Tag Archives: Cost

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Driving while single can cost more in Phoenix, study shows

Single, widowed and divorced drivers in Phoenix are likely to pay higher insurance rates than married drivers with identical driving records, according to a recent report from the Consumer Federation of America.

Phoenix was one of 10 large cities across the U.S. where the federation sought quotes for a 30-year-old woman with a perfect driving record – but different family particulars. In all 10 cities, most rates were higher for that hypothetical customer if she was single, divorced, widowed or single with a child, the study showed.

Critics say that’s the wrong thing for insurers to focus on.

Buying auto insurance “shouldn’t remind people to go get married,” said J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America. “Insurance pricing should remind people to be safe.”

But where consumer groups see rating criteria that have little to do with risk, others see a “sign of a healthy marketplace,” where different insurers are offering a range of pricing options.

Andrew Carlson, the legislative liaison for the Arizona Department of Insurance, said “there is nothing preventing” consumers from choosing a different insurance company.

“Consumers are free if they can find a better rate or premium,” Carlson added.

The report found differences between customers based on their marital status could be large: In Phoenix, for example, rates were sometimes as much as $400 a year higher for a widow than a married woman.

Four of the five insurance companies cited in Phoenix – GEICO, Farmers, Progressive and Liberty – had lower rates for the hypothetical married customer. Rates at State Farm did not vary with marital status, the report said.

Calls to the individual companies were referred to the Insurance Information Institute, where Michael Barry said it is not surprising to see different rates for different people.

“The auto insurance industry has generally found that married drivers pose less of a risk to insurers than single ones,” said Barry, adding that it is a “consensus opinion that has emerged over a period of decades.”

Not all risk factors are based on driving records, Barry said, noting that insurers in some states look to credit scores because they “have found that people who handle their finances correctly are less likely to file claims.”

Hunter disagreed with the notion that rates should be influenced by anything besides your behavior behind the wheel, but he said “credit score has more impact than anything else” on rates, even more so than drunken driving incidents most times.

Other advocates agree with Hunter, arguing there should be no correlation between auto insurance risk and socioeconomic factors.

“What does paying your credit card on time have to do with your driving?” asked Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the Arizona Public Interest Research Group.

“As far as I know, insurance companies are using a variety of unfair rating tools,” Mierzwinski said.

“Instead of using legitimate factors, based on causation,” Mierzwinski said the federation’s study points out “insurance companies trying to maximize their profits.”

Basing rates, at any level, on socioeconomic factors “undermines the safety” that auto insurance rates were once founded on, Hunter said. He said there is “more and more use of factors that have nothing to do with driving.”

But Carlson said that when underwriters determine premiums, “It all comes down to risk assessment.”

Companies compile all kinds of information, from marital status to driving records, he said, that helps them “determine what sort of risk they want to take with a particular customer.”

“They may target you, they may target me,” Carlson said. But ultimately they will “come up with a rate they think we will accept, so they can try to secure business.”

“They might think single people have an increased risk for that company,” he said of the federation report findings.

Hunter said the report also clearly shows “a widow penalty,” as insurance rates increase for a woman whose husband just died. The practice “just about takes the cake,” he said.

CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck said raising rates in instances like that “seems inhumane.”

“It’s not at all clear” why companies use such factors, he said.


The cost to attend the Super Bowl in Glendale

Unlike alleged Foxboro footballs, ticket and travel costs to pro football’s championship game did not deflate over the weekend.  They went up.

Before the conference championship games took place, the average game ticket to Glendale cost $3,374, according to TiqIQ.  Now, the average ticket price is $4,174.50.  That price is only around 2 percent higher than it was for last year’s game at this time.

On the travel side, Patriots fans who bought their airline tickets last week could have paid as little as $343 roundtrip for travel departing January 31 and returning February 2nd.  Today, the range for roundtrip fares between Boston and Phoenix is $704 to $1,227.  Similarly, last week, the least expensive roundtrip fare from Seattle to Phoenix was $303.  Today, the range is $664 to $1,021.  Note – is it not unusual for airfares to increase as travel days get closer, especially last-minute.  And on the hotel side of the equation, rates for game weekend rooms are running anywhere between $117 and $1,999 a night.


Cox begins offering residential Gigabit Service

Cox Communications today announced that its gigabit internet service for residential customers will be available in customer homes starting later this month. Marketed under the brand name “G1GABLASTSM,” Cox will offer speeds 100 times faster than the average speed in the U.S. today.

The service will be first available in parts of the Phoenix Metropolitan area, and will continue to expand there as well as in Las Vegas and Omaha, and in new developments in all Cox markets nationwide. In all Cox locations, the company will begin market-wide deployment of gigabit speeds to residential customers by the end of 2016. The company has been deploying gigabit speeds to businesses for more than 10 years.

“We are excited to deliver the choice of gigabit speeds to our customers,” said Cox Communications President Pat Esser. “Coupled with our 2,300 employees in the Valley and more than 20,000 nationwide, our latest investments and the deployment of the fastest speeds available are powering economic growth and development for businesses and residents of the communities we serve.”

G1GABLAST will be available in the Phoenix market for $69.99 per month when combined with Cox’s most popular service bundles, and will deliver more speed, a powerful home network and rich broadband enabled services to customers.  The service offers speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second – will deliver more speed, a powerful home network and rich broadband enabled services to customers. G1GABLAST also includes the latest high-speed Wi-Fi router, one terabyte of cloud storage, Cox Security Suite and Family Protection and 10 email boxes each with 15 gigabytes of storage.

“Starting today, trained teams of Cox sales representatives will be personally reaching out, door to door, into the neighborhoods that will be the first to have 1G speed available.  Cox will continue outreach into neighborhoods as gig service becomes available, said John Wolfe, Senior Vice President of the Southwest region-Cox Communications.

Marketing and sales promotions will include broad digital advertising and social media, direct mail and print and outdoor advertising. Cox will be demonstrating the service at community events throughout the region and at its retail Cox Solutions Stores. Consumers also can sign-up at www.cox.com/giglife.

While focused on bringing gigabit speeds to its customers, Cox doubled the speeds of its most popular tiers of service this past summer. Cox High Speed Internet Preferred has increased from 25 megabits per second to 50 megabits per second. Cox High Speed Internet Premier has increased from 50 megabits per second to 100 megabits per second. These tiers represent more than 70 percent of Cox’s high-speed internet customers. Committed to offering access and choice, Cox has increased broadband speeds more than 1,000 percent over the past 13 years.

In the last 10 years, Cox has invested more than $15 billion in its communities through infrastructure upgrades to deliver video, phone and high-speed Internet and home security and automation service to homes and businesses in the company’s service area. Additionally, the company gives tens of millions of dollars annually in cash and in-kind contributions to support the communities in which it operates.


Cost of Kitt Peak wildlife crossings soar

Construction costs for two wildlife crossings planned on Ajo Highway near Kitt Peak have soared by nearly 60 percent.

The Arizona Daily Star reports the crossings now are expected to cost about $1.2 million.

A Tohono O’odham Police Department report provided to Pima County’s Regional Transportation Authority shows nearly 20 percent of crashes in the area involve animals. The two under-crossing structures are meant to reduce that number.

RTA transportation services director Jim DeGrood says the Arizona Department of Transportation wants to build them now in conjunction with an ongoing highway-widening project.

The RTA Board approved $746,280 for the project last year and on Thursday approved another $154,000. The Arizona Department of Transportation will pay for the remaining shortfall of about $291,000.