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State Farm Vehicle Ratings Help Car Buyers and Car Insurance Shoppers


Every year, State Farm Auto Insurance releases a new safety study based on the claims histories of the owners of specific types of vehicles. This year's study focuses on models manufactured between 2009 and 2012. Although the ratings are relatively comprehensive, State Farm's system only allows them to create listings based on the records for the customers who have State Farm insurance.

That means that the most popular vehicles on the road are included in the ratings, but cars that are not as common might not have enough data for accurate representations of their overall safety. State Farm's ratings results are available to anyone who visits their website, which makes them a good resource when you are shopping for a new car or comparing insurance rates between different insurance companies.

While the State Farm ratings system reflects claims trends over the past year, it is only one of several factors used to determine car insurance rates. State Farm representatives point out that the ratings are only a small fraction of the decision-making process. Other factors are common to every insurance company, such as age, marriage status, credit ratings, driving history, miles typically driven, and accident rates.

The State Farm ratings scale only indicates State Farm's perspective regarding the cars listed. Other insurance companies might offer better rates depending on the many different factors involved in establishing a premium. The best way to find the most competitive rates for your personal insurance needs is to compare rates directly.

How the Ratings are Generated

State Farm breaks the ratings into four separate categories. There is a damage and theft index, liability rating index, collision damage index, and vehicle safety discounts list. The data for each category is collected from State Farm's claims records over the previous year. Cars that have fewer claims will score higher on the lists, while those that have the most claim activity will score lower. The ratings system allows State Farm one more way to determine the real safety of certain makes and models. The goal is to provide the most accurate and up to date premiums as possible to the widest number of drivers.

Ratings Changes Tend to be Incremental

Since the ratings are based on real life data collected over a 12-month time span, they can have a direct bearing on the premiums that drivers will pay. People who own cars that score well on the ratings list might see a small decrease in their insurance costs for the next year. If your car scored poorly, your insurance rates might go up a fraction. The changes in rates are not extreme because they are only a small part of the overall personal history that goes into deciding how much to charge for car insurance.

Results of Claims Studies Give a Practical Snapshot

There are several independent companies that complete comprehensive safety ratings on every new car as it comes onto the market. These safety ratings are based on practical tests conducted in scientific labs. The State Farm research does not carry the same objective scientific comparison that you would expect from a consumer protection agency. What you can learn from the State Farm lists is how certain types of cars tended to have fewer problems than other types of cars when driven in practical daily situations. You have to take into consideration that other factors are involved in the ratings that have nothing to do with the make and model of the car, like driver experience or weather conditions.

Ratings Intended as a Car Shopping Tool

State Farm representatives explain that the ratings system is meant to help drivers select the safest and least expensive cars when they are shopping for a new vehicle. The lists provide a good resource for customers who are interested in paying less for car insurance and are willing to make a buying decision based on the potential insurance costs. The ratings are not intended to present a comprehensive safety comparison or a prediction of the possibility of injuries when these cars are involved in an accident.

Existing Customers May not Notice a Difference

Current State Farm customers may not even realize that the ratings list has been established. The change to a driver's insurance rates is so small that it could be difficult to notice whether your rates have gone up or down now that the lists have been released. In fact, your premium statement will not list any information about the ratings list or how it affected your premiums. As with most other factors that go into establishing a car insurance rate, the impact of these safety lists is assessed by the insurance company before the rate is determined. The customer is not consulted regarding changes in rates.

Ratings Helpful for Comparing Insurance Rates Across the Board

One of the benefits of the State Farm safety rankings is that they can be used as a benchmark for comparing insurance rates from any car insurance company. Cars that tend to be safer for State Farm are likely to be safer for other insurance companies as well. If you are shopping for a new car, these lists can be helpful no matter what insurance company you plan to use. The lists simply give you another tool to help you keep your car insurance rates as low as possible for the plan that suits you the best.

State Farm Ratings not Applicable in all States

The State Farm ratings are not recognized in all 50 states. The rates don't apply at all to drivers in North Carolina or Massachusetts. The rates are not entirely accurate for cars in New Jersey, South Carolina, New York, or the District of Columbia.

California has not approved of the ratings. No matter what state you live in, these vehicle ratings should be considered a general guideline for choosing less expensive cars to insure. The lists do not guarantee that you will pay less for your car insurance based solely on the car's ranking.