Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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UPDATED: Sep 15, 2021

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Important facts to know...

  • When you’re shopping for auto insurance, you’ll be asked to give your address so the agent can give you a quote
  • It’s important to give the insurer your actual address so there are not changes to your quote when you apply
  • If you prefer to have your mail sent to a PO Box, you can put the PO box as your mailing address only
  • The second address that you must list is a physical address where the vehicle is parked and it can’t be a PO Box
  • The zip code where the vehicle is parked can affect your rates especially in areas with high property crime rates

If you’re applying for a car loan, the lender is going to ask you for your physical address. While it might not seem like something that will make or break your auto loan application, to the lender, having the borrower’s physical address is a must.

In fact, many auto insurance lenders will only approve applications when the application has been at a stable address for months or years.

Lenders have their own unique requirements, and so do auto insurance companies. When insurers ask for your address, they’re not just asking for an address to use on their paperwork. Your address and zip code factor into your risk profile. Crime rate, how frequently people in your area file auto claims, and many other factors are determined by your real street address. This is why some people have used the address of a friend or family member to get lower rates. This is considered insurance fraud.

If you’re buying a car, your insurer will ask that you provide your physical address so that the policy can be rated properly. In addition to your physical address, you may be able to provide a separate mailing address to send bills, cards, etc.

If you are also looking for the best auto insurance rates, start comparison shopping by entering your ZIP code above!

Why do auto insurance companies need your physical address?

One of the first things that an agent will ask you for is your name, address, and phone number. This is basic information that the insurer will use to contact you in the future to market to you.

It’s easy to assume that you can just give a fake address so that your mailbox isn’t bombarded with ads, but doing this could lead to inaccurate rate quotes. You could even be accused of insurance fraud.

Insurance agents need your physical address when they are giving you a quote because your rates are dependent on the address where the vehicle is parked.

If you give one zip code and then you actually live in another, the original quote that you’re given could change after you update your address during the underwriting process.

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Can You Use Your PO Box Instead of Your Physical Address?

You can’t give your insurer your PO Box instead of providing your physical address.

Since vehicles can’t be parked at a PO Box, it wouldn’t make much sense for the insurer to accept your mailing address as a replacement to the address where you live.

While your PO Box can’t be listed on the quote form or the declarations page as a replacement to your home address, it can be listed as your mailing address.

Your mailing address is found on your declarations page in the upper left-hand corner with your name. It is the only address that your insurer will mail bills, refunds, and documents to.

How are physical addresses used to calculate auto insurance rates?

Insurance companies need to use a set of rating factors to determine how much the carrier needs to charge a client to remain profitable.

There are dozens and dozens of different factors that can either affect your rights and your eligibility to get insurance.

One of these factors is where your car is primarily stored. In the industry, this factor is called the garaging address.

Where your vehicle is parked can have a dramatic impact on your likelihood of filing a claim in more ways than one.

One of the major reasons why the zip code that you live in is used to change your personal rate is because this is the vicinity you will drive in often.

According to statistics, about 70 percent of accidents happen within 10 miles of home.

If you live in an area that’s heavily populated, the probability of having an accident while you’re going to and from work is high. The possibility of an accident is why rates in some zip codes are so much higher than they are in others. Likewise, if you live in a high crime area, your risk of having your car vandalized, broken into, etc. goes up, which could also lead to an increased risk of claims being filed. The higher the risk, the more insurance companies will charge to balance out their risk.

If you change your zip code by just a digit, it can be shocking to see that your rates could skyrocket. Even when the zip codes are within miles of each other.

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How do crime rates affect your premiums?

Not only do the accident rates affect your premiums, the crime rates in your garaging zip code do as well. Particularly if car break-ins and car jackings are common, there’s an increased risk that your insurance company will have to pay claims for even the most responsible drivers.

When you carry comprehensive coverage, your premiums could go up after you move to a zip code with a high property crime rate. Typically, it’s only the physical damage coverage that will go up based on the reported crime rates. This doesn’t include things like if your mail service is secure or rates of mail-related crime. You aren’t filing claims they have to pay if your mail is stolen. In this case, you might want to consider a PO box to receive bills, ID cards, etc. Insurance companies are only looking at things with an obvious connection to them.

The insurer will only look at the trends for property crime against vehicles and the rate of thefts in the area when deciding on a surcharge.

You should always look at the recent crime rates on reliable sites before you move so that you know what to expect when you’re making changes to your auto insurance policy.

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How will your driving habits affect your rates?

Where you live can have a direct affect on your driving habits. If you move 30 miles from work, you’ll drive 60 miles daily just commuting. A high-mileage commute can raise your rates. So even if you live in a low-crime zip code, your rates could still be higher if you have to drive an hour each way to get to work 5 days a week.

It can also affect your vehicle usage rating if you once worked from home and you now commute to and from work in your vehicle.

What other factors affect your auto insurance rates?

Your address is only a small rating factor in the grand scheme of things. It’s not the same as where you get your postal mail. So if you feel a PO box would be more secure, you can use it for your mailing address. Your insurance company will also require you to disclose a physical garaging address. It can affect your rates but you’re generally not going to be denied coverage as long as the zip code you disclose is within state lines assuming you qualify in other areas like driving record.

There are other rating factors outside your physical street address that can directly affect your ability to buy insurance.

Here’s a list of some common risk factors that will always be considered:

  • Your age, gender, and marital status
  • Licensing history
  • Your vehicle type and safety rating
  • Occupation
  • Driving record
  • Accident history
  • Insurance history
  • Vehicle usage and mileage

If you want to keep your address private, you can also go online and have all important documents sent to your email address. Going paperless has become increasingly popular, and it could even help you qualify for a discount you won’t get if papers are being sent to your personal mailbox.

Make sure that you update your physical address whenever you move even if you’re not changing the mailing address on file.

If you need a new policy after an out-of-state move, use an online rate tool and get instant quotes for new coverage.

If you are looking for the best auto insurance rates, try our FREE online quote tool! Start comparison shopping by entering your ZIP code below!