You don't have to pray for lower car insurance premiums. You don't even need to attend church. But statistics show that simply living near a church or other religious institution reduces your risk of getting into a car accident -- and that could lead to better car insurance premiums than your friends have.
A study conducted by Quality Planning, a company that validates policyholder information for car insurance companies, found that people who live within a mile of a religious institution are 10% less likely to have a car accident resulting in property damage. The study, which examined more than 15 million policyholders and 2 million claims, also found that living near a restaurant increases your chances of getting into a car accident by 30%.
"A restaurant is intentionally located in a higher traffic area. You got a lot of cars coming in and out," says Bob U'Ren, the senior vice president of Quality Planning. "Churches are typically in a more open area or a (less congested) neighborhood. So, maybe with the exception of Sunday, the church doesn't attract a lot of traffic."
But it's becoming more common for insurers to use technology to better understand your geographic area (like the types of establishments near you) instead of simply relying on your ZIP code.
ZIP codes "are great for delivering mail, but not for writing insurance," says U'Ren. "That's because of the diversity possible within a ZIP code."
Gas stations are another accident hot spot. Quality Planning found that if you live within a mile of a gas station, your probability of making a physical damage claim is 22% higher than someone who lives more than a mile away from that same gas station. You may live on the same road as that other person, but if you are closer to the gas station, your risk is higher.
Other risky areas are grocery stores, elementary schools, banks, car dealerships and liquor stores. Places that have shown the lowest risk include racetracks, amusement parks, hotels and resorts, parks and forest preserves, airports and medical clinics. Some of these results surprised even the folks at Quality Planning.
But U'Ren says the results make sense if you analyze them further. "Let's compare an airport to an elementary school. The airport is designed to handle heavy traffic. It has (multiple traffic) lanes, off ramps, etc. An elementary school has a small driveway and it's not designed to handle traffic," he says, and that translates to greater potential for playing "bumper cars" at peak times.
All things considered, your safest bet is to live more than a mile away from the following establishments, with one exception: Living near a church actually decreases your chances of an accident.
|Accident hot spots|
|Establishment||Increased likelihood of accident for drivers living within a mile||Establishment||Increased likelihood of accident for drivers living within a mile|
|Restaurant||30%||Hotel, motel, resort or spa||5%|
|Grocery store||26%||National park or forest||4%|
|Elementary or secondary school||26%||Community park||3%|
|Car dealership||23%||Doctor's office or clinic||1%|
|Racetrack or amusement park||11%|
This article was reported by Kat Zeman for Insure.com.
Published April 20, 2010
More from MSN Money and Insure.com
- Quick quiz: Are you covered or clueless on auto insurance?
- The most and least expensive states for car insurance
- How to uncover a car's secret history
- How much can car rates go up after an accident?
- Make your car last 250,000 miles
- 6 top car insurance myths