Some auto insurers are now giving level of education and occupation greater weight in setting insurance premiums. That makes shopping multiple insurers at the time of renewal more important than ever.

A new study from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) finds many auto insurers are setting rates not based on driving record, but on your level of education and what you do for a living.

They believe they can accurately predict, for example, that a person with a master's degree who has had multiple claims will cost them less over time than somebody who never had an accident but only got a high school diploma.

To see the full study done by the CFA, click here. (note: this file is a pdf.)

This sounds like serious overanalyzing of data to me, and it's a prime example of the curse of what computers make possible.

As a result, the premium difference could be hundreds of dollars a year for the same driver from one insurer to another. But it's not a monolith; not all insurers are doing this classification and even those who do have big differences in how they factor info about education and occupation into a final premium quote. So shopping your coverage at renewal time becomes key.

I think insurance should be a merit system. Sure, it's reasonable for age to be factored in -- think about the dangers of young drivers (and very old ones) behind the wheel. But over time, whether or not you have claims should determine what you pay. These other things like education and occupation are ridiculous criteria.

So what can you do? Be sure to shop the marketplace for insurance and get multiple quotes.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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