Car Insurance Companies May Be Screwing Californians By Inflating Mileage Estimates To Charge More

Illustration for article titled Car Insurance Companies May Be Screwing Californians By Inflating Mileage Estimates To Charge More
Image: David McNew (Getty Images)

The pandemic has caused us all to drive less. More people are working from home, we’ve been through multiple lockdowns and in general there are fewer places to go. In California, where it’s legal to base premiums partially on mileage, you would think that this would mean better insurance rates. You’d be wrong, though. The L.A. Times reports that some insurance companies are basing premiums on inflated mileage estimates.

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In a column, David Lazarus details the case of 88 year old Arthur Krieger who lives in L.A. and is insured with Hartford. He estimates that he usually drives 9,000 miles a year. But with the pandemic, he reported to the insurer that it’s less than 1,000 miles now.

“I called them and explained that the car is now driven less than 1,000 miles,” They requested that I take a picture of the odometer twice, three months apart.”

California law states that insurance companies can request a customer’s mileage when setting up the policy and for renewals. Based on the evidence provided, Hartford lowered his mileage estimates. The problem came when he received his renewal notice in the mail and saw that that 1,000 mile estimate had gone up to 4,000 without his intervention.

According to the column, insurance companies were ordered to offer discounts due to Covid, and did resulting in $1 billion dollars being returned to policy holder. Now, it seems they may be trying to recoup some of that money on renewal.

Mr. Krieger though was able to catch Hartford trying to charge him more. They blamed it on a mistake and lowered his estimate back to 1,000 miles. The lesson here? Pay attention to your policy when it comes time to renew. These companies count on people not being attentive and just going with the flow. It’s why things like autopay are pushed. So make sure you are reading your insurance bill thoroughly or you just might find yourself being overcharged.

Staff Writer at Jalopnik. Dad. Lover of all things with 4 wheels. Weird interest in buses.

DISCUSSION

icypalmtree
icypalmtree

Liberty mutual in California has ALWAYS increased mileage estimates by 3000 a year on renewal until they hit 12k. It’s why they lost a 20 year customer last year when I moved to Cali.

It’s a scam, they should be ashamed, but sadly it’s not covid; it’s just insurance.

Just for fun, read up on why the term "actuarially fair insurance premium" was invented rather than just the term "fair insurance premium." tldr: it's because they all are inflating, supposedly to cover overhead, but why does overhead get so big?