans Police Department data.
“Vandalism, theft, the number of uninsured drivers also play into it,” Megna said of how insurance companies set their rates.
CarInsurance.com uses data from six major, national insurance companies to come up with its estimates and averages for car insurance costs in every zip code.
Their baseline to try to estimate costs is a 40-year-old man with a clean record who drives 12 miles for work and has comprehensive coverage ($100,000 injury liability per person, $300,000 per accident, $100,000 property damage, $500 deductible).
In this scenario, the hypothetical driver in 70117 would pay an eye-popping $3,747 a year for his policy. CarInsurance.com found the highest policies in the zip code cost as much as $4,495 and the least expensive are as low as $2,629.
Because of that, we can verify that 70117 is the most expensive zip code for car insurance in New Orleans. In fact, it’s the third most expensive zip code in the United States behind 4822 in Detroit with an average policy cost of $7,415 and 11212 in New York City with an average policy cost of $4,440.
If 70117 is the zip code with the most expensive insurance in New Orleans, which one is the cheapest?
You have to travel across town to 70124, which is made up of Lakeview and Lake Vista.
In that zip code, the hypothetical driver would pay an estimated $2,796 for his policy, according to CarInsurance.com. The highest policy costs $4,321 while the lowest are estimated to cost $1,766.
Megna said that regardless of a driver’s zip code, he or she should spend some time shopping around to get at least three quotes to try to find the best cost.
“You can save money if you do a little leg work,” she said.