If you ever thought that your car insurance company pretty much charges you whatever it can get away with, you might be right.

A new survey by Consumer Federation of America (CFA) reveals that good drivers in moderate-income areas are sometimes charged more than $1,500 a year for minimum liability coverage. Yeah.

The results of its survey were revealed today by the CFA:

The organization looked at the rates of State Farm, Allstate, Progressive and GEICO in 15 cities, including Los Angeles. It found that a woman received wildly differing rate quotes — from $762 to $3,390 — for the same coverage. Wow.

According to the data, more than half the quotes were at least $1,000. Almost a third (32 percent) were $1,500.

In L.A., the company with the lowest quote for a male driver was GEICO with $841. The highest quote was $2,278 (for minimum coverage!?) from State Farm. An L.A. female driver came in with a lower and more consistent quote range — $600 (State Farm) to $800 (Progressive).

Read more here.

Here's the federation's conclusion, a real pisser:

The minimum liability insurance that drivers in all but one state are required to purchase effectively provides no real benefit to them except compliance with the law.

Yep. Just as you suspected. Money for nothin'. And you're obligated.

So, if you wonder about the rash of hit-and-runs in Los Angeles, maybe this explains it. According to a CFA statement:

The high premiums and disparate treatment help explain why an estimated one-quarter to one-third of lower-income drivers are uninsured.

California actually has a $300-a-year minimum liability insurance program for low- and moderate-income drivers. CFA wants other states to follow suit.

J. Robert Hunter, CFA's director of insurance:

Insurance commissioners have the responsibility to ensure that these drivers are charged fair, affordable rates. Our research suggests that most rates charged moderate-income drivers are neither fair nor affordable.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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