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Consumer Confidential: Your car insurer may be using pre-pandemic mileage to set 2021 rates

David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

You could say Arthur Krieger, a former detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, is the sort of guy who expects reasonable answers to reasonable questions.

So Krieger, 88, was more than a little nonplussed when he recently contacted his car insurer, Hartford, to ask about the mileage being used for his coverage renewal.

Like many if not most of us, the West L.A. resident is driving a lot less because of the pandemic. Last year around this time, he noticed that Hartford estimated he drives his 2001 Toyota Prius 9,000 miles a year.

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

He did that and said the insurer promptly lowered his annual mileage estimate to 1,000.

Yet when his latest renewal notice arrived in the mail the other day, it included a mileage estimate of 4,000 miles and a corresponding rate increase.

 

"I called them once again and complained that this is impossible because we are still in a COVID-19 situation and the car is hardly driven," Krieger recalled.

"The answer I was given was that in California, and only California, there is an agency that reports to insurance companies the mileage driven by cars."

Krieger said he asked the Hartford rep for the name of this agency. "He told me they don't release this information to the public."

Krieger didn't find this a particularly satisfactory answer. So he asked me what I could tell him.

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